Single Stories: Van Halen, RUNNIN' WITH THE DEVIL

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Here's a fun fact: on May 6, 1978, the day Van Halen released only their second-ever single, "Runnin' with the Devil," the #1 song in America was "Night Fever" by the Bee Gees. While much of America was still loving all things disco, a band of rockers out of Pasadena, California was already barnstorming path to world domination.

Let's drop the needle on this hard rock classic and scratch out five facts about Van Halen's "Running with the Devil."

1. The sound that opens the song was created by a contraption made of car horns
Eddie Van Halen, always the sonic tinkerer, built the machine out of horns taken from his fellow band members' cars, wired together in a box with a car battery and foot switch. They took the contraption on the road, and used it to open the track on tour.

2. The music video was filmed at Hollywood's legendary Whisky A Go Go club
The guys hit the stage at the famous bar to make a live performance clip to promote the song. Adding to the live feel is a cameraman who is caught in a shot near the end of the video.

3. "Runnin' with the Devil" didn't exactly rock the US charts
While it's gone on to become a classic rock staple and one of Van Halen's signature songs, "Runnin' with the Devil" barely made a dent on the charts when it was first released. Over the course of a brief four-week chart run, the tune peaked at #84 on the Hot 100.

4. "Runnin' with the Devil" was on the band's Gene Simmons-produced demo tape
Gene Simmons of KISS caught an early Van Halen gig before they were famous: "I saw them and signed them and flew them to New York and put them in Electric Lady Studios. They were signed to my company, Man of 1,000 Faces. I produced their 24-track demo -- 15 songs -- which I still own, and, oh, it has everything from the first record and also faster versions of 'House of Pain' and stuff. It's a lot of cool stuff," he told Rolling Stone in 2016.

5. "Runnin' with the Devil" has its very own Super Bowl commercial
In 2016, Acura used an isolated vocal remix of the track to help push the automaker's latest edition of the Acura during the big game. The clip is appropriately titled "What He Said." Watch it here.