Mas Van Hagar: Why Sammy Hagar's Motivation Is More Powerful Than David Lee Roth's Bravado

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The first time I saw Van Halen perform live, the band was colloquially known as Van Hagar. Guitarist Eddie Van Halen, drummer Alex Van Halen, and bassist Michael Anthony had just reunited with their second frontman Sammy Hagar to promote a greatest-hits package titled Best of Both Worlds; I bought floor seats about ten rows back from the Meadowlands stage and in a direct line of sight of Eddie's quicksilver fingers from a guy with connections. Having been a Van Hagar fan for quite some time, that night was a thrilling culmination to all those adolescent years spent in my bedroom air guitaring, air drumming, and (yes) air bassing. I commemorated the evening by buying a bootleg t-shirt in the parking lot.

Eight years later, I stood in Madison Square Garden for yet another Van Halen live performance, except this time, the once even-more-estranged frontman David Lee Roth was handling vocal duties. The foursome, experts on the art of Reunion, were back together in support of an album of new (well, sort of) material titled A Different Kind of Truth. As anyone who is still paying attention to the band will admit, it's a return to form, bluesy and bombastic, debauched and lecherous, vintage sounding and also hopelessly dated. New songs like "She's The Woman" and "Tattoo" fit seamlessly into the set list, which featured staples like "You Really Got Me," "Jump," and "Dance the Night Away." Rock and roll, mission accomplished.

But while I had a drunkenly exceptional time, thanks in part to the Garden's newly instituted 1:1 bartender-to-ticketholder ratio, during Roth's improvised "Panama" banter, I realized something that I had always suspected, but never felt truly comfortable saying aloud.

I'm just more of a Van Hagar guy.

As far as most people are concerned—and by most, I mean, America—Van Hagar does not hold up to Van Halen, both in terms of awesomeness and in terms of more awesomeness. I can understand this preference. I've read Roth's autobiography; he's undoubtedly a Rock Star, and at 56 years old he is very much the formidable frontman. Still running with the devil, albeit a little more out of breath. At Thursday's show he did his little shimmy, channeled MJ for a signature take on the Moonwalk, and came out during "Ain't Talkin' About Love" with a baton that even got a couple of twirls.

It was hard to tell the exact condition of Roth's voice with Alex's thunderous drums, and Eddie's Zeusian guitar also competing for the soundboard, but he thrived throughout the two-hour set. He smiled maniacally, did some disjointed meandering, and took Madison Square Garden back to 1985 like it was a hot arena time machine. Still despite all of his charisma, Roth's persona can occasionally translate as a touch "showbiz," almost Vegas-like, and at times, he reminded me of the Catskills, one "ha-cha-cha-cha" away from being Jimmy Durante.

At the Meadowlands in 2004, though, Sammy Hagar was anything but Vegas. He was more Cabo, his curly blonde hair in a perpetual state of bounce. He ran back and forth, and from side to side, even charging into the crowd via a plank overhead and showing the crowd his sneaker soles. (They were red and black, just like Eddie's signature guitar.)

Hagar is also seven years older than Roth, which means in 2004, when Hagar was giving 110% to the audience, he was the same age as Roth, who is giving it about 87%, is now. But unbridled effort is not reason enough for this personal preference. There has to be more justification for being in this closeted minority.


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57 comments
anounymous022
anounymous022


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Bob 267888
Bob 267888

It is getting old because you have repeated the same argument over and over again on the theory that if you repeat enough time it becomes true.  The difference between you and me is that I am actually a fan of the band and can name songs from each of the incarnations of the band I would have no problem blasting on my stereo.  You are the other hand are really just a DLR fan.  You reveal you true colors when you make a silly comment that "EVH is a major contributor to the sound."   EVH is the reason why DLR ever got famous.  The VH sounds is whatever he decides he wants it to be.  Want proof.  Look at how fast DLR's career sank once the hair metal scene died, so did DLR's career.  VH, on the the hand, was still alive and kicking.  Why do you think DLR is back in the band, because he had no where else to go, and he knew it.   

You also reveal your inability to objectively look at the different eras when you essentially argue that DLR has better range than Sammy.  No one their right mind would make that argument.  People have argued, and with some merit, that DLR is more charismatic and has better bravado and stage presence, but not that he has better vocal range.  Take a listen to Me Wise Magic again.  DLR is straining to reach some of those high notes.  Sammy would have hit them without much difficulty. 

If you are interested in watching a showman who is more interested in himself than the band, then go watch DLR.   If you are interested in a musician who knows how to be a team player, then watch Sammy.  I know you won't, and thats your loss.  Good luck to you too.

Bob 267888
Bob 267888

Well that is because you are stuck in a time warp where the band ended when DLR chose to leave.  But lets be honest, when most folks talk about the signature VH songs, it will be three songs off of 1984, which some hard core fans would label commerical crap, and Eruption.   Your analysis of the VH era with Sammy reveals the flaws in your argument.  With Sammy, the band progressed and had four straight number one albums.  The band continued to have sucessful tours.  Even when grunge came around VH still stood tall, and would have continued to be one of the top attractions if he had stayed.  DLR, on the other hand, continued to do the same schtick album after album and faded into irrelevance.  So yeah, VH had staying power with Sammy.  He probably prolonged the bands success.     I am also trying to figure out what you have against love songs.  I am glad that the band was willing to do stuff other than David telling us that Jamie is crying.  I guess they could have become a  one note act like AC/DC and do nothing but heavy songs.  But I, and apparently a heck of a lot of others, like listening to some of the softer stuff. VH is Eruption, Dance The Night Away, Poundcake, Without You, Unchained, Jump, Summer Nights, Dreams, Once, Jamie's Crying and Not Enough.  They are a multidimensional band, and thank goodness for that.  

I learned a long time ago that music is meant to be enjoyed, and not to spend my time worrying what some self selected self important critics thinks is "timeless".  Life is too short and it about is time DLR fan.

