Legendary guitarist Eddie Van Halen was born in Amsterdam on this date in 1955. The Van Halen co-founder tragically died last October at age 65 after a long battle with cancer.
Van Halen burst onto the national scene in 1978 with the release of their self-titled debut album, which came four years after the classic lineup of Eddie, his brother Alex Van Halen on drums, bassist Michael Anthony and vocalist David Lee Roth was solidified. The quartet became one of the top-drawing and top-selling acts of their time thanks to the success of such albums as Van Halen II, Diver Down and 1984 as well as their outrageous live performances.
David Lee Roth parted ways with Van Halen in 1985, but the band quickly tapped Sammy Hagar to replace him. Hagar’s tenure in Van Halen saw the group release four multi-platinum albums containing four chart-topping hits. VH continued to headline large venues around the world despite Roth’s departure. Issues between the Van Halen brothers and Hagar led Sammy to leave the band, who went on with Gary Cherone as frontman for a brief period. David Lee Roth reunited with Van Halen in 2006 and the quartet toured sporadically through 2015.
In 1985, David Letterman brought Late Night to Los Angeles. Paul Shaffer, the leader of the television show’s house band contacted Eddie Van Halen about sitting-in with the group. Eddie accepted the offer and joined Shaffer and company on the May 16, 1985 episode of Late Night for instrumental versions of “(Oh) Pretty Woman,” “Jump,” “You Really Got Me” and “Sunshine Of Your Love.”
Eddie Van Halen reprised the feat on June 27, 1985; an episode featuring an interview with his wife at the time, Valerie Bertinelli. This time, the guitarist augmented the house band on “Panama,” “Crossroads,” “(Oh) Pretty Woman” and “Sunshine Of Your Love.” Ten years later, the full Van Halen lineup finally appeared on Letterman’s show. Van Halen performed “Not Enough” from their Balance LP on the August 10, 1995 episode of The Late Show With David Letterman. The group also added to the CBS Orchestra’s version of “Jump”
Watch a compilation featuring Eddie Van Halen’s appearances on Late Night and The Late Show With David Letterman below: