Van Halen's Sammy Hagar remembers 'dark' times with band
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    Default Van Halen's Sammy Hagar remembers 'dark' times with band

    Fox News

    EXCLUSIVE
    Van Halen's Sammy Hagar remembers 'dark' times with band
    Sammy Hagar, who has released a five-LP Van Halen box set called 'The Collection ll,' and the band bitterly parted ways in 1995 after 10 years together

    By Ashley Hume , Larry Fink Fox News
    Published October 12, 2023 4:00am EDT


    Former Van Halen lead vocalist Sammy Hagar is reflecting on the highs and lows that he experienced during his years with the rock band.

    The 75-year-old musician joined guitarist Eddie Van Halen, Eddie's brother and drummer Alex Van Halen and bassist/vocalist Michael Anthony in 1985, replacing former frontman David Lee Roth.

    At the time, Van Halen, co-founded by the Van Halen brothers in 1974, was already one of the biggest rock bands in the world and Hagar was a successful solo artist.

    Though the union produced four multi-platinum albums including 1986's "5150," 1988's "OU812," 1991's "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" and 1995's "Balance," the "Van Hagar" era ended with an acrimonious split between the band and the singer in 1995.

    In an interview with Fox News Digital, Hagar recalled the ups and the downs of recording his hits with Van Halen.


    "It's kind of a double-edged sword," the Grammy Award singer, who has released a five-LP Van Halen box set called "The Collection ll," admitted.

    "There were such good times in the beginning, like ‘5150,’ ‘OU812.’ ‘For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge’ was a little bit of a struggle because I was going through a hard time with my ex-wife."


    "She was having a nervous breakdown and didn't want me to leave the house," Hagar explained. "I was like, ‘I got to go to work here.’

    So it took us like a year to make that record, but we were getting along good. But of course the brothers were putting a lot of pressure on me to show up, you know, as much as I could.

    And they were understanding."

    "But then come the next record, it's like, you know, we started not getting along so good, and you could feel the end coming to me. So then you got the bittersweet stuff."


    In his 2011 memoir "Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock," Hagar detailed how the demands of his commitment to Van Halen took a toll on his marriage to his first wife Betsy Berardi.

    Hagar and Berardi, who share sons Aaron, 53, and Andrew, 39, wed in 1968. In "Red," the "I Can't Drive 55" hitmaker recalled Berardi's struggles with anxiety and depression and how he felt torn between his obligations to the band and his duties as a husband and father.

    Hagar wrote that he took a year off from working with Van Halen to care for Berardi after she suffered a nervous breakdown.

    The singer recounted facing mounting pressure from Eddie and Alex during the production of what would become his final Van Halen album, "Balance."

    The band recorded "Balance" in 1994, the same year that Hagar and Berardi finalized their divorce after 26 years of marriage. During the album's recording, Hagar and Eddie began to clash over creative differences which furthered fractured their bond.


    Hagar told Fox News Digital that while he believed that "Balance" is a "great record," he also saw it as a darker musical turn for both Van Halen and himself.

    "It's just so dark for Van Halen or for Sammy," he said.

    "Let's just say Sammy, you know, I'm just not a dark person. I'm Mr. Sunshine.

    And boy, I was drug [sic] into the darkness between my divorce and my ex-wife not doing so good, trying to help her out and trying to be in a band."

    He continued, "And the brothers want to work every day of the year. They wanted to work 367 days a year, and I only wanted to work 360, you know what I mean?

    So we had a little problem there, but we got it done, and it's a great record."

    After "Balance" was released in January 1995, Hagar embarked with Van Halen on a tour with legs in North America and Europe in support of the album.

    It marked Hagar's fifth and final tour with the band. In "Red," Hagar candidly described the excesses of his rock star lifestyle on the road which involved rampant drug use and sex with groupies in addition to alcohol abuse by both Van Halen brothers and fighting within the band.


    During his interview with Fox News Digital, Hagar reflected on what he remembered from his touring days with Van Halen.