Bob 267888
Bob 267888

I also preferred Van Halen under Sammy than DLR.  I like a lot of the songs from the DLR era, but I prefererred the stuff that Sammy did.  To me Sammy had the better voice, and the band was actually a band.  With DLR it was minstrel show more suited for Vegas.  I knew with Sammy you would get new songs that were relevant and would actually progress the sound of the band.  With DLR there was always the danger of getting an album full of cover songs, or an album that sounds like it is trying to rehash it sound from 1970 (ADKOT).    I know the snobs and elitist will say that this just shows bad taste.  So what?  What do I care about what a bunch of self-important self-selected fools think?   There is a couple of things I have learned over the years, which the music snobs and elitist have forgotten.  First, music is meant to be enjoyed.  Going in circles over these stupids arguments over what is best is pointless.  You are not going to convince me that DLR is the better singer just as much as I will not convince the some of these die hard DLR fans that Sammy is the better singer.  Second, music is not some either or  zero sum game that some DLR fans make it to be.  You can like the Rollilng Stones and still like Bon Jovi.  You can likeVH with Sammy and David.  You can like rap music and country music.  Only a fool goes to the absolutes that some fans go to that it if it is not DLR than it is crap. 

Tony B.
Tony B.

I don't mind it so much that some people prefer Hagar to Roth, much in the way some people prefer McDonald's to a Parrilla, but own up to your lowbrow, mainstream tastes. If you prefer Van Hagar, then you clearly have a preference for radio pop, music that conforms to low standards and dumbed down lyrics with cliches abound. Strictly uninspired, by the numbers, assembly line product. If The Rolling Stones' Exile from Main Street was on one station and Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet on another, you choose the latter. Hey, to each their own. But, don't try and dress it up as something profound. "How do you know when it's love?  I can't tell you, but it lasts forever."  Um, yeah. Justin Bieber sings songs like that.

Sarah Spaulding Harp
Sarah Spaulding Harp

I'm 36 so I remember the DLR to Sammy transition.  I liked some of the DLR songs, but I fell in love with VH when Sammy joined.  As the author suggested, some of the Van Halen/Van Hagar disagreements may be attributable to nothing more than a generational gap.   If I was 40, maybe I'd be a diehard DLR fan, but it is what it is.  For me, I love Sammy's vocals, the imagery of his music (regardless of his sometime rose-colored lyrics), and his on-stage presence.  I'll never forget being 20 years old, getting off work and driving hours to watch VH in concert.  To this day, I'll swear Sammy was looking right at me when he sang.  In my opinion, Sammy is a musician for the right reasons while DLR is all about his ego.  I'll take Sammy any day. 

Jim Lehman
Jim Lehman

DLR is the greatest frontman in rock history period.  I can't believe anyone would ever debate this. 

bullethead
bullethead

Van Hagar is crap!  Sissy Love Ballads for the most part.  David Lee Roth Van Halen is in your face Rock and Roll.  "A Different Kind of Truth" is the best album they've done since 1984.  David Lee Roth Van Halen has sold many, many more albums that Hagar.  The new album just may win them "Comeback of the Year"!

Mike
Mike

I agree, although I am older than you and remember most of the original Van Halen records coming out, I still like Sammy Hagar Van Halen for the simple reason - The songwriting and vocals were much better in my opinion with Sammy than Dave. Dave is shmaltzy and not a great singer. People say he is a more a frontman than singer, I believe Sammy was much better in both departments. He's also not just more relate-able, he is also much more likable (I get that I cannot relate to bright red Ferrari's and $150 million dollar tequilla companies). 

Sammy was better for me, I wish they were reuniting with him. I also think Wolfgang is a good bass player but if you are going to track Michael Anthony's background vocals in this show, why shouldn't he be at his post where he belongs?  

DJ
DJ

Everyone acts like it's all Hagar's fault.  Remember, DAVID LEE ROTH LEFT VAN HALEN.  Van Halen was left holding the bag.  At the time there was the option that Van Halen was going to hire Patty Smyth ("The Warrior"/"Goodbye to You") if she would have taken the job; what's THAT say about the direction of the band and their inclination for "poppiness" and different music?  Could you imagine a concert where they did "The Warrior" for Patty's sake instead of "One Way to Rock" for Sammy's?

Nobody, not including Sammy, held a gun to Ed's head and told him, "You're gonna have to do this song this way and that's that."  We all know that Ed wears the pants in the band and it's his final decision as to what makes the cut.  Therefore anything that Sam had to offer was agreed on and stamped "APPROVED" by nobody other than EVH himself.  And let's not forget that it was clear that this new musical direction was already implied on "1984" and is probably one of the reasons DLR decided to leave due to collaborative differences.

If you want to blame a watered down version of Van Halen on anyone, you might want to point the finger equally, if not more at Mr. Edward Ludwig Van Halen himself.  Sammy put in his effort and Ed (the guy who OWNS the band) said, "Yeah; that sounds good.  Let's do that..."

Edward Van Halen.  He's probably mostly to blame for the complaints about Van Hagar.  He's the one who also made you all wait 28 years for an entire new album from DLR.  That's Edward Ludwig Van Halen, folks.

Tony B.
Tony B.

Sammy Hagar diluted what was best about Van Halen - edgy, sexy, street cool. By way of his efforts, the band became a colorless, generic outfit with assembly line rock and schmaltzy pop. Those songs are rarely heard today or missed, much like the clothes that accompanied them. It's a bit like turning The Roiling Stones into The Monkees and making a case for doing so. When i think of Van Halen, I think of urban grooves like Everybody Wants Some, Mean Street, Drop Dead Legs. These are serpentine, dangerous sounds. When it's Love, Can't Stop Loving You, Not Enough, anyone?  Souless power ballads that could have been written by any number of hair metal bands striving to meet the lowest common denominator. Empty corporate rock without any balls. There's only one Van Halen and that's the one fronted by Roth. The rest is woefully inadequate

Mark
Mark

The first time I saw Van Halen was in 1978, when they opened for Black Sabbath. By 1981, I got over it. Its 2012, I suggest you do the same.

