Legendary music manager and label owner Miles Copeland has worked with many of the biggest artists in music history including The Police, The Go-Go’s, The Bangles and R.E.M. One musician he wishes he could have worked with but never had the chance to was Eddie Van Halen.
“He’s an artist I would have liked to have worked with because he really was a great guitar player and he also had a sense of humor which I liked,” said Copeland during a recent interview with The Van Halen News Desk‘s Eric Senich. “He’s one of the greats. It was kind of a shock when all of a sudden he wasn’t around anymore. I kinda wondered what Sammy [Hagar] would think because I never had a bad feeling about [Eddie]. I never had the feeling that somehow he was some sort of ego driven monster.”
Copeland knew of Hagar’s on and off relationship with Eddie, especially since he almost became Hagar’s manager shortly before he rejoined Van Halen in 2004.
“[Sammy] called me up out of the blue and said, ‘Ya know you’re probably the only guy that could manage me'”, said Copeland. “I thought, well that sounds pretty good. So he said, ‘Come down and meet me in Cabo [San Lucas].’ So I flew down to Cabo, this place he had, and we had a great time and I really liked him. He was such a great guy. Then I went off to France, I had vacation. I said to him, ‘Look, I’m busy for the next couple of months, I’ve gotta go to France. I’ve scheduled all this stuff in Europe.’ By the time I got back, Irving Azoff had called him up and talked him into rejoining Van Halen. There was so much money involved that [Sammy] called me up and said, ‘Look, Miles, I just had to do it because there was just so much money there and it was just handed to me on a plate so what am I gonna do?'”
Copeland never had the chance to manage Hagar but he later called The Red Rocker for a favor. He needed to find a gig for his latest artist – Steven Seagal. Seagal, known famously for a string of box office hits including 1988’s Above the Law and 1992’s Under Siege, pursued a career as a blues musician in the early 2000s. He released his first album Songs from the Crystal Cave in 2005. This was around the time he came-a-knockin’ on Copeland’s door.
“Occasionally I’d get these strange phone calls and one was Sammy Hagar saying, ‘You should manage me,’ and then another was Steven Seagal.” Said Copeland. “He calls me up and says, ‘Well you’re the guy that should manage me! I’ve got a blues band and I got a record and I’m a musician.’ I was kinda curious and I went to meet him and, sure enough, he had tons of guitars and he was a pretty serious player and actually wasn’t bad at all.
“I expected to meet this sort of, ya know….he was into Buddhism and all these sort of things,” Copeland continued. “But, of course, he swore like a sailor and he was immediately one of these larger than life characters. And he was huge. He was like 6’5′ or something. But anyway, I was intrigued. I put shows together for him and helped him put his record out but he wanted to go and play. I booked him in these clubs but, of course, he would show up in his limousine or he would charter a jet, spend ten thousand dollars to do a 200 dollar gig. And at one point he said, ‘Look, I wanna do bigger shows!’ I said, ‘Well…I’ll see what I can do.’ So I called up Sammy and said, ‘I see you’re playing in Vegas and there’s no opening act. Can I put Steven on?’ He said, ‘Sure! If he’ll take a thousand bucks I’ll put him on.’ I think Sammy was as intrigued as I was and so we put him on. And of course, Steven hires a learjet, we fly off to Phoenix to do the show…and just before we go on he hands me two .45s. I said, ‘What?!’ [laughs] He goes, ‘Well ya gotta protect yourself.’ Apparently he’d spilled the beans of some mafia guy or something and he was worried about getting assassinated. [laughs] He was definitely a series of funny stories.”
Watch Steven Seagal Performing “Dust My Broom”