David Lee Roth caused mild panic in the Van Halen fan community late last year when he told the press that the band was “finished” as he announced plans for his Las Vegas residency and solo tour with Kiss. Former frontman Sammy Hagar hasn’t spoken directly to Eddie Van Halen since the conclusion of their 2004 reunion tour, but talking to Rolling Stone, he has a different take than Roth’s assessment.
“Until Ed or Alex Van Halen die, they’re not finished,” he tells Rolling Stone. “Those are two great musicians that can friggin’ do as good as most people at half-mast. As a drummer and as a guitarist and creative person, Eddie, I can’t see them ever being finished. I wish they were more active, but I think Van Halen will never be finished.
“If they want to get it together, they just have to call Dave or have to call Sammy,” he adds. “They can go out with [Van Halen’s son] Wolfie as a trio, but that’s not the legacy of Van Halen. I think they know that. I’m not predicting what’s going to happen, but I would tell you if there’s concerts next year, Van Halen will probably be on tour next year.”
Last year, former Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony revealed that he spoke to Roth’s manager along with Irving Azoff, Eddie and Alex Van Halen’s manager, about a reunion tour. “From what I’ve heard, and I haven’t spoken to any of the guys [in the band], they were gonna try to plan a thing for this summer [of 2019],” he said. “And for whatever reason… I was never… My people were never… They never got in touch with us about any kind of a contract or any kind of a meeting to discuss or whatever. And the next thing I knew, the plug got pulled on it.”
Hagar tells Rolling Stone that he also heard about a 2019 reunion tour from a representative for the band. “I was asked through other people in my management to see if that would happen,” he says. “The camps talked about it and Live Nation asked about it. It came and went because Ed got sick. I don’t know exactly what happened to him, but I think he had back surgery.”
The exact state of Eddie Van Halen’s health has been the source of much speculation in the past year, but the guitarist has yet to comment on the situation publicly. “Eddie had a lot of health issues, but I heard he got it together,” says Hagar. “I pray for the guy and I love the guy.”
The classic Van Halen lineup of 1974 to 1984 hasn’t performed together since the conclusion of the 1984 tour. Original frontman David Lee Roth did return to the band in 2007, but Anthony was replaced on bass by Eddie’s son Wolfgang. “My dream tour is the Sam and Dave tour with Ed, Al and Mike.” says Hagar. ‘Let Wolfie put his band together and open. I have a son, Andrew Hagar, who makes great music. Let Andrew open, let Wolfie play with his band in the middle and then have the Sam and Dave tour where we do an hour each. An hour with Dave songs and an hour with me.”
The logistics of a Sam and Dave tour might be hard to work out. They went out together as solo acts in 2002, but there was so much tension backstage, an actual wall had to be erected at certain venues to keep them apart. At no point did they appear onstage at the same time.
“If Dave wants to come out together, we can do that,” says Hagar. “But of course he wouldn’t want to do that, so I couldn’t care less if I even saw the guy. The truth of the matter is, for the fans, and just for me to be a part of that, I want to to walk out there every night and do the best of Van Hagar and have him do the best of that era. That’s a good a tour as anyone would ever do on the planet and it’s for the Van Halen fans. I love making people happy. And it would make me happy.”
Right now, it’s impossible to know when any major rock act can hit the road, let alone a Van Halen reunion. And predicting future events in the world of Van Halen has always been an impossibility. All that said, Hagar remains very optimistic.
“I foresee it happening,” he says. “I’m not trying to plant a seed like I know something is happening. I know nothing. I just know what I know in my heart and my head, which is that it has to happen. Whether it’s Sam and Dave or not, I don’t know that either. But I know that Eddie and I are not done. If enough water goes under the bridge before we die, it’ll happen. It has to. God is going to slap us both around if he has to.”