Epac
Epac

Seeing as 5150 was the writer's first exposure to Van Halen, I can understand the sentiment expressed, but ultimately, there's no comparison. The DLR-era VH was an exciting, original and dynamic band that, despite Roth's Vegas aspirations, worked for its differing personalities (it's been well-documented how personal clashing and friction always produces the best music.) Hagar, on the other hand, was a safe, can't-lose choice and the band's musical ouput predictably became that of 3rd-rate Journey clones. I'll be the first to admit I cherry pick a few decent Van Hagar-era tunes, but there's not one of his fronted albums I can listen to, start-to-finish. It's all so...bland. Martin Popoff put it best - DLR laughs at life and everyone trying to tame it, including himself. Hagar is just dying to be accepted, shaking his bad hairdo while wearing those red maternity outfits. Roth is no scholar, but you can tell there's a real sense of humor there. Hagar's about as deep as a petri dish.

lothario
lothario

the truth is that besides the combination of rock power and weird eighties sleekness in Poundcake (the big drums, the harmonics) you can't say much about the actual identity of Sammy Hagars music, he writes generic lyrics in typical meter and is blessed with a gritty, likable voice. Van Hagar albums are pretty lightweight, better crafted, yes, but certainly not as rock as 'Drop Dead Legs' or 'Mean Street' or whatever. (i.e.: back when Van Halen was exciting, rather than embarrassing.)Ultimately, yeah, I understand your comments, David Lee Roth sings in the voice of the Louis Prima records he covered when he was a kid, and the early VH records feature flat singing and so on, I just think that people that saw them back then saw a new sound in rock, as opposed to the slightly bland, corporate sound of Van Hagar. When Its Love is embarrassingly bad - its like Journey meets Pete Cetera meets bad christian radio meets the worst covers band you ever sat through. Hipster music? Not really.

lothario
lothario

the truth is that besides the combination of rock power and weird eighties sleekness in Poundcake (the big drums, the harmonics) you can't say much about the actual identity of Sammy Hagars music, he writes generic lyrics in typical meter and is blessed with a gritty, likable voice. Van Hagar albums are pretty lightweight, better crafted, yes, but certainly not as rock as 'Drop Dead Legs' or 'Mean Street' or whatever. (i.e.: back when Van Halen was exciting, rather than embarrassing.)

Ultimately, yeah, I understand your comments, David Lee Roth sings in the voice or Louis Prima records he covered when he was a kid, and the early records feature flat singing and so on, I just think that people that saw them back then saw a new sound in rock, as opposed to the slightly bland, corporate sound of Van Hagar. When Its Love is embarrassingly bad - its like Journey meets Pete Cetera meets bad christian radio meets the worst covers band you ever sat through. Hipster music? Not really.

burning_plastic
burning_plastic

Montrose! I think Montrose's first record is better than any Van Halen record, but, I also think Van Halen is best with Roth.

Ari M. Eden
Ari M. Eden

Sorry pal, you're way off, lol, but you're entitled to your opinion.  I don't hate Sammy and they produced some good songs with him as well, but compared to classic Van Halen, it's akin to listening to Michael Bolton.

DJ
DJ

You, my friend, are not alone.  I have been "Openly Van Hagar" since "5150" and here's why:

Back in '85, Roth left Van Halen, not the other way around.  Roth got too big for his britches and thought he could do things better on his own and decided to part ways.  As raging Van Halen fan back then, it was the equivalent of one of your parents abandoning your family for someone else; I was devastated.

At the time, Hagar's "VOA" shared equal time on my turntable (it's like a big CD player for you younger folks) with "1984" and I posed the thought to my friends, "Jeez...  could you imagine if Hagar joined Van Halen?  How great would THAT be?"  Little did I know that later that year, God would answer that prayer.

I liked Hagar before Van Halen for a reason; he had music cred in the form of fronting his own band, writing good music and being an energetic front-man.  His addition to Van Halen was one of the greatest musical achievements in history as far as I'm concerned.

Likewise, I realized that after "Fair Warning" which was awesome and "Diver Down," which could be described as "tepid" at best, that things in the Van Halen camp weren't going well; I could sense that as a fan.  "1984" redeemed them; however it appeared that the infighting had grown too much and I, as a fan, could sense something was amiss and their time was fleeting.  And then Roth left the band.  One of the "parents" left my (Van Halen) family and abandoned us "kids."

And then there was Hagar; always the guy I liked in the first place and when one of your parents abandons the family, you want a new and good "step-parent" and Sammy was just that.  He was not only good for himself, but for the (Van Halen) family.  The other parent, Ed, got a whole new lease on creativity and did and explored things he would never have been permitted to while the old parent was in the family; the original parent seemed happy and vibrant and took the family in new directions.

As for the old parent, well, they had moderate success, but generally floundered.  I think that DLR found out that he was not as good as he thought he was by himself and that his success hinged on the sum of Van Halen as a whole, not as its individual parts.

But in the meantime, the new family was thriving and while most people act as though Hagar is the Anti-Christ, if it wasn't for him, there probably would be NO Van Halen and NO reunion like what's happening today.  As for Roth, I loved the guy, but hated what he did when he left the band; love the sinner, hate the sin.

But don't blame Hagar or dis' him; if it weren't for him, Van Halen as we know it today, would probably have ceased to be altogether.  Just like Wolfie is in the band now sans Michael Anthony, if it weren't for Ed's interest in playing with and/or grooming his son for the biz, there also wouldn't be a reunion today.  Ed's basically playing for Wolfie's sake now and he's probably tolerating Dave.

But I'm happy for those people who are happy that the original (most of it, sans Brother Mikey) are together with the original "parents"; Al's a sibling in this band also because he just does whatever Ed tells him to do.  It's nice to see them (appearing to) make nice with each other.

I love both iterations of Van Halen with Roth and Hagar; Cherone was just a burp in the Van Halen universe as such (no disrespect to Cherone at all; I like him outside of Van Halen).  But as an "openly Van Hagar" person since "5150," to me his incorporation into the band was literally giving me the "Best of Both Worlds" musically.

Marshall Plexi
Marshall Plexi

Here's the thing -- Hagar worked harder onstage, and sought to be a team player. He wanted to earn fan loyalty by being what Roth was not -- a conscientious note-hitter and someone who came across as appreciative of the attention he received. I truly wish Roth had demonstrated those qualities throughout his first stint with VH. I *think* he tried hard as the band toured to support the first album in '78, but by the time I first saw the band, in 1980, his "privileged rock star" attitude had sunk in. Hagar's problem is that his ability to create vocal melodies and lyrics is so damn rudimentary. Roth may have a wheezy, even unpleasant voice, but it's not the timbre of the singer's voice that counts, generally. It's their ability to deliver a memorable vocal melody that complements the instrumental backing, and lyrics that are interesting or at least not embarrassing.

