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    The Sammy & Dave Show
    August 22, 2002
    By ERIC R. DANTON, The Hartford Courant

    David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar have carved out distinctive niches in the minds of rock fans. Both men held down the lead vocalist job in the seminal party band Van Halen, until personality conflicts with prickly guitarist Eddie Van Halen led to the expulsion of each.

    Roth was on board at the start, and his glitzy showmanship anchored rock anthems like "Beautiful Girls," "Panama" and "Hot for Teacher." A falling out with the band in 1985 prompted Roth to pursue a solo career, which has been notable mainly for cover songs: "Just a Gigolo" and "California Girls," both from his 1985 EP "Crazy From the Heat."

    Hagar's story is a little different. He had a solo career before replacing Roth in Van Halen, and while "Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy" and "I Can't Drive 55" didn't change the world, he had fans before he grabbed the microphone for Van Halen's "5150" album in 1986.

    "I've got a pretty intense following," Hagar says. "It's not huge, it's not Van Halen-size, but I can do 4,000 to 5,000 anywhere I go."

    That's what he's been doing since he either quit or was fired from Van Halen (depending on whom you ask) in 1996.

    Roth didn't react especially graciously when Hagar replaced him in Van Halen, and the two have exchanged public barbs ever since. Both men were a little surprised when Extreme singer Gary Cherone took over the vocal duties in Van Halen, though the band has all but vanished since the ill-fated Cherone album "Van Halen 3" in 1998.

    "Even though Gary Cherone was in, Dave still had high hopes" for a triumphant return to Van Halen, Hagar says. (Roth was not available to chat before his appearance here tonight.)

    Instead of continuing to pine for his former lead spot, Roth did something no one really expected - he pitched the co-headline-tour idea to Hagar, reviving a plan Hagar says he had first thought of a few years ago.

    "He came to me on this one, though, and I guess he's finally given up. Because for him to crawl into the enemy's camp, you know he must have given up," Hagar says.

    That's fine by Sammy.

    "The tour's been going awesome. The tour itself, as far as the shows, it's unbelievable, the music for the fans. " Hagar says. "As far as Dave and I personally, not so great."

    Still, because the two take turns opening and closing the show, it gives each a chance to mess with the other in a semi-good-natured way.

    "Every time I open - are you kidding me? - I go out there with bad intentions," Hagar says with a laugh. "I just want to make those people, when I walk off the stage after my hour and a half, to be going, `This show's over.' Then Dave's gotta go out and go to work, and vice versa."

    Hagar says he is performing a mix of Van Halen tunes and his solo stuff, while Roth has been mining the Van Halen catalog.

    "I think my fans would not be willing to pay the price of admission if I didn't play `Mas Tequila,'" Hagar says. "I've got to tell you, it's an awesome set. No one's going to be disappointed; I don't care if you hated Sammy Hagar."

    Plenty of Van Halen fans did. There were always two camps: the fans who worshiped Roth and his Vegas-style kitsch, and those who were glad for the less over-the-top antics of Hagar. The great thing about touring together, Hagar says, is that people get some of each. But don't expect any on-stage collaboration.

    "No duets, no Elton and Billy. Very little contact. We avoid each other at all costs," Hagar says.

    Sammy doesn't talk for much longer. He's eager to go out to the beach to hang out with his band and Michael Anthony. Yes, Van Halen fans, that Michael Anthony. The Van Halen bass player, who has joined Hagar onstage for a few songs on a handful of dates.

    "Mike and I have been buddies since the split. Mike's just going, `I can't let you guys go out there and have all the fun.'" Hagar says. "When he walks out, he gets the biggest cheer out of all of us. The Dave fans like him, and the Sammy fans like him."

    Unfortunately, Anthony is not expected to join Hagar onstage in Hartford. What do Eddie Van Halen and his brother, drummer Alex, think of Anthony's friendship with Hagar?

    "We haven't heard from the brothers," Hagar says, noting that the Van Halens should be more concerned about the Dave and Sammy road show. "They're seeing the enemy out there together; it's gotta be scaring them."

    It's not clear what Roth's plans are after the tour ends Sept. 1, but Hagar already has things figured out. He's releasing a new album next month, "Not For Sale," and he plans to go back out on the road with his band, the WaboRitas.

    His post-Van Halen solo albums have sold well and drawn fairly favorable reviews, but that doesn't matter to Hagar.

    " I don't really care if my records are hits. I make them for my fans," he says. "I'm not trying to bend or adapt. I've kind of got an attitude."

    Sammy Hagar and David Lee Roth play the Meadows Music Centre - separately - tonight at 8. Tickets are $65, $45, $35 and $20. Information: 860-548-7370.

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    Well-Liked100,000 VHL Life PointsThee King
    Interesting to hear that he is putting out a new cd next month.

    "Not for sale"

    Maybe its a live album that will come from his benefit show on the 29th.

    But what would be cool is if it was the title of the next VH cd.
    'Old Van Halen, when I was in it-classic Van Halen-makes you wanna drink, dance and screw, right? And the new Van Halen encourages you to drink milk, drive a Nissan and have a relationship.' - David Lee Roth.



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