Sammy Hagar Says David Lee Roth’s Singing Is ’Embarrassing,’ Reveals What He’s Really Like to Be Around With

Even when Van Halen is no more, the clash between David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar clans is still as relevant as ever. And, in a new interview with the “Jackass” star Steve-O, as part of the “Wild Ride!” podcast, Hagar reflected on the “Heavyweight Champs of Rock ‘N Roll 2002” tour which saw both Van Halen vocalists co-headlining a run of dates. But according to Hagar, he kind of did a favor to Roth since the latter, apparently, wasn’t singing so well. Sammy said (transcript via Blabbermouth):

“At that time [Roth] didn’t have a solo career, really. I mean, he did, but he wasn’t selling out. I was selling out arenas. I was selling out amphitheaters as Sammy Hagar with the Waboritas And I had a solo career.

“Ask Mick Jagger. Ask Robert Plant. You can be the biggest band in the world and you can’t necessarily have a solo career. But I had a solo career. So when I joined the big band, I went back to my solo career, I’m good. I still sell a lot of tickets.

Sam & Dave (Heavyweight Champs Of Rock N Roll Tour 2002)

“Dave, he had that sort of a big album, one kind of a big album, but he didn’t have a solo career. He was playing small places. So when he came in with me, he was making, like, 25 grand a night, I was making 150 grand a night, and they said, ‘Oh, you guys are gonna make the same money. Dave gets to make 150.’ I said, ‘He ain’t fucking made 150 in his life except in Van Halen.’

“But I said, ‘I’ve gotta do this.’ So I bent over backwards. And he still always tried to fuck with the rules.”

Going more into the matter, Hagar also said that Roth isn’t exactly the nicest person to be around with. He just doesn’t seem to like to “play with others” as the singer explained. Hagar continued:

“He’s not a fun guy. He doesn’t play well with others. I’m not sure what his problem is… He just always is about, ‘How can I make this guy look bad?’ And not just me — in life.


“He’s a chest-beating motherfucker. And God bless him, ’cause the early stuff is frickin’ great. I personally, I’ve tried to say… [I thought] he’d be a fun guy to know. But he ain’t like that. He ain’t like his persona. When you get around him, he ain’t that guy. He’s some other cat. [Laughs]”

But despite everything, Hagar admits that Roth is a showman, although adding that his singing isn’t exactly the best around (to put it mildly). Hagar adds:

“He’s a showman. Hey, listen, I’m a showman too. But that’s his gig. He doesn’t care about singing. If he did, he’d take care of his voice or he’d take voice lessons and get warmed up and do something. ‘Cause the guy sang so bad last time he was doing shows, it was embarrassing… But he’s a showman.


“Everything’s show, show, show, show, show, show, show. And he doesn’t care about his voice, which drives me nuts, man. I care more about my voice than I do my dick. If my dick didn’t work a couple of times, I’d be okay with it — I’d be bummed out — but if my voice fucks up onstage, I’m fucking bummed, man.”

There’s been a lot of commotion last year regarding the supposed Van Halen “reunion.” The news about it was leaked by ex-Metallica bassist Jason Newsted and the whole thing raised some eyebrows, not just because it would be a tour without Eddie but because Newsted was offered a spot instead of Michael Anthony. But asked in an interview late last year whether he’d be up for joining such a tour, Hagar replied:

“Oh hell yes. I would be involved, and I would insist that Dave come along somehow. He’s not so friendly.”

“He doesn’t play well with others and never has and never will, but if he didn’t want to do it, then, of course, I can always sing those songs.

Sammy Hagar & Eddie Van Halen - Rock and Roll (Live at Farm Aid 1985)

“Those songs are easy. I sing those songs, lying on my back, smoking a cigarette, even though I don’t smoke.“

“That would be awesome. I would say that if Alex and Mike are in, Mike and I are really tight; Alex is a little quirky, and I don’t know what he wants to do.”

Regarding his relationship with Eddie Van Halen’s son Wolfgang, Sammy said:

“Wolfie is the guy, but I don’t think Wolfie wants to do that. I don’t communicate with Wolfie that much. I’m not really that close with Wolfie anymore since I was not in the band. When he was little, I was really close to Wolfie.”

Van Halen - When It's Love (Music Video)

“He’s doing a great job with his own band. He’s really making it. He’s making a carbon on a name for himself original, and I think the coolest thing he ever did was say, ‘No. I’m not going to try to fill my dad’s shoes. I‘m going to go out and be Wolfie.’ He’s got his dad’s shoes on. He’s wearing it. He’s got his dad’s heart. He’s doing the right thing.”

Photos: Matt Becker (SammyHagar), Toglenn (David Lee Roth Smashbox 2008)


  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.