In 1972, the eponymous guitarist Eddie Van Halen began a rock band with his brother Alexander Van Halen. They decided to call their group "Van Halen" as a tribute to their Scandinavian heritage, though by any other convention the brothers were as Californian as a Sunset Strip. Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s the band enjoyed enormous success off the back of a wild stage show, gigs filled with glam-rock razzle dazzle and of course the incredible live in concert extravaganza that was Eddie Van Halen's amazing guitar skills! His innovation and speed was to electric guitar playing what tap dancing was to the soft shoe shuffle, and the audiences lapped it up like obese Pop Tarts with ravenous eating disorders.
Things continued in a blistering manner for years until a fateful time in 1984 when it all started to become a bore. Tired of endlessly zipping his way up and down the fretboard, Eddie realised it was time for the group to begin exploring brave new musical directions. To kick off the creativity, he decided that their new album would be called '1984,' with its theme centring around just what it was like to be a guitarist in Van Halen in the crazy old 1984th year of the Lord. The concept was startlingly original, and the group dashed into the recording studio to hammer it out and secure a few more years at the top of the business.
The recordings progressed well and the band agreed that it was shaping up to be their strongest effort to date. They were already considering things such as awards ceremonies, orgasmic heavy metal stadium concerts, who they would thank in the liner notes and final track listings when Eddie stormed in one afternoon and sat down at the keyboard. He told everyone to shut the fuck up and pay attention because he had something important to say and words could just not express the enormity. Lengths of ash gathered on the ends of half-smoked cigarettes and excited glances were exchanged in anticipation. Nobody knew what Eddie had to show them, but everybody knew it was going to be special.
He breathed deeply for several minutes, cracked his knuckles more than once, and then proceeded to jam out some heavily synthesized riffery. Their eager smiles hung in awkward silence as he finished and looked up for a response. Somebody finally asked if it was an instrumental, hoping that Eddie might produce a blistering guitar solo to accompany and hide the less-than-stellar keyboard hook. Eddie answered no, the song had words too. He had written them himself. They asked what it was called and as if expecting a negative reply, he defensively shouted Jump! The song is called Jump! I like jumping and the song is about what it's like to be a man that plays in a successful rock band and enjoys jumping in the year 1984! Nobody knew what to say, but it was clear no one had expected grandioso songs about jumping to fall onto the agenda. Precariously, Eddie was prodded to add his vocals to the fledgling lick. Jump! He shouted. Go ahead and jump! I might as well jump!
It was all he had so far, he explained, but it was a start. The song would become the cornerstone of the album, and there was no question about what would be the lead single. Regretfully, the band plodded through, too attached to what had already been recorded to refuse Eddie his new addition and upset things. They all hated it, and hoped that it would end up an obscure b-side, eventually to be written off as a joke recorded at the eleventh-hour. But Eddie's obsession with the song only grew stronger, and he demanded it be given the utmost promotion. He was utterly convinced of its legs, and after a satisfactory version had been committed to tape, he listened tirelessly to it over and over, knowing it was the best thing he had ever done. Not long after the Jump debacle, the band fell into disarray and a multitude of replacement lead singers after the swift departure of David Lee Roth. Eddie didn't care one iota - just as long as there was somebody to sing his beloved Jump, the legend of Van Halen would continue on for what would go on to seem like forever.