SAMMY HAGAR Says He ‘Would Have Been Embarrassed’ If VAN HALEN Had Changed Band Name To VAN HAGAR After He Joined
In a new interview with Marci Wiser of the 95.5 KLOS radio station, former VAN HALEN singer Sammy Hagar was asked if he was part of the discussions about whether to keep or change the band’s name after he was recruited to front VAN HALEN following the mid-’80s departure of David Lee Roth. He responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): «Yeah, we were all in a room. And I think [head of Warner Bros.] Mo Austin said, ‘Why don’t we be careful here…?’ Our managers and lawyers and the president of the record company and the band was all in a room when we asked for permission for me to join the band — it was official. Everybody came and said, ‘We wanna have a meeting.’ And we were in the studio and we played ‘Why Can’t This Be Love’ [song from the 1986 album ‘5150’]. And Mo Austin went, ‘Oh, I smell money’ — he thought it was just the greatest. But anyway, so then he said, ‘Did you guys ever think about maybe changing the name to, like, VAN HAGAR or something?’ And I know what they were thinking, because they thought, ‘If this doesn’t work, at least you can go back with VAN HALEN again. But if you’re VAN HALEN and it don’t work, now you’ve ruined VAN HALEN.’ So they were trying to preserve, I think, the VAN HALEN name. And Eddie Van Halen — Eddie Van Halen; no one else — said, ‘Fuck that.’ He said, ‘This is VAN HALEN with a new singer.’ And everybody said, ‘Okay. Word. Gospel.’ Boom.»
Asked if he was on board with the decision to keep the VAN HALEN name, Sammy said: «I was a hundred percent on board with it. It was VAN HALEN with a new singer. I would have been embarrassed to be VAN HAGAR. I would have said, ‘Let’s just change it back to [VAN HALEN‘s original name] MAMMOTH‘ or something — go back to the beginning.»
Hagar recorded four studio albums with VAN HALEN — «5150», «OU812», «For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge» and «Balance» — all of which topped the U.S. chart.
In a 2020 interview with Ultimate Classic Rock, VAN HALEN‘s longtime producer Ted Templeman admitted that he also initially had reservations about Hagar joining the band. «I wanted them to change the name,» he said. «When I first sat down with Sammy and his manager, I said, ‘Call it something else if you’re going to be in the band. It’s just not VAN HALEN without Dave to me.'»
Hagar, 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 early 2019, rumors were rampant that the classic-era lineup of VAN HALEN would reunite for the first time since 1984. It has since been revealed that a health setback involving Eddie was responsible for the tour not materializing.
Eddie died last October at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, California.
The iconic VAN HALEN axeman passed away from complications due to cancer, his son confirmed.