First Time, Last Time: Eddie Van Halen "Runnin' With The Devil"

Eddie Van Halen passed away October 6, 2020 in Santa Monica, California.

On October 4, 2015, Van Halen played it's last concert with their irreplaceable guitarist 15 miles away from the beach city at the Hollywood Bowl.

The second song the band played that night was "Runnin' With The Devil" from their groundbreaking 1978 self-titled debut.

The last time Van Halen played Runnin' With the Devil was at the Hollywood Bowl in Oct. 2015.

Often overlooked on "Van Halen 1," due to the air guitar classics of "Eruption" followed by "You Really Got Me," producer Ted Templeman did his best to make "Runnin' With The Devil" stand out in a few ways.

For starters he put the song as the first tune of side one of the album. It leads into the guitar virtuosity of "Eruption."

Van Halen's final show.

Then he did some studio trickery by recording the band's car horns and slowing it down to create that ominous sound leading into the bass notes that intro the hit.

Speaking of those bass lines, how touching/perfect/beautiful it is to see Eddie's son Wolfgang provide those familiar bits of music at this old man's last gig.

Like a bunch of Van Halen chestnuts like "Hot For Teacher" and "Ice Cream Man" and "Everybody Wants Some!!" during the Sammy Hagar years, "Runnin' With the Devil" was placed on the back burner.

Odd because Sammy played it in many of his solo outings.

It's such a classic tune even Metallica played it when they visited the Rose Bowl in 2017 a few years after Eddie's death, as a tribute to the group who grew up very close to the Pasadena stadium.

And as a nod to David Lee Roth (who also covered the song in many of his solo incarnations), Metallica's James Hetfield grabbed his throat after a minute of trying to hit those high notes and gave up.

The first documented performance of "Runnin'..," was way back in 1976 when Van Halen performed at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.

Sharp-eyed Van Halen fans might notice the setlist from that '76 gig includes songs that would later appear on the debut, A Different Kind of Truth, Women and Children First, and 1984.

"Here's a little something that's going to be on the radio pretty soon," Roth told the attendees of the Civic before the band broke into the track that wouldn't be released as a single for two full years, but once it did, made itself at home on FM radio.

Bask in the majesty of 21 year-old Eddie Van Halen cranking out "Runnin With The Devil" for the first time live.

Are the lyrics deep or inspiring in any way? Oh Heavens no.

Does Eddie, who was 21 when the band played their hometown Civic Auditorium, light years ahead of every single guitarslinger in the US at the time?

Sure seems like it.

While these bootleg recordings are fun to watch in retrospect, let's also include the last televised performance of the song.

In March of 2015, Jimmy Kimmel shut down Hollywood Blvd, just blocks away from the Bowl, so the band could perform a handful of songs.

"Panama," "Dance The Night Away," and "Runnin With the Devil" were chosen to the delight of the fans who had been standing on the filthy street all day waiting to be up close to one of the finest guitarists, and best bands in rock history.

The youngest man on that stage, Wolfgang, has a new band, named after what Van Halen was called before they got it together: Mammoth.

Mammoth WVH, spent much of this year touring in support of its debut. Not long ago they released their second album, Mammoth II. Next month they open with Pantera for Metallica. Maybe he can give James tips on how to cover other VH tunes.

Tickets available on the Mammoth website.

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Last updated: 19 Apr 2024, 01:54 Etc/UTC