35 Years Ago: '1984' Marks A Major Turning Point For Van Halen

January 9, 2019

When Van Halen released Diver Down in 1982, they were already one of the biggest rock acts on the planet. Two years later when they released 1984, they solidified themselves as a rock n' roll force to be reckoned with. It would also mark the final Van Halen album that would feature David Lee Roth on vocals until 2012's A Different Kind of Truth.

Selling over 20 million copies with mainstream hits like "Jump," "I'll Wait," "Panama," and "Hot For Teacher," 1984 peaked at the No. 2 slot on the Billboard album charts for five weeks straight. The only thing standing in their way was Michael Jackson's Thriller.

1984's roots first began in guitarist Eddie Van Halen's home studio "5150," which is the LAPD code for an escaped mental patient. Some of the riffs featured on 1984 were written many years before they even began making the album. The famous keyboard riff on "Jump" was written by Eddie many years before, but was shot down by Roth every time he tried to include it in a song. That was until Roth wrote the song's lyrics after witnessing a man on a high building contemplating jumping to his death from the top of a tall building.

Though 1984 is often regarded as an enormous career moment for Van Halen, it was also the album in which featured unused material from Van Halen's archives. One example being "House of Pain," which was a song they played in clubs during the mid-'70s, as well as them peforming a portion of "Girl Gone Bad" midway through "Somebody Get Me A Doctor" as part of their 1982 tour.

A couple of months after its release, 1984 had gone platinum. By October, it had gone quadruple platinum. And on January 23rd, 1985, a little over one year later since its release, 1984 had reached quintuple platinum. Yet despite the band's insurmountable success, Roth was unsatisfied with the direction Van Halen was taking its music. Another red flag for Roth was how Eddie and his brother/drummer Alex Van Halen shut him out of 5150 for a good portion of the record's creative process. Eventually on April 1st, 1985, David Lee Roth had quit the band.

It was no April Fool's joke. At first the band invited Patty Smyth of Scandal to be Roth's replacement, an offer she would decline. They then moved on to Sammy Hagar, who would take over the band's singing duties until 1996.