Van Halen’s covers-heavy set at Pasadena High School in 1975 surfaces on YouTube

Best of 2020: Before they were conquering arenas and stadiums across the world, or even clubs around Hollywood and Southern California, Van Halen cut their teeth rocking backyard parties and high schools.

And one of the high schools they played frequently was Pasadena High, which counted Alex and Eddie Van Halen amongst its alumni.

Now, a bootleg has surfaced of the band performing at the high school in April 1975. And like most Van Halen boots, it’s a scorcher.

The band plays a covers-heavy set, opening with ZZ Top’s Chevrolet and a funky and fast take on Deep Purple’s Maybe I’m a Leo. There’s also Johnny Winter’s version of Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo and “an old James Gang thing,” as David Lee Roth puts it, Walk Away.

Finally, they wrap things up with an original – an embryonic version of Fools (introduced here as I Live With Fools), which would later appear on Van Halen’s third effort, 1980’s Women and Children First.

While the quality of the bootleg is spotty at times, the band is in top form throughout – Roth and Michael Anthony deliver stellar harmony vocals on Edgar Winter’s We All Had a Real Good Time, and Eddie is absolutely on fire.

It’s enough to make any kid love going to school.

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.