    "Not much," he said with a laugh. "We did anything and everything."

    Hagar continued, "When we got out of the limo to the airport or to jump on the plane to go to the first gig, we started partying.

    And on the way home in the last leg, getting off the plane, back into the limo — most of us stopped when we got back in the limo to go home."


    "But unfortunately or fortunately, I lived next door to Eddie out in Malibu," he remembered.

    "And so we'd ride together and, you know, and one thing would lead to another. Next thing, we're pulling up at the house going, ‘Dude, you got any gum?’"

    "And you know what I mean. ‘Do I smell, man?'

    We’d inspect each other," he said with a chuckle.

    "That's what I remember.

    Everything in between that I don't know what happened…Just imagine whatever could happen. It probably happened more than once.

    We had a good time, brother. We did."

    Hagar said that he doesn't remember "much" from his touring days with Van Halen.

    Following Roth's bitter departure in 1985, longtime fans were divided on whether Van Halen could successfully replace their original lead singer. However, after Hagar signed on, the band scored its first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart with "5150," which became certified six-times platinum by the RIAA.

    While speaking to Fox News Digital, Hagar shared his thoughts on why his debut album with Van Halen became a massive hit.

    "I think there's a lot of reasons," he said. "Number one, my career at that time.

    I was doing double arenas as a Sammy Hagar solo artist. They were doing double arenas. You know, we were pretty much on the same level.

    They just had that huge hit with ‘Jump.’"

    "But that combination — I brought a new audience to Van Halen. You know, it's not like they joined my band and brought me the new audience, which would have been great.

    Then I wouldn't have had to stop being a solo artist for ten years. But no, I brought a lot of new people in there. And when Dave left, it wasn't like they all went with him. You know, it was like, Eddie was the grounding person in that band."

    "Everyone knows that," he added. "Looking back now, it's even more obvious, even though, the frontman, myself and Dave, in our eras, we always got a lot of attention.

    But really that band was built around Eddie Van Halen's guitar playing. And so, you know, the songs we wrote together and all that were good.

    That's why ‘5150’ made it because I brought in a new audience."

    "The old people that were in doubt, they heard [imitates keyboard riff notes] 'Why Can't This Be Love?'

    And they just went, ‘Whoa, this is a new sound for Van Halen.’ You know that keyboard riff sounded like a guitar riff. Where previous stuff like ‘Jump’ sounded like a synthesizer, you know?

    So some of the hardcore guitar people rebelled a little bit, but they got a whole new audience with that. And we just satisfied them and they stayed. And we just went out, and every show sold out minutes, and we went out and just killed it."

    After Hagar joined Van Halen, the band scored its first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart with "5150," which became certified six-times platinum by the RIAA.

    Escalating tensions between Eddie and Hagar during the recording of "Balance" were further exacerbated when Van Halen began recording songs for the soundtrack of the 1996 disaster movie "Twister."

    Hagar parted ways with the band after an explosive argument during a phone call with Eddie on Father's Day in 1996. The two had differing accounts of how Hagar's departure unfolded. Eddie said that the singer quit the band, while Hagar has maintained he was fired.

    In 2003, Hagar returned to Van Halen to record new tracks for the band's second greatest hits album, 2004's "The Best of Both Worlds," and the reunited group embarked on the successful Summer Tour 2004.


    However, relations between Sammy and Eddie began to sour once again, and the singer left the band again after the tour wrapped up. Hagar's second departure led to an estrangement from Eddie that lasted for years.


    During a May interview with Fox News Digital, Hagar expressed gratitude he and his former bandmate were able to mend their relationship before Eddie died.

    "To be able to have talked to Eddie and have a wonderful rapport with him on text, it means everything to me," Hagar shared. "If he would have died, and we would have not ever said, ‘I love you' to each other, I would have felt really bad."

    "I wouldn't be able to talk to you about it. So that means a lot to me. And it means a lot, I think, for me to feel good about talking about being in Van Halen now. Because I feel like we buried the hatchet.