Tony B
Tony B

The repetition is intentional. Like a politician, you continuously avoid what I am asking you to confront. Hagar writes in sophmoric cliches. His lyrics are interchangeable with American Idol contestant lyrics. They can be written with a crayon. Let's do one now. "Girl, our love burns like a fire, fills me with desire, we can take it higher."  It's literally that sad and pathetic. i'm not saying Roth is T.S. Eliot, but his lyrics for Secrets are more genuine and thoughtful than all the assembly line Hagar love songs combined. You're an articulate person, Surely, you know this to be true. Digging up two odd Roth penned tracks from 1978 and 1996 don't make it any less true.

Also, DLR's career did not sink as fast as you're suggesting. They broke up in 1985 and he was still headlining stadiums into the early 90's. However, it did descend, no question. Hagar would be suffering the same fate were it not for constantly bad mouthing Van Halen to get attention for his book, then Chickenfoot. How well did Sammy's solo records sell after leaving Van Halen pre-Chickenfoot?  Was he headlining stadiums like Roth only to fall out of public favor? Nope, he never even got there. I don't recall the Marching to Mars media blitz, do you?  Or anything for the forgotten records that followed.

Musical chemistry is hard to define, but the original Van Halen had it. Van Hagar had personal chemistry, which is not the same thing. The friction in the original line up helped shape Fair Warning, arguably their best record, and features EVH's best playing. if one holds the standards of guitar players in high regard. i think most would.

Being a team player may make Hagar a nicer person, but it doesn't make him any less bland and forgettable. You call him a musician. I prefer the word businessman. He assembles something to sell in the moment, not to last.

Tony B.
Tony B.

No one denies Hagar's success with the band, but watering down your sound to appeal to everyone will do that. Of course I have nothing against real love songs. But Sam Cooke love songs are decidely different than Justin Bieber ones. I think, or at least, i hope that you would know the difference. Sincerity, depth, gravitas. I am saying that Van Hagar love songs are shallow and cliche much like the latter. "Can't stop loving you, no matter what i say or do, don't you know my heart is true..."  How long did it take to write that shit? Lyrically, you wont much find much different on any American Idol CD. I'm saying it sucks, They are a one note act under Hagar, actually. Radio tunes with no soul. Roth brought menace to Fair Warning, blues to Women and Children First, groove to Van Halen II. And the new album is unapologetic hard rock with a heavy dose of attitude. Hagar couldn't get arrested selling that Chickenfoot trash were it not for his bad mouthing Van Halen on a continuous loop. It's the only way to get media attention. "One hand on the wheel and a big foot on the gas" certainly isn't lighting anyone's fire. But, Roth has been back since 2007 and Hagar is selling a new rum. So, perhaps, you are stuck in the past. See the real band if they come to your town. It's a helluva show.

Bob 267888
Bob 267888

Oops forgot to add.

Life is too short and it is about time DLR fans realized that.

Unter99
Unter99

Bob -

The Vegas/Vaudville rap on DLR doesn't hold water pre-1985. Not until Crazy from the Heat, did he display a penchant for the lounge sound. I don't find that sound anywhere on Fair Warning or Women and Children First, do you? It ain't on the new album either. The cover songs jab is a fair point, but the 70's rehash bit was ripped right from a Hagar press release. The new album rocks. Not a sappy, badly dated love ballad in the mix.

I don't think one can be a snob about Van Halen. This is about rock n' roll not Rachmaninov. One certainly can enjoy both Rolling Stones and Bon Jovi, but hopefully know the difference between the two. The larger point is that Hagar & Co. morphed The Rolling Stones into Bon jovi when he joined Van Halen. It ceased becoming Van Halen when he took the microphone. You could literally switch Can't Stop Loving You with a Jonas Brothers song and neither band would lose a step or confuse their audience. It's that frivolous. Not about absolutes, but about replacing a quintessential frontman with a second rate rocker. If there's any doubt, I have a new Jounrey CD you might be interested in.

DJ
DJ

When it takes 28 years to complete an album with the original singer, then it should be good.  "A Different Kind of Truth" is o.k.; not as wonderful as "WCF" or "Fair Warning."  It's "o.k." and that's all.  Ed's guitars are wonderful and DLR's voice is showing the inevitable signs of aging and Michael Anthony's harmonies are sorely missed.  These statements are being made by a guy (ME) who was the most avid DLR Van Halen fan back in the day.

In a world where the music scene in general is nothing but crap, "A Different Kind of Truth" shines like a bright, shiny diamond.  But that's relative to a less-than-mediocre music scene.  ADKOT is not musical genius and it should only be compared to the DLR albums and not the Hagar albums.

Even a half-eaten cheeseburger in a garbage can looks good to a starving person.

Gokhanersan1
Gokhanersan1

Dave is shmaltzy and not a great singer, agreed. He was best as a solo act, when the music matched his schmaltz. Eat Em and Smile and Skyscraper were great. But Sammy's inclusion to the band opened wide the door of musical possibilities. Dave is all heavy metal swing; but Sammy is much more versatile melodically. He enabled Eddie to write his best music. Hell, just listening to the instrumental intro of 5150 shows how musically liberating it must be for Eddie to part ways with Dave—who was always a teenager, producer of simple-minded fun. With Sammy the world was introduced to musical maturity that can pour from a hard rock band. That is deep like Rush and Yes, but rocks hard like Led Zeppelin.

Arye Dworken
Arye Dworken

Firstly, I'm honored and really flattered that this article has inspired so much dialogue. And I also have to say that I agree with most of the things everyone has said. If that's possible. I realize Sammy's inherent cheesiness, but at the time, that is what worked for me. I can't expect everyone to relate.That being said, I think we can all agree that Michael Anthony is definitely missed. 

Epac
Epac

I said the same thing, many many years ago. While I (generally) dislike Van Hager, I do NOT blame Van Halen's artistic demise on him. Clearly, it was something they all sat down and agreed on.

Gokhanersan1
Gokhanersan1

edgy, sexy, street cool. Yes, it was all image pre-Hagar, that attracted teenage boys. A whole world of fans took attention when Dave left and Eddie was freed to do his own music, and Sammy helped a lot (Eddie's words). Now, the grunge thing finished off everything musical in the rock genre, and Eddie's confused reaction to the change of climate finished of the band. I think there must be fifty people who cares for Van Halen now. Motley Crue fans like Dave Halen and Led Zep , Rush fans like Van Hagar. Matter of taste.

