Music News

It Was All Eddie's Fault

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WW: Do you think one of the reasons they ditched him is because as soon as they got him back, they thought, "Hey, now we remember why we were glad to be rid of him in the first place"?

Hagar: Totally. But it was a little bit of a trick in the first place. It was like, "Fuck, let's try it, and if it works, let's go for it." And when it didn't work, they didn't go for it. They thought it was going to be the biggest thing since sliced bread, getting David Lee Roth back. They figured, "Sammy don't matter. We'll get all the old fans back and we'll be bigger than God." This is what they were thinking. But those two new songs they did [on Greatest Hits, Volume 1] were shit. Those were the worst songs Van Halen made in twenty years. And let me give you another piece of information about one of them, "Can't Get This Stuff No More." I wrote that song with Van Halen. It was an outtake from Balance [released in 1995].

WW: And they didn't give you a song credit?

Hagar: They rewrote the lyrics and they used some of my melody, but no, they didn't give me a song credit. But they paid me off like a motherfucker the first time I heard it on the radio.

WW: You called them on it?

Hagar: You bet I did. I was so shocked. That song wasn't good enough to be on Balance, and what I did with it was so much better than what Roth did. If I played them for you or anybody else, you would go "Wow." But they used his anyway. That's how desperate they were with this guy. I think Roth's fucking washed. So obviously they were struggling. They saw that it wasn't working, that it was a big mistake, and it was too late with me. Obviously, they weren't going to call me up and say, "Well, Sammy, we're sorry." And I wouldn't have gone for it anyway, because I was well on my way. So their manager suggested Gary Cherone, because he managed him, too.

WW: What's the manager's name?

Hagar: Ray Daniels. He's a piece of shit, this guy. But he's also Alex's brother-in-law, and he managed Extreme, which shows you what a great manager he was. And when the Roth thing fell apart, he's like, "I've got a guy." The whole thing just reeks of bullshit.

WW: Van Halen was going to have a big tour in conjunction with the Hits album. Does it give you some satisfaction that they had to pull the plug on that?

Hagar: I don't get any satisfaction out of seeing those guys struggle. Those guys were my buddies for ten years, and Eddie and I wrote some of the greatest songs in rock. So I don't like seeing them screw up, because that's not the kind of person I am. But don't get me wrong: I'm not interested in being back in the band. Besides, their record is never going to come out. They've been working on it for almost two years, since before I left, and they've been through three producers already. But I don't get any satisfaction out of that.

WW: Really? Even though they got rid of you after ten years with just a phone call?

Hagar: That's right, they did. But I'm happy. I like what I'm doing right now. I'm proud that I was the lead singer in that band for ten years, and we sold 52 million records. But I knew there was no way that tour could happen, because fans weren't going to put up with not hearing ten years of hits. I mean, it's not like we disappeared. All of our albums went to number one, and we sold 52 million of them. You can't pretend that never happened. I mean, with "Running With the Devil" and "Jump," people would have been happy for about twenty minutes. But then they would have said, "Okay, what about 'Why Can't This Be Love'? What about 'Dreams'?"

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts