- This album flipped my shit.
Sammy Hagar was riffing on 1950s disc jockey-turned pop star Jiles “Big Bopper” Richardson when he let out the banshee wail kicking off one my favorite rock records of the 1980s. One of my favorite albums of any kind, of any time, period.
And to think, 5150 was a record that almost didn’t happen—created by a band that almost never existed.
Van Halen were one of the biggest bands in the world in 1984, their similarly-titled sixth studio album having sold a gazillion copies on the strengths of such hits as “Jump,” “I’ll Wait,” and “Panama.” They’d earned a cool million dollars headlining the U.S. Festival on their previous tour—a gig they advertised with a staged parachute entrance by the band and a unique contest giving some lucky fan a shot at “Lost Weekend” spent partying with the boys for a while. MTV, still a nascent cable channel, was far more accessible in ‘84 than during the time of the band’s previous release, Diver Down.