The History of Van Halen on Late-Night TV
The news that Van Halen will perform over two nights on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live caps an interesting history of late-night television appearances by the group and its members. Over the years, Eddie Van Halen, David Lee Roth and the Sammy Hagar-era Van Halen band have created some signature moments for those who managed to stay awake long enough. Incidentally, the Kimmel shows mark the first time Roth has appeared on U.S. television with the group he co-founded in the '70s. The History of Van Halen on Late Night TV is filled with highlights.
Eddie Van Halen stopped by to jam with David Letterman's house band twice following the release of Van Halen's 1984, beginning with this May 16, 1985, episode, which found him in a very fun shirt. Among the featured songs was "Pretty Woman," which had been part of Van Halen's earlier Diver Down album.
Eddie returned for an instrumental version of "Panama" with Letterman's Paul Shaffer-led group on June 27, 1985. He played throughout the show, which also included an interview with his wife, Valerie Bertinelli.
Eddie Van Halen appeared on an episode of Saturday Night Live hosted by Valerie Bertinelli on Feb. 28, 1987, when Van Halen were between the 5150 and OU812 albums. This tough blues jam (which paired Eddie with G.E. Smith of Hall & Oates and, later, Bob Dylan fame) was named "Stompin' 8H," after the studio where SNL was filmed.
Sammy Hagar released 1987's I Never Said Goodbye while still a member of Van Halen. Songs like "Boys' Night Out" – which he performed on Letterman's show on Aug. 7, 1987 – originally featured Eddie on bass.
Roth stopped by Letterman's program on April 23, 1991, for an interview and performance of "Tell the Truth" from his solo release A Little Ain't Enough.
Hagar was still in Van Halen when he performed "High Hopes" with Letterman's band. He was there promoting the Unboxed project, which Hagar says set the stage for his eventual split with Van Halen.
Van Halen appeared on late-night TV as a group on the April 27, 1995, episode of The Jon Stewart Show, and it was a jumbo-sized performance. Hagar and company played a trio of songs from their new album Balance – including "Amsterdam," "Aftershock" and "Can't Stop Lovin' You."
Van Halen also performed "Not Enough" from Balance on Letterman's show the same year. This Aug. 10, 1995, performance might be most notable for the fact that Letterman actually called Sammy Hagar "David" when thanking the band afterward, while appearing to have forgotten Michael Anthony's name entirely.
In a truly bizarre moment, Roth offered a bluegrass update of "Jump" on a July 6, 2006, episode of the Jay Leno-hosted Tonight Show. We also prefer the time Roth joined Carson Daly on Sept. 13, 2002, for a very credible take on "Mean Street" from Van Halen's Fair Warning.