Before Van Halen “made it,” they were local celebrities in Pasedena, Califorina being the it band to perform at high school parties. Now audio from one of those parties has surfaces and it sounds like an insane amount of fun.
First, for an idea of how great these parties were let me pull this excerpt from an excellent piece in the Los Angeles Times about young Van Halen.
Early in the school week, enterprising hosts, often wealthy teens or young adults whose parents had decided to take a ski vacation to Aspen or a skin-diving trip to the Caribbean, printed hundreds of party fliers trumpeting the appeal of Van Halen and plentiful keg beer. The hosts and their friends then distributed the fliers across the city. “At the three different high schools,” Patti Smith Sutlick, then a Blair student, says, “the talk all week was, ‘Where’s the party this weekend?’”
If no sure answer was forthcoming by Friday night, teenagers made a beeline for the corner of Allen Avenue and East Villa Street. Jan Velasco Kosharek, who grew up in the neighborhood, says the small commercial district there included a florist, a gas station and a very well patronized business, Allen Villa Liquor. Located a couple of blocks from the Van Halen home, it was where Jan Van Halen and his sons bought their beer. Marcia Maxwell, another Pasadenan, recalls, “We’d ask Larry, the owner, ‘Where’s the party?’ And off we’d go.”
Even if kids didn’t know the exact address, these parties weren’t hard to find. By rolling down their car windows, they could, by following the reverberating Eddie Van Halen riffs and David Lee Roth screams, make their way to the right spot. Debbie Hannaford Lorenz, who grew up in neighboring San Marino, observes: “When I hear a Van Halen song, I remember walking down the dark street with all the cars and the music echoing everywhere. My friends and I were always so excited to go to these parties.”
So cool, right? Definitely read the whole piece, as well as the great piece our own Cherry Bomb wrote about young Eddie.
Here’s the setlist:
- “Chevrolet” (ZZ Top)
- “Maybe I’m a Leo” (Deep Purple)
- “Brown Sugar” (The Rolling Stones)
- “And We All Had a Real Good Time” (Edgar Winter)
- “Walk Away” (James Gang)
- “Rock And Roll Hoochie Koo” (Johnny Winter)
- “Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You” (Sugarloaf)
- “I Live With Fools” (early version of Van Halen original “Fools”)
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