The iconic photo of Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth standing under the McDonald’s arches on a winter day has been installed in the place where it was taken.
Fans have become familiar with Richard Upper’s picture since it was shot during the two Van Halen members’ promotional tour of 1978. Upper had been sent to join them in a limousine as they capitalized on interest in the band’s debut album, released that year.
At the opening of a brand-new restaurant in the same location, Upper recalled the story, telling West Newsmagazine: “We were driving from KSHE down Watson and we saw the McDonald’s sign. We’re already hungry, and they said, ‘Let’s go, guys.’ So we did.”
He continued: “We got our meals and we were walking back to the limousine. I looked up at the sign and said, ‘Eddie, we can’t leave without taking a shot of this with you guys.’ So he’s rifling through his bag trying to eat ‘cause he’s really hungry, and he and David get perfectly right in the middle, under the sign, and I take a bunch of pictures. This was the best one.”
The current owner of the Crestwood franchise – national restaurant No. 71 – confirmed it was the first McDonald’s in St. Louis, in Missouri and possibly on Route 66 when it opened in August 1958. Nolan Ruiz explained that the original building had been replaced soon after Van Halen and Roth had visited. That building was recently knocked down to make way for a state-of-the-art establishment, with the famous picture on display.
He added that there was another point of local interest: “It’s how I met my wife and became the proud parent of four children.”
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