Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sammy Hagar: “Eddie Van Halen turned into a monster”

Sammy Hagar’s new autobiography, "Red: My Uncensored Life In Rock," is due out next week via HarperCollins books.

Hagar sat down with Musicradar for an extended chat about many aspects of his career, as the Red Rocker gets it all down on paper for public consumption

Here’s a sample of some the VH conversation…

Musicradar (MR): Eddie Van Halen - you paint a pretty brutal picture of him in the book. Did you have second thoughts about exposing so much about him?

Sammy Hagar:
"Yeah, I did. But then I thought, How can I not? Eddie's always made me out to be the bad guy. He's always had the upper hand when it comes to the press and could tell the story and frame it the way he wanted.

"The [2004] reunion tour, for example: I just thought that story needed to be told so that fans know why everything's happened the way it has. I didn't like what was going on at the time and how everything went down. I didn't like the way Mikey [Michael Anthony] was treated and the way they tried to treat me. They - and I'm talking about Eddie and Alex here - really made the experience unpleasant. I tried to get out of that tour. After 40 shows, I tried to quit. That's how bad it was."

“I didn't do that tour for money, I did it for the fans. I wanted the band to come back and be great again. We didn't get there, and I tried to bail. But they and their management - I can't accuse Eddie and Al of everything, 'cause they're not that smart [laughs] - they had me sewn in, and I was stuck. I had to go through with the rest of the tour. It was hell. So I had to paint the proper picture of what Eddie was like in order to justify my behavior at the time.

"To this day, people ask me if I would go back to Van Halen, and my answer is always the same: not interested. Then people think I'm an asshole or something. What I mean is, no, I would not go back to Van Halen unless things were way different. Way, way different. And I don't know if that could ever be the case.

"To be honest, I went a little easy on Eddie a couple of times. There you go, how's that? [laughs] There's some things I could have said, but I didn't want to open myself up to a lawsuit. But everything I did say in the book is 100 percent factual. I tried to avoid putting in my opinions about Eddie; I just stuck to the facts."

MR: Let's get to an opinion, though. Eddie certainly strikes me as tortured in some ways. But do you think he's the classic tortured genius, or do you think alcohol is at the root of it all?

"I think alcohol is at the root of it - and drugs. He's not tortured, because he's always had his brother there to protect him. When I met Eddie, he was like a sweet little kid who had this amazing talent. Over time, he turned into a monster. And I don't mean a monster genius musician, because I think he started losing a lot of that. Straight up he did. I saw the guy right in front of my eyes not be able to write and forgetting how to play songs.

"Eddie's problems are all from drugs and alcohol, and all of it self-inflicted - nobody was driving him to it. Valerie [Bertinelli] was a sweet lady, and I think she could have been a great wife - probably was. His dad had a drinking problem himself, but he was a sweet guy. Eddie's not tortured by anything but Eddie."
Check out the full Hagar session at Musicradar here.

Van Van Halen

Van Halen – Summer Nights
Tokyo Dome – Tokyo, JP – February 1, 1989

See also:

Sammy Hagar: “Red” book signing appearances announced
Sammy Hagar says 90% chance he’ll play with Van Halen again
VIDEO: Sammy Hagar talks about autobiography
Sammy Hagar documentary screening confirmed for Canadian Music Week