By David Huff
Sammy Hagar speaks to Guitar World about last years split with
Van Halen. Check your newsagent for the April 1997 edition of
Guitar World or go to their web site at
"I've just heard some pretty strong rumors that Michael Anthony is no longer in Van Halen," says the voice on the other end of the line. "I have a call into him right now to find out what's happened."
The voice on the other end of the line is none other than Sammy Hagar. And yes, he has more than just a passing interest in what transpires with his former colleagues - even from his remote compound in Maui. Although six months have passed since Hagar reluctantly walked away from Van Halen, it still hurts - deeply. This past year, the band he loved writing, recording and touring with for over a decade changed dramatically in character right before his eyes. Tension thicker than Gouda cheese had permeated the 5150 studios, drawing a line between two formerly friendly factions - Eddie Van Halen and Sammy Hagar. How did something that once seemed so right degenerate into something so wrong? And how did two brilliant performers, two rock icons whose shared musical visions had sold over 42 million albums in the past 10 years, allow their professional relationship to deteriorate to a point where they couldn't even look each other in the eye?
The fact is, Sammy Hagar had grown extremely weary of battling Eddie Van Halen, in the studio and on the phone, throughout the early part of '96. The once-solid relationship enjoyed by the erstwhile friends had gone from good to bad to worse in what seemed the blink of an eye.
"We needed time off from each other after our last tour," explains Hagar, "because there was a lot of personal stuff we had to take care of. Eddie needed hip replacement surgery. Al needed his back worked on. And I was going to have a baby. We had just finished the most extensive tour Van Halen had ever undertaken, performing 138 shows across three continents during an eight-month period of time. We needed to regroup and retool ourselves before we hooked up again for a new album.
"It didn't happen. Instead, a string of broken promises ensued that saw Eddie and Alex going straight into the studio to work on music for a film soundtrack, and I was conned into working on it while I juggled my schedule to be with my wife, who was about to give birth to our first child. The situation turned into a nightmare."
Instead of entering hospitals, Van Halen entered the studio to work on two new songs their management committed them to write for the motion picture Twister. And once that project got underway, talk of a an Halen best of package suddenly began gathering steam. Hagar, already on edge because of the band's commitment to Twister, was driven to take a stand by the serious talk about a greatest hits package.
"Our manager, Ray Danniels, had promised me that after we finished the Twister project, that was it," insists Hagar. "I told him point blank that we needed a break from each other, that the brothers were supposed to take care of their physical ailments, that my wife was pregnant. We were all at wits' end. Eddie was walking around with a cane on painkillers because his hip hurt so badly; Alex had a neck brace on. He has to see a chiropractor on a weekly basis, and a massage therapist comes over to his house every day to rub down his head and neck just so he can get out of bed."
A corrosive combination of the tensions and, says Hagar, deceit surrounding Twister and the Best Of package began weaving its way into the very fabric that held Van Halen together, slowly fraying their relationship to the point where Hagar would be forced to make a series of professional decisions he thought he'd never have to face.
On June 27, 1996, he issued a press release announcing his decision to step down as the frontman of one of the most enduring and popular rock and roll bands in the world.
Eddie Van Halen, for his part, has expressed his view of the entire Hagar affair in several interviews - including an extensive conversation with Guitar World (December, 1996). Now, for the very first time, Hagar gives his version of what happened between him and the Van Halen brothers, and responds to his former bandmates' unflattering claims. The singer further explains the behind-the-scenes role that the band's manager, Ray Danniels, played in a dramatic affair that was capped off by an explosive phone call from Eddie Van Halen in which Hagar learned of the reappearance of David Lee Roth on the Van Halen scene.
Hagar's account isn't bitter. Sad perhaps, but not bitter. And though he's moved on since his June surprise (he's recorded his first solo album in 13 years, Marching to Mars, due out this April), there's still a hint of sadness in his voice as he recounts the events that forced him to leave a band he believed he'd always be fronting.
GW: When did your relationship with the Van Halen brothers start to decline?
