Sammy Hagar Would’ve Been ‘Embarrassed’ if Van Halen Changed Name to ‘Van Hagar’
Singer Sammy Hagar has recollected the meeting Van Halen held with their former record label, Warner Bros., about potentially changing the band name when he joined in 1985 in place of David Lee Roth. Hagar said he would've been 'embarrassed' if it was changed to 'Van Hagar.'
Estranged Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony recently revealed the news of this decades-old meeting in a radio interview and Hagar, as a guest on 95.5 KLOS, was asked if he was part of those internal discussions about the band adopting a new moniker to go along with their new frontman.
The 'Red Rocker' stated (transcription via Blabbermouth, audio below), "Yeah, we were all in a room. And I think [head of Warner Bros.] Mo Austin said, 'Why don't we be careful here…?' Our managers and lawyers and the president of the record company and the band [were] all in a room when we asked for permission for me to join the band — it was official. Everybody came and said, 'We wanna have a meeting.'"
The group was already working on new material that would eventually be part of the 5150 album, Van Halen's first with Hagar singing. He continued, "And we were in the studio and we played 'Why Can't This Be Love.' And Mo Austin went, 'Oh, I smell money' — he thought it was just the greatest."
Then came the idea that was perhaps not the greatest.
"But anyway, so then he said, 'Did you guys ever think about maybe changing the name to, like, Van Hagar or something?' And I know what they were thinking, because they thought, 'If this doesn't work, at least you can go back with Van Halen again. But if you're Van Halen and it [doesn't] work, now you've ruined Van Halen. So they were trying to preserve, I think, the Van Halen name," Hagar explained of the behind-the-scenes string-pulling.
As for who railed against the decision, Hagar noted that it fell on just one person within the band.
"And Eddie Van Halen — Eddie Van Halen; no one else — said, 'Fuck that.' He said, 'This is Van Halen with a new singer.' And everybody said, 'Okay. Word. Gospel.' Boom," the singer recalled.
"I was a hundred percent on board with [keeping the band name]," confirmed Hagar, who added, "It was Van Halen with a new singer. I would have been embarrassed to be Van Hagar. I would have said, 'Let's just change it back to [Van Halen's original name] Mammoth' or something — go back to the beginning."
Currently, Eddie's son Wolfgang, has instead taken the Mammoth moniker for his solo career as Mammoth WVH, but not without asking for his father's permission first. His self-titled debut album drops on June 11.
Sammy Hagar on 95.5 KLOS
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