The Mercury News Weekend
Hagar grateful for Van Halen closure
Sammy Hagar says he’s grateful he had the opportunity to speak with Eddie Van Halen one last time before the guitarist died earlier this year.
Speaking from Big Sky, Montana, where he was launching Santo Reposado, the latest variety in his Santo Tequila line, Hagar says the distance between him and Van Halen was something he regretted, and he’s glad the two of them were able to finally find some closure.
“Poor Eddie, broke my heart, but thank God we connected before [he died],” Hagar says. “I heard he was in bad shape and I wanted to reach out; I finally said, ‘I’m just calling him.’ ”
But according to Hagar, trying to get ahold of his former bandmate proved to be difficult, as he no longer had Van Halen’s number. “I was calling his brother, I was calling his manager, I was calling his friends, and I’d say, ‘Hey, tell Ed, give him my phone number. Tell him if he ever wants to talk to me, I really, really want to talk it out, help him and see what I can do,’ ” Hagar says.
“I [told them], ‘I want to be his friend, I want to bury the hatchet,’ but they never got it done.”
In the end, Hagar says, it was George Lopez who finally brought the two together. “George is a dear friend and he was Eddie’s friend and he said, ‘Sammy, Eddie’s in bad shape, he loves you brother, you need to reach out.’ I said, ‘Give me his (expletive) number and I’ll make sure I call him.’ ”
When Hagar finally reached Van Halen, the singer says there was nothing but love between the longtime musical partners. “I said, ‘ Why don’t you respond? I’ve been reaching out,’ ” Hagar recalls, “and Ed said, ‘Why didn’t you call me? Don’t (expletive) call my brother, (expletive) call me!’ And I said, ‘I love you man,’ and it was like, boom, we were good. It was,” Hagar says, “a beautiful thing.”
Van Halen died in October after a long battle with cancer. Hagar confirms a Van Halen group reunion tour had been in the works prior to the guitarist’s illness. “Eddie and Al [Alex Van Halen] and Irving Azoff, their manager [and] my dear friend, we were looking at doing the reunion tour with everybody, which is the way it had to be,” Hagar says, corroborating reports that the tour would have included both himself and David Lee Roth, whom Hagar famously replaced in 1985.