SAMMY HAGAR On EDDIE VAN HALEN: 'I Don't Think Anyone Realized How Sick He Was'
January 13, 2022
In a new interview with KUSI's Paul Rudy, Sammy Hagar spoke how he mended his relationship with the late Eddie Van Halen prior to the legendary VAN HALEN guitarist's October 2020 passing. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "The whole year, of 2020, in the early parts, around January, Eddie and I connected and we started talking again. We were talking about writing music again. We were talking about going out and touring with the whole gang one time for the big time in '22; that was the plan. Of course we wouldn't wanna announce anything like that. But I think Wolfie [Eddie's son Wolfgang Van Halen] said it in some interviews how everybody was planning on doing that, and it would have been the greatest thing that ever happened to VAN HALEN. Unfortunately, Eddie didn't make it.
"I don't think anyone realized how sick he was," Sammy continued. "And then when I started talking to him [again], I would send him a call and he wouldn't answer. I would send him a text and say, 'Word man…' — I used to call him 'Word Man — 'Word man, where are you, man? I'm trying to get a hold of you. You're making me nervous.' And about a day later, he'd get back [to me] and say, 'Dude, I was in the hospital.' I'd say, 'Oh, god.' It was funny. 'Dude, I'm in the hospital. Give me some slack.'
"But I'll tell you what: that guy was made out of something special, man. That Dutch blood or whatever it is, he hung in there a long time. He's had cancer and hip surgery and all these things for years; I guess he'd battled it almost 20 years."
According to Sammy, Eddie never allowed his health or substance abuse issues to significantly affect his live performance. "Eddie always played great," he said. "That's the thing that used to make me mad, 'cause he could drink as much as he wanted, do anything he wanted and come out there and still play good. I'd be going, 'This guy is making me mad.' [Laughs]"
Hagar replaced David Lee Roth in VAN HALEN in 1985 and recorded four studio albums with the band — "5150", "OU812", "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" and "Balance" — all of which topped the U.S. chart.
Sammy, Eddie, Alex Van Halen and Michael Anthony last teamed up in 2004 for a U.S. summer tour. In exchange for taking part in the tour, Anthony reportedly had to agree to take a pay cut and sign away his rights to the band name and logo.
In his autobiography, "Red: My Uncensored Life In Rock", Hagar slammed Eddie, saying the guitarist was unkempt, hunched over, frighteningly skinny, drinking wine straight out of a bottle, missing part of his tongue (after a cancer scare) and several teeth. He told an interviewer in 2012: "What happened on that reunion tour in '04 was some of the most miserable, back-stabbing dark crap I've ever been involved with my whole life."
In a 2015 interview with Rolling Stone, Eddie questioned an "embellished" portion of "Red: My Uncensored Life In Rock" that painted the guitarist as a "very angry drunk" during the group's 2004 reunion tour.
In November 2020, Eddie's son Wolfgang revealed that his father had contemplated a "kitchen-sink tour" that would have included Anthony, as well as vocal turns from both Hagar and Roth. There was even talk about bringing back Gary Cherone, who sang with VAN HALEN on one poorly received album, 1998's "Van Halen III".
Eddie died at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California. The iconic VAN HALEN axeman passed away from complications due to cancer, his son confirmed.