Remembering Eddie Van Halen’s Surprise ‘Saturday Night Live’ Appearance with Valerie Bertinelli

by Maggie Schneider

Watch this iconic Saturday Night Live episode from 1987. Late guitarist Eddie Van Halen makes a few special guest cameos.

It is always fun to look back and watch SNL episodes from decades past. There are so many amazing musical guests and hosts to watch, particularly from the 1980s. Eddie Van Halen took over an episode in 1987, which remains an iconic installment of the show to this day.

Van Halen’s appearances are partly due to who he was married to at the time. Actress Valerie Bertinelli, the guitarist’s wife, was hosting the episode. Making an exception to their usual rule, Saturday Night Live allowed Van Halen to come to the show’s taping.

Looking back at the episode, the guitarist is much more than a face in the crowd. The guitarist appears in a sketch, as well as a fun musical interlude in-between commercials.

Eddie Van Halen’s ‘Saturday Night Live’ Appearances

Eddie Van Halen appears in a sketch titled “Dinner With the Van Halens.” Alongside Jon Lovitz, Dennis Miller, and Kevin Nealon, the segment follows three roadies who “try to get the couple a restaurant table.” Of course, Van Halen and Valerie Bertinelli play themselves in this fun skit.

In addition to acting on SNL, the guitarist plays live guitar on the episode. While he is not the official musical guest, Van Halen finds a way to sneak in a shredding solo or two. Playing with the SNL House Band and G.E. Smith, the musician performs an instrumental piece called “Stompin’ 8H.” The title references the show’s filming location, Studio 8H. It has remained on the same iconic set since 1979.

Watch the musical interlude from Saturday Night Live below.

G.E. Smith Talks About Halen’s Appearance on ‘SNL’

In an interview with the Archive of American Television, G.E. Smith sits down and tells the story of Van Halen’s spontaneous appearance on the Saturday Night Live. He says that the musician was bored following his wife around all day.

“So, he finds out about the music office,” Smith begins. “He comes over and hangs out, you know, because you can do whatever you want in the music office.”

“They would allow me to invite anybody I wanted to come sit in with the band so whenever there was a great guitar player in town, I would invite him to come sit in,” he continues. “It was just a natural thing. He’s one of the great guitar players so why am I not going to put him on? Of course I’m going to put him on.”

And the rest is history! Who knew that an impromptu performance like this would make the episode a Saturday Night Live classic.