    Otherwise, I'd be saying, ‘Well, those guys.’ Because, you know, I was mad. I was hurt. And it's very important that we connected."

    Last week, Rhino Records released a five-LP Van Halen box set titled "The Collection ll," which comprises remastered versions of Hagar's four studio albums with the band as well as a "disc of rarities including instrumentals, B-sides, and song that were once only available as bonus tracks," per a press release.

    The release of "The Collection II' follows "The Collection I," a Van Halen box set that encompasses the albums and material from Roth's era with the band.

    During his interview with Fox News Digital, Hagar shared his excitement over hearing the remastered versions of his Van Halen albums.


    "My favorite thing about this remastering is the ‘5150’ and 'OU812," he said.

    "Those records were recorded in Eddie's old studio. Completely analog. There wasn't a digital piece of equipment and everything had a tube.

    He continued, "Everything had to warm up before you could use it. And it's so warm. Those records recorded so warm.

    They were made for vinyl. They were made on, you know, tape, on 3-inch tape, and so they really benefit from the technology of today's remastering."


    The Red Rocker also noted that the remastering process was conducted by Donn Landee, the engineer and co-producer behind the original four albums.

    "He oversaw everything so that you wouldn't lose that beautiful analog," Hagar explained.

    "Those records were made for vinyl. You know what I mean? So they were mixed to a certain level of bass that just doesn't pop when you put it on digital.

    The bass was way low on those records because it was for vinyl. In order to get that much information on a turntable and with a needle, you couldn't put too much bass because it would take up too much space.

    So, boy, they really benefited from it."

    "When I put those two records on, I just went ‘Woo, man,’" he recalled with a laugh.


    Hagar told Fox News Digital that he had pushed for the remastered versions of the albums in the past, but the project stalled due to his tense relations with the band.

    "I can't tell you how long it's been," he said. "I mean, I've been screaming and crying, you know, because after we broke up, of course, there was all the controversy between when we weren't getting along so good."


    "So if I'd mentioned, 'Hey, let's remaster them," [it would be] like ‘Hey, we ain’t gonna do it.' You know?"

    "So I should have said, 'Let's not — make sure you never remaster those.' And then it would have got done earlier," Hagar said with a laugh.

    "Looking back now, it's silly. It's fun."

    Ashley Hume is an entertainment writer for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to ashley.hume@fox.com and on Twitter: @ashleyhume


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    Sam with the "I was as big as VH" nonsense again.

    Maybe he thinks that if he says it enough times, it will be true.
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    Cool to hear Sam's comments on the recording of 5150 & OU812 and how he was aware that they didn't transfer to CD very well.

    All the rest is just rehashed 100 over times shit.

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    Default Van Halen's Sammy Hagar remembers 'dark' times with band

    The one thing that Sam’s said that is 100% true…

    Van Halen was built around Eddie Van Halen’s guitar playing. End of story.
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    Also very interesting to hear Sam talking about the first two albums and how they were meant for vinyl, and how everything was done with analog equipment. Totally makes sense now when you think about those albums not transferring to cd very well. Those were the albums that really needed to be fixed with remastering. FUCK and Balance were done in the digital age.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave's Dreidel View Post
    Sam with the "I was as big as VH" nonsense again.

    Maybe he thinks that if he says it enough times, it will be true.
    I've read him say he was and also say he was just a successful solo artist before Van Halen. He was never Van Halen successful before joining.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brett View Post
    Also very interesting to hear Sam talking about the first two albums and how they were meant for vinyl, and how everything was done with analog equipment. Totally makes sense now when you think about those albums not transferring to cd very well. Those were the albums that really needed to be fixed with remastering. FUCK and Balance were done in the digital age.
    Didn’t the studio get new equipment in 1990?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by fudd View Post
    Didn’t the studio get new equipment in 1990?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    I believe so. I know in that era Ed got a SSL 72-input board post-Landee.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brett View Post
    The one thing at Sam’s sad that is 100% true…

