1984 Van Halen – Panama
After five years of moderately successful releases, Van Halen reached the pinnacle of its career with the release of their 1983 album, which they titled 1984. The first single from the album was Jump, which topped both the Hot 100 and the US Mainstream Rock chart.
The group’s next two singles had identical results, stalling at #13 on the Hot 100 but reaching #2 on the US Mainstream Rock chart.
I’ll Wait was a song the band initially tried to write themselves. David Lee Roth identified a female model posing in men’s underwear in a Calvin Klein ad as his inspiration for the song. When he struggled with the melody and lyrics, the album’s producer (Ted Templeman, formerly of Harper’s Bizarre) brought in Doobie Brothers musician Michael McDonald to help finish writing the song.
In an unusual move, they released the single without the support of a video.
The third single from the album got its name from a car David saw in a race in Las Vegas, the Panama Express. This time, they produced a video for the record, but the results on the chart were identical to the previous single.
The last release from 1984 gave us the unforgettable video for Hot For Teacher. The single peaked at only #56 on the Hot 100 and #24 on the Hot 100 and became the last video from the original band before their break-up the next year.
David and Eddie Van Halen had significantly different visions for the music the band recorded. While still a member of the band, David recorded and released a solo ep that included cover versions of an eclectic mix of songs. Crazy From The Heat included two hit singles: California Girls (#3 on the Hot 100) and Just a Gigolo/I Ain’t Got Nobody (#12). The ep may well have been a test for a solo career since after the success of the ep, David announced he was leaving Van Halen.
David released a long string of singles that did well on the US Mainstream Rock chart but he only reached the Hot 100 twice more before rejoining Van Halen for a few recordings in 1996.
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