Alex Van Halen recently discussed the “strange chemistry” Van Halen had with frontman David Lee Roth as compared to his replacement, Sammy Hagar.

Speaking with Modern Drummer, newly published, but conducted before the death of his brother Eddie, Alex was asked how important it was to have a producer in the studio.

“Part of it was the conflict between the band and Dave,” he said. “One of the things that made everything work was that we came from opposite ends of the spectrum. Dave was vaudeville. … Ed and I were coming from Cream, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath. So having that strange chemistry is what made it work, oddly enough. But you do need a mediator. Otherwise we would never have gotten anything done.”

He added, “If Dave came in with a song, I would respect how they heard it. And then it’s the old trick, ‘Keep your friends close and your enemies closer!’ And that means, ‘Okay, I’ll listen to you, but then I’m gonna make it mine. And by the end of the process it will sound nothing like what you hummed me.’”

Van Halen also noted that Hagar “has a great rhythmic sense and of course that voice. Dave was much more of a poet. Dave is creative – 90 percent of it is garbage, but that 10 percent is fucking worth it.” He said sometimes thought, “What planet did you come from?” when it came to Roth, but the drummer also pointed out that “we grew up together.”

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  • Taskerofpuppets on

    Nice to hear from Alex in some way. We ALL know Dave is from another planet. Just watch DAVEEEE TV!!

    “My Doctor says, I need to take A LAXATIVE!!!

    • Dana on


      Along with The Prodigy’s Slap My Bitch Up, Yankee Rose is my favorite video. HYSTERICAL!! Btw, that video would NEVER fly today, it would be considered stereotypical and racist. Thank God I grew up in era when people could actually take jokes and get satire.

      D 🙂

    • Charles Clinchot on

      “Not in my store you don’t!!!”

      Love that video. Yes, I agree Dana, none of it would fly today.

    • Taskerofpuppets on

      D- that was a great video as well among many others from Dave. 80’s era was the last of open-minded cross the line comedy and the beginning of political correctness.

  • T on

    Funny thing about chemistry, you don’t get to choose who you have it with, and it’s usually someone you have a volatile relationship with. Maybe a Psychologist should write a book about that. I don’t hear anything Vaudeville about the first couple VH albums, but maybe that’s the magic of EVH and the fate of them hooking up with DLR. Maybe they might have hooked up with a much better singer, but wrote much worse songs.

    • Taskerofpuppets on

      Ice Cream man & Show your love have a swing/vaudeville vibe.

  • Myk on

    A bottle of anything and a glazed donut…to go.

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