    Van Halen was built around Eddie Van Halen’s guitar playing. End of story.
    I mean…DUH

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brett View Post
    Also very interesting to hear Sam talking about the first two albums and how they were meant for vinyl, and how everything was done with analog equipment. Totally makes sense now when you think about those albums not transferring to cd very well. Those were the albums that really needed to be fixed with remastering. FUCK and Balance were done in the digital age.
    I understand all that and it does make sense. I still don't understand the lack of that much bass though. Fair Warning was recorded in 1981 and it's Mikes best bass sound on record. You can hear the low end and the overall sound is punchy. I am actually friends with the guy that played drums on the first Private Life album and he recorded that at 5150 with Don Landee at the board. The bass on that album is plenty loud. Something was just off when OU812 was mixed.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Van Hampshire View Post
    I understand all that and it does make sense. I still don't understand the lack of that much bass though. Fair Warning was recorded in 1981 and it's Mikes best bass sound on record. You can hear the low end and the overall sound is punchy. I am actually friends with the guy that played drums on the first Private Life album and he recorded that at 5150 with Don Landee at the board. The bass on that album is plenty loud. Something was just off when OU812 was mixed.
    Well, you have to remember those albums were recorded on different equipment than what they had in 5150. Maybe that was part of it. Those albums were also shorter in length than 5150 and OU812 so maybe that had something to do with information that transfers to an LP when you take up more space. You know maybe they just thought they sounded better than they did.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Van Hampshire View Post
    I understand all that and it does make sense. I still don't understand the lack of that much bass though. Fair Warning was recorded in 1981 and it's Mikes best bass sound on record. You can hear the low end and the overall sound is punchy. I am actually friends with the guy that played drums on the first Private Life album and he recorded that at 5150 with Don Landee at the board. The bass on that album is plenty loud. Something was just off when OU812 was mixed.
    It's in Edward's guitar track.

    There is only so much headroom for the total amount of bass in a song. It depends on how you divide up all the high pass filtering. You've only got approx -10dBFS for the lows through the master output. If you don't high pass mid-range instruments you lose headroom potential in the low end.

    Edward was tuned down, and also was dive bombing. They didn't push up his high pass filtering so he had a fuller tonal profile in the lows and the headroom was pre designed.

    There are no rules for this stuff. You do whatever you want. Edward guitar and Alex's kick held way more political power in that band when they were mixing especially in 1988. If I recall Van Halen themselves have production credits on that record.

    You can fix it to a surprisingly large degree yourself if you import into a DAW like Pro Tools and just shelf up the lows and then make sure you recorrect an EQ reduction notch (with a high Q) for the kick's fundamental around 50hz.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brett View Post
    The one thing at Sam’s sad that is 100% true…

    Van Halen was built around Eddie Van Halen’s guitar playing. End of story.
    Yessssss!!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by bklynboy68 View Post
    I mean…DUH

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    Thanks James!

    This was one of Sam's better interviews; it was cool that he explained why Mike is absent on both records. I don't know why this isn't the case with earlier recordings, when Mike was way up front...
    "So the legacy of a band who is one of the greatest of all time will be stunted because of spoiled man-baby and his deranged mommy." - Brook

    "when I heard Me Wise Magic on I-81 in 1996...I am thinking "what a fucking waste of time the last ten years were for Van Halen." - Dave's Dreidel

    "It wasn't Ed's playing that inspired me, it was his spirit. The playing was merely a manifestation of that spirit." - Speedway

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    James in New York's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NDL View Post
    Thanks James!

    This was one of Sam's better interviews; it was cool that he explained why Mike is absent on both records. I don't know why this isn't the case with earlier recordings, when Mike was way up front...
    You're welcome brother NDL!
    Beauty is life when life unveils
    her holy face.

    But you are life and you
    are the veil.

    Beauty is eternity gazing at itself
    in a mirror.

    But you are eternity
    and you are the mirror.

    -Kahil Gibran

 

 

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