MTV Classic has posted a tour of Eddie Van Halen‘s 5150 Studio that the guitarist gave Chris Connelly in 1998. In the seven-minute clip, Van Halen shares some interesting stories about the studio’s construction and the creation of one of Van Halen‘s biggest hits.
You can watch the clip in the Facebook post below.
The guitarist said he built the studio in 1983 so he could spend more time writing songs after Diver Down was padded with cover songs. But constructing a studio in his home went against local zoning laws, so he told the inspector he was building a racquetball court.
When the inspector noticed the thickness of the walls for soundproofing purposes, he said to Van Halen, “Man, you must really worry about your neighbors.” The guitarist responded, “Yeah, you know, I play late at night and I hit the ball really hard.”
Van Halen also showed Connelly a wall of shelves filled with tapes of everything he had recorded in the studio. He and longtime engineer Donn Landee sorted through all the boxes, creating a numbering system and entering the details into a RadioShack computer so he’d know what was on each tape.
But at some point, as he put it, “the computer took a dump on us.” Attempts to restore the hard drive proved unsuccessful, and Van Halen was unwilling to hire somebody to go through it again because “the only person that can do that is me, because nobody knows what I like.”
Even though he lost the ability to call up the information on the tapes with just a few keystrokes, the mishap resulted in a moment on inspiration. One day, he climbed up the ladder and pulled out a tape from 1983, before he had even written “Jump,” and wound up fashioning the discovered music into the 1992 Van Halen hit “Right Now.”
Van Halen also shows Connelly his original Frankenstrat guitar and how it got its distinctive tone, and relays a funny story about teaching his son Wolfgang about improvising and how it got him into trouble at school.