Our Top 10 Van Halen Cover Songs list takes a look at some of the best cover songs Van Halen performed throughout their glorious rock and roll career. Of course, there are the obvious ones like “You Really Got Me” and “Pretty Women” that many people would argue were their best covers. But to just list them would be so dull.
This Top 10 Van Halen Cover songs list is going to dig deeper into the stuff that many fans may not realize the band covered. So yeah, we all know about the hit cover songs like “Your No Good” and “Where Have All The Good Times Gone.” For the most part, fans don’t even think of those songs as covers because they have become such iconic Van Halen songs. Let’s take a look at some of the lesser-known covers going all the way back to when the band was actually….. a cover band. Yeah, baby, that’s what I’m talking about. This list, for the most part, is going to focus on the songs the band covered before they were famous, with a few exceptions. It’s just more fun to do it this way…..
# 10 – The Rover – Led Zeppelin
What better way to start out our Van Halen Covers songs list than with a great cover version of a classic Led Zeppelin Song? This ripping version was recorded during their club days in L.A. in the mid-1970s. Listen to Eddie Van Halen’s solo at the 2:55 mark. It’s not long, but he’s paying tribute to Jimmy Page while showcasing the style he developed during the early years. His talent is so apparent, even at this point in his career. David Lee Roth does his thing in his own unique way. He’s no Robert Plant, but he makes it work.
# 9 – Tomorrow’s Dream – Black Sabbath
While the sound quality on this one is pretty low, there was no way we would not include Van Halen covering Black Sabbath. Especially the song “Tomorrow’s Dream.” We can only imagine how sweet it must have been for Van Halen to open up for Black Sabbath on their first tour after having covered the band’s songs in the bars. Those who saw that tour were knocked out by Van Halen as, in many cases, they held their own with Black Sabbath. The band was so hot at the time, and Eddie Van Halen was blowing everyone’s minds who were seeing Van Halen for the first time.
# 8 – Won’t Get Fooled Again – The Who
Well we figured we would deliver a much better-sounding recording after the past two bootleg recordings. Some love this version of The Who’s classic track “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Others have criticized it. We love it; it’s as simple as that. Listen to Eddie play that keyboard part on guitar at the song’s start. Sammy screams perfectly. These guys are having a great time, and if you were there when they did this, you are a living testament to how crazy the audience went when they played this one. Alex is on fire on this one.
# 7 – Now I’m Here – Queen
The sound quality may be pretty low on this one, but it’s so worth it just to hear Eddie Van Halen play that iconic Brian May lick and then add his own madhouse solos. The drums and bass are tough to hear. Michael Anthony’s backing vocals play an essential role in this one as Roth has the challenge of covering a Freddie Mercury vocal. Nonetheless, the highlight of this recording is Eddie Van Halen’s two solos. The band adds a little of Chuck Berry’s “Little Queenie” towards the end of the song. This was recorded at Pasadena High School on April 25, 1975.
# 6 – Hots On For Nowhere
There is nothing like listening to Van Halen play Led Zeppelin songs. What’s so much fun about this one is how David Lee Roth introduces it in the club as a brand new Led Zeppelin song. So this is around 1976 when “Hots On For Nowhere” was released on Led Zeppelin’s Presence album—the last truly great Led Zeppelin record. You have to love how David Lee Roth and Michael Anthony sing this song together. And, of course, Eddie Van Halen blows us all away. It has since been deleted from youtube, but we will keep searching for it. Someone will upload it again.
# 5 – Jean Genie – David Bowie
If there is one band or artist, Van Halen never really sounded like it was David Bowie. They were such different artists. Yet, David Lee Roth sounded great, when covering David Bowie. If you were a teen in the 70s going to see all the great cover bands in the bars, you probably remember that David Bowie was a much-covered artist. So it’s no surprise that Van Halen, the bar band would cover David Bowie in 1976.
# 4 – Summertime Blues
Van Halen often performed this classic rock song “Summertime Blues,” during their 1983 tour when they were supporting the Diver Down album. Eddie lights it up as usual, Michael Anthony gets to play those excellent bass lines, Alex rocks his heart out and David Lee Roth sounds perfect on this one.
# 3 – Rock And Roll – Led Zeppelin
This is probably one of the most covered songs in classic rock and roll history. Everyone from Heart to Sheryl Crow to the Foo Fighters has covered the Led Zeppelin classic. Yet in 1986, when Van Halen had a renewed spirit fueling the band with Sammy Hagar replacing David Lee Roth, the band was supercharged in concert as Sammy Hagar’s vocal range had opened up so many more sonic possibilities for the band. Look how much fun these guys are having in the video. This recording was officially released on Van Halen’s Live Without A Net video release.
# 2 – Chevrolet – ZZ Top
We picked this one for the number two spot because it’s all Eddie Van Halen at the song’s start. This great cover of “Chevrolet” by ZZ Top also showcases Michael Anthony’s talents on bass and vocals. The man was such a key element in the sound of Van Halen in so many ways. Van Halen fans knew how important he was. Nonetheless, the sound quality here is pretty poor, but the playing is off the charts. It’s 1974, and the band is lighting it up in the clubs as no one knew the legends they would become in just a few short years.
# 1 – La Grange – ZZ Top
This is simply the perfect Van Halen cover song to end this list with. The song’s opening featured both David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen in all their glory before their fame exploded and shed that glory onto the entire world. This was one of the set closers because it was just so hot. It’s too bad they never did this one when they were playing stadiums because this is so crazy good.
Updated November 9, 2023
Top 10 Van Halen Cover Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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