Sammy Explains Why Van Halen and Van Hagar Were Different
Sammy Hagar recently spoke about the different fan reactions to his era of music with Van Halen compared to the early material with David Lee Roth.
The Red Rocker sat for an interview with Clay Marshall for an OC Weekly feature and in excerpts that have surfaced online he was asked about the debate between fans over the Roth era and Van Hagar era albums.
He responded, "I have no problem with people saying that early Van Halen stuff was more rock. It was raw rock. They were young kids, for god's sake. First band, first albums. I compare Montrose to that. They were like Montrose.
"When I joined, I was 45 years old. I'm a grown man. I've got kids. I've got a wife. I'm wealthy already - I've had success. We're not going to be that first album again. But that early Van Halen stuff was f***in' killer.
"It's just that when I joined the band, Eddie was kind of done writing that way. He had run out of his licks, and I'm not putting him down in any way. He's still a genius, but you only have so many songs in you. Look at The Beatles; look at The Rolling Stones. You've got to repeat yourself if you stay together and keep going, and Eddie was about to repeat himself.
"When I came in there, he was pulling out stuff saying, 'Well, what do you think about this?' He was trying to write new music, and most of the time, he was sitting down at the piano. I'm going, 'F***, I didn't know you could play piano like that.'
"I immediately start singing, and he's going, 'Wow.' It allowed him as a musician to grow. Just playing guitar in the early stuff and those real simple things in Dave's range of singing, you run out. '1984' was the peak. They would have never outdone that record, and some people don't even like that record because of 'Jump'. I'm going, 'Get out of here - that's a f***in' great song. I wish they would have played me that f***in' riff.'
"I have no ego in that whole thing. If it wasn't for what Dave did with that band, I would have had no band to join. I was running out as a solo artist at the time. I cut my hair off. I said to Ted Templeman, who produced my 'VOA' record - it was a multi-platinum record, and I did my biggest tour ever... He goes, 'What are we going to do next?' I said, 'I'm taking a year off. I'm going to figure out... I've got to write some songs. I don't know what I'm going to do. It's time for a change.'
"Then jumping in there, it was just perfect. Eddie was running out the same way, I'm sure; I wasn't sure which way I was going to go; we got together, and bam - it was like lightning. It was just beautiful, and the timing couldn't have been better.
" I wrote songs to the music I was given. I wrote lyrics and melodies to the music I was given by Eddie. I didn't force none of that. It is what it is. We sold plenty of records, and I'll tell you what - when I play 'When It's Love' or 'Right Now', the ballad, softer side of Van Halen, all I know is that I've got about 15,000 people with lighters in the air singing, so somebody likes that sh*t."
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