Ari M. Eden
Ari M. Eden

The simple truth is in the album sales too, and it's a myth that Hagar sold more than Roth.  It's not even close in fact.

Gokhanersan1
Gokhanersan1

rudimentary? anything but rudimentary. Roth's lyric's are nonsensical rap that worked only for his Yankee Rose band. Hagar's lyrics on 5150, ou812, and Carnal Knowledge have an everyman's sensibility. From Mine All Mine, to Love Walks In and Poundcake and Spanked, they connect with the audience in different levels, but they do it with finesse. DLR inspired the glam rock, spandex scene, while Sammy Hagar made the band the envy of that same scene. Cause the hair-sprayers knew thay could now be meaningful and hard-rocking like the new Van Halen. Their favorite album : Women and Children First. Pure trashy fun, good thing to associate oneself with if you are a 14 year old boy.

DJ
DJ

Tony,

I replied to my earlier post because there was no link to reply to yours (or whomever's) at the time; it was simply that.

As for your later comment about not minding if Patty Smyth would have joined the band, I wasn't against it either.  And for a brief time in the '90s I liked Mitch Malloy as a vocalist also, and technically he was in the band, but only for about 7 minutes; that's got to be in the Guinness Book of World Records as "Lead Singer of a Major Band for the Shortest Amount of Time."

At the time, I was all about Ed "exploring" different music which is why I welcomed Sammy; Sammy let him do that.  I think that one of Van Halen's undoing with Roth was that Dave wanted to do Van Halen a certain way, but he was o.k. to go out and do what he wanted to with "Crazy from the Heat."  Let's face it, Dave got too big for his britches and thought he WAS the reason people went to Van Halen shows.  Granted, he was part, but the bigger part was and is always Ed.

In all honesty, I think this whole argument (not just this one, but the one that started in '85) about who Van Halen's best singer and/or frontman is/was would have been avoided with one simple solution; had "Van Halen" changed its name after DLR left, I'll bet none of this bickering would ever have occurred.

The ONLY way a substantial member of a band can be successfully replaced is if the original member DIES.  Look at how people took to Brian Johnson in AC/DC after Bon Scott died.  Had Johnson replaced Scott, there would be a separate web-board for that unending argument.  Someone could have filled in for John Bonham in Zep (maybe Jason?); it worked for "The Who" when Keith Moon died and Kenny Jones replaced him.  Any time a substantial member of a band dies, they can be replaced, unless the band doesn't want to carry on, such as was the case with Led Zeppelin; and that's their artistic license/option.  That doesn't mean the band is or ever would be the same, but the arguments of "who's better" will never surface on the level as they do if the two people are still alive.

On a humorous note, the album released by Hagar on Geffen after he joined Van Halen (he had to do that to fulfill his contract with Geffen) was officially titled, "I Never Said Goodbye."  It originally had no title and the fans unofficially titled it "Died and Went to Halen."

On a final note, if Ed's got fire in his veins and is playing ferociously these days, it's probably because he's revisiting his past and that's o.k.  Just like anyone has a passion for the good old days of the past, Ed had the opportunity to resurrect his and he did and it's kind of probably like thinking about that old girlfriend in college that you could still lust for; the difference is that Ed is able to act on his timeless passion.

;-)

Bob 267888
Bob 267888

I thought you wantd to drop the subject.  There is a reason that I have not focused too much on Sammy's lyrics vis a vis DLR's lyrics.  The reason is that people are not listening to VH for inspiration or to get some greater meaning to ilfe.  People listen to VH to see what Eddie is going to do with the music.  VH was known as America's number one party band, not its most thoughtful.  As far as I am concerned when it comes to DLR and Sammy they are a wash when it comes to lyrics.  I don't particularly think it takes a genius to come up with the same one word  refrain that the Pointer Sisters used or to continually shout the name of a Central American nation, or to tell us that Jamie is Crying, or to tell us what is like to live in Paradise,  Then again, this is when DLR actually writes his own lyrics, rather than take someone elses. 

I will not proclaim Sammy to be a lyrical genius (see Amsterdam), but  I see depth in his lyrics that I don't with DLR, see Right Now, Mine all Mine, and Feeling.   I took a look at Secrest musically and lyrically, and it is good song. I don't particuarly see anything great about those lyrics that would make me jump up and say this is profound.  And when I am in the mood for a good love song from VH, my first thought will be to go to Love Walks In, Not Enough or When Its Love. 

But I go back to the basic premise that arguing about lyrics is fundamentally silly.  Twenty years from now when people talk about VH, they won't be talking about the lyrics, but about Eddie's playing. 

We can go on arguing about how fast DLR's career sank once the hair metal scene died, or about how well Sammy has done solo and now with Chickenfoot, but  it is all really pointless.  Neither singer is a lyrical genius.  Neither singer has sustained the sucess he had with VH once they left.  But they are both a part of the band's history, and the DLR's fan's attempts to denigrate Sammy generally lack much merit.  

DJ
DJ

First of all, Sam Cooke was a man and Justin Bieber is a 12 year old who's songs are probably written for him.  Likewise, Bieber's market is SPECIFICALLY little girls, much like Katy Perry appeals only to "tweens."  They're in two different leagues when it comes to song-writing.

But let's talk about your comment on "menacing."  Roth's menacing only came because of Ed's menacing guitar and again YOU and other people are forgetting that Ed wears the pants in the band and that their musical shift was on account of HIM.  Sam and Gary merely supplemented the material HE wanted to put out.  With a song like "Can't Stop Loving You's" tune, could you imagine trying to fit "she looked so f*cking good, so sexy and so frail, something's got to bound me I'm going to straight to hell" in it?  I don't think it's possible.

EDWARD VAN HALEN ALWAYS WROTE THE MUSIC; the singer's then placed the lyrics into the music, with Ed's approval, of course.

The FACT that Dave is with the band again can be attributed to the FACT that they had no option other than to put him in the front again.  After the Cherone debacle and the amount of time they spent sitting on their thumbs NOT making music, there was no option.  The Sam option was tried back in 2004 and Ed wasn't on his best behavior; it was the only Van Halen concert I walked out of because Ed was so out of his mind, it was a bit disturbing.  Ed and Dave do not get along and they merely tolerate each other.  This whole tour and album is the result of DLR being the only viable option in order for Van Halen to ever sell ANYTHING again and, truth be known, it's more about Ed being able to travel and spend quality time with his son than it is about DLR and you and me.

