Sammy Hagar said he would have been embarrassed to have had Van Halen change their name to Van Hagar in 1985, adding that he fully supported the band’s decision to remain Van Halen.
Hagar said it was Warner Bros. who suggested the name change. He recalled the moment during an interview with KLOS FM.
“Yeah, we were all in a room. And I think [head of Warner Bros.] Mo Austin said, ‘Why don’t we be careful here…?’ Our managers and lawyers and the president of the record company and the band was all in a room when we asked for permission for me to join the band — it was official,” he told KLOS’s Marci Wiser. “Everybody came and said, ‘We wanna have a meeting.’ And we were in the studio and we played ‘Why Can’t This Be Love’ [song from the 1986 album ‘5150’]. And Mo Austin went, ‘Oh, I smell money’ — he thought it was just the greatest. But anyway, so then he said, ‘Did you guys ever think about maybe changing the name to, like, Van Hagar or something?’ And I know what they were thinking, because they thought, ‘If this doesn’t work, at least you can go back with Van Halen again. But if you’re Van Halen and it don’t work, now you’ve ruined Van Halen.’ So they were trying to preserve, I think, the Van Halen name. And Eddie Van Halen — Eddie Van Halen; no one else — said, ‘Fuck that.’ He said, ‘This is Van Halen with a new singer.’ And everybody said, ‘Okay. Word. Gospel.’ Boom.”
Asked if he was on board with the decision to keep the Van Halen name, Hagar said: “I was a hundred percent on board with it. It was Van Halen with a new singer. I would have been embarrassed to be Van Hagar. I would have said, ‘Let’s just change it back to [Van Halen’s original name] Mammoth or something — go back to the beginning.'”
Wiser brought up the topic since Michael Anthony had just recently talked about it during his appearance on the syndicated FM radio show Steve Gorman Rocks!. Anthony said, “Here we had everybody – (our record label) Warner Brothers, our management, our lawyers – going, ‘Oh my God. David Lee Roth’s gone.’ Warner Brothers wanted us to change the name of the band. Because they had a feeling if Dave ever returned… they thought that was such a strong identity. I remember Eddie and Alex [Van Halen], we were at Warner Brothers, and they were yelling, going, ‘Hey, hey, this is our last name. This is our careers. And this is it – Van Halen.'”
Return To Live Performing
Hagar, Anthony and their band The Circle recently scheduled a handful of concerts in Florida starting on May 23rd in Key West. Hagar admitted to being anxious about his return to live performing after being off for so long due to COVID-19.
“I’m nervous,” said Hagar. “Singing a two-hour show, the way I sing anyway. Screaming a — wait a minute, screaming a two-hour show and running around like a maniac at my age after not singing for a year is not like getting back on a bicycle.”
Hagar said he’s considering live streaming the shows thanks to a little bit of persuasion from Wiser.
“I never thought of that because I would much rather live stream a real show with a real audience on a real stage than what was happening in 2020 where we were streaming stuff from our homes which is just not exciting,” Hagar said. “I’m sorry, I’m not as exciting to watch in my living room as I am in front of 10,000 people let me tell ya something right now! Honestly, I run it past management and my website and stuff and see if we can do it ‘cuz that would be awesome. Why not?”
On The Circle’s Version Of “Right Now”
The Circle’s latest album ‘Lockdown 2020’ features three versions of Van Halen songs – “Good Enough”, “Don’t Tell Me (What Love Can Do)” and “Right Now”. Hagar said he’s happy with how “Right Now” has evolved over the years since its original release in 1991.
“I like the way we did ‘Right Now’ [on ‘Lockdown 2020’], the Van Halen song, cuz we changed it,” Hagar said. “That’s the one song that we took the liberties to do kinda like what we’ve done with it over the years with the band, the different incarnations of my bands and The Circle. I think it’s really good. I don’t say it rivals the original, I don’t think it’s better than the original, but I think it’s really good.”
As for what lies ahead for Hagar, he’s planning another series of Birthday Bash concerts at his Cabo Wabo Cantina in Cabo San Lucas. He also has his sights set on residencies to take place at both Catalina Island and Las Vegas.
“It’s what I wanna do,” said Hagar. “I’m gonna make an announcement to my fans. Put the quotes on this, ‘Listen dammit! I’m old! You guys gotta start — I’m tired of havin’ to fly around the country and travel all over so I can play for y’all so I’m gettin’ old so I’m gonna go to one place and you guys gotta come there!’ [laughs]
“I think residencies are great because you can invite friends every night,” he continued. “You can do a different show every night. When you’re traveling you don’t have time to rehearse. You’re getting on an airplane, you’re getting in a car, you’re going to a hotel room. You just gotta rush on stage and do a show. It’s so much much more uh – like the Birthday Bash is what I would like to do more of. That kind of stuff. Just have a bunch of friends play with ya and play a different songs every night.”
You can listen to Hagar’s entire interview with KLOS below:
Sammy Hagar & The Circle Tour Dates:
May 23 – Key West, FL @ Key West Amphitheater
May 25 – Orlando, FL @ Dr. Phillips Center
May 26 – Orlando, FL @ Dr. Phillips Center
June 1 – St. Augustine, FL @ St. Augustine Amphitheatre
June 2 – St. Augustine, FL @ St. Augustine Amphitheatre