Mick Jones looks back at producing Van Halen's landmark 5150: "It was a pretty intense experience – but we achieved something very special"

Eddie Van Halen and Mick Jones
(Image credit: Paul Natkin/Getty Images; LGI Stock/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)

In 1985, when Van Halen singer David Lee Roth quit the band, Eddie Van Halen was left facing the toughest challenge of his career. 

He was the most famous guitar player on the planet – the guy who had revolutionized the art of rock guitar in the late-'70s, and had got the call from Michael Jackson to play the solo on his mega-hit Beat It from Thriller, the biggest-selling album of all time. But with Diamond Dave gone, Eddie had to replace the seemingly irreplaceable, and reinvent the band that had defined American hard rock in the early '80s. 

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Paul Elliott

Content Editor at Total Guitar and freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2005, Paul Elliott has worked for leading music titles since 1985, including Sounds, Kerrang!, MOJO and Q. He is the author of several books including the first biography of Guns N’ Roses and autobiography of bodyguard-to-the-stars Danny Francis, and has written liner notes for classic album reissues by artists such as Def Leppard, Thin Lizzy and Kiss. He lives in Bath, UK – of which David Coverdale recently said, “How very Roman of you!”