Hagar: I think all the bad blood started when Geffen released a greatest hits package of my solo stuff a few months after Ed Leffler, the band's last manager, died.
GW: You've suggested publicly that the only reason a band does a greatest hits album is money. Would it be fair to say that this was your motive when you authorized the release of your greatest hits package, Unboxed, in 1994? That included two new songs you wrote and recorded especially for the collection?
Hagar: That's a legitimate argument, and yes, the reason I did include two new songs on Unboxed was for the money. But I had a reason: I was going through a divorce with my wife, Betsy, at the time, and the biggest sticking point with her lawyers was the division of royalties from songs I'd written while we were married. This issue had to be cleared up before she'd agree to sign off on the divorce. Rather than sit down and go through this long, drawn-out process, I said to my ex-wife, "Why don't I just buy all the stuff from you with one lump payment?" She said that was fine, and her lawyers agreed. They also came up with a very large lump.
GW: Geffen was going to release a greatest hits record of your solo career whether you participated in the project or not. Did you negotiate any type of deal with them especially since you were contributing two new songs to the album?
Hagar: That's exactly what I did. By including two new songs for the Unboxed project, I got Geffen to pay me exactly the amount of money I owed my wife for our divorce settlement. I paid her off with all the money I received for that album and didn't make a dime off it.
GW: Were Alex and Eddie aware of the facts attending your greatest hits package, and your plans for the money?
Hagar: They were totally aware of it.
GW: Then why has Eddie made the release of your greatest hits package such a big issue?
Hagar: They are trying to justify the Van Halen greatest hits package, Best Of, Volume 1, and to neutralize my objections to it. They want to portray me as some sort of hypocrite so that people will believe I'm lying. When Eddie and Alex got wind of what was going down with my greatest hits record, they called my attorney, Don Engle, to set up a meeting so they could discuss the matter in his office. You see, they didn't quite believe that I was actively participating on Unboxed in order to settle the royalty issue in my divorce case. They thought something was up. In an arranged conference call with the brothers from my lawyer's office, I explained to Eddie and Alex once again exactly what I was doing and why. They knew Geffen was going to put out out the record whether I liked it or not. I told them I wasn't going to do a video for the album or even release a single. My only commitment to Geffen was a week's worth of press in New York, plus a week in Los Angeles, and that would end my involvement with the project. They both agreed that what I was doing was fine since it would settle my divorce, and that everything with them was cool. I thought that would be the end of it.
GW: And it wasn't?
Hagar: Not at all. When we were on the road during the Balance tour, I found out that my greatest hits album went Gold, and I got excited. They freaked out when I told them. Things really came to a head when we started arguing about a Van Halen greatest hits package. Then they started giving me all sorts of grief for having put out the Unboxed collection, despite knowing all the facts surrounding it. I'm telling you this as an honest man: If I would have ever dreamed that I wouldn't be in Van Halen anymore and was going to have resume my solo career again, I would have never contributed anything towards my own greatest hits package, even for the money. I want to make this perfectly clear. I would have just taken the money out of my bank account and paid my wife rather than work on the project. I thought I was making a good business deal in 1994 by buying her off in one big chunk.
GW: Have you ever released a box set?
Hagar: No I haven't, and I don't know where Eddie came up with saying I have. In 1989, my old label, Capitol, released some collections of mine without my consent. My contract with Capitol in the Seventies didn't allow me to have any control over that. They did whatever they wanted. At least Geffen had some respect for me, although they had the right to release a greatest hits whenever they wanted. John Kalodner at Geffen called me up to say the greatest hits package would be called Unboxed. Again, I've never done a box set, and Eddie's full of it if he says otherwise. I liked the idea of my compilation record being called Unboxed, because it was a burn on all those people that release box sets.
GW: Were you against the Twister soundtrack project?
