Van Halen 1981

Many Hard Rock and Heavy Metal acts sold professionally recorded concert footage during the 1980s. Van Halen is not one of those bands. No full length professionally shot, widely released concert footage of arguably the most significant American Hard Rock band of the 1980s is out there for you to find, transferred from VHS onto DVD. And I'm not talking about "Live Without A Net," either. That's a discussion for another day.

Without Van Halen the landscape of American Hard Rock would have looked completely different. The 1980s would have likely been a do over of the 1970s. David Lee Roth is said to have had many live shows professionally filmed and this footage is long-rumored to be hidden away in his private stash. Think the Ark in the wooden crate in a massive warehouse. You know the movie. Camera crews would frequently join Van Halen on stage and aim their cameras at the crowd, whipping them into a frenzy. Biographers and researchers have often noted that these camera crews were actually the band roadies and weren't even really filming. They were just on stage to hype up the show.


There is a limited amount of bootleg tour footage which you can find on YouTube, grainy, chopped up clips shot from the floor or perhaps with a good camera but from such a distance that overall visual and audio quality suffers greatly.  There is actually quite a bit of soundboard audio posted to YouTube of the original Van Halen lineup, 1978-1985. Most of these soundboard recordings are from as early as Van Halen's first world tour in 1978 and continues to trickle to the surface over these last few years. The iconic footage shot during the two day stop in Oakland, June 12-13, 1981 is widely considered the best footage of the original Van Halen lineup with David Lee Roth at the controls. MTV rocked the footage of "Hear About it Later," "So This is Love," and "Unchained." Other websites have covered the details of this tour and this footage extensively. Heavy Metal Thursday isn't reinventing the wheel and we aren't claiming to have discovered fire, either. We are fans, not journalists. Dudes, not music critics or probation officers with Elvis Costello haircuts.

Van Halen in 1981 was a Hard Rock juggernaut, routinely obliterating audiences with the three essentials; Sex, Drugs & Rock and Roll, during their live shows. It was a circus, a Rock & Roll revival. Dave got them in the tent. Eddie sold the juice. 

Hit play and crank the volume.

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