Wonderful Footage of Eddie Van Halen Jamming With the ‘Late Night With David Letterman’ Band in 1985

When Late Night With David Letterman was in Los Angeles in 1985, bandleader Paul Schaffer reached out to legendary guitarist Eddie Van Halen to see if he would sit in with the band. Schaeffer was evidently successful because on May 16, 1985, Van Halen was there with his famous red-striped guitar doing what he did best, playing the intro to the show, as well as before and after the commercial breaks. Host David Letterman was so impressed with Van Halen’s performance that he invited him to stay on.

Ladies and gentlemen, everybody knows who he is. All I can say is when we came out to LA, there was one cat that we wanted to talk into sitting in with us and uh we’re thrilled that he did. He’s an innovator and he’s just a nutty kind of a guy. …all right ladies and gentlemen, if you tune this program on Monday…Eddie will you be with us Monday? Come on be here Monday.

While Van Halen didn’t return Monday, he did return the next month with then-wife Valerie Bertinelli and then again in 1995.

Van Halen returned to Letterman again in 1995 to perform a rare instrumental version of “Panama”.

Sadly, the world lost Eddie Van Halen and his uniquely virtuosic talent on Tuesday, October 6, 2020, due to a long battle with cancer. He was just 65 years old. Friends, family, and fans have all posted their thoughts and memories of this musical genius who was taken far too soon.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.