Hagar: Yes, I was. I thought it was the worst timing in the world. You see, we weren't supposed to work the first half of '96. Eddie was supposed to get his hip surgery done, Al was supposed to get the vertebrae in his neck fixed so that he wouldn't have to wear that neck brace all the time and look like a paraplegic, and I was having a baby with my wife. Everyone knew that. That was the rule, but they changed it.
GW: Then why did you agree to work on the Twister project?
Hagar: Ray [Danniels] convinced me that Twister was going to be one of the biggest movies of the year, and that we needed to do it because the money we'd make off this project would carry us through '96. It would carry us through my wife having our baby, the two months I wanted to spend with them afterwards, up until it was time to start recording the next Van Halen record. I told Ray that if what he was telling me was the truth, then I'd sacrifice and work on the project. He completely conned me. When I found out about the shuffling of songs on this project, I blew my lid.
GW: Van Halen's contribution to the Twister soundtrack was a rocker and an instrumental. Wasn't that the original plan?
Hagar: The rocker was, but not the instrumental. I had written lyrics to a song called "The Silent Extreme," which Alex later renamed "Humans Being," and Eddie and I were working on a ballad, "Between Us Two," with Bruce Faribairn. Those were the two songs I thought were going to be on the soundtrack. Bruce didn't care for the rock tune that much, but he absolutely loved the ballad. So, we record the two songs. Bruce says they're done, and I tell them I'm flying back to Maui because I didn't like leaving my wife alone so far along in her pregnancy. As I'm leaving, Eddie goes, "No, no, no. You can't leave yet. They aren't going to use the ballad in the movie now!"
GW: Eddie maintains that Alex asked you specifically not to write any lyrics that involved Twisters, yet you went ahead and did it anyway. Is this true?
Hagar: I have no idea what they're talking about. In our first meeting about the soundtrack, Ed and Al told me they didn't want the song to be about Twisters, and I said fine no problem. Ray Danniels came up to me and said he didn't want a song about Twisters. Again I said fine, no problem. All I wanted to do was see some footage of the film so I could at least make some of the lyrics fit the action on the screen. Since Eddie and Alex saw the movie to make their music fit, I thought I'd better do the same thing to get a vibe or the lyrics. I asked the film's director, Jan De Bont, to send me some footage and he did. From what I saw on the screen, I thought the movie was about the infatuation people have with fear and how it can suck you in. Sometimes you're afraid to fall in love with a chick, but she sucks you in anyway. You know that if you start messing with this girl, you'll become infatuated with the danger that she represents. So "The Silent Extreme" was a song that talked about being right in the middle of all this, and I wrote this really cool lyric I thought said it all.
GW: "Sky turning black/knuckles turning white/headed for the hot zone"?
Hagar: Headed for the "suck zone." That lyric had nothing to do with tornadoes. Again, I have no idea where Eddie came up with the idea that that was tornado stuff. The only word in that phrase that even comes close to sounding like a Twister is "sky turning black." But that line can mean anything, you know. The rest of the song had absolutely nothing to do with tornadoes. It was all about entering the silent extreme.
GW: Did you talk to Jan De Bont about your ideas regarding the lyrical content of the song?
Hagar: Jan and Bud Carr, the executive producer of the soundtrack, called me in Maui and we talked about the song. Jan told me that he had this folder in his possession that belonged to the guy who wrote the screenplay for the movie. He said the folder contained some 300 pages of technical weather terms that tornado chasers use, like "suck zone," "the bear is coming through" and "there's a dry line down here." He told me that if I wanted it, he'd send it to me. Now, I thought "suck zone" was a bad-ass term, a very teenage trip kind of thing. Jan and Bud totally got off on the idea, and they said that if I could use words like that in the song without writing about a Twister, that would be great. I told them I'd do absolutely that. Jan then sent me the folder the screenwriter used; I still have it at my house today. But when Al and Ed saw the words I'd written, they just freaked out.
GW: Eddie says that because you refused to fly in from Maui to the studio, you put the band in a tight spot as far as a deadline went for the song, so he had to come up with a title for it, "Humans Being," and a melody.
