Sammy Hagar: Full Van Halen Reunion ‘Would’ve Righted Everything’
In a wide-ranging Rolling Stone interview, the Red Rocker discussed the prospect of embarking on a tour that featured Eddie and Alex Van Halen, Michael Anthony, David Lee Roth and himself (and, potentially, the band's short-lived third singer, Gary Cherone). Wolfgang Van Halen previously referred to the trek as the "Kitchen Sink Tour."
"What a shame, huh? I mean, honestly, the shame is that Eddie Van Halen’s no longer with us. That’s the shame," Hagar said. "But if we would’ve done that … all the damage that I did with my book, the damage Ed did with his actions and his stuff he did in public, and the Cherone shenanigans, and the Roth reunions, my reunion … that would’ve righted everything if we would have did that tour. That would have righted everything, and I wanted that so bad. Just to all of us to go, 'We’re clean again. We’re angels. We’re spotless.'"
Hagar also confessed that he was "embarrassed to say I was in Van Halen" during the band's final outing with Roth, which ran through 2015. "About six or seven years ago, when they were out with Dave, and Ed was still really in bad shape," he elaborated. "They were out there making a lot of noise as Van Halen, and somebody would say, 'Sammy Hagar from Van Halen.' And I would go, 'Hey, hey. Just Sam Hagar. That’s enough.' I wanted people to know, but it was almost like it was a black mark because Roth was doing crazy stuff, and Ed was doing crazy stuff. I didn’t want anyone to think that I was Diamond Dave."
A proper Van Halen tour is impossible now, but rumors of a tribute tour featuring Joe Satriani have churned up the rumor mill in recent months, ever since former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted revealed that he was in talks to participate as well. Hagar told Rolling Stone that Van Halen manager Irving Azoff had also approached him about a tribute endeavor, but he had reservations.
“I knew there was talk of it because Irving Azoff had called me. He said, ‘I want to do a residency in Vegas with you and Mike and Al and a superstar guitar player,’” Hagar said. “And I said ‘Like who?’ And he said, ‘Like Joe Satriani.’ I said, ‘It just sounds like Chickenfoot with Alex Van Halen instead of Chad Smith.’ I wasn’t much for that, as much as I love Joe. He could do that job best, without a doubt, because he’s so friggin’ anal about the way he plays, and every single note.”
Hagar also said he was staunchly against the idea of any group of musicians hitting the road under the Van Halen moniker — with one exception. "If there was ever a situation where there was a Van Halen tribute in some kind of way with Alex, Mike, myself, Dave, if he would cooperate, and Wolfie playing Eddie’s parts, now that would be worthy of calling 'Van Halen,' for a moment," he said. "Wolfie would be crazy to drop his life and his creativity and his career to be his dad’s mimic. But for a moment, it could be great."
The Circle singer said that if a Van Halen tribute show were to ever come to fruition, he would prefer to keep it short and sweet and give the proceeds away. "I’m thinking of a one-off weekend or something where we give the money away to some cause," he said. "It can’t just be, 'Hey, we’re going to grab some money.' I got plenty of money. There’s nothing that I would do for money that I just wasn’t in love with the idea of doing. And I’m not in love with the idea of being Van Halen without Eddie Van Halen.
"Matter of fact, I’m dead against it," he continued. "But I would love to play music with Alex and Mike again. I would love to play those songs again. And if we did a residency or a tribute, I would sing 50/50. I would sing half the Dave songs too for the Van Halen fans. And those songs are great. I don’t mind singing some of them. The lyrics don’t fit in my life today, but neither does [Montrose songs] 'Rock Candy' or 'Bad Motor Scooter.'" The first step for all of this would be Hagar reconciling with Alex Van Halen, whom he hasn't seen since the end of Van Halen's disastrous Hagar reunion tour in 2004.
"I was walking off the stage, somebody goes and grabs me and said, 'Keep on going. Get the fuck out of here, right now. Go,'" Hagar recalled. "Well, he just knew a fight would have broken out because Ed was so belligerent on that last show that I wanted to beat his ass."
He continued: "So Alex came up to me right there at the same time and gave me a big hug and said, 'I love you, man. Thank you. Be careful. Safe flight.' And that was the last time. And I think we talked on the phone a little bit, but I don’t know what happened with Al. He kind of drank the Kool-Aid or something."
Despite their estrangement, Hagar agreed that a reunion of Van Halen's living members would provide closure to fans, and he said he hopes to bury the hatchet with Alex at some point. "Every time he came to me for a reunion or to get back in the studio after taking a break he’d say, 'Sam, we ain’t getting no younger.' So I would tell him that," Hagar said. "Then we’d have a big laugh and catch up. I wouldn’t start with business things since they wouldn’t be first on my agenda. I’d want to see how he’s really doing. Hopefully, he’s doing well, and then we’d be able to reconnect instantly like we did for the reunion."