So get it into your heads people; Edward Van Halen is the root of any musical changes in the band.  Repeat that in your head.  And even now that they released "ADKOT," it's EDWARD who's behind it and their musical direction back to the past.

They say, "the lowest common denominator in any failed relationship is you..."  Well in the relationships of the mighty Van Halen, who was the lowest common denominator in any of their failed relationships?  That would be Edward Van Halen.

As for Chickenfoot, I personally didn't buy it as much for Sam as I did for Satriani.  So are you saying now that Sam has made Joe Satriani "wishy-washy?"  It appears that Satch and the rest of the band are just having fun and making music and that music is the culmination of all their efforts.

Get off the "Blame Sam for Everything" wagon and understand that it's your favorite guitar hero, the band's namesake, that that caused your pissed-offedness at them from 1985 on.

Bob 267888
Bob 267888

We get it, you don't like Can't Stop Loving You, and that you would prefer that VH stay a one note act like AC/DC.  I am thankful they moved on after David with a singers like Sammy that could do great ballads like When Its Love along with rockers like Human Being, Black and Blue and Poundcake. Now they are back with David recyling a dated sound.  That is fine for some of the fans who never got past 1984.  I am happy on the one hand, as at least Eddy is making music again.  On the other hand, I just wish he would continue to progress rather than go back in this time warp. 

To answer one of your questions, I guess it took Sammy as long to write Can't Stop Loving You as it took Dave to tell give us his inspiring lyrics of "I can't wait to feel your love tonight" or that "Steak and potatoes are better in a bucket".  

The bottomline whether you like it or not (and apparently you don't) is that VH is not just about DLR and his catalouge.  They are, as mentioned before, a multidimensional band that has played all types of music from the rockers to the ballads.  A true fan of the band appreciates that, and does not stick his nose up in the air simply becacuse it is not some blonde hair guy who cared more about theatrics than the band performing. 

I have actually seen the band with all three singers, and enjoyed all three shows.  To be honest, Gary gave the most inspiring performance of all three.  Sammy did well, and was the team player that made VH a band.  Dave continued with his vaudeville routine, and from what I have seen posted on line he is still relying on the same schtick that may have once looked OK for a 20 year old, but now looks silly for a guy in his 50s. But as I have said before, if they come around, I will probably watch the show, as I am a fan of the band.   A true fan, not someone who is stuck in the late 70s to 80s.  

Bob 267888
Bob 267888

You have actually proven my point regarding Sammy Hagar.  Van Halen did not stop being Van Halen when Sammy joined.  Van Halen was and will always be about Eddie.  Human Being, Poundcake, Black and Blue and When Its Love is just as much a part of Van Halen's repertoire, as Running with the Devil, Unchained, and I'll Wait.   Just because they were not going out and reliving the sound they did in the 70's does not mean they stopped being the band everyone loved.  They changed with the times, as all bands have, to include the Stones.   You may not like Sammy's point about trying to recylce an old sound, but it is true.  Stay Frosty is basically Ice Cream part II, and has been noted other songs are basically old demos that weren't good enough to make it the first time around, and now are being trotted out as the new stuff.  Sorry, but if I want to listen to what was done in the past I would buy Women and Children First. 

If given a chance, I would watch the band in concert this time around, as I love all of the VH catalogue.  I don't particularly feel that DLR is the better frontman.  I have seen videos of the new shows and he is still relying on Vaudeville, and some of the same antics that look stupid for a 50 something to do. 

I also find it amusing some of the contradiction DLR fans bring up.  One of the key talking point of DLR fans to prove his "superiority" to Sammy is that DLR VH albums have sold more than SH VH albums.  DLR fans then basically accuse Sammy fans of having no taste, lumping him into the same category of Bon Jovi.  Well Bon Jovi has sold almost twice as many albums as VH. Journey as also sold more albums than VH.  So by DLR VH fans logic, Bon Jovi is the better band.  I would not necessarily go that far, but I am just applying the DLR fans logic. 

DJ
DJ

Ok, it's time to tell the truth about how Sammy "ruined" Van Halen single-handely because it appears that nobody will acknowledge Edward "The Elephant in the Room" Van Halen's contribution to allegedly sissi-fying the band.

One day back in '85 DLR decided he liked singing more about "California Girls" and "Coconut Groves" and decided to become "Just a Gigolo" and leave the Van Halen boys high and dry without a singer.

Sammy, who's been known to have openly stated he's been contacted by aliens, was able to detect DLR's absence and hired his Ferrari mechanic, Claudio, to hypnotize Edward; he didn't have to do Alex because Alex does whatever Ed says.  So, Claudio hypnotizes Ed and says "Why don'ta you boys, playa the 'Farm Aid' together, eh?" (Claudio's Italian) and Ed is brainwashed to appear happy and content in this new relationship.

Sam, being as evil as he is, then "downloads" bad music ideas into Ed's brain, much like aliens messed with his and even makes Ed THINK that he wanted to be super-sissy and hire Patty Smyth ("Goodbye to You"/"The Warrior") so that Ed would say that and then hire Sam, throwing people off Sam's evil plot.  Shortly thereafter, "5150" is released and DLR fans everywhere forget that he left the band hanging and campaigns against Sam, "The Anti-Halen," are launched simultaneously around the world.  Rumor is that Sam held a .45 magnum to Ed's head the entire time before also, but we couldn't see it because it was an invisible gun given to Sam by the aliens.

Meanwhile, legions of former Sammy fans AND former Van Halen fans buy tons of their newly "sissi-fied" music while DLR slips off the charts and starts to lose his hair; all the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Dave (one part of "The Fabulous PIcasso Brothers") back together again, while Van Halen continued to release bad recording after bad recording while fans clamored for them.

"Over produced, those albums are!" exclaimed many a die hard DLR fan.  "Sammy's turned the band wishy-washy!" exclaimed yet more.  "Sammy Hagar has single handedly destroyed the mighty Van Halen as we know it!" yet others exclaimed.  "Let's buy MORE!" yet others exclaimed!

But the band (including Ed) kept marching to the bank with the checks, oblivious to the fact that it was all an evil plot launched by the man with the blonde super-perm formerly from "Montrose" and his own career.