Hagar: Alex came up with that title. He had discussed it with me during the Balance tour because he thought it would be a cool theme to build a song around. Yes, they did come up with the melody. The reason I didn't fly over from Maui at their beck and call is my wife was about to have a baby at any time. Those guys knew that. But you know what, I still ended up flying back and forth three times to work with them. These guys wanted me to come back and forth so much, I finally ended up packing my bags and moving back to my home in San Francisco to have the baby, directly against the plans my wife and I had. These guys would not compromise and meet me halfway.
GW: When you did show up to work on the now re-christened "Humans Being," did you, Bruce and Eddie sit down together to finish the lyrics?
Hagar: Bruce and I wrote the lyrics, period. When they told me that the ballad wasn't going to be used for the soundtrack, and that they needed an additional minute and a half for the rocker, I headed out of the studio. I had to catch a plane in two hours to be with my wife. I didn't care anymore because I felt I'd been tricked all the way around. Eddie pleaded with me and said all they needed was just a minute and a half of music from me, and then I could go. He wanted me to chant something like, "Bah, bah, bah. I hate this, I hate that, you dirty rat." I looked at Eddie and told him that sucked. He just said, "Well, do something. All they need is a minute and a half; otherwise we'll just make an instrumental out of it." Bruce told me that all we needed was 16 words, two verses, and the song would be complete. I said okay, and came up with this line: "There is just enough Christ in me/To make me feel almost guilty/Is that why God made us bleed/To make us see we're humans being." I wrote those verses in about 10-15 minutes on the hood of a car with Bruce. It was so cheeseball the way it was done. We wrote the lyrics, I sang the song in three parts in about an hour and a half and split.
GW: Eddie says that the tension was so thick between you two that he warned Bruce Fairbairn not to tell you that he'd come up with a song title and a melody to the record. Also, that whenever he suggested anything to you, you just stopped listening.
Hagar: I want to set the record straight. Everything that Eddie has said about me is the total opposite of what really happened. Eddie says I wouldn't listen to him, but he just never listened to me. Eddie says I wanted to be a solo artist. No, Eddie wanted to be a solo artist. Bruce Fairbairn pulled me to the side once and said, "Sammy, I don't know what's wrong with Eddie. I don't care if you wrote "Stairway To Heaven," right now Eddie wouldn't want to record it because it's something that you want to do. For some reason, this guy's has it in for you." Now, this is Bruce Fairbairn saying this to me. He felt so sorry for me and the situation I was in, he wouldn't even let Eddie into the same room with me when I was singing. He couldn't get anything done with Eddie hanging around the control room because he was interfering so much. If I would go up on a high note, Eddie would want a low one. That's how petty the situation had become.
GW: You were opposed to a Van Halen greatest hits package from the moment the idea was brought up, yet Eddie has said that you wanted more of your songs on it than David Lee Roth's.
Hagar: It's a good thing I don't read everything Eddie says, or I'd be up in arms and not enjoying my life. Again, I didn't want to do a greatest hits package, period. If Eddie, Alex and Ray were going to insist on doing one anyway I wanted them to put out a record that only covered the David Lee Roth era. If they just had to do one, I told them to do the old stuff because that way we wouldn't have to be attached to it. My second choice, and I had to swallow hard to say this, was to put out two separate greatest hits volumes - one covering the Roth years, the other just our stuff, and let the fans make the choice.
GW: Eddie says there were several band meetings in which you were told in no uncertain terms that if you wanted to continue on in Van Halen, you had to stop running around doing your solo stuff and become more of a team player, which meant, among other things, collaborating on lyrics.
