davidleeroth David Lee Roth says he’ll never perform Sammy Hagar-era Van Halen songs, and says the reasons are obvious.

First, Roth was never sure about Hagar’s commitment to the work. Second, he says, the public has made it clear which edition they favor.

“Well, there’s a credibility issue there,” Roth said, back stage at the Billboard Music Awards. “Good, bad or in the middle, you know Roth means it; the other guy doesn’t. And that’s why it sold half as well — literally, Midas Bible half. Never did better than half. And why would you bring that into the proceedings? This hamburger don’t need no helper. Ain’t no rehearsing pants in my closet.”

Of course, Hagar has previously expressed his own opinion on this subject. “The difference between Dave and I in that band, besides all the other million things, is that he can’t sing any of the ‘Van Hagar’-era songs,” he explained in a 2012 interview with the Boston Phoenix (courtesy of Blabbermouth). “Maybe he could do Finish What You Started, possibly.”

Last night marked Van Halen’s first appearance at the Billboard Music Awards, which aired on ABC from Las Vegas (see the performance below). Roth just released his second project since returning to Van Halen, a live set titled Tokyo Dome in Concert. There, as with the band’s on-going concerts since his return, the setlists have focused on albums from Roth’s initial 1974–85 tenure, interspersed with songs from their 2012 comeback album A Diffferent Kind of Truth.

Hagar’s principal work with Van Halen stretched from 1985–96. Both singers had subsequent reunions with the group: Roth returned in 1996, and Hagar was back for 2003–05. Roth has fronted Van Halen ever since.

Asked about a potential studio follow up to A Different Kind of Truth, Roth struck a hopeful if non-committal stance. “I’m always writing and have written with a number of other people,” he said. “And I would always look forward to doing it again with Van Halen.”


49 Responses

  1. Oh for @#!& sake when will this end between Dave / Sammy and Sammy / VH! Yup, Sammy is a better singer and Dave would sound even worse than he already does if he tried to sing Sammy’s songs. I don’t know that I can even say Dave is a better “front man” than Sammy – I’ve seen Sammy with VH a couple times and a few of his solo shows over the years, and I had a great time at every one. Sammy is very good at getting a crowd into a show and having a good time. Not saying Dave isn’t, but I don’t recall cringing at Sammy thinking “you look goofy, I wish you wouldn’t do that” like I do sometimes watching Dave.

    I’m not even sure comparing the original Dave era album sales to Sammy’s string of # 1’s is totally valid either. VH knocked the rock world on its ass when VH1 came out, and built up from there arguably changing the American rock landscape in the process. It took a while for other bands to catch up, so they were “King of the Hill” for a while – piling up record sales through 1984. Take a band with an established fan base like that and replace the lead singer, combined with a change in sound and style, you’re going make some of those fans unhappy. In some ways, Sammy’s #1’s might even be more impressive because it was such a significant change for the band and they now had a fractured fan base.

    Having said that – and being a fan of both Dave and Sammy versions of VH, in general I do prefer the Dave era. There’s just more “rock” in those albums, I like Eddie’s sound better on those albums, there’s more energy there. They unquestionably leaned more into pop-rock territory with Sammy, which took them to the top of the charts, but I’ve never cared that much about #1 singles. It’s probably fair to say Van Hagar was a more balanced, polished product, and if you want to say their ability to cover a broader range of songs made them a “better” band I wouldn’t argue that. I just prefer VH with the throttle open more, and that’s most evident in the Dave albums.

  2. The Sammy backers kill me. First off, that was not Van Halen. That was Van Hagar. Secondly, Sammy bashed Roth first read the article again. Third, Sammy could not sing Roth’s songs live either. They sounded like crap too. In fact, how many Roth ERA songs did he try. I remember Panama, Jump, You Really Got Me (really a Kinks song)…..anything else. And please tell me Sammy did those songs justice? Van Halen doesn’t want to touch the Van Hagar songs….all 4 members. It aint just Dave. And if you want to hear them go see Sammy live…he still plays them. I used to like Sammy, but what a freakin whiner he has become. Geezo, go see one of his shows. Half the setlist is either a Van Hagar song or a Led Zeppelin songs. He has some good stuff in the 80’s. Why does not barely touch that stuff? What a bunch of whiners.

