Van Halen - 5150
Van Halen releases "5150." on this day, March 24, 1986. More than 30 years later and it still depends on who you ask; David Lee Roth was fired. David Lee Roth quit. He wanted to make a movie. He was tired of Edward's shit. Edward was tired of Dave's shit. Everybody worth talking to about it remembers where they were when it happened and they'll probably have an opinion on Van Halen's return with Sammy Hagar at the controls.
Let me make something clear. Sammy Hagar was in Van Halen. David Lee Roth is Van Halen. Now let that sink in for a minute. For us...the two dudes at Heavy Metal Thursday....already told you yesterday; we love Van Halen. All of it. Started a Facebook group to demonstrate as much. "Van Halen: A Different Kind of Fan Page." Go check it out. Anyway. Everybody who matters remembers when "5150," first came out. "Why Can't This Be Love," hits the radio. Keyboards front and center. Alex Van Halen's gone to electronic drums. Sammy Hagar can sing his ass off. Now let me tap the brakes one more time right now....start a new paragraph.
Anybody over 40, the dudes reading this and the rocker chicks from back in the day....your older brother, maybe, the older stoners up the street, whatever....any of these people who say things like "Sammy Hagar sucks," are among the biggest liars you know. They all listened to Sammy Hagar. Sammy Hagar was an arena rock show, summer time music festival staple and a fan favorite. This article isn't about his solo career, but he was popular among almost everyone who pretends to hate him now and incredulously places the blame on him for the break up of Van Halen.
"Van Hagar has too many love songs...," Highly unoriginal sentences like that ooze from their mouths. As if Sammy Hagar showed up uninvited to Edward's house, walked around back to Edward's new recording studio 5150, kicked in the door and started waving around a revolver. Forcing Eddie over onto the keyboard. Edwards revisionism, decades and millions of dollars later is another story, speaking of unresolved issues.
You don't have to like the Sammy era as much as the David Lee Roth era of Van Halen. They're distinctively different. But here's the truth, right here. Van Halen hires a new singer after arguably one of the most successful runs in recent Rock History. Nobody's thinking this is going to work. Then the record hits the stores. And "5150" is a huge hit. It worked on me, at least.
"5150" hit the stores the last few weeks of my 8th grade year. I remember hearing "Why Can't This Be Love," in my mom's car on the way to school one morning. I bought the cassette as soon as I could. Within a few weeks of the release I hear on the radio that Van Halen will be headlining the 1986 Texxas Jam at The Cotton Bowl in Dallas. "Mom, I've gotta go." She takes me down to Plano, Texas where there's a Ticketmaster inside of the Sears at the fancy mall. I walk as fast as I can to the back of the store. There's no line. It feels like every second counts. Nobody's moving fast. This isn't a big deal to anyone but me. Hurry the fuck up, lady. The lady prints up the ticket. "General Admission," and hands it to me in an envelope. I slide the ticket out to take a peek and I can see all the words on the ticket. Van Halen. It looks like this one, which I lifted off the internet. I lost mine. The entire album where all the tickets went....no idea what happened to it and I keep acting like they'll turn up eventually. Hope is fading. Don't tattle on me for saving an image off the internet. People like the VHND think they own everything. A couple of obvious points for anyone whose ever been to a Texxas Jam. Besides this being an unused ticket, if you attended a Texxas Jam and your ticket stub still looked new when you got home, you weren't close enough to the show. You didn't get drenched by fire hoses all day long. You weren't at risk of heat stroke. You didn't really earn it, did you? You were standing back beyond about the 50 yard line on the field.
This is my first time to get to see Van Halen live in concert. A little too young, a little too late, missed the momentum and wasn't going to concerts, yet, when they last rolled through town on the 1984 Tour, but they're my band. And I've got a ticket. Edward Van Halen. Plus Dio is on the bill. I had just seen Dio a few months earlier. My first concert. So I've got the smallest amount of concert street cred. A concert shirt to wear to the show.
Van Halen destroyed the place. That's the point. They came out and destroyed the Cotton Bowl. Many critics of this "Van Hagar" thing were made into believers on this day. And this day deserves its own treatment from me. Maybe at another time. If my mom reads these I might still get into some trouble.
Sammy Hagar & Edward Van Halen, 1986 Texxas Jam
"5150" is a kickass album. Back when "Live Without A Net," came out we had the VHS and wore it out. I think it came from a video rental store and was never returned. Sorry about that, too.
Anybody who watches "Live Without A Net" and says Van Halen sucks is an idiot. Has unresolved issues over their parent's divorce or a bad breakup around the same time "5150" came out. Blaming their shitty life on Van Halen. Something like that. Pay the receptionist on your way out.
There's fewer bands than you can count on one hand who open a show as full throttle as this right here and can maintain the momentum throughout. Van Halen comes out with their new front man and plays one of his songs from his solo career. A statement. We are here to rock. And there's only one way to do it. This is badass. Go lie to your friends. Don't lie to me.
"There's Only One Way To Rock"
Oh, but wait....this isn't on "5150." Ok. You're right. Here you go. Stand back if you're especially sensitive. Sammy uses the word "love" in the song. Maybe punch your buddy real quick. Make sure everyone knows you're a real badass. Love songs are for fags.
"Love Comes Walking In"
And I can't be talking about "Live Without A Net," in the context of "5150" and then not post what is probably one of Edward Van Halen's greatest recorded guitar solos. Worth the price of admission especially if you're afraid your friends think you're queer for liking "love songs."