Sammy Hagar appeared on KLOS FM’s “New & Approved” virtual series to reflect on his entire career including the time he first met Eddie Van Halen in 1978.
At around the age of 24 Hagar decided to move his family and bandmates from Fontana, California to San Francisco to kick start his career, which is exactly what it did. Soon after he became the lead singer of the band Montrose.
“I had a psychic tell me in 1971, she said, ‘Move to San Francisco and you’re gonna meet someone up there that’s gonna give you a big break,” said Hagar. “I lived in Fontana, California. My car could barely make it so San Francisco and I was married with a brand new baby and I moved to San Francisco. I had this little band with David Lauser who is still my drummer in the Wabos. I said, ‘Hey, we’re movin’ to San Francisco. Anybody that don’t wanna come? Hey, I’ll find a guy up there.’ We got in my van, I had a Volkswagen, had this little van, and we all piled up the equipment, we went up there, we slept on a guy’s floor for a month until we got a job. Then I met Ronnie Montrose.”
Soon after the band Montrose was born and in October of 1973 the band released their now iconic self-titled debut album, one that would eventually lead him to a meeting with Hagar’s future bandmate Eddie Van Halen. In September of 1978 Hagar was performing on the same bill as Van Halen. It was at Anaheim Stadium where both were booked for Summerfest, an epic day-long concert event featuring an incredible bill headlined by Boston and Black Sabbath.
“I was sick as a dog and after my show I was laying in my room completely exhausted in my trailer,” said Hagar. “[I’m] just sweatin’ from the heat and I had a fever and Eddie comes runnin’ in, ‘Oh man! You don’t know man, the first Montrose record!’ and he’s shakin’ my hand.”
Hagar said he was taken aback by how modest Eddie was considering he had, by that time, made a name for himself as the hottest guitar player in rock music.
“Eddie was a sweetheart, man,” Hagar said. “[He] was the most humble musician I ever met. Every time I met him he was just sweet and humble. He acted like you meant so much to him and it was like, ‘Dude! C’mon, stop it! You’re embarrassing me. You’re the GOAT man, the greatest of all time right here! Don’t be kissin’ my butt!”
Seven years later Hagar would have his chance to meet up with Eddie again, this time as the new lead singer of Van Halen. The rest is Van Halen and rock history.
Watch Hagar tell the story of the first time he met and jammed with the band, how he was thankful for making peace with Eddie after years of acrimony, the Cabo Wabo Birthday Bash concerts, his latest album with The Circle “Lockdown 2020” and more in the video above:
Van Halen “Summer Nights” [‘Live Without A Net’]