Rediscovering My Records: Van Halen 5150
OK, so I bought this on cassette, not vinyl, in 1986, but it's still worth another listen as Sammy Hagar made his debut as the frontman for Van Halen on 5150.
After sitting in my old bedroom closet at my parent's house for more than thirty years, I recently got my record collection back. I went out and bought a cheap record player and have been rediscovering my records and learning a lot about my teenage self. The caveat here is that I bought 5150 on cassette when it came out in 1986. If I remember correctly, I bought it the very first day it was released. Music was that important to me as a teenager, and still is today.
I was a big fan of Sammy Hagar and was excited to hear what he would sound like with Van Halen. Quick side story: I was at the concert at Wings Stadium in 1984. While I'm sure I remember enjoying the show, and I came home with a 3/4 sleeve glow-in-the-dark "I Can't Drive 55" t-shirt, I have no memory of Ted Nugent joining Sammy on stage and would have sworn I have never seen Krokus play live. As both of these things actually happened, once again I have to thank my best friend for taking care of me when I was blackout drunk. (There's a lot of reasons I don't do that anymore.)
So, anyway... I was excited to hear Hagar with Van Halen and he didn't disappoint. To this day, I have a very vivid recollection pressing PLAY on my boombox (it was 1986!) and hearing "Hello, baaaaby!" What a great way to start a record. Now, I liked Van Halen well enough, and had Diver Down in my collection, but hadn't really heard much of the early stuff at that point, so I wasn't a die-hard DLR fan who didn't think Diamond Dave could be replaced. In fact, I really liked his first couple of solo albums without the Van Halen brothers.
I just about wore out my copy of 5150, playing it again and again, so when the tour hit the streets, I begged my parents for permission to go. It was a big deal for four high school kids from Holland to drive all the way across the state to Detroit to see a concert. It. Was. Awesome. They played just about everything from 5150, plus a few VH classics and Hagar songs like "I Can't Drive 55" and "There's Only One Way To Rock." Seeing Eddie and Sammy trading guitar licks and having a blast was so much fun.
Music, to me, is the best time machine we have and 5150 takes me right back to high school and puts a smile on my face. I don't mean that it was the greatest time of my life and I wish I could be back there again. I loved it, and had some incredible experiences, but I don't live in the past. I love the life I have today and am living all of it. It's like the best of both worlds.
Forgotten First Albums: Rock's 61 Most Overshadowed Debuts