A new Van Halen was born on the album5150, named after Eddie’s studio at his home in LA’s Coldwater Canyon (‘5150’ was the Californian law code for detention of mentally ill persons). And for Eddie, this album marked a major turning point.
Along with the new voice in Van Halen came a new approach to guitar – different tones, different gear. Out was the pinpoint positioned mixing style of old and in came huge stereo-panned rhythm guitars courtesy of an Eventide H3000.
Mick Jones, the leader of Foreigner, was enlisted as co-producer on5150. He had written all of Foreigner’s hit songs, from riff-driven anthems such as Urgent and Hot Blooded to power ballads including the worldwide number one I Want To Know What Love Is.
He had produced, or co-produced, all of the band’s albums. And he was a mean guitarist, as illustrated most powerfully inJuke Box Hero, one of the all-time great rock songs.
The making of5150 took a lot out of Mick Jones. “I was completely exhausted at the end of it,” he says. “We were running a bit late – and the band had a tour booked. So there was pressure.” But in the end, the album proved a huge success.
Released on March 24th, 1986,5150was the band’s first US number one album. And that victory tasted even sweeter when David Lee Roth’s Eat ’Em And Smile, featuring Steve Vai on guitar, only made it to number four.
5150 turned out to be one of the most important albums Van Halen ever made. And Mick Jones is proud to have played a part in it. “It was a pretty intense experience,” he says. “But we achieved something very special.”