In 1991 Sammy Hagar’s lyrics to Van Halen’s “Right Now” were inspired by a moment of solace amid a time of marital difficulties. Over 30 years later it offers the same solace, only this time amid a time of grieving.
Hagar recently spoke with The Oakland Press about the day he performed “Right Now” with his band The Circle, which includes former Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony. It was during his previously scheduled Birthday Bash concert on October 8th, just two days after Eddie Van Halen passed away
“It was terrible timing. Here we are putting on this big party, celebrating Sammy’s birthday instead of Eddie’s funeral,” said Hagar. “That felt horrible. But when Mikey and I got onstage and played the first Van Halen song, ‘Right Now,’ we had a moment of silence and we looked at each other and it was like, ‘Oh, man, we’ve got a job to do. We need to keep this music alive. We need to play this song better than we’ve played it in our lives. Here we go….’ It was so spiritual, just wonderful. That was the healing, right then and there.”
Hagar wrote the lyrics to “Right Now” in 1991 while he was having difficulties with his first wife Betsy. The couple would divorce in 1994 after 26 years of marriage.
“I was laying on the beach and I was reading a Zen book,” Hagar told rock journalist Adam Reader. “I was trying to meditate…my marriage was kinda falling apart and it was winding me up so I was trying to relax myself…I was writing those lyrics, man – ‘Right now it’s your tomorrow!’ I was tryin’ to tell myself, ‘It’s all about the here and now. Get into it buddy, get into it!'”
Hagar then brought the lyrics to Eddie, who had written the piano piece as far back as the early to mid 80s. The song was completed and added to the band’s album ‘For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge’. “Right Now” reached #55 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #2 on the Album Rock Tracks chart after it was released on February 15th, 1992. The video won three awards at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards, including the award for Video of the Year.
Van Halen – “Right Now”:
Below is Hagar telling the whole story of “Right Now” to Reader:
Along with “Good Enough” (1986) and “Don’t Tell Me (What Love Can Do)” (1995), “Right Now” is one of three Van Halen songs Hagar and The Circle recorded for their latest album “Lockdown 2020”. The songs — 11 covers and one original — were recorded individually last year by Hagar, Anthony, guitarist Vic Johnson and drummer Jason Bonham. The tracks were released individually during 2020, accompanied by videos.
Sammy Hagar & The Circle – “Right Now”:
Along with the music he made while in Van Halen, Hagar also seeks solace in knowing he was able to reconnect with Eddie. The two had well-publicized on and off feuds dating back to Hagar’s original departure from Van Halen in 1996. Hagar said he reached out to Eddie by phone in early 2020 and two remained in touch right up until shortly before Eddie’s passing.
“If it wasn’t for that [reconciliation], I wouldn’t have been able to take it,” Hagar said. “I think it would have changed my life, certainly for a while. But we did [reconcile], and it was great. We were texting like teenagers for the last few months [before Eddie passed].
“To know we can never play with Eddie again, that’s the craziest feeling in my head,” Hagar added. “Even when we were arguing, I knew we would play together again someday. You don’t make music and legacy like that and say, ‘Nope, that’s it, sorry.’ I just knew there would be a reunion. It didn’t happen, but Eddie and I had our own reunion, and that was great.”