Meanwhile Ed, once again oblivious to Sam's wily ways, continued to smile and create music FOR Sam to sing; isn't that just sick how Sam made Ed a puppet the whole time?

Sensing people are onto him, Sam lets Ray Danniels manage the band after Ed Loeffler dies; this is done in order to appease the mighty Alex and to eventually arrange for Sam's departure before he's exposed.  Danniels turns Ed and Alex into the "Got Milk?" poster boys and Sam can't take it any longer and begs Ed to fire him, which he does on Father's Day morning, 1996.

The Hagar and Van Halen camps then exchange public unpleasanties in order to keep the charade going and Ed hires Mitch Malloy to be in the band for a full 5 minutes before Gary Cherone (and we won't go further on that topic).

But all this time, Ed's been the victim; don't you see it?  Ed NEVER had any plans to play any kind of sappy music at all; if it were up to Ed, EVERY song would be like an "Unchained" or "Everybody Wants Some" and we'd all live happily every after in Van Halen-dom.  Ed has always wanted the best for us.

Now that DLR's back, people are happy that "Daddy Dave" has returned to the family and released an album's worth of editing room floor tracks (some, which aren't bad, really).

And in the meantime, Ed's hands are washed completely of any wrongdoing in the Hagar years, well, just because he's Ed.

And now you know the rest of the story...

Gokhanersan1
Gokhanersan1

Arye, 

You would have more supporters to your article, had not the majority of the fans already left Van Halen for good. But we still have those great Van Hagar records, and can wonder what could've been had those streak of records continued well into the 2000s. They could've been the new Zeppelin.

Epac
Epac

Agreed there!

Tony B.
Tony B.

I would hardly reduce their appeal to image alone - I also listed tracks to illustrate the vibe in their overall sound.  Van Hagar is sell out garbage - there's no personality behind it, no weight. It would inspire anger were it not so gutless and toothless. Cliche after cliche in its empty phrasing. And being a Rush fan, I really don't find any connection there. Van Halen fans strike me as Rolling Stones fans whereas Van Hagar fans are closer to Bon Jovi aficionados. Have a listen to Van Halen 1, Women and Children First or Fair Warning. These records sound as if they were conceived in the streets. 5150 and OU812 and the rest of it sounds assembled by record company hacks. Such a joke.

Sgt. Hartman
Sgt. Hartman

True but album sales are a meaningless criteria on which to judge the merits of each era.  I can tell you I bought most of the Roth era albums several times as the available formats changed from LPs to CDs, etc.  CDs were already the norm by the time the Hagar era started so only bought those albums once.  Plus, I know many people who, like the poster above alluded to, only bought the Roth era albums after becoming a fan of the band during the Hagar era.  It had to do with a love of the band, not who was singing.   What is true is that the band sold more albums during Hagar's tenure with the band, even if many of those albums featured Roth on vocals.

Besides, if number of albums sold really meant something, we'd all be singing Justin Bieber's praises instead of talking about VH.

Tony B
Tony B

I did want to move on, but then you were mischaracterizing my position. I don't think it has to be a game of extremes either. No one said Roth was profound, but he's not wallowing in cliches like Hagar, so it makes him a superior songwriter IMO. Even EVH made Hagar change What Love Can Do to (Don't Tell Me) What Love Can Do to try and add some balls to it. It didn't much help, though. The song still sucks. You criticize Roth songs based on what they're about, not the way he wrote them. Jump is a groove tune, so I'm hard pressed to judge it any more than one would judge Twist & Shout. The other two songs are solid rock tunes unlike,say, Spanked or Good Enough to Uh!. I think Hagar and Warrant are a better wash lyrically. It's rhyming the easy words like kids in a sandbox. Roth's songwriting is more sly than that, for the most part. We could go tit for tat on the Roth/Sammy songs if you want, but it will never be reconciled, so why bother. One man's Ain't Talkin 'Bout Love is another man's Love Walks in. Let history decide.

Still, you and DJ raised an interesting point that EVH is the sound. That being said, the records generally cited for his phenomenal playing have been VH1, Women and Children First, Fair Warning and now A Different Kind of Truth. One could argue that the last record was due to his long absence, but his playing is so ferocious, that it diffuses that position to an extent. And yet, I have never heard critics and fans alike citing the Hagar records as guitar master classes. The playing on 5150, OU812, For Unlawful... or Balance is never mentioned in the company of those other records for his playing. Could it be that EVH plays better with Roth? Musical chemistry, indeed.

Tony B
Tony B

I agree with most of what you've written in your last post, but you replied to yourself so I am stating that here. My only disagreement is your minimizing the importance of Roth and Hagar in driving the momentum of the band. Somewhat by your own admission, Cherone assumed a lesser role in Van Halen III. EVH, by most accounts, assumed creative control on that record. And it was their worst received, least successful record to date. As a matter of dispute, i would have preferred Patti Smyth to both Hagar and Cherone. She sings better than both of them and it would have been an interesting direction for the band. I don't know how it would have turned out, but I was open to the experiment. Nice talking with you.

DJ
DJ

I disagree that the front men of Van Halen were the driving force behind the sound and that Ed is a "major contributor."  The reason there is a Van Halen is really and only because of Eddie; he's the one who stood the world on end with his guitar style and he's the one who sent music (hard rock/metal) in an entirely new direction.  And to hear "the brother" (Ed and Al speak; mainly Ed), the singers were the ones with the poor "work ethic" although I can't completely agree with him.

Van Halen stuck around after DLR because of Eddie, not because of Sammy or anyone else.  Nobody really talks about Dave's or Sam's exceptional vocals because Van Halen is all about the guitar and the vocals supplement Ed.  To say that Van Halen is anything other than being about Ed is pure bullsh*t.  If you ask ANYONE off the street what piqued their interest in Van Halen, the answer will almost always be "Ed's guitar playing."  If you listen to any of their early demos, had it not been for Ed's fingerboard pyrotechnics, they would have been just 70's California beer drinking rock and would have come and go like so many others of that time because Roth's vocals/talent/whatever would certainly not have been enough to carry the band if Ed was merely a mediocre player.

Ed is the driving force behind the band.  Everyone's talking about Ed's blistering playing on "ADKOT" and not about DLR's deteriorating vocals.  They're listening to the guitar; they're listening to Ed; DLR is secondary.