Hagar: Well, they only asked me to collaborate on lyrics with someone else twice. The first time, I resisted, and even threatened them. The conversation went something like, "Fuck you, I hope the guy can sing!" The second time, however, I told Eddie I might be open-minded to the idea. We were sitting in the studio talking, and things between us were going pretty good at the time. I told Eddie that if I could find a guy that really inspired me, that understood the song, and we could write better lyrics together than I ever could alone, I would be totally open to a collaboration. However, to just get some guy off the street that Eddie wanted in, who would then take over control and let me be the side man, then no, I wasn't interested; I wouldn't do it at all. Overall, we had about 50 meetings where the brothers would say that I couldn't do any solo records, I couldn't write for other people, I couldn't do this and I couldn't do that. These guys were trying to nail my feet to the ground, glue my lips shut and say, "Okay, you can sing out of one nostril!"
GW: At some point, it was suggested that Glen Ballard collaborate with you. What was your reaction to that?
Hagar: I had a couple of talks with Eddie about that around the first of June, when I was at my bar in Cabo. The first time, Eddie said that Glen had some great ideas for "Between Us Two" and would like to explore them with me. Well, I had a lot of respect for Glen Ballard, so I was quite interested in seeing what type of lyrical treatment he'd come up with for the song. The second phone conversation I had with Eddie, he said Glen had rewritten the entire song, and that maybe he should fax the lyrics over to me to see what I thought. I said, "Eddie, you mean Glen wrote all new lyrics for the song?" He said yes. I asked him what the song was about, and he said Glen had written about an escaped convict from a mental institution. I paused for a moment to catch my breath and told him, "That's the lyrical treatment Glen came up with? First of all, that's a fucking insult. The lyrics I wrote for that song are great, and for you to go to somebody else I've never even met and say he can write lyrics to my song sucks. Fuck you! He can sing them too!" I then slammed the phone down.
GW: Did you hear back from Eddie?
Hagar: He called me right back and said, "No, no, no, man. Never mind. I didn't know you felt that way about the song." He then asked me if I would come up to Los Angeles and re-sing the song, with Glen producing. Although I thought "Between Us Two" was good the way I sang it with Bruce Fairbairn, after I had lived with the idea for a while, I wanted to see what Glen Ballard could do. I thought to myself that, yeah, maybe I could sing it better, so I asked Eddie for Glen's number so I could call him.
GW: Was Bruce Fairbairn originally tapped to produce the next disc, or was he going to co-produce it with Glen Ballard?
Hagar: Bruce was tapped to produce the next Van Halen record alone. However, problems arose during the recording of "Between Us Two." When Bruce came in and saw all the friction between us during the Twister project, Eddie tried to manipulate him into his corner, but that ended up backfiring on him.
GW: The song "Between Us Two" had become a major sticking point in the band. Why?
Hagar: We had several people who heard the song tell Eddie and I that "Between Us Two," or "Closer To You" - the original song title I'd come up with - was going to be Van Halen's "Stairway To Heaven." Bruce had also heard this talk, knew we had a great song on our hands, and had his lawyer call Ray Danniels up and say, "Well, as far as I know, there were only three people in the room when that song was written, and it was Sammy, Eddie and Bruce. He wants a third of that song!"
GW: And that didn't sit well with you and Eddie?
Hagar: Exactly. And this problem arose simply because Eddie had told Bruce that he could co-write lyrics. Now I, of course, being a little bit stubborn and somewhat incensed about this co-writer thing, told Eddie that I wasn't going to sing anybody else's lyrics unless they were better than mine. I fought him on this, and when Bruce tried to claim that he helped co-write that song, he and Eddie really bumped heads.
GW: So what happened?
Hagar: You have a situation where Eddie is trying to manipulate Bruce, and Bruce is trying to manipulate the band. He thought that by putting a little pressure on me, he could say he co-wrote lyrics to the song and I'd back him up on his claim. Bruce fought hard on this point and he got fired because of it.
GW: You mean you and Eddie finally agreed on something?
Hagar: Yeah, we did. I was the main guy that wanted Bruce fired. I said to Eddie, "This motherfucker is trying to get in on this song." We totally agreed that Bruce was an asshole and had to go. The next thing I know, Eddie's got Glen Ballard in the studio and he's trying to do the same thing, write lyrics to that song. So who knows, Bruce Fairbairn might not be that guilty here.
