Sammy Hagar minced no words while discussing his Van Halen predecessor David Lee Roth in a new interview, saying Roth’s voice “hasn’t aged well” and accusing the singer of “pretending” with his “totally bullshit” stage persona.
Hagar took his jabs at Roth during an interview with Brazilian internet show Inside With Paulo Baron. Discussing the differences between the two frontmen, Hagar said of Roth, “He’s a real character. He’s a showman. He’s all show. I enjoy him. But you talk about cringing. I can’t imagine how he feels when he looks at some of them old videos, the way he was dancing and moving, and the way he was singing live sometimes. I don’t know how he feels about all that, but I don’t think he cares.
“The difference between him and I [is] I sincerely care,” Hagar continued. “What is important to me is enlightening and elevating people spiritually and making them happy and making them have big dreams, making them want to be better themselves. And my goal with everything I do is to bring that to people and change their life, if I can. I don’t think [Roth] cares about anything like that. And that’s the difference between our presence. He’s very much into himself, very much into being a showman and doesn’t really care. I don’t know what he cares about, I really don’t. I don’t know him. I have no idea who that guy is. I don’t think anyone does. But he entertains me. I enjoy watching him do stupid shit.”
You can watch the interview below.
Hagar joined Van Halen in 1985, soon after Roth’s acrimonious departure. The Hagar-fronted lineup released four albums — 1986’s 5150, 1988’s OU812, 1991’s For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge and 1995’s Balance — all of which topped the Billboard 200 and went multiplatinum.
When asked what he thinks when he sees Roth on TV, Hagar said, “He’s not what he’s saying he is; he’s pretending. He’s totally bullshit. Everything he does is thought up and it’s an image. It’s nothing to do with who he is; he is not exposing who and what he is.”
Hagar said he saw Roth’s true colors when the two frontmen teamed up for their disastrous 2002 co-headlining tour, Song for Song, the Heavyweight Champs of Rock and Roll. Tensions rose throughout the calamitous trek, with both singers dissing each other in the press and avoiding each other backstage. In his 2011 book Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock, Hagar accused Roth of consistently ducking his requests to join him onstage for a few songs.
“When we did our tour together, I thought it was gonna be so much fun,” Hagar told Baron. “I thought, ‘If he’s anything like he claims to be, we’re gonna have a good time.’ But he wasn’t. He was the worst guy to be around. He wasn’t ever around. He hides out. You never see him. He puts on this whole big front and comes out: ‘I’m here! David Lee Roth is here!’ And then he goes and hides again. Very strange.
“I don’t think he’s happy,” he continued. “He’s never been married, never had a relationship, never had children. It’s, like, man, how do you live like that? I don’t know. I’m a family man. And I love women. I love women and children.” When cohost Regis Tadeu said it was “so sad” to see Roth in his current state, Hagar responded, “He hasn’t aged well, his voice. I don’t know. It’s hard.”
In the same interview, Hagar also apologized for exposing the depths of Eddie Van Halen’s alcoholism in his book. While Hagar insisted that the account is “all true,” he also said, “If I wrote the book today, I would only put the good of Eddie Van Halen, because he was such a brilliant, genius guitar player and such a great friend and a great partner — until everything went wrong, like everything else.”
Hagar added that he “[wants] Van Halen to go down as one of the greatest rock bands of all time,” including both his and Roth’s eras. (He did not mention his short-lived successor, Gary Cherone, who sang on 1998’s Van Halen III.) “I want Eddie to be the legend and get the respect that he deserves, and the only way to preserve that is by being kind about the past. … God rest his soul. He brought a lot to this planet, to this business of rock ‘n’ roll, Eddie Van Halen did. And Dave was a part of it. It’s too bad what he’s become. But that’s different. That’s not Van Halen anymore.”
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