    1. You can’t say it was “Van Hagar” when the guys that control the band chose to keep calling it Van Halen. That’s what the albums all say..

    2. Eddie, yes tehnically they are the same band. But you can not deny that the musical styles of the two ERA are extremely different like they are not even the same band. If they were why did both ERAs ignore the other ERAs stuff? Sammy likes to talk about how Roth could not sing his stuff, but Sammy did a lousy job trying to sing the 3 or 4 DLR songs he attempted when in the band. Jump for example is an extremely simple song, but Sammy sounded awful singing that. DLR does not do Sammy songs. And Sammy really did not do DLR songs. My point is that Sammy loves talking smack but he was no better at the Roth stuff than Roth would be a his. I appreciate both ERA for hat they are, but the Sammy people can not get over he fact that he was replaced by the ORIGINAL singer. Roth is simply defending himself vs Sammy.

    3. Your are nuts…Sammy can and did sing many Roth era songs as I’ve seen it multiple times and he did them excellent…Roth couldn’t even speak the Hagar songs, much less sing them…you are here complaining about Hagar supporters, but why can’t people be a fan of both?? They were two different bands and you don’t have to like the Hagar era, but for you to say Hagar has done nothing since VH, or that he can’t sing is just plain stupid…VH is desperate to bring Roth back and to completely ignore the Hagar songs makes this “reunion” period for VH pathetic and an obvious money grab…I will see them because I love the Roth era stuff, but I just saw Hagar’s “The Circle” a few weeks ago and they were amazing…and lastly, Hagar could buy the VH brothers and Roth 100 times over, so hI doesn’t need the money at all…which allows him to play where he wants, when he wants and with who he wants…Roth doesn’t have that luxury…and take some of your own advice and stop whining!!

  3. Have any of you “Dave” fans seen the last tour or recent tv appearances? Roth sounds absolutely horrible. Talking thru the songs and dancing around like an idiot. I love the music of the Roth era but they are stealing money touring with Roth… Maybe he should put the wig back on. I am sure they will tour with Sammy someday and I will be there. At least he can still get the job done. Now that Eddie seems healthy I am not sure how he can go out on stage and put on this embarrassing show…..

  4. DLR helped write dozens of the greatest hard-rock songs of all-time. The combo of Eddie and DLR created one of the most unique sounds in the history of music, and turned it into one of the biggest bands on the planet, and quite possibly America’s greatest band! Meanwhile Spammy the Clown co-wrote a couple good songs w Montrose, had a mostly forgetable solo career with a few hits and then helped turn the once mighty VH into pop drivel. I am a Roth fan and am the 1st to admit he isn’t what he used to be, which was a legendary frontman. However, he’s nowhere near as bad as the poodle head followers like to say. I’ll take a 60 y/o DLR playing one of the greatest music catalogues of all-time with a very tight 3 piece VH over that same band playing any of the Spammy era songs every day of the week. A historical rock catalog or dated medicore FM pop-rock…you make the call!

  5. Somewhat disappointed in Dave’s comments. Since he has been back he has for the most part taken the high road on commenting on Hagar era and that is how it should be. His comments make no sense whatsoever. Whatever your opinion of the Sammy years, no way you can question the success they had or discredit some great songs they had during this period . The song 5150 comes to mind as a fantastic kick ass song that no way Roth could sing. Imagine Dave singing Judgment Day? Or Poundcake? If I’m Eddie or Alex, I am taking somewhat of an offense to Dave’s comments. To me his comments are just as much of a put down to Eddie and Alex as they are to Sammy. The album sales for each era are about the same. Dave era had a higher volume because album sales were higher in general in the music industry during that period. The Sammy era probably had a higher percentage of overall sales than Roth. Bottom line is they were both highly successful and Dave is way off base using credibility and album sales as an excuse to not do Sammy era songs. Heck, Chickenfoot out sold ADKOT, does that mean Chickenfoot is more credible than VH?

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