|The original Van Halen back in 1977|
Van Halen is an American rock band formed in Pasadena, California, in 1972. From 1974 until 1985, the band comprised guitarist Eddie Van Halen, vocalist David Lee Roth, drummer Alex Van Halen, and bassist Michael Anthony. This line-up was changed when Roth was succeeded as vocalist by Sammy Hagar.
The band went on to further success, and by the early 1980s they were one of the most successful rock acts of the time. 1984 was their most successful album. The lead single, "Jump", became an international hit and their only single to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100. The following singles, "Panama" and "I'll Wait", both hit number 13 on the US charts. The album went on to sell over 12 million copies in the US alone. In 1985, the band replaced lead singer David Lee Roth with ex-Montrose lead vocalist Sammy Hagar. With Hagar, the group would release four US number-one albums over the course of 11 years. Hagar left the band in 1996 shortly before the release of the band's first greatest hits collection, Best Of Volume 1. Former Extreme frontman Gary Cherone was quickly recruited as lead singer to replace Hagar, and Van Halen III was released in 1998. Cherone left the band in frustration in 1999 after the tour due to the poor commercial performance of the album.
|Michael Anthony, Alex Van Halen, |
Eddie Van Halen and Sammy Hagar, 1983
|Eddie Van Halen's son - Wolfgang Van Halen|
Van Halen achieved worldwide fame for their many popular songs and larger-than-life stage performances; unfortunately, they also became known for the drama surrounding the departures of former members. Controversy surrounded the band following the exits of Roth, Hagar,and Anthony; this controversy often included numerous conflicting press statements between the former members and the band. In 2007, Van Halen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. VH1 ranked them 7th on their list of the top 100 hard rock artists of all time.
"Panama" was reportedly written about a car. According to David Lee Roth this was because critics accused him of writing about nothing more than partying, sex, and cars, but Roth realized that he had yet to write a song about cars. In an interview with Howard Stern, Roth explained the meaning behind the trademark song. Although the song features some suggestive lyrics, it is about a car that Roth saw race in Las Vegas; its name was "Panama Express", hence the title of the song. This, however, is contradictory to a previous remark made by Roth during a backstage interview during Van Halen's 1985 tour. There was no mention of the song being about a car and not more of the usual Van Halen material.
Panama was the name of Roth's car. He had the hood and bumper mounted in his hallway, which can be seen in his video for "SHOOBop" (video found at http://youtu.be/19QCzwafsm8). He has a stuffed deer's behind crashing through the front windshield. A plaque underneath reads, "Your First deer, courtesy of PANAMA."
During the bridge of the song where Roth says "I can barely see the road from the heat comin' off of it," guitarist Eddie Van Halen can be heard revving his Lamborghini in the background. The car was backed up to the studio and microphones were attached to the exhaust pipe to record the sound for the song.