Van Halen: 10 Throwback Riffs

via @Colin Hay | YouTube

Although the California hard rock heroes Van Halen made quite a stir in the late 1970s when the band debuted, the group undoubtedly built its enduring legacy through their prolific work during the 1980s, which established a signature of Classic rock and legacy sand rock that’s hard to deny. Even more remarkable is that Van Halen’s bountiful accomplishments of the decade generated huge success despite a much-publicized change in vocalist. Here’s a look at the band’s 10 Throwback Riffs:

And the Cradle Will Rock

Skillfully supported by a rhythm section and guitar riff hits, this 1980s tune highlights everything that was unique about Van Halen Mark I: Eddie Van Halen’s imaginative riffs and electrifying solos and, of course, David Lee’s vampy snarky vocal style. Roth. Ultimately, the most memorable part of the song revolves around its two central guitar solos, and in the center of them is a Roth line, which always brings a smile.

Everybody Wants Some!!

What one can say about Van Halen’s limitations, it’s hard to question the band’s ability to dance not just with aggression and conviction, but with a singular flair that no one else has ever quite equaled. Such is the case on this track, another solid 1980s “women and children first” highlight, which skillfully plays Eddie Van Halen’s guitar work against Roth’s Hammy, exotic style in the verses. And even though the contrasting personalities made for a volatile situation for the band, as the story goes, it also led to the magic the band was never able to recapture during the Van Hagar years.


There is nowhere to go but down from the intro riff to this song, a sweeping, indeed transcendent piece of Eddie Van Halen’s work that anchors the proceedings with the 1981 style of “Fair Warning.” However, the band does their best to build a decent rock song around it, succeeding quite well by incorporating their trademark vocal harmonies over an interesting, syncopated bridge. It has never made much sense to seek much lyrical depth from Van Halen songs, and that rule holds true here as well. But for fans looking for aggressive, good time rock and roll, putting up this song is always the mission instantly accomplished.


This is perhaps the most underrated gem of the band, a sultry simmer from the rather underwhelming 1982 collection of most head-scratching, diver’s tops. Intricate, Eddie Van Halen’s almost gentle guitar work certainly stands out as a highlight.

“Hot for Teacher”

While there is not much that comes out of the search for links between Van Halen and punk rock, the speed and intensity of this song nonetheless have much more in common with that genre than much of the hair metal that followed in the wake of it. 1984 blockbuster album. Of course, when you launch into the inherent theatricality of Roth and the rest of the band, you realize very quickly that we are dealing with a decadent LA hard rock band that still has no equal.

I’ll Wait

Along with “Jump,” which stops making this list just because it doesn’t need the hype, this “1984” ballad helped introduce a heavy synth-pop sound that would carry Van Halen into the mid-1980s. And while some Fans opposed the new direction, it was probably inevitable that an artist as meticulous as Eddie Van Halen would have to evolve in some respects. As for the song itself, it is shown that Eddie was as skilled with keyboard riffs as he was guitar riffs, and the melodic sense set forth here matches Roth’s strengths as he carves out a growing audience for the song. band music.

Good Enough

Even though many fans are venomously opposed to the band’s second, arguably more accurate with Sammy Hagar at the helm, the fact is that “5150” is well under scrutiny as a tightly packed album, measuring up to favorably with any record of the band ever released. Nonetheless, this song kicks off the Van Agar era with a bang, prompted by Hagar’s playful “Hello, baby” pronouncement at the beginning of the song. Even better, Eddie Van Halen’s riffs and songwriting seem as good as ever here, helping the band maintain their blistering form.


Like it or not, as the ’80s progressed, Eddie Van Halen began to reveal a growing affinity for keyboard versatility and a thirst for branching out musically. It combines these elements to become an increasingly skilled provider of ballad, and this song may be more of Van Halen’s soaring, compelling moment in that department. Crafted to elevate sports montages, the tune raises a key question for fans about whether or not they were able or unwilling to handle a Van Halen with pop sensibilities as strong, if not louder than their rock and roll tendencies. kick ass from the past. So which side are you on?

The Best of Both Worlds

Appropriately titled to match the goals of the new Van Halen, this rocker highlights all of the best tools available to the band, with a classic Eddie Van Halen riff and some of the guitarist’s most subtle, textured play. Plus, it features great, sandy-ready singing backing vocals, and while Roth can be as annoying as Roth’s violent, two things that can’t be questioned about Hagar are the strength and precision of his pipes. So even if this expanding pop sensibility never translated into another No. 1 hit because of Van Halen’s stormy legacy, it’s certainly possible that it helped buy the band a few extra years.

Finish What Ya Started

Musically, the 1988 theme song “OU812” certainly has a gender-transversal focus, maximizing the vocal harmonies of Michael Anthony and Eddie Van Halen against a nearly southwestern-sounding guitar shuffle. Additionally, Agar delivers some of his more nuanced, soulful singing, though, and the result is an endlessly interesting if the somewhat jarring output of power-chord rock fans had gotten used to from Van Halen. Or, maybe it’s just the hot Gunslinging women featured in the video.