5150 is Van Halen’s 7th studio album and was released on March 24, 1986. It was put out by Warner Bros. and was the first album with former Montrose vocalist Sammy Hagar. David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen had a troubled relationship and a clash of musical interests. This led Roth to leave for a solo career. The band had trouble finding a replacement for the popular Roth. In July of 1985, Eddie’s mechanic told him about Sammy Hagar. Hagar and Van Halen hit it off and immediately began writing songs for a new album. Hagar went on to make a total of 4 albums with Van Halen. He left the band in 1996. The album took its name from Eddie Van Halen’s home studio, 5150. 5150 is also the police term for a mentally disturbed person. The album went on to hit #1 on the Billboard 200 chart. It surpassed 1984, which had peaked at number 2 behind Michael Jackson’s Thriller album.
The cover features an Art Deco depiction of Atlas kneeling and holding a polished metallic sphere on his shoulders. BodyShaping’s Rick Valente was the model for the album cover. The sphere features the Van Halen logo while the title of the album appears as a placard on a chain around Atlas’ neck. The back cover of the album has the Atlas character collapsed, with the sphere dropped and broken open, revealing the band inside.
AllMusic’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine had a retrospective review that was somewhat positive. Erlewine said that “Eddie Van Halen wanted respect to go along with his gargantuan fame, and Roth wasn’t willing to play. Bizarrely enough, Sammy Hagar — the former Montrose lead singer who had carved out a successful solo career — was ready to play, possibly because the Red Rocker was never afraid of being earnest, nor was he afraid of synthesizers, for that matter.” Erlewine criticized the album for the more heavy-handed feeling that resulted from Hagar’s performance: “[W]here Diamond Dave would have strutted through the song with his tongue firmly in cheek, Hagar plays it right down the middle, never winking, never joking. Even when he takes a stab at humor on the closing “Inside” — joshing around about why the guys chose him as a replacement — it never feels funny, probably because, unlike Dave, he’s not a born comedian.” He went on to say that “it worked, because they had the songs and the desire to party, so those good intentions and slow tunes don’t slow the album down; they give it variety and help make the album a pretty impressive opening act for Van Halen Mach II.”