Released: Mar 23, 1979
Van Halen II is the second album by Van Halen, released in 1979. It peaked at #6 on the Billboard charts and spawned the singles “Dance the Night Away” and “Beautiful Girls”. To date, it has sold over five million copies in the U.S. Critical reaction to the album has been positive as well, with the The Rolling Stone Album Guide praising the feel-good, party atmosphere of the songs.
The actual recording of the album took place less than a year after the release of the band’s eponymous debut album; the process was completed in three weeks. Many of the songs on Van Halen II have been known to exist prior to the release of the first album, and are present (in various forms) on the demos recorded in 1976 by KISS’ Gene Simmons and ’77 byTed Templeman, including an early version of “Beautiful Girls” (then known as “Bring on the Girls”) and “Somebody Get Me a Doctor”. (The album version is only slightly different than the demo versions).
Background and recording
Recording of the album happened at Sunset Studio less than a year after the release of the band’s eponymous debut album. Recording of the album began on December 10, 1978, just one week after completing their first world tour, and was complete within a week. The band used a Putnam 610 console to record the album, similar to the console Eddie installed in his home studio in 1983. Many of the songs on Van Halen II are known to have existed prior to the release of the first album, and are present on the demos recorded in 1976 by Gene Simmons and in 1977 by Ted Templeman, including an early version of “Beautiful Girls” (then known as “Bring On the Girls”) and “Somebody Get Me a Doctor.” On the third try of the photo shoot for David Lee Roth‘s spread-eagle jump, which was used on the back cover, Roth landed sideways and broke a bone in his right foot.
Artwork and packaging
The black-and-yellow guitar on the back of the album known as “Bumblebee” is buried with Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell, who was killed December 8, 2004. Eddie Van Halen placed it in his Kiss Kasket at his funeral because Darrell had said it was his favorite. However, Eddie himself stated in interviews that the guitar itself was not actually used on the Van Halen II album, as it had only been completed just in time for the photo shoots for the album. David Lee Roth is shown in a cast in the inner liner notes, as he allegedly broke his heel making the leap also seen in the picture on the back cover art.
In the liner notes, The Sheraton Inn of Madison, Wisconsin is thanked. On Van Halen’s first tour, they stayed at the hotel and destroyed the seventh floor, having fire extinguisher fights in the hallways and throwing televisions out windows. They blamed the incidents on their tour-mates at the time, Journey.
In a 1979 Rolling Stone review, Timothy White writes, “Scattered throughout Van Halen’s second album are various Vanilla Fudge bumps and grinds, an Aerosmith-derived pseudobravado, a bit of Bad Company basement funk and even a few Humble Pie miniraveups,” adding that the “LP retains a numbing live feel.” In a retrospective review, Stephen Thomas Erlewine from AllMusic rates Van Halen II 4 stars out of 5. He notes the album is “virtually a carbon copy of their 1978 debut,” though goes on to say it is “lighter and funnier” and “some of the grandest hard rock ever made.” Erlewine praises Eddie’s “phenomenal gift” and Roth’s “knowing shuck and jive.”
It reached #6 on the Billboard 200 charts and #23 on the UK charts. Van Halen II was certified 5× Platinum in 2004. About 5.7 million records have been sold in the United States as of 2004.  In 2000, Van Halen II was remastered and re-released.
- David Lee Roth – lead vocals
- Eddie Van Halen – guitar, backing vocals
- Michael Anthony – bass guitar, backing vocals
- Alex Van Halen – drums
- Corey Bailey – engineering
- Dave Bhang – artwork and design, art direction
- Jim Fitzpatrick – engineer
- Gregg Geller – remastering
- Elliot Gilbert – photography
- Donn Landee – engineer
- Jo Motta – project coordinator
- Ted Templeman – production
- Neil Zlozower – photography