"Runnin' with the Devil"
File:VanHalen RunningWithDevil.jpg
Single by Van Halen
from the album Van Halen
B-side "Eruption"
Released May, 1978
Format 7" 45 RPM
Recorded 1977
Genre Hard rock, heavy metal
Length 3 min 34 sec
Label Warner Bros.
Writer(s) Van Halen
Producer Ted Templeman
Van Halen singles chronology

<span />

"You Really Got Me"
"Runnin' with the Devil"
"Jamie's Cryin'"

"Runnin' with the Devil" is a rock song and the first track from Van Halen's 1978 eponymous debut album.


The track fades in with the sound of a car horn. In many ways, this track is the song that started it all, being the first song from the first album and that it sets the tone for the Van Halen attitude when David Lee Roth was the singer in the band. The song has the interesting distinction of being one of the few songs from Van Halen's early days where Eddie Van Halen used a guitar overdub. The car horns at the beginning were taken from the band's cars and linked together with a battery. Just before the main riff begins, the high pitched sound of the guitar being strummed behind the nut can be heard. "Runnin' with the Devil" is a song frequently played at games of the New Jersey Devils and Arizona State Sun Devils. This song was used as professional wrestler Davey Richards' theme music. The song lyrics were inspired by the Ohio Players song "Runnin' from the Devil".[1]

This song is featured in the movie Ready to Rumble as sung by a bus full of nuns and followed by the actual version by Van Halen. This song is also featured in the movies Little Nicky and Detroit Rock City.

It was performed on nearly every tour after its recording while with Roth, including the current reunion tour. It was performed only a handful of times when Sammy Hagar was lead singer.

Musicologist Robert Walser argues that the song contrasts power and control, writing that, "the feeling of freedom created by the freedom of motion of the guitar solos and fills can be at various times supported, defended, or threatened by the physical power of the bass and the violence of the drums. The latter rigidly organize and control time; the guitar escapes with flashy runs"[2].

In 2009 it was named the 9th greatest hard rock song of all time by VH1.[3]


According to the Megadeth episode of VH1's Behind the Music, lead singer/guitarist Dave Mustaine discovered original bass player David Ellefson when he played the bass line to "Runnin' with the Devil" early in the morning in the apartment under Mustaine's. "There was some guy living underneath me and he was playing bass first thing in the morning full blast and I have nothing against Van Halen, but that is the most horrible bass line to listen to if you're hung over."

Kate Nash's "Skeleton Song" begins with a sample of the car horn from the beginning of this song.

This song also serves as a b-side to "Jump" from the album 1984.

The song briefly appears in the movie Ready to Rumble.

Smash Mouth played "Runnin' with the Devil" as well as "You Really Got Me" during Ephrata, WA's Basin Summer Sounds music festival.


Guitar Hero Van Halen - Runnin' With The Devil - Expert Bass

Guitar Hero Van Halen - Runnin' With The Devil - Expert Bass

Runnin' With The Devil by Van Halen is a pretty easy song that has mostly strumming but a slow pace and even though it is an easy song to play, it is still fun and is now one of my favorite Van Halen songs.


  1. "Van Halen I."
  2. Walser, Robert (1993). Runnin' with the Devil, p.54. Quoted by James M. Manheim (1995), p.232. Untitled review, American Music, Vol. 13, No. 2 (Summer, 1995), pp. 231-234. Published by: University of Illinois Press.
  3. " music". Archived from the original. Error: You must specify the date the archive was made using the |archivedate= parameter. Retrieved on February 7, 2009. 
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.

Fandom may earn an affiliate commission on sales made from links on this page.

Stream the best stories.

Fandom may earn an affiliate commission on sales made from links on this page.

Get Disney+