The story of why the singer Sammy Hagar left Van Halen

Sammy Hagar, who was born in 1947 in Salinas, California, joined Van Halen in 1985, shortly after David Lee Roth announced his decision to quit the band. He had already established himself as a seasoned musician and was a member of Montrose in addition to his prosperous solo endeavors. Since Sammy has always said that this was the height of his creative career, it was just what Van Halen and Sammy needed at the time. Naturally, it also helped Van Halen stay a major act because they continued to put out well-received albums and sell millions of CDs.

However, after 11 years of marriage, everything ended in 1996. As they say, there are always three sides to a story: the truth, the other side, and the side that is told. That makes sense in light of Sammy Hagar’s claims of being dismissed and the brothers’ assertion that he left the band on his initial departure from Van Halen in 1996.

The story of why the singer Sammy Hagar left Van Halen or was fired in 1996

It is hard to determine the true events behind Sammy’s initial 1996 departure from Van Halen since there are conflicting accounts of what transpired. After the “divorce,” he and the band were undoubtedly at odds, and MTV stoked that animosity in 1996 by interviewing the brothers Alex and Eddie, asking them to explain what had transpired, and then exposing Sammy to the recording.

Eddie and Alex Van Halen’s version of what happened the first time Sammy Hagar was out of the band

Sammy wasn’t working hard enough, according to the brothers, and he wasn’t being a good team player. Alex Van Halen said, “We tried to be gentleman about this and I guess we’re just going to get a little bit nasty right now.”

When the interviewer asked if they thought Sammy didn’t give it his all, the drummer answered right away, saying: “No judgment”.

Eddie Van Halen, the musician, and his younger brother clarified the circumstances. He declared: “The bottom line is that work ethic sucked, ok? Now if he wanted to be in this band and be a team player he would be here right now.”

“He put out a press release saying ‘I quit’, a week later he said I kicked him out. I’ll take a lie detector test!”

Sammy Hagar’s version of what happened the first time he was out of Van Halen in 1996

A few days later, Sammy was shown the interview footage by MTV, and he then offered his interpretation. He remarked this as soon as he noticed Eddie agreeing to take a lie detector test: “Good, time to take one. The truth is that the first thing that happened was that I was called by Eddie on Father’s day morning. He goes: ‘You really frustrate me, you never do anything I asked you to do and I’m going: ‘Yeah I do’. I mean, it really wasn’t a problem like this in our whole 11 years of creativity.”

“He said: ‘When I asked you and I got so frustrated I went and got Roth, we’ve been working with him and it’s been great. You have always been a solo artist anyway, you might as well just go back to being a solo artist. (He said) exactly that and I went ‘Wow!’ I was floored, I just looked at my wife and I went ‘I can’t believe this’.

He stated he would have quit the band the same year in the same conversation. He wanted to create a new album, but they were more interested in making a Greatest Hits CD than going on tour. This was the reason. “(Doing that it’s) basically saying that we’re over, the biggest waste of time in the world. (It’s strictly money.”

Sammy also criticized Eddie for not being sober during their last tour

“He was wasted in this last tour in Japan. (Eddie) played horrible, like embarrassingly horrible. He hasn’t been sober for two years, absolutely not. Anyone that says he has been is lying.”

“(…) I’m sorry, these guys are lying, I didn’t quit this band. I told you exactly word for word what happened. You can interpret it any way you want but I think Ed forgets what he told me. He was plastered when he called me at nine o’clock in the morning. I was trying to leave that out but he was plastered.”

“I felt like I lost some friends out of this deal and I really, really have. Honestly I’m a survivor man, because I’m over it, I’m fine with it you, I’m making a new record. I’m just gonna get on with it. I still love these guys, we made the best music I’ll probably ever make in my entire life.”

Sammy said, “I’m proud of it, I have nothing bad to say about it but I hate the way it ended. You could take all my clothes, everything I got, fill me out in the desert and I’ll come back fully dressed with a brand new car (laughs).”

Sammy Hagar’s solo song “Little White Lie” was inspired by his fight with Alex and Eddie Van Halen

After ten years with Van Halen, Sammy Hagar released his debut solo album in 1997. “Little White Lie” was one of the several tracks from the album “Marching to Mars” that made it onto the charts. As it happens, the song was influenced by what Eddie and Alex stated in the press over Sammy “leaving” Van Halen. In addition to the song’s lyrics, the music video had several additional references to the band, the most noticeable of which was a man doing a lie detector test.

In a 1997 interview, he discussed the song’s inspiration, as MTV reported.

