WKRP in Cincinnati was the first TV show to feature the music of Van Halen

The sitcom helped introduce the music of Eddie Van Halen to American ears.

When WKRP in Cincinnati dropped the needle on "Atomic Punk" in October 1978, the debut album Van Halen was merely months old. The track was the B-side to the band's first single, a cover of the Kinks' "You Really Got Me," released in January 1978. So, really, "Atomic Punk" was the first piece of original music released by Van Halen. It was the first time headbangers heard the jaw-dropping guitar skills of Eddie Van Halen.

WKRP featured "Atomic Punk" in its fifth episode, the hilarious stand-out "Hold Up," when Dr. Johnny Fever (Howard Hesseman) does a remote at a stereo shop that gets robbed. Today, most of the rock 'n' roll music originally heard on the sitcom has been stripped out and replaced with generic tunes. That's the downside of music licensing and artists' rights. 

The sound of Eddie Van Halen shredding at 8 p.m. on CBS on a Monday evening would have been rather shocking. "Atomic Punk" is perhaps the heaviest song on Van Halen

At the time of death at the age of 65, Eddie Van Halen had accrued 105 soundtrack credits on his IMDb page. But Van Halen's music was rarely heard in primetime television. WKRP, however, was no stranger to pushing new rock acts.

Speaking of Van Halen, the sitcom also showcased a poster of Sammy Hagar in his pre-Van Halen days on the studio walls. Take a look.

Of course, Eddie Van Halen would have a closer tie to Seventies sitcom history. He married Valerie Bertinelli, star of One Day at a Time, in 1981. The couple would divorce in 2007.

But, undoubtedly, WKRP served as the first introduction to Van Halen for thousands of teens.

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Hogansucks1 43 months ago
That’s great insightful knowledge on ‘VH’ to know. I love it ! Thanks for that, MeTV researchers. (R.I.P. Edward) 😇
Greg 43 months ago
The Company that owns MTM is Disney I think Disney could afford to pay for the rights to use the music in WKRP. In America the copy right for music goes to the song writer so it's not their fault the Disney empire is pinching pennies.
Hogansucks1 Greg 43 months ago
? OK. 🧐
StrayCat 43 months ago
I find the revelation that most of the rock 'n' roll music originally heard on WKRP has been stripped out and replaced with generic tunes to be patently offensive and a testament to industry greed. It's as if the sitcom has been vandalized.
Greg StrayCat 43 months ago
It's the greed of Disney that owns MTM who own WKRP Disney should pay for copy rights that go to music writers.
qa3416 43 months ago
I've seen every episode of WKRP one hundred times and, honestly, I don't recall hearing "Erupton" in the "Holdup" episode. I went through my uncut copy (which does have Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" ) from an old recording and couldn't find it. At least I think it's uncut.
Barry22 44 months ago
Cool story. RIP. Never saw them live, but had a bunch of their stuff. Listened to 5150 this morning.
stephaniestavropoulos 44 months ago
R.I.P Eddie. Valerie wrote a most touching letter {I know that's not what its called when you write of the passing of someone, eulogy is not the right word.} to Eddie. She still loved him and she and their son Wolfgang were with him at the end. {That's how I understood what she wrote, that they were.} It's good that he was not alone. Condolences go out to the Van Halen family and their friends. A lot of joy was given to others from a very talented and nice man.
Joe 44 months ago
Part of NYC's WPIX daily schedule is airing back-to-back episodes of "Two and a Half Men" at 12:30am. And last night they coincidentally (and eerily) aired the episode with Eddie.


cperrynaples Joe 44 months ago
Was that the smoking guitar? BTW, Eddie said his cancer came not from cigarettes but from licking his guitar picks!
ll675i cperrynaples 44 months ago
and three packs a day sure didn't help.
Jeffrey Joe 44 months ago
I can't believe that's Eddie Van Halen with short Blonde hair instead of long. That's his Guitar though.
Barry22 Joe 44 months ago
I remember that episode, funny. Two and a Half Men was a good show.
Hogansucks1 cperrynaples 43 months ago
I don’t want to offend you, but, Edward use to place his guitar pic in his mouth when he was ‘Tapping’ his guitar so Brilliantly and MAKE it sing like a living entity. NO offense!! 😇
cperrynaples 44 months ago
Bonus Question: What Bertinelli sitcom featured "Finish What You Started" as its theme and who was her "friendly" co-star?
OldTVfanatic cperrynaples 44 months ago
Hot In Cleveland featuring Betty White
cperrynaples OldTVfanatic 44 months ago
WRONG on both sides! Hint on the second half: If I wanted Betty White, I would have called her "Golden"!
The show in question is "Sydney." Her co-star was pre-Friends Chandler Bing, Matthew Perry.
I don't remember Sydney but I remember her in a sitcom set in Paris I believe.
The Paris set show you're trying to remember: Cafe Americain. It aired in 1993. Van Halen appeared in the opening scene, {if I understood what I read,} I believe it was in the first scene first episode. It aired on NBC.
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