Sammy Hagar Speaks Up on Strained Relationship With Eddie Van Halen, Reveals What He Misses About Eddie

While recently talking to USA Today, singer Sammy Hagar looked back on his work with Van Halen and how it made a huge impact on his career. Hagar, who originally joined the band in 1985 before leaving in 1996 to go back to his solo career, said:

“The peak of my musical life was Van Halen. My ego wants to say I was doing great as a solo artist. Well, yeah, I was doing fine, but Van Halen was some other thing man. It was a four-headed monster, and I miss Ed dearly.”

This version of Van Halen, which was popularly dubbed “Van Hagar,” came back briefly in the 2000s but ended with a strained relationship between Hagar and Eddie.

Van Halen - Live 2004 (Summer Reunion Tour with Sammy Hagar)

As the singer further explains in the interview, he regrets how things ended between them, especially knowing that the two never reconciled. Asked about being estranged from Eddie and how it must have felt, Hagar replied:

“I cherish him more than ever. What happened with us at the end was such a shame. It’s what happens when alcohol and drugs are involved, and I’m going through a divorce. It’s such a shame. If Van Halen were still together today, we’d be headlining every one of these festivals all over the world.

Going deeper into what he’s feeling, Hagar opened up about what he misses about the legendary guitarist, saying:

“I miss his unique creativity. He’d play something and I’d go what, where the hell did that come from? He was so out of left field, so original, that creativity always lifted me.

When asked about continuing on with his music career even after parting ways with Van Halen, Hagar replied:

“If there’s something needed and important and it means something to me, then I’m firing on all cylinders. The magic of mind, body and soul, the three-lock box theory, that’s where my energy and passion come from. You should see me when I don’t have any ideas, I’m laying around on the couch like a bum. But as soon as the light goes on, boom, I’m up.

In other news, Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt recently appeared on SiriusXM show “Hair Nation” where he revealed that there was a plan to reunite original Van Halen for one last tour. But, as we all know now, Eddie Van Halen’s passing in late 2020 prevented any potential reunions.

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

Reflecting on Extreme’s recently released song “Rise” and how it was recorded back when Eddie was alive, Nuno said (via Brave Words):

“When ‘Rise’ came up recently, I’ve been doing a lot of press recently. And I was doing a guitar magazine and they were, because it was a guitar magazine, they were talking about ‘Rise’, and they talked about the beginning of the solo, ‘Hey, the beginning of the solo feels like, kind of like ‘Eruption’ or that picking that Eddie did. And I’m like, ‘Absolutely.‘”

“And then I literally froze and I was looking above the screen and the guys thought, he thought Zoom froze. And he goes, ‘You still there?‘ And I go, ‘No, no, I’m good.‘ And then it hit me that the day I was recording, like the math that crashed on me, and the day I was recording that solo for ‘Rise’, um, I record everything on my own. And I don’t like, I think I mentioned earlier, I don’t like any assistance from anybody in the room.

Extreme - "Rise" (Official Video)

“I really black out when I kind of record my guitar stuff. I like to be like emotionally in that head space. I try not to be too technical and ‘Okay, let’s get this right.’ I just, I stand up like you see in the video and I try to rock the shit out and do a few passes and see what happened. And Gary knows this. Everybody knows this about me from all the old records.

“Everybody goes home, leave me alone, don’t walk in there. Don’t ask me for a cup of coffee, don’t ask me if I’m okay. And all of a sudden my phone’s blown up. I’m up in my studio, this is my living room. I’m upstairs in my studio. We recorded at six and it’s Gary and he’s calling me and he said he was going to lunch, but he knows better than to call me while I’m playing.

“As a matter of fact, that was the first time Gary’s called me in three years, I think, let’s just get that outta the way. But he, all of a sudden he’s calling me again, I’m not answering. Then he starts texting me and I’m literally playing the soul of ‘Rise’ that is on that album right now on that song. And I just had played, I remember it was the end of it because it was just something I went for.

“And that part where it’s kind of quick and I’m doing this thing and I’m like, ‘I like that.’ Like everybody thinks I calculate. I’m like, ‘No, what is that? What did I just do?’ You know, just feel. So I’m kind of trying to figure out almost what I did, you know, like what was that thing that was inspired by what we were talking about, the rhythm section.

“And he text me again, I grab my phone, I’m like, ‘Dude, leave me alone.’ And he says, ‘No, you gotta come down now to the front of the house. Somebody’s here to see you.’ And I’m like, ‘No, I’m not coming. I’m recording a solo.’ He’s like, ‘Come down now.’ So I’m like, Jesus Christ. Like Gary’s never like, reacted like, what’s happening? It takes me a while. My house is weird in Hollywood.

“It’s like, it’s not a big house, but it takes a while to get down from my studio. I get down, I open the door and I’m about to yell at him and it’s Edward. Edward’s out there. Yes. And this was just not too long ago. This is around two, you know, 2019 when, you know, we were finishing up the album and um, and all of a sudden I’m like, ‘Okay, that’s a good reason.’

Extreme - "Banshee" (Official Music Video)

“And Edward’s like, ‘You know, what’s up man?’ Big hug, big kiss. We talked for a minute. As we are standing there, like right away this car came speeding around where I live up in the Hollywood Hills the roads are kind of very narrow. This car comes flying around the corner, there’s no sidewalks. And this guy all of a sudden passes us and going around the corner, skids turns the wheel, skids stops the car, the car’s still running and gets out of the car and runs over and sees me and Edward. And he just bows down.

“He literally gets on his knees and he’s like this. And he’s bowing. I’m sure it was for Edward, not me, but like, he probably thought he was seeing things. And he’s just like, ‘What has happened?’ He goes, ‘Hey Edward, hey, Nuno.’ And then he got in his car and he left.

“Didn’t ask for a photo, didn’t ask for an autograph, just wanted to come out and just acknowledge that he was seeing what he was seeing. So that happened as well, which is nothing to do with the story. But then Edward’s, you know, he was playing Gary and he’s playing us some of Wolf’s new stuff, which we all know now was coming out.

Extreme - "#Rebel" (Official Music Video)

“And he was like a proud papa saying that, like he played all the instruments and he did that and everything else. And then he said something really cool, he was like, ‘Hey, just between us, I’m like, I wanna let you know, like Van Halen’s coming back and we gonna go out the way we came with Michael. We’re planning a run, and we’re gonna go out the way we came in like a farewell tour, but like, do it old school.’

“And I’m like, ‘Amazing. Overdue, way overdue.’ He was even saying,  like, ‘You know Wolf, he’s the one who’s like, he’s reaching out to Michael.’ It was like a really cool thing, right? And then he is like, ‘Well what about the new album where Gary told me, you guys, you know, it’s a pretty, you know, sick album.’ And then he goes, ‘I gotta hear it.’ And I’m like, the Virgo in me, and the idiot is like, ‘No, I gotta, it’s almost there, but I wanna play it for you.’

Extreme - Live at Las Vegas USA (25th Anniversary)

“And that’s, I’m regretting now for obvious reasons instead of having come up and listened to whatever the ‘Rise’ solo was then, or whatever it was. Because it was very inspired by him as always. He goes, ‘All right,  I’ll come back, let me know when it’s done. We’ll come back. Gary. Take care.’ Big hug, goodbye. And of course he never made it back for obvious reasons, cuz he passed away shortly afterwards. It was that day that ‘Rise’ you know, it was so weird that I kind of not blocked it out, but I just forgot.’

Photos: Matt Becker (SammyHagar), Abby Gillardi (Van Halen-8611 (20022175423))


  • 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.