Van Halen on “the worst show we’d ever done in our lives”

Out of all the terrible disputes that Van Halen endured, two were particularly notable for their utter absurdity. An unfortunate 2004 reunion was the most memorable of the two contenders, however, a quarrel over the music of the tornado action movie Twister was also on the list. Tequila and tattoos caused a complete rupture in their partnership, and after that catastrophic event, Eddie Van Halen and Sammy Hagar never again played together.

The distinct phases of Hagar, David Lee Roth, and Gary Cherone show that Van Halen has always been a band that has gone through several broken times. Even though they had agreed to get back together, the band was more split than ever by 2004 when they were only relying on their legacy. After spending some time with Alex Van Halen, bassist Michael Anthony ultimately warmed up to Hagar’s request to come back. But from the beginning, things were out of balance, with Hagar and Anthony leading one party and the Val Halen brothers establishing another.

Eddie was there against his will and was already battling alcoholism. Eddie somewhat ironically had a strong problem with Hagar’s tequila brand, Cabo Wabo, unrelated to his increasing drinking. Eddie didn’t like that Hagar tried to promote the drink during their 2004 tour, especially because he had gone so far as to get his own brand tattooed on his arm. Hagar addressed the escalating hostilities in his biography Red Rocker, writing, “He came up to me before the show and rolled my sleeve down over my Cabo Wabo tattoo.”

Things descended into a Cold War focused on tattoos just before they were scheduled to perform live in Tucson, Arizona. Hagar pulled up his sleeve again, exposing his upper arm’s precious advertising real estate. He warned, “Don’t be f****** with my shirt, dude. That thing ain’t gonna last. See that? That’s better. That’s going to last longer.”

Eddie was mistaken in two ways. When Hagar sold Cabo Wabo shares for an astounding $80 million in 2007, he told Ultimate Classic Rock that the following was said to him by shareholders: “We love what you’ve done with this company, that’s why we want to get involved. If anything, get another tattoo.”

Regarding Valen Halen’s longevity, Eddie’s pathetic attempts on the Arizona show put an end to that. Hagar admitted, “It was the worst show we’d ever done in our lives. Eddie played so bad […] They tell me he pulled some crazy shit on the plane home. My man was completely gone and out of it.”

Even if they reconciled years later, the performance was the last straw, and they never shared a stage again.

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