Sammy Hagar Reveals What He Did To Cause Eddie Van Halen Not To Look Him In The Eye
Former Van Halen frontman Sammy Hagar and the band’s co-founder and legendary guitarist Eddie went through a rough patch both as bandmates and as friends in the late ’90s and then in 2005, and although in the beginning both parties were filled with resentment, their feelings changed when Eddie’s health started deteriorating.
As you know, Sammy Hagar replaced David Lee Roth and became the lead vocalist of Van Halen in 1985. Although everything was seemingly fine for the first decade, tensions started increasing in 1996. Following the band’s 1995 tour, Sammy Hagar had agreed to record two new tracks for their greatest hits album after Eddie, Alex, and Hagar’s pregnant wife had all dealt with their medical issues. However, when Sammy had flown to Hawaii with his wife for the arranged for a natural delivery of the baby, he was called back to the studio by Eddie. Hagar flew to Los Angeles, only to find out that his wife couldn’t fly back to Hawaii. After a big argument, Hagar stated that he was fired while Eddie argued that he was the one to quit.
In 2003, Sammy Hagar reunited with Van Halen, and although fans were filled with hope that the band wouldn’t have any problems this time, they were once again left heartbroken. Sammy and Eddie’s relationship had gotten so strained that they used different charter jets to travel. The last fight that they had was after their last show in 2015, when at the end of the show Eddie smashed his guitar on stage and sent shrapnel into the audience. This made Sammy furious and in his autobiography ‘Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock‘ he stated that Eddie had changed and become a different person.
Following the release of his autobiography in 2011, Sammy Hagar gave an interview to the Recording Academy, during which he talked about his relationship with Eddie. The Red Rocker said that he misses him every day but there’s so much resentment and anger built up that he can’t picture them having a nice conversation. He went on to say that especially after the release of his autobiography, in which he explicitly talked about all the problems they’ve been through, he doubted that Eddie would even look him in the eye.
Nonetheless, it seems like Eddie’s deteriorating health was a wake-up call for Sammy who in 2020 decided to reach out to his former bandmate and bury the hatchet. Even though he tried to get a hold of Eddie through Alex and other common friends, it was George Lopez that brought them together. In his interview with Variety after Eddie’s passing, Sammy said that once he called him, the first thing that Eddie said was that he should have called him first instead of his brother and others. After Sammy said that he loves him, ‘it was like, boom, we were good.’
Here’s what Sammy Hagar had said in 2012 when asked about whether he misses Eddie [transcribed by RC]:
“Oh, there’s every part of me, from my hair to my toes that miss my friendship with Eddie and Alex Van Halen. I think Alex and I are probably still good friends, but Eddie and I hit a real hard bump in the road. It’s kind of like, you know, a relationship with a partner and you know, and things go so wrong you just don’t feel like you could ever let that go, you know, but we’ll see. I mean, because I think I can let anything go. I don’t know if Eddie can let anything go. Maybe he can. But right now, there’s a lot of resentment built up. It’s almost like there’s so much anger that I don’t even want to run into him.
I would just always say, if I ran into him somewhere, it’d be like, ‘Oh, Eddie, how are you doing’ and then big hugs and kisses. I don’t think it’d be like that right now. I think it’d be like, you know, ‘you did this and you did that’ and we’d get in in each other’s face. It got real ugly.”
He went on to say:
“Unfortunately, when I wrote my book, I had to say it all because in my whole life, what do I do? I go through life, I run into fans. ‘Oh, man, I loved you in Van Halen, you were the best guy’. You know, of course, they told me I was the best guy in Van Halen and told the other guy he was the best guy, whatever. But the truth of the matter is, they say, ‘Why can’t you and Eddie get back together’ and I’m going ‘You don’t understand.’ So, when I wrote my book, I wanted to clarify that, I just wanted to throw that out the window. ‘Don’t ever ask me again why I’m not in Van Halen, I was thrown out.’
I was stabbed in the back and left for dead, you know? And that was it. You just can’t go back and hug and kiss the kind of people that do that to you. And so I wrote about it in my book and now that I really wrote about it in the book, I don’t think Eddie would ever look me in the eye and, and shake hands, you know, and give hugs and kisses. But Alex knows it’s all true and he knows what happened. He was a bystander who stood by his brother. And I love them both. I still love Eddie Van Halen with all of my heart and I wish him nothing but good health and hopefully, he gets himself together. But he put me through some miserable stuff that one human being should not do that to another human being.”
This is what he said after their last phone call before Eddie’s passing in late 2020:
“Poor Eddie broke my heart, but thank God we connected before [he died]. I heard he was in bad shape and I wanted to reach out; I finally said, ‘I’m just calling him.'”
However, getting a hold of Eddie Van Halen was apparently not easy:
“I was calling his brother, I was calling his manager, I was calling his friends, and I’d say, ‘Hey, tell Ed, give him my phone number. Tell him if he ever wants to talk to me, I really, really want to talk it out, help him and see what I can do.’ I [told them], ‘I want to be his friend, I want to bury the hatchet,’ but they never got it done.”
Eventually, their common friend George Lopez brought them together:
“George is a dear friend and he was Eddie’s friend and he said, ‘Sammy, Eddie’s in bad shape, he loves you brother, you need to reach out.’ I said, ‘Give me his fucking number and I’ll make sure I call him.'”
This is how their last phone call went:
“I said, ‘Why don’t you respond? I’ve been reaching out,’ and Ed said, ‘Why didn’t you call me? Don’t fucking call my brother, fucking call me!‘ And I said, ‘I love you man,’ and it was like, boom, we were good. It was a beautiful thing.”
You can watch the 2013 interview below and click here to check out his 2020 interview with Variety.