GW: What was your first conversation with Glen Ballard like?
Hagar: The first thing I said was, "Glen, what in the hell do you think you're doing walking into this band and rewriting lyrics to a song I wrote?" Mind you now, when I said that, Eddie had flat-out told me that Glen didn't like any of the lyrics I'd written on "Between Us Two." Glen goes, "Hold on Sammy, what are you talking about? Eddie and Alex asked me to write new lyrics. They're the ones that said they didn't like the lyrics you'd written to that song, and that you weren't happy with them either. So, they asked me to take a shot at it. Hey, I don't care about this. If this is what's happening, never mind, I'm out of this project. Don't put me in the middle of it." Glen wasn't pissed at me, he was pissed at those guys.
GW: Eddie says he told you that if you didn't show up at the 5150 studios by six o'clock the next day to work on the song, you shouldn't bother coming back?
Hagar: Eddie did tell me that, all right, and no I did not show up the next day at the studio like he demanded. My wife had just gone through a difficult birth, and I was staying home to take care of her, period. He had the audacity to tell me on the phone that if I didn't show up in L.A. to re-sing "Between Us Two," he was going to assume that I had quit the band, and that they were going to look at their options - something along those lines. Eddie was pissed because I wouldn't re-sing a line that he didn't like. This cat was trying to get me to quit Van Halen that day. I called up Ray Danniels and told him I wasn't going to fly down to Los Angeles from San Francisco. I said, "Ray, I'm not going anywhere. You know we shouldn't even be working in the studio anyway, and I don't like the fact that Eddie still doesn't think that song is right when I think it is." That's the sad state of affairs my relationship with Eddie had fallen into. He didn't care that my wife was at home recuperating from a difficult breach birth. Al he cared about was a damn line in a song that he didn't think sounded good. Believe me, Eddie knew what he was doing when he issued me that ultimatum. He wanted me to quit Van Halen right then and there. I didn't do it.
GW: You obviously weren't going to show up in Los Angeles because you needed to be with your wife. What happened after that?
Hagar: Ray called me the next day and said, "Man, this is really bad. I really think you should get on a plane. I don't care how difficult it is for you. I know you have the baby thing going, and even if you just stay for a couple of hours, I think you should." As far as I was concerned, my family took precedence over Eddie's demands. Yeah, I may have pulled a prick move by not showing up when Eddie told me to, but I had very good reasons. Besides, nobody gives me an ultimatum. I'm not the type of guy you do that to.
GW: Were there any repercussions from your actions?
Hagar: At our band meeting on May 1, I almost got into a fist fight with Alex when he jumped up and said, "You fucking insulted my brother! He told you to come down here, and you didn't come - just to show your power and pull this trip on him." When I now think back to those three, Eddie, Alex and Ray, sitting in the studio, looking at the clock to see if I'd show up, I know they had already discussed the return of David Lee Roth to the band. I know they had already thought of Gary Cherone as a spare part, in case something unexpected happened. I know for a fact that Eddie and Alex had already been in the studio with Sass Jordan, telling her that if she didn't have tits, she would be the new lead singer in Van Halen. That conversation took place in February! Hell, she heard all the new stuff before I ever had a chance to.
GW: What were the circumstances surrounding the phone call you got from Eddie early that Sunday morning - the call that led to your decision to leave Van Halen?
Hagar: It started Saturday afternoon, when there was a message on the machine from Eddie that went, "Hey Sam, we've got to talk. We've got to talk." When I heard his tone of voice, I said to myself, "Oh man, there's that voice again. Eddie's fucked up about something. There's something really on his mind, he's paranoid, or else he's really worried." I tried calling him back later that evening, around five, and got his machine. I said I was ready to talk.
GW: Do you know what was bothering Eddie, exactly?
