I bought Van Halen I
It was the best damn record I ever owned
TG&Y, 1978

Two-hand tapping guitar technique
Really got me off
Eruption, yeah
Ain't talkin' 'bout love
I'm on fire

Tomorrow may come
Tomorrow may never come again
Can't you hear
Jamie cryin'?
runnin' with the devil
Oh lord, oh lord

I bought
Women and Children First
Fair Warning
Van Halen II
Dance the night away

1984, my favorite record, yeah, I wore it down
Might as well jump (x 2)

Tomorrow may come
Tomorrow may never come again
Can't you hear Jamie cryin'?
She's runnin' with the devil
Oh lord, oh lord

Is this what you wanted,
Sammy Hagar?
Sammy Hagar, is this what you wanted, man?
Dave lost his hairline,
But you lost your cool, buddy
Can't drive 55
I'll never buy your lousy records again
Again (x 2)
Never again (x 13)
No, no, no!

Tomorrow may come
Tomorrow may never come again
Can't you hear Jamie cryin'?
She's runnin' with the devil
Oh lord, oh lord

Jump (x 7)
Might as well jump
Jump (x 6)
Might as well jump

"Van Halen" is a 1996 single by Nerf Herder, taken from their self titled, debut album. The song ostensibly describes both the band's initial enthusiasm for Van Halen, then their disillusionment after Sammy Hagar was chosen to replace vocalist David Lee Roth. The song not only serves as a tribute to Van Halen's early works, but due to its lyrics, which heavily reference classic Van Halen albums, lyrics, and song titles, is also a tongue-in-cheek pastiche of Van Halen's discography. Furthermore, it is darn catchy! In fact, it's widespread radio circulation managed to secure Nerf Herder their first (and only) major record deal, with Arista Records signing the band and re-releasing their first album.

Yes, before Nerf Herder was known as "that band that did the Buffy theme song", they were known as "that band that did that Van Halen song".

As the song proliferated, Nerf Herder was thrust into the limelight. Parry Gripp, guitarist and vocalist, seemed the natural choice as spokesman for the band. In an Entertainment Weekly article published in November of '96, Parry was given the floor, an opportunity to voice his thoughts and the thoughts of his band mates. Not much surprise then, the article opened with the quote: "Everyone hates Sammy Hagar -- who doesn't?"(1).

Of course, it would require a special kind of person to take Nerf Herder seriously. After all, in "Sorry" (listed two songs prior to "Van Halen" on the album) Parry bemoans the apparent loss of a girlfriend, and, in hopes of reconciliation, serenades: "Sorry I saw you and I heard birds sing / Sorry I touched you and I heard bells ring / Sorry I jacked off outside of your window / While you were sleeping / I thought you'd never know". In concluding the article, Parry added, "We're riding the rock-star train right now''(1).

In response, Sammy Hagar called Parry, Charlie and Steve "faggots"(4). Later, the band asked Hagar to appear in the "Van Halen" music video. He replied, "After your 13th platinum album, sure, I'll be glad to," seemingly advising the fledging band to postpone production until they had enough cred in the music industry to be equally as overblown and pompous(2). On the other hand, word was both Alex and Eddie Van Halen liked the song.

And regardless, Parry and crew were hardly alone in their opinion; Hagar's alleged talent and charm was failing to click with the critical community as well. After catching a Van Halen show, for instance, Joel Selvin of the San Francisco Chronicle remarked bluntly that "(Hagar) kinda fucked up the band, now this is mundane as hell"(3). The Red Rocker, not one to leave a slight unavenged, retaliated by leaking Selvin's personal phone number during the following night's performance. As Selvin recalled: "for weeks afterwards, I got these obscene, profane messages...'Fuck you, you cocksucker,' beep. 'You slimy shit,' beep."

Cut to 1999, three years later. Nerf Herder's mainstream success was waning, and when their attempts at a follow-up album failed to impress the folks at Arista the way "Van Halen" had, they chose to leave the label before the label could leave them. They instead settled in with Honest Don Records, a subsidiary label of Fat Wreck Chords, who would go on to produce Nerf Herder's two subsequent albums, How to Meet Girls and American Cheese. However, while our trio basked in the freedom of an indie label, a spectre still loomed over Sammy Hagar.

May 26th, 1999, the San Francisco Weekly published an article about Hagar by one Jack Boulware, entitled "The Red Menace". While it appears quite flattering (I say 'appears', because at five pages in length, the article exceeds my tolerance for Sammy Hagar nostalgia by four and a half pages), this belated valentine to Hagar's tenacity remains gloriously germane, if but for a moment, to our topic. With about as much sport as sixteenth century bear-baiting, the subject of "Van Halen" is broached; Boulware writes that Hagar first sat up in his chair, "chewing his gum more furiously", then fired off the following:

What dumb-ass fuckers would come up from nowhere and make fun of one of the biggest bands in the world? And to sit there and fuckin' make fun of them, or make fun of Sammy Hagar, 'I Can't Drive 55,' Number 1 records and stuff -- uh uh. That ain't the way to make a livin'. Especially, here you are, tryin' to be in the same business. These fuckers! What'd they expect me to do? How in the fuck do they expect to make it by makin' fun of somebody that everyone loves? It's silly to me.(3)

As for Parry Gripp, the loyal opposition? "He actually referred to us as 'fuckers,'" Parry recollects. "That's a pretty cool thing. But I don't remember feeling really bad about it. I don't think Sammy Hagar sucks. It was some sort of lame-ass thing that I said. Flippant"(3).

Song Name: "Van Halen"
Artist: Nerf Herder - Parry Gripp (Vocals, Guitar), Charlie Dennis (Bass), & Steve Sherlock (Drums)
Album: Nerf Herder
Release Date: November 26th, 1996
Length: 3:38
Video Link: (10)


  1. "Why This Can't Be Love: How Hating Sammy Hagar Spawned a Hit" Entertainment Weekly (November 29th, 1996)
  2. "Let the Music Do the Trash Talking" Rolling Stone (August 1st, 1997)
  3. "The Red Menace" by Jack Boulware, the San Francisco Weekly (May 26th, 1999)
  4. "Laughing Matters" by Andrew Miller, the Phoenix New Times (March 18th, 2000)
  5. "11 Fun Facts About Nerf Herder" Chicks With Guns Magazine (May 27th, 2008)
  6. "Van Halen - Nerf Herder" Lyricwiki
  7. "Nerf Herder" Wikipedia
  8. "Nerf Herder (album)" Wikipedia
  9. "Nerf Herder" MySpace
  10. "Nerf Herder - "Van Halen"" Youtube