Sammy Hagar Rejects Blame for Van Halen’s Move to Keyboards
Former Van Halen singer Sammy Hagar spoke out against the perception that he was to blame for Van Halen moving toward keyboards during his time in the band.
He said that, as a guitarist, he remained with that instrument while Eddie Van Halen further explored the synthesizers he had started using in the past. He also praised “Jump,” the song that started the move before he was a member of the band.
“Everyone blamed me for the friggin’ keyboard playing on the Van Hagar era, starting with 5150,” Hagar told Eddie Trunk on SiriusXM. “On OU812 we went very keyboard-oriented. I didn’t do any of that. That's what Eddie did. Eddie wanted to do that. He liked playing keyboards, and he was freakin’ good at it. He wrote these beautiful songs like ‘When It's Love' and ‘Why Can’t This Be Love’ – it's such a cool lick.”
Hagar noted that "it wasn't like I was sitting here saying, ‘Hey, man, let’s do some more keyboards.’ I’m sitting here saying, ‘What have you got, Ed?’ And he goes, ‘I’ve got this.’ And I'm going, ‘Wow, that's great. I could sing to it.’ … I could sing to any damn thing.”
Returning to Van Halen’s keyboard abilities, Hagar enthused, “He's got a left hand on the freakin' keyboard that's as good as freakin' Bootsy Collins on the bass, man. He's funky with that left hand. Listen to ‘When It’s Love.'”
You can listen to the interview below.
Returning to the notion of blame, Hagar pointed out that he didn’t actually play keyboards himself. “It was not me whatsoever,” he said. “I’m a damn guitar player. Every time I would … instigate a song, it was a guitar song. … I just went along with what we had, and if it wouldn't have been good, I wouldn't have [gone] along with it. I would have said, ‘This sucks.’ But it didn’t.”
Hagar also gave his opinion on 1983's “Jump,” the first Van Halen song to feature keyboards as the lead instrument. The track was recorded two years before he joined the band.
“When I heard fuckin’ ‘Jump’ on the radio, I went, ‘Holy shit! Man, this is great!’” he recalled. “‘These guys have got a real pop hit – and they’re not a pop band by any friggin’ means!’ It’s so rare when a band is rowdy, hard rock and edgy as Van Halen was to have a hit like that.”