Last week we got Sammy Hagar on the phone to talk about his new cookbook and his upcoming plans for Chickenfoot and the Circle, but we’d be highly negligent if we let him go without getting into the endless Van Halen saga yet again. We also got his take on Donald Trump and the upcoming presidential election. He didn’t disappoint, proving once again why he’s up there with Noel Gallagher as one of the great interviews in rock.
Hey, Sammy. Good to talk to you again.
You’re not going to trick me into saying something stupid and putting my foot in my mouth again, are you?
Actually, that’s exactly my plan. I’m just going to be upfront about it this time.
You seem to always squeeze something out of me. I get off and say, “Dammit, I gotta be smarter than that in the future!” But I just can’t.
Let’s get into it … You played some Van Halen songs on Live From Daryl’s House earlier this year. What happened next?
[Laughs] There you go, Andy. You got the fuckin’ pick and shovel out now. Well, there is no question about it, I’d like this to be known, the Van Halen brothers will not allow me to do any of my own songs on TV. They can’t stop me from doing them live, because they’ve tried and they can’t. They want to pretend like Van Hagar never existed. The only Number One albums they’ve had in their life, and they want to pretend like they never happened. I don’t know why they hate me so bad, but I guess I’m too happy for them.
Yes, it’s true. They wouldn’t let me do them. I can hire an attorney and fight them and I’m going too, but I didn’t have time to do that then. On the new Circle DVD we’re making from the live album, Led Zeppelin agreed to let us use their music. And Van Halen said, “No.” And then I said, “Fuck you.” I don’t need to do this to survive, and thank God, because otherwise, they would starve me out like I think they’re trying to do.
It’s the lowest, cheesiest thing ever. I wrote every lyric and every melody and I sang them in that band. Alex Van Halen played the fucking drums and Michael Anthony played bass, and I wrote music and lyrics. When you’re singing “Right Now” or “Why Can’t This Be Love,” that’s my music. I wrote all the lyrics.
To be clear, they told you that you couldn’t put their music on a DVD too?
Yeah, it’s going to happen, though. It just becomes a legal mess. Also, in my book I wanted to run some lyrics from the [Van Halen song] “Cabo Wabo.” They wouldn’t let me use one verse, in my fucking book, of my own lyrics. They fought it, and I didn’t have time to fight back since they did it at the 11th hour ’cause they’re assholes. It’s unbelievable that Led Zeppelin lets us cover their songs on TV and anywhere else, and the brothers won’t let me sing my fucking songs. And why? ‘Cause they can’t do them anymore. Without me, they can’t play those songs, and they’re fucking jealous. And that’s the thing that gives me comic relief out of the whole thing.