Van Halen: March, 1980, Moby Gym


The 1980 World Invasion Tour was Van Halen’s third world tour and first full headlining tour. It included 124 stops in the U.S., Canada and Europe, started on March 19 and lasted through November 15, 1980, and was in support their third album, Women and Children First. It was dubbed the “Party ‘til You Die Tour” by the band. This tour marked the first time the band played keyboards live during their shows, as Michael Anthony would play the keyboard parts of “And the Cradle Will Rock….”


Romeo Delight / Bottoms Up! / Drum Solo / Runnin’ With the Devil / Tora! Tora! / Loss of Control / Take Your Whiskey Home / Dance the Night Away / Women in Love / Jamie’s Cryin’ / Bright Lights, Big City (Jimmy Reed cover) / Atomic Punk / Everybody Wants Some!! / And the Cradle Will Rock… / Light Up the Sky / Guitar Solo / Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love / Encore: Ice Cream Man (John Brim cover) / You Really Got Me (The Kinks cover)

The Moby Gym show was one of the first shows on the tour, and three days after the release of Women and Children First. The band RAIL was the supporting act. The stage set-up was their most elaborate at that time. Eddie and Michael’s guitar and bass cabinets were stair-stepped into three rows, so they could climb on top of them and rock out! And, in front of Alex Van Halen’s drum kit was a large cushioned mat for David Lee Roth to showcase his stage jumps and flamboyant acrobatic skills. This show, as many thereafter on the tour, shared a predominantly standard setlist throughout, covering most of the WACF album, and ending with three songs from their powerhouse 1978 self-titled debut. A local “old-school” concert-goer recently described the show as, “It was so loud, my ears are still ringing”.

These early 1980 VH shows capture the band at that pinnacle moment before becoming larger-than-life with mainstream audiences worldwide. Although not my absolute favorite VH tour, it’s documented as their most infamous one.

The following night’s show, (11 days into the tour) at Massari Arena in Pueblo, Colorado, is where the now legendary “brown M&M” incident took place. In a 2011 interview, promoter Barry Fey stated that, “In their Pueblo dressing room, the band found brown M&Ms and the boys, who had proven that they didn’t need much of an excuse to damage hotel rooms and the like, tore up the college’s dressing room; tore it up so badly that the University banned not only Van Halen, but all rock concerts at the school.” In a later interview, David Lee Roth stated, “The folks in Pueblo, Colorado, at the university, took the contract kinda casual.” From the band’s perspective, that was demonstrated by the fact that the USC concert officials hadn’t removed the brown M&Ms are requested. So, they staged a massive food fight and plastered bananas and lasagna on the walls. Furniture and paintings were destroyed, holes punched in the wall, and they ruined the carpet and drapes. They pissed and vomited on the bathroom floor, and then drove their bus over “ground not authorized for driving” and tore up the grass. The Pueblo Chieftain reported  “A lot of teenyboppers were drinking and carrying on. We were told the stench of marijuana was strong in the gym.” This was only the beginning of the tour. The following month, David Lee Roth got arrested in Cincinnati for throwing a lit joint into the crowd.

From Van Halen’s 1980 contract rider:

Munchies: Potato chips with assorted dips • Nuts • Pretzels • M & M’s (WARNING: ABSOLUTELY NO BROWN ONES) • Twelve (12) Reese’s peanut butter cups • Twelve (12) assorted Dannon yogurt (on ice)

Supplies: • Forty-eight (48) large, bath-size cloth towels • One hundred (100) cups for cold drinks (16 oz., waxed paper) • Fifty (50) styrofoam cups (minimum 10 oz.) for hot drinks • Forks, knives and spoons (metal, not plastic) • Serving utensils, corkscrew, bottle and can openers • Salt and pepper (in shakers) • Tablecloths • Napkins (paper) • Two (2) large bars Ivory soap • One (1) large tube KY Jelly

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