“It seems like since Van Halen did the [David Lee] Roth reunion that they tried to really bury the Van Hagar era,” Hagar tells UCR. “They wouldn’t remaster it, they wouldn’t allow it to be in movies. They wouldn’t allow it to be licensed for video games and commercials.”
Hagar understands the band’s motive – to a point. “They pushed everything from the Roth era, because they were doing that reunion. Understood,” he explains. Still, he can’t help but feel like some of his work with the band was slighted. “It’s such great material. All number-one albums. You know, 50 million records.”
These days, Hagar regularly mixes material from his Van Halen tenure into live sets with his band the Circle. “I don’t care how proud I am of my own stuff, I can’t ignore that,” he notes. “That’s the biggest peak of my career. But I don’t exploit it too much.”
He points out that Van Hagar material consistently gets a strong response from his fans, regardless of which song he performs.
“Every time we play that stuff, the audience goes crazy,” Hagar says. “We added ‘Good Enough’ to the show, we added ‘Humans Being’ from Twister. We’ve added some really deep tracks recently and, man, it doesn’t matter which song you play – it ain’t just the hits. They’re not just ‘Why Can’t This Be Love.’ You play ‘Humans Being’ and the place goes fuckin’ nuts. They know every word. So we’re going, ‘Man, this stuff is golden.’ It’s never gonna die, and we’re not gonna let it.”
To that end, Hagar and bassist Michael Anthony – who was also in Van Halen and is now a member of the Circle – keep memories alive on their “Other Half” social media sites, which regularly post videos and images from the Van Hagar era.
“We started that thing because Mike said, ‘Man, you know, I found this old tape,’” Hagar recalls. “He’s always telling me this shit and showing me some picture: ‘Look what I found!’ We just started digging, and we’ve got a gold mine.”
Hagar will be playing material from throughout his career as part of the Sammy Hagar and Friends residency at the Strat in Las Vegas. Performances begin Oct. 29 and run through mid-November.
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