Phil & Mel In The Afternoon

Phil & Mel In The Afternoon

Van Halen performs onstage during the 2015 Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 17, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

More than three years after his passing, it’s still unfathomable that Eddie Van Halen is no longer with us. With him, so went the band. But hearing the music of Van Halen on the radio keeps Eddie’s spirit and brilliant guitar licks as vibrant as ever. I have a feeling we’ll be hearing a lot of Van Halen in 2024 as we mark the 40th anniversary of their iconic album, 1984. Or as people who paid attention in Latin class like to call it, MCMLXXXIV.

Van Halen’s sixth studio album was released on January 9, 1984. It was the last Van Halen studio album until A Different Kind of Truth (2012) to feature lead singer David Lee Roth, who left the band in 1985 over creative differences. 1984 was also the final full-length studio album to feature all four original members: Eddie Van Halen (guitar), Alex Van Halen (drums), David Lee Roth (lead vocals), and Michael Anthony (bass). Along with Van Halen’s 1978 self-titled debut, 1984 is the band’s best-selling album. Both have sold more than 10 million copies in the U.S.

Fans and critics, alike, loved 1984. Rolling Stone put it at number 81 on the magazine’s list of the “100 Best Albums of the 1980s.” It peaked at number two on the Billboard 200 album chart and remained there for five weeks. Michael Jackson’s Thriller kept it out of the top spot. Ironically, Eddie Van Halen made a guest performance on Jackson’s album, playing the guitar solo on “Beat It.” That was a big year for Eddie.

Van Halen’s 1984 produced four singles, including “Jump”, the group’s only number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100. “Panama,” “I’ll Wait,” and “Hot for Teacher” were all top-20 hits. For this edition of the Throwback Threesome, we’re looking back at the videos for three of those singles. After all, Van Halen wasn’t just a band to be heard. MTV loved them, too!

Throwback Threesome: Van Halen’s 1984

  • Jump (1983)

    The lead single from 1984, “Jump” hit the airwaves a month before the album was released. According to Songfacts, the use of the synthesizer was hotly debated amongst the members of Van Halen. Fortunately, Eddie Van Halen won the argument because those opening synth chords went to become some of the most instantly-recognizable in rock history. It’s interesting that a chart-topping hit would have such a low budget music video. It’s nothing more than 8-millimeter film footage of the band performing on stage. But that didn’t make the video any less popular with fans. It even won Best Stage Performance Video at the very first MTV Video Music Awards.

  • Panama (1984)

    This song has nothing to do with the Central American country or its canal. David Lee Roth has said the lyrics are about both an exotic dancer from Arizona and a car he once race in Las Vegas. Rock on! The car he drives in the video is a 1951 Mercury convertible from his own collection. “Panama” was one of the last Van Halen songs recorded with Roth as lead singer before he left the band to go solo. Fun Fact: According to the BBC, American soldiers played this song repeatedly as a form of psychological warfare in an attempt to force General Manuel Noriega out of hiding during the U.S. invasion of Panama in 1989.

  • Hot For Teacher (1984)

    This lusty rocker was released as the fourth and final single from 1984. Between Eddie’s guitar virtuosity and Alex’s double bass drumming, many fans and critics consider “Hot for Teacher” to be Van Halen’s absolute height of musical prowess during the David Lee Roth era. The music video features the band members as both adults and young students. Oh, and hot women playing teachers. According to Songfacts, the character of Waldo was voiced by the late Phil Hartman of Saturday Night Live fame.

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