The Reason Sammy Hagar Was Afraid Of Alice In Chains And The Rise Of Grunge

The Seattle grunge music became very popular among both rock and metal music lovers in the late ’80s thanks to Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Alice In Chains, and Stone Temple Pilots’ iconic records, which hit the charts worldwide. Therefore, people started to think that grunge would steal the spotlight from heavy metal bands with their new and rebellious approach to music as they attracted the attention of music critics shortly after their emergence.

Alice In Chains released their debut studio album entitled ‘Facelift’ on August 21, 1990, and one of its tracks ‘We Die Young,’ ‘Man in the Box,’ ‘Sea of Sorrow,’ and ‘Bleed the Freak’ became very popular. ‘Man in the Box’ was not only appreciated by rock music fans but also by Van Halen lead singer Sammy Hagar and therefore, he decided to invite Alice In Chains to one of their tours back then.

Did Alice In Chains Open For Van Halen?

Van Halen released their ninth studio album named ‘For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge,’ which was the band’s third record featuring Sammy Hagar, on June 17, 1991. The album received critical acclaim and commercial success. Thus, the band decided to embark on the For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge Tour in the late summer of 1991, which was concluded in May 1992, to promote their latest record.

In addition, Van Halen lead singer Sammy Hagar wanted Alice In Chains to perform the opening acts during their tour after watching their ‘Man in the Box’ performance on MTV. The band accepted his offer to promote their first album and gain more popularity with the help of Van Halen which was one of the most famous bands in the world back then. However, Hagar’s had some doubts about Alice In Chains even though he had invited the band.

Sammy Hagar Was Insecure About Alice In Chains’ And Grunge’s Popularity

In one of his previous interviews, Sammy Hagar admitted that he was very nervous about grunge music’s rising popularity as metal and glam rock bands started to disband or lose their longtime fanbase to these new bands from Seattle. Hagar thought that Van Halen would be one of them because their audience loved the dirty and funky style of bands like Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and Alice In Chains,’ unlike their own ‘girly looks.’

Thus, it seems like Hagar’s nightmares were full of disrespectful grunge musicians who were insulting them because of their style. However, he didn’t hesitate to reach out to Alice In Chains members to join them on tour. He saw it as an opportunity to get to know them and prove to their audience that Van Halen ‘was cool’ as well. Hagar highlighted that he was insecure about the band, but then he became good friends with the band’s frontman Jerry Cantrell.

In Hagar’s words, he said:

“I’m in a totally comfortable place now, but when I was in Van Halen, in the ’90s when grunge came along, that was freaky. Because I’m looking at these guys… We were sort of the glam rock – we were all dressed up and dressing like girls and stuff. Like Mötley Crüe and Poison and these guys. It was more fun dressing like that than the way I dress now; I’ll tell you that.

However, then, when grunge came, they were down and dirty and funky. They made me nervous. I thought, ‘These guys are going to disrespect us. You know, they’re going to look at us and say, ‘Yeah, your shit’s done, buddy.’ However, it didn’t happen. I was so insecure about it that I invited Alice In Chains, with their first album and their first single – when they had ‘Man in the Box’ to open for Van Halen. They came out on the whole tour with us.

I’ve been dear friends with Jerry Cantrell since then but that’s how insecure I was. I said, ‘Let’s get them on the damn show. That way their fans will know that we’re cool.’ I came out of fear – not bad fear, but nervousness, and they did really good, and business was good. I made a friend out of it.”

You can check out the interview below.