“I was in the studio working on my record and my guitar tech comes: ‘Sammy, Sammy, Ed’s on MTV, you gotta come and see it. Man, they’re talking trash about you’. So I took that song and I rewrote it”

“I’m not proud of being kicked out of one of the greatest bands in the world. I didn’t quit the band, I would have never quit the band. 10 great years, one bad one for me. That band taught me I’m a better singer today, better songwriter, better guitar player, what more can I ask for?” Sammy Hagar said.

The Sammy Hagar 2004 reunion tour with Van Halen

Sammy Hagar and Van Halen reunited two years after a catastrophic co-headlining tour with David Lee Roth. After eight years apart, they put their previous grievances behind them and performed 80 times in 2004 between the summer and mid-November. But Sammy claims that Eddie’s battle with addiction is the reason why things didn’t work out this time.

Sammy claims that the plan was to create a new album because Van Halen had already released “Van Halen III” (1998), which included Gary Cherone on vocals. However, the singer claimed that since they were together for only four months and could only record three songs, things didn’t work out. Ultimately, they decided to hit the road, and while the tour was a huge success, it wasn’t healthy for any of the band members, as the vocalist recollected in a 2005 interview with Metal Express.

“We tried to do an album. We only got three songs done. It took four months to do three songs. So I was saying, ‘Let’s go out and play for the people before this whole thing ends.’ ‘Cause if you remember right, they tried to do an album with Gary Cherone — the second record — and that didn’t finish.”

He continued, “Then they tried to do a record with Dave three times, and they never got it done. So I was seeing that coming. As a person who wanted to go out and play for the people, I said, ‘Let’s stop recording. Let’s go out on the road while we still can.’ And I think it was a smart move. The management was into that as well. We had shows on sale. We pretty much had to go out and do some shows. That’s why we only did three songs.”

In an interview with Rolling Stone in 2022, the Red Rocker said that Eddie went utterly insane during their 2004 Albuquerque gig. The manager of the band told Sammy to get out of there right away after he broke his guitar on stage.

“At the end of the tour. We finished in Albuquerque, and Ed went completely off the rails. Irving Azoff (Manager) grabbed me at the end of the show and said, ‘Get in the car and get the fuck out here.’ We were supposed to go on the same plane together. We had a plane and we were going to fly home. He saw what was going on earlier and he chartered me another plane by myself with my wife and my tour manager.”

“I was walking off the stage, somebody goes and grabs me and said, ‘Keep on going. Get the fuck out of here, right now. Go.’ Well, he just knew a fight would have broken out. Because Ed was so belligerent on that last show that I wanted to beat his ass.”

Sammy also remembered that it was the final conversation he had with drummer Alex Van Halen. He has since attempted to get in touch with him, but the musician has never answered his calls.

Hagar said, “So Alex came up to me right there at the same time and gave me a big hug and said, ‘I love you, man. Thank you. Be careful. Safe flight.’ And that was the last time. And I think we talked on the phone a little bit, but I don’t know what happened with Al. He kind of drank the Kool-Aid or something.”

Sammy carried on with his solo career and even founded the band Chickenfoot following that reunion. Regarding Van Halen, the group was able to get David Lee Roth back to the group at last. In addition to performing, they recorded their last album, “A Different Kind of Truth,” which was published in 2012. Michael Anthony, the bassist, was oddly left out of the reunion invitation list. He was usually closer to Sammy, which was undoubtedly the major reason. After the group disbanded in 2004, he began touring with Sammy as part of his solo endeavors. Wolfgang, Eddie’s son, took his place on the Roth reunion tour.

Sammy managed to become a friend of Eddie again before his passing

Eddie and Sammy lost contact until a few months prior to Eddie’s death in 2020. The reason they were able to reconnect was because of their shared acquaintance, the actor George Lopez. He informed Sammy that Eddie was unwell and urged him to give him a call before it was too late. They were able to get in contact again when Sammy gave him a call. Especially exchanging texts throughout Eddie’s cancer battle’s last phases.

In interviews, the singer stated that he realized things were becoming worse when Eddie stopped returning his messages and shortly after learning of his passing. At the age of 65, the renowned musician departed from this life on October 6, 2020.

Ever since there have been rumors floating about a reunion to honor Eddie. However, it never happened, and Wolfgang, Eddie’s son, disclosed that Roth was the primary reason that the reunion never took place. The fact that he is a challenging individual to work with prevented the shows from happening.

Michael Anthony, the bassist, has demonstrated lately that he and Wolfgang are not at odds. In 2023, Mike saw Wolfie’s band Mammoth perform live in Las Vegas, and they crossed paths backstage.





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