16 Things You Might Not Know About Van Halen's 'Diver Down'


On April 14th, 1982, Van Halen released their fifth studio album, Diver Down. To celebrate its 39th anniversary, here are 16 things you might not know about the record:

1. After the band put out their cover of Roy Orbison’s“(Oh) Pretty Woman,” it became a hit, so their record company wanted to jump on that momentum and had them record an album featuring more covers.

2. The album is one of Eddie Van Halen’s least favorites because it features five covers. He once said, “I’d rather have a bomb with one of my songs than a hit with someone else’s.”

3. Diver Down opens with a cover of The Kinks’ “Where Have All the Good Times Gone,” Van Halen’s second time doing a Kinks cover – their first was “You Really Got Me” on their 1978 debut. David Lee Roth said the group could have done any number of Kinks songs since they knew tons of them and played them nightly when they had club gigs.

4. Dave once said “Hang ‘Em High” was like a Western where you hear a harmonica and know the hero is coming to town or something terrible will happen.

5. Eddie thought “Cathedral” sounded like a Catholic church organ, so that’s how the song got its name.

6. The video for the band’s cover of “(Oh) Pretty Woman” is one of the first to get banned by MTV. The network shunning it because in it, two little people appear to molest a woman, who is actually a drag queen.

7. The instrumental track “Intruder” was written as a kind of filler. The band put together the video for “(Oh) Pretty Woman” but the clip was too long so the band added “Intruder” to put before “(Oh) Pretty Woman” and run at the beginning of the video so the film they made would fit.

8. David Lee Roth got the idea to do the cover of “Big Bad Bill.” He heard the song on a weird Louisville, Kentucky radio station he picked up with an antenna at his father’s house. Roth recorded the song with a Walkman and played it for the band who laughed at it and decided to do it.

10. The lyrics to the song “Secrets” came from greeting cards and get-well cards that David bought in Albuquerque, New Mexico that were written in the style of American Indian poetry.

11. “The Full Bug” got its title from a saying that originates from killing a cockroach by stepping on it. The goal is to step on the whole thing, to get the “full bug,” and according to Roth, it means to make the maximum effort.

12. Roth said that “Happy Trails” was included in the album because they wanted to do “something wonderful and different.”

13. The cover art for the album features a “diver down” flag, which is used when a scuba diver is underwater in the area.

14. David Lee Roth once explained that the title of the album and the cover art was meant to imply “there was something going on that’s not apparent to your eyes… A lot of people approach Van Halen as sort of the abyss. It means, it’s not immediately apparent to your eyes what is going on underneath the surface.”

15. The photo of the band on the back cover of the album was taken while they were on stage at the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando on October 24, 1981. During that time they were the opening act for The Rolling Stones.

16. The album spent 65 weeks on the Billboard 200 and by 1998 had gone four-times platinum for sales in excess of four-million copies.

Photo: Getty