“They wanted to work 367 days a year”: Sammy Hagar on the Van Halen brothers’ intense work ethic

“They wanted to work 367 days a year”: Sammy Hagar on the Van Halen brothers’ intense work ethic

Sammy Hagar has reflected on the unbridled work ethic of Eddie and Alex Van Halen during his tenure as frontman of Van Halen between 1985 and 1996.
In a new interview with Fox News Digital, Hagar discusses The Collection II, a new five-LP Van Halen box set which showcases the material of the second iteration of Van Halen, which comprised Eddie and Alex Van Halen, Michael Anthony and Hagar.

READ MORE: Van Halen engineer reveals band were “disappointed” with debut LP: “It’s not what they had in their mind when they came in to do the record”

During the conversation, Hagar recalls his decade-long tenure in Van Halen, and shares his excitement at the release of remastered versions of some of the band’s most classic records.
Describing the ups and downs of recording with Van Halen as a “double-edged sword”, Hagar says: “There were such good times in the beginning, like 5150 [1986] [and] OU812 [1988].

“For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge was a little bit of a struggle because I was going through a hard time with my ex-wife.
“She was having a nervous breakdown and didn’t want me to leave the house. I was like, ‘I got to go to work here.’ So it took us like a year to make that record, but we were getting along good. But of course, the brothers were putting a lot of pressure on me to show up, you know, as much as I could. And they were understanding.”
“But then come the next record, it’s like, you know, we started not getting along so good, and you could feel the end coming to me. So then you got the bittersweet stuff.”
Elsewhere in the conversation, Hagar reflects on what ended up being his final record with the band, Balance [1995]. As he explains, the album was recorded during a time when he was going through a divorce, and when he and Eddie Van Halen began to clash over creative differences.
“It’s just so dark for Van Halen or for Sammy,” he said. “Let’s just say Sammy, you know, I’m just not a dark person. I’m Mr. Sunshine. And boy, I was [dragged] into the darkness between my divorce and my ex-wife not doing so good, trying to help her out and trying to be in a band.”
He continues, “And the brothers want to work every day of the year. They wanted to work 367 days a year, and I only wanted to work 360, you know what I mean? So we had a little problem there, but we got it done, and it’s a great record.”

But despite their intense work ethic, Hagar says the band still found the time to regularly let their hair down.
“When we got out of the limo to the airport or to jump on the plane to go to the first gig, we started partying,” he says. “And on the way home in the last leg, getting off the plane, back into the limo – most of us stopped when we got back in the limo to go home.”
“But unfortunately or fortunately, I lived next door to Eddie out in Malibu. And so we’d ride together and, you know, and one thing would lead to another. Next thing, we’re pulling up at the house going, ‘Dude, you got any gum?’”
“And you know what I mean. ‘Do I smell, man?’ We’d inspect each other,” he said with a chuckle. “That’s what I remember. Everything in between that I don’t know what happened… Just imagine whatever could happen. It probably happened more than once. We had a good time, brother. We did.”
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