It was 45 years ago today (February 10th, 1978) that Van Halen released their self-titled debut album. The collection, which hit Number 19 on the Billboard 200, peaked at Number Four on the magazine’s Top Rock Albums chart, and redefined the direction of hard rock for the 1980’s. The set, which was produced by Ted Templeman — best known for his work with the Doobie Brothers — spawned such instant radio staples as “Runnin’ With The Devil,” “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love,” “Jamie’s Cryin’,” and the band’s killer reinvention of the Kinks‘ “You Really Got Me.”

The tracklisting to 1978’s Van Halen is: “Runnin’ With The Devil,” “Eruption,” “You Really Got Me,” “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love,” “I’m The One,” “Jamie’s Cryin’,” “Atomic Punk,” “Feel Your Love Tonight,” “Little Dreamer,” “Ice Cream Man,” and “On Fire.”

Back in 2001, Gene Simmons spoke to Eddie Trunk and shed light on his early connection to Van Halen: “I found a band called Van Halen and flew them to New York and produced their first demo, which included their first record and a lot of other tunes that would up (on other albums) through the years. And I couldn’t convince (Kiss manager) Bill Aucoin to sign them, or the record company (Casablanca), because Bill Aucoin thought that they looked like Black Oak Arkansas. And I told him he was on crack again, because nobody knew who that band was, and so what if they were there — this is the next big band in America. I really believed it, I couldn’t convince anybody. So I said to them, ‘Y’know, I got ya signed (to a production deal), go back to L.A. after the tour, let’s see what happens. I gotta go out on tour with Kiss.’ At the end of the tour, they got a deal with Warners and I tore up the contract (and said) ‘consider this a gift.'”

Back in 1978, David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen shed light on how they finally inked the all-important recording contract with Warner Brothers Records: (David Lee Roth): We got discovered. The president of Warner Brothers came down in a bar one night. We were playing for free and he came with our producer Ted Templeman and they said, ‘We wanna sign you.’ You gotta have faith in yourself, y’know? It’s hard. . . (Eddie Van Halen): You gotta keep at it. A lotta people get together, y’know, and they change members every other week. Y’know, they go. ‘Oh, who are they this time?’ — y’know? You gotta stick together and just keep workin’.”

Photo Gallery