Sammy Hagar securely established its own identity i Van Halen. After replacement David Lee Roth as front man in one of the world’s most popular rock bandshelped the former solo star successfully reshape the group’s sound and image, keeping them at the top of the music world for another full decade.
But Van Halen’s past was too big to be completely ignored, and Hagar’s nightly job description included performing songs made famous by Roth. Here are videos of Hagar performing seven songs from the Roth era as a member of Van Halen.
“You Really Got Me” (1986)
The very first song Sammy Hagar sang live with Van Halen was one Kinks cover over. For the most part, the set lists from his debut tour with the group were dominated by songs from their first record together, 5150. Hagar told UCR the band only decided at the last minute to add a few songs from their respective pasts to the show. “I remember during the last week of rehearsal, we decided to do ‘You Really Got Me,’ ‘I Can’t Drive 55,’ ‘One Way to Rock,’ and ‘Jump’—two of mine and two of of their.” A cover of the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me” was the first single released from the Roth-fronted Van Halen Debut in 1978and the track remained in their live repertoire throughout both Roth and Hagar’s tenure with the group.
Hagar’s “two of mine and two of theirs” math is a little rusty, as Van Halen performed four songs from the Roth days at each show at 5150 trip. The group typically launched into 1984is heavily charged”Panama“immediately after Michael Anthony‘s late-night bass solo, with Hagar putting his spin on Roth’s interlude “ease the seat back” rap.
“Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” (1986)
Taking the song’s “I’ve been to the edge“Texts a little too seriously, on 5150 tour Hagar would perform Van Halen‘Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love’ while dangling and swinging from scaffolding high above the stage, a trick he brought to the band from his solo days. Like “Panama”, the song remained a permanent part of Hagar-era setlists right up until his final tour with the group in 2004.
In a move he later deemed unwise, Hagar initially tried to get out of singing the biggest hit from Van Halen’s past. “‘Jump’ was going to be the encore and I was going to bring a guy up to sing. I wasn’t going to sing it myself,” he told UCR. “It was stupid — even though it worked and we were extremely successful,” Hagar added. “We had our first No. 1 album and we certainly had the biggest tour of the year. But it was stupid to rebel against our past.” Hagar eventually became more serious about it 1984is “Hop”, sings a version of it on the band’s 1993 live album Live: Right here, right now as well as on their 1995 and 2004 tours.
“Running With the Devil” (1988)
Hagar added a fifth Roth-era song to his arsenal on his second tour with Van Halen. The live staging here was very clever and again included Anthony, who would send the audience into a frenzy by pounding out the famous opening notes of the song with his teeth at the end of his bass solo. The song, again taken from Van Halen’s 1978 debut, dropped off the set list until Hagar’s brief reunion with the group in 2004.
Hagar’s 2004 reunion tour with Van Halen was by all accounts a disaster. He and Eddie Van Halen did not get along, in part because of the guitarist’s reported bouts with substance abuse and erratic live performances. At the end of the tour’s final show, Van Halen smashed his guitar to pieces in anger, and the two reportedly never spoken again. But in the plus column, we got to hear Hagar rip into another original lineup Van Halen song, this time 1981’s “Unchained” Fair warning.
“Somebody Get Me a Doctor” (2004)
Okay, we’re cheating a little here. Hagar sings on this Roth-era track, but only in a supporting capacity as Anthony handles lead vocals. The bass player sometimes performs Van Halen II track live at Hagar showsalso.
BONUS: Roth Sings Hagar’s “Make It Last” (1974)
After being replaced by Hagar in Van Halen in 1985, Roth said Circus (as reported by Rolling stones), “Every night Sammy Hagar is going to sing ‘Jump,’ and I will never sing a Sammy Hagar song.” He should have added the word “again” to that quote. Although the band has not performed any songs from the Hagar era on any of the three tours they have completed since Roth returned in 2007they covered the Hagar-penned “Make It Last” from his future replacement’s first album as lead singer in Montrose way back in 1974.