Song of the Week – Runnin’ With the Devil, Van Halen

Ignored           Obscured            Restored

My plan for today’s SotW was to write a tribute to Tommy DeVito of the Four Seasons, who died on September 23rd at the age of 92.  But this week Eddie Van Halen died and that takes precedent.

Van Halen was playing the clubs in metro LA when they came to the attention of Gene Simmons of Kiss.  Simmons was impressed with their talent (and cockiness), so he signed them to a contract and brought them back to New York to record some demos at Electric Lady Studios.  This was 1976, two years before their debut on Warner Brothers was released.

Those demos have never seen the light of day on official band releases.  But the “Zero” demos have been circulating on bootlegs for years.

Many of the songs on the Zero demos ended up on the band’s first album, though the demo versions were a little rougher and a little faster.  But the blueprint for what was to come was already there.

In the New York Times obituary for Eddie Van Halen, writer Jim Faber eloquently described his guitar playing as follows:

Mr. Van Halen structured his solos the way Macy’s choreographs its Independence Day fireworks shows: shooting off rockets of sound that seemed to explode in a shower of light and color. His outpouring of riffs, runs and solos was hyperactive and athletic, joyous and wry, making deeper or darker emotions feel irrelevant.

Van Halen will be missed, but his music will live on for a very long time.

Enjoy… until next week.

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