Counting down the songs Van Halen has played the most in concert offers an interesting perspective on the band’s two distinct main eras.
Songs from the band’s early years with original singer David Lee Roth dominate the ranking. But Sammy Hagar earns more spots than you might expect, sometimes even with songs that come from his solo career. Even Gary Cherone‘s brief time in the band affected how high certain songs wind up on the chart.
Seventeen of the 25 songs Van Halen have performed most frequently are taken from the six albums they recorded with Roth between 1978 and 1984, including 14 originals and three covers. Another five come from the four records they released with Hagar over the next 10 years; three more were drawn from Hagar’s solo career.
Unsurprisingly, nothing from 1998’s Van Halen III, the band’s only album with third singer Cherone, made the list. But the 86 shows he played with the band add an extra and occasionally unexpected boost to the totals for several Roth- and Hagar-era songs. Set lists from the Hagar years had even more impact on the fate of several Roth songs. You’d expect Van Halen’s lone No. 1 single “Jump” to be the most played song from the band’s 1984 album, but Hagar’s early and continued support of “Panama” flips that race on its head.
The song counts are courtesy of Setlist.fm and represent Van Halen’s live appearances through their 2015 North American tour. Guitar, bass and drum solos are not included in the ranking unless they boast an actual song title.