And in and around 1982, the band started changing because of Ed.  It started with a crappy album called "Diver Down."  DLR's contribution to that album was to suggest so many cover tunes while Ed was wanting to introduce keyboards which, at the time, DLR forbade him to do.  DLR finally had no choice in the matter in 1984 with the release of "1984" when keyboards became part of the Van Halen sound.  And why did it become part of the Van Halen sound?  Because it was ED's direction; not Dave's.  Ed has always had full veto power over anyone in the band, but still had to make nice with them sometimes and give them a little musical license to contribute to the music.  But Ed could always (and he has) put the kibosh on whatever he wanted to put the kibosh on; hence the creation of his term "lead singer's disease."  He kept them on a short leash.

Ed got too big for his britches in 1998 by hiring Cherone.  I have nothing against Cherone, but I knew he was NOT for the band and I actually felt sorry for him for joining because it was going to end up in disaster either way.  But Ed was at the point where he thought he could get away with putting a trained singing monkey (not alluding to Cherone) in front of the band and the fans would buy the music simply because he's Ed.  Well he found out that while he's a superb and revered guitarist, that he couldn't just stick anyone in front of the band and get away with it and that's why "VHIII" failed so miserably.  Cherone was in a lose/lose situation because he could never fill Dave's or Sammy's shoes.

But back to the Hagar thing, Ed was the one who "candied" up the band if that's what you want to call it.  Hagar merely went along for the ride.  Ed wrote ALL the music and Sam laid the vocals on top.  If Ed wrote radio friendly, mass appealing music, what else could Hagar do other than to put radio friendly, mass appealing lyrics on top of it?  Do you think that Hagar came up with the sound and music for "Dreams," "Love Walks In," or When it's Love?"  That answer is "no."  That music is all Ed because he wanted to tinker around with the keyboards. 

And again I'll cite that it was EDWARD LUDWIG VAN HALEN who wanted Patty Smyth in the band after Roth.  How much more evidence do you need that the changes in the band and their sound were COMPLETELY his doing.  Would we all be hating Patty Smyth had she joined ranks with "the brothers?"  Unlike Cherone, she was smart enough to turn it down...

Ed is not a "major contributor" to the sound.  Ed IS the sound.

Tony B
Tony B

I'm not forgetting whose name is on the band. EVH is a major contributor to the sound, no question. But this band, by most accounts, was taking direction from its frontmen (Cherone excluded). Hagar even acknowledges that he and Roth ran the show due to the brothers' lackluster work ethic. Each frontman wrote the lyrics and, thus, Hagar is responsible for the hack lyrics on nearly every song recorded with them. Bieber most certainly has an adult ghost songwriter much in the way of most American Idol singers and Hagar's empty cliched love songs echo that same mediocrity. That was my point. His songs and sound are generic and flavorless. Roth, much like Mick Jagger, isn't a great technical singer but is a top shelf frontman with a signature sound. That's why classic Van Halen survives on the radio and you never hear the Sammy era in heavy rotation.

Tony B
Tony B

Can't stop loving you shows range?  How so?  You want to hear a smartly written love song?  Listen to Secrets off Diver Down. It achieves the same goal with texture in its phrasing and not just rhyming a bunch of hoary cliches. Hagar has no songwriting capability. His stuff is grade Z, hair metal cheese. I don't see him acting his age doing body shots off chicks and singing frat boy rock with the Waboritas. Mas Tequila just to get through that lame trash. At least I acknowledge the writing on Can't this stuff no' more isn't great. I agree with you on that one, but Me Wise Magic is another matter. Smoking track. But you count Humans Being as a great song. Hagar himself said it was thrown together and he barely sang on it. Awful. To be fair, he did throw together a few good songs for them. I thought Mine all Mine was decent. 5150, the title track, was strong. One or two more. But the majority of it is radio cheese and filler songs. Do you like Spanked? What about Sucker in a 3 Piece Suit?  A Apolitical Blues?  Roth can sing the blues. Hagar sounds way out of his depth. He's only good for three chords and songs with "Love" and "Rock" in the title. Anyway, this is getting old. Good luck to you.

Tony B.
Tony B.

But I dont hear those Sammy songs mentioned in the same breath as the classic Van Halen tracks. Not in music magazines,on classic rock radio or anywhere else, nor is anyone requesting to hear them. I don't care which band made more money to be honest. If money reigned, then Taylor Swift would be superior to Joni Mitchell. What matters is the music, and great music is timeless. When It's Love, Love Walks In, Why can't this be love, Cant stop loving you, Not Enough Love in the World. That is all such interchangeable fluff. Those albums are mostly filler punctuated by lame radio singles. A few interesting tracks here and there but mostly painting by numbers. No personality, no swing. To me, it's like Damn Yankees or Bad English. Unholy hybrids joining forces to make cashgrab music with no staying power. And we can add Chickenfoot to the mix.

Gokhanersan1
Gokhanersan1

Before 5150 came out those of us, who accepted Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple as a bechmark for greatness in hard rock, did not car for Van Halen. Few guitar enthusiasts among us did —for Eddie's solos not Dave's bravado. By the time Carnal Knowledge was released everyone was hooked. During the long waits between these albums, we went out and got the whole pre-Hagar era catalogue—to hear more of Eddie, Al, Alex greatness (also having to sit through Dave's uncooperative vocals, and lack of singing voice). When the Dave era remasters came out I a bought all of them. Now I have multiple copies of each Dave-era cd. That's also because,the  Sammy era, mature Van Halen was so good, I had over-played those CDs and wanted to listen to some fresh Van Halen pre-86. The other thing is all my friends who got into Van Halen with 5150, got out with the grungy-Balance. 

Ari M. Eden
Ari M. Eden

I agree that album sales can be misleading, but it's dubious at best for Hagar to say he deserves credit for selling David Lee Roth fronted albums.  It sounds kind of ridiculous.  Not sure how much people buying in different formats influenced things either, but if the albums were crap and not beloved people wouldn't buy them more than once.  Now if you look at just the music, the most important part anyway, I think the recent ranking of the top 50 VH songs summarizes it pretty well.  43 Roth era, 7 Sammy.  Again, I'm not one of the Roth guys who really hates Sam, but he is beginning to annoy me by running his mouth on Dave and the Van Halens at every turn.  Worse yet, he's simply lying about many statements and showing a lack of class.  

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