Hagar: The Tuesday prior, I had left the studio really pissed off because I had just found out that I'd been tricked into working on "Between Us Two," which I first thought was going to be included on the Twister soundtrack. When they said they were saving it, I assumed they meant for our next album. When I found out the song was intended for Best of Volume 1, I was furious. At the time, Eddie thought parts of the song weren't finished. I didn't care. We finished the tune, and when I was leaving the studio to go back home, Eddie said, "You can't go, the song ain't done. It ain't done!" I looked at Eddie and said, "Glen Ballard, the second producer you've worked on this song with, says it's great. That's it. I'm jumping on a plane." Eddie says that Glen said something else. That's bullshit. Glen Ballard looked me straight in the eye before I left and said, "This song is absolutely great. Release it because it's a smash!" That's all I needed to hear.
GW: Eddie wasn't satisfied that Glen Ballard had given the song a thumbs-up?
Hagar: You would think so, but he wasn't. So, getting back to the phone call, Eddie calls my home at 9 o'clock in the morning the next day, which incidentally was Father's Day, and I hear his voice on the answering machine. "Hey Sam, come on, pick up, I know you're there." I picked up the phone and Ed said, "Oh man, I'm so frustrated. Why do you always have to be a prick? You never do anything anybody asks you to do." I said, "Ed, what are you asking me to do?" He said he wanted me to sing the song again. I told him I'd already re-sung the song twice, that that was the best I could do. I thought it was great. Eddie again said he didn't think so. Finally, I remarked, "Just because you don't think the song sounds right doesn't mean that I'm going to re-sing it. If I didn't think it was good enough, I'd be glad to re-do it." Eddie then said to me, "You see, you're always thinking of yourself. You never do anything that I ask of you. You've always been a solo artist, you might as well go back to being a solo artist." I paused for a moment and said, "Are you telling me to go back to being a solo artist." And then Eddie said, "Yeah, besides, I've been working with Roth. You got me so frustrated the Tuesday night that you left, I went over and got Roth. We've been working together, and we've gotten along good. It's been going great, and I think that we're just going to continue." The only thing I could say was, "Hey Ed, thanks a lot!"
GW: So the moment of truth had finally arrived!
Hagar: Yes, and it took me a few moments to regain my composure. Once I did, I said to him, "You're telling me that you've been working with David Lee Roth!" As I said that, I was looking at my wife and she shot up in bed like she'd seen a ghost. I said to him, "You, behind my back, are working with Roth. You fucking piece of shit!" Eddie replied to me, "Well, Sammy, you've frustrated me so much, you won't do anything I ask you to do."
GW: Eddie was really hung up over that song, wasn't he?
Hagar: It was ridiculous. I'd had enough of his ranting about it. I said, "Eddie, first of all, you never asked me to do anything. You're trying to get me to do something on a song I think is great, that Glen Ballard thinks is great, but you don't? Forget it!" I told Eddie that if I heard a guitar part that I didn't like in a song, he wouldn't change it no matter how much I objected to it, if he thought it was right. "Oh no, man, that's not right. I'd do anything you ask. I'd even play the guitar standing on my head, anything, just ask." Well, I wasn't getting anywhere with him, and I was really pissed at this point. Finally I said, "Eddie, this Roth thing, fuck you! If what you two are doing is better than anything you and I can do, I'll blow you both!" To which he remarked, "Well, I wouldn't say that man, this stuff is pretty good."
GW: Is that exactly what went down between you and Eddie that morning?
Hagar: That was the way things went down between the two of us. My answering machine picked up the whole conversation. Ray Danniels and Alex are going around saying I quit because of what Eddie told them. Who knows, they may actually believe I called Eddie up and said I was quitting to go back and become a solo artist. I'm even willing to give Al a little bit of credit here: he may have actually bought what his brother Eddie is now telling him. But you know what? Isn't it funny that Eddie is standing all alone in the middle of the room saying "Everyone is lying but me." I've never met or spoken to David Lee Roth, yet it's rather ironic that even he's saying Eddie's lying about things. I'm saying he's not telling the truth, yet Eddie insists that the two of us are lying! You be the judge.
Thanks to Liza Cozad for providing us with the interview transcript!