Sammy Hagar recently said he and his former bandmate Eddie Van Halen had “buried the hatchet” in text conversations, months before Van Halen’s death in 2020.
Van Halen famously expelled Hagar from the band in 1996 after creative differences drove a wedge between them. Hagar re-joined the band from 2003 to 2005, but even while touring together, they continued to publicly feud and their friendship seemed to have never recuperated.
However, in an interview with Fox News last week, the “I Can’t Drive 55” rocker shared more about mending his relationship with Van Halen over text messages in the days leading up to Van Halen’s death from throat cancer at 65.
“To be able to have talked to Eddie and have a wonderful rapport with him on text, it means everything to me,” Hagar said. “If he would have died and we would have not ever said ‘I love you’ to each other, I would have felt really bad.”
When Hagar joined Van Halen in 1985 and replaced David Lee Roth, Eddie Van Halen had been dissatisfied with the limitations of his band.
“Eddie and I found this bond because Eddie was a frustrated musician because the former singer didn’t have a range and a type of voice that could sing a lot of music that Eddie could write,” the Red Rocker also recalled in the Fox News interview, describing his relationship then with Van Halen as “real strong.”
“So Eddie was always stuck with, you know, playing these guitar riffs,” Hagar added. “And when I walked in, it was like, he starts playing a piano part and I start singing. He goes, ‘Whoa!’ So the second he said, ‘You can do that?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ I’m going, ‘You can do that?’ I had no idea he played keyboards that good.”
Before joining Van Halen, Hagar had already enjoyed solo commercial success with his hit single, “I Can’t Drive 55.” Van Halen already had hits of their own, with “Hot For Teacher” and their No. 1 rock anthem, “Jump.” But with Hagar anchoring songs with his gravelly voice and high range and Van Halen ripping his signature guitar riffs, the band nabbed its first No. 1 album with “5150” in 1986, and would go on to record five other chart-topping albums.
Shortly after his departure, Hagar told The Times that he was left feeling isolated and depressed.
“When you get hurt by something in life, in a relationship or a friendship or a job, you can either crawl into a hole and give up or you can try to turn it into a positive,” Hagar said in 1997 as he readied to record new music with a new band.
Hagar told Fox News he “wouldn’t be able to talk” about his fond memories and successful days with Van Halen if not for their reconciliation.
“And it means a lot, I think, for me to feel good about talking about being in Van Halen now,” he said. “Because I feel like we buried the hatchet. Otherwise, I’d be saying, ‘Well, those guys.’ Because, you know, I was mad. I was hurt. And it’s very important that we connected.”
The recent revelation about his rebuilt friendship with Eddie Van Halen confirms a note allegedly written by Hagar that had found its way to Howard Stern after Van Halen’s death. Stern read the note on his SiriusXM show in 2020, revealing the pair’s texting “love fest,” in which the two rockers “both agreed not to tell anyone, because of all the rumors it would stir up about a reunion, et cetera, and we both knew that wasn’t gonna happen.”
“But he also didn’t want anyone to know about his health,” the note continued.
Both Hagar and and Eddie Van Halen are Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees as members of Van Halen.
Hagar continues to perform and has a string of performances in Las Vegas and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, in the summer and fall. He also continues to operate his Cabo Wabo club and tequila brands.