VIDEO Sammy Hagar Unloads in “RED,” was Uploaded by Aliens

Sammy Hagar signs his autobiography "Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock"( Sammy Hagar book signing session for his autobiography RED at Chapters Festival Hall. Toronto, Canada – 13.03.11, Photo by Joe Kan/

One of my fondest memories of my teenage years was cruising around my hometown, my best friend blasting vintage Van Halen from his ’79 Toyota Corrolla. Dude had a cd player installed, man! And “Jamie’s Crying” sounded so good! Of course, I was more into the Cure at the time, so I had to pretend not to like it. Even more so when Sammy Hagar joined Van Halen in ’85 and started hitting the charts with “Why Can’t This Be Love” and “Dreams.”

Something about the “Van Hagar” edition of the band clicked with me, those ‘80s style synths, Sammy’s soaring, gravel-tinged vocals, Mike Anthony’s gutty bass, Alex Van Halen’s triumphant drumming, and Eddie’s highwire guitar solo theatrics. Even though I never bought any of their albums, I would turn up the radio when they came on in rotation, or linger on MTV when their videos popped up on the screen.

Sammy Hagar definitely had his ups and downs with the band, first getting canned by a mean-spirited Eddie Van Halen, then reuniting for what turned out to be a miserable tour in 2004. And how could it not have been, with a wino, toothless, “fruitcake” lead guitarist calling the shots? Here’s a stunning pic of Eddie on tour in ’04 that showcases the “gap” between his awesome past and his sad present:

Eddie Van Halen missing teeth, playing lousy

It is the 2004 tour Sammy writes about at length in his new autobiography, RED: My Uncensored Life in Rock. And from what Rolling Stone has excerpted, I’m not guessing there’s going to be any reunion of “Van Hagar” any time soon.

Eddie Van Halen smashes his guitar in Tucson( Eddie smashes his guitar in Tucson, the band’s last tour stop in ’04.

Before the 2004 reunion tour even started, Eddie was in bad shape and in need of an intervention. He was approached by his brother, Alex, Sammy, and manager Irving Azoff. As Sammy reports, they were greeted by a disheveled, wine-bottle wielding Eddie:

“(Azoff) told Eddie the [2004] tour was going to be difficult, that he needed to go away for a week or two, that we could postpone some dates if we needed. We all agreed Eddie needed to clean up.

“He smashed the bottle. ‘F**k you,’ he said. ‘I will kill the first motherf**ker that tries to take this bottle away from me. I left my family for this sh!t. You think I’m going to f**king do this for you guys?’”

Here’s a guitar smashing incident from the last night of VH’s 2004 tour in Tucson, AZ.

They managed to mount the tour, which based on Sammy’s description, would seem to be setting the band up for disaster. Let’s see what Sammy has to say about the 2004 tour:

“From the start of the tour, Eddie made some terrible mistakes and it seemed like he couldn’t remember the songs. He would just hit the whammy bar and go wheedle-wheedle-whee.

“Whenever he came out with no shirt and his hair tied up samurai-style, he seemed f**ked up. That was his little signal. I don’t know what it was. He would come out first with his hair down, go back to change guitars, or after Al’s drum solo, and come back with his hair up and shirt off. I’d look at Mike and we’d roll our eyes — here we go.”

Here’s a really off balance performance of “Running With the Devil” from the Tucson soundcheck. Was a poor performance like this even conceivable in their ‘70s heyday?

And of Eddie’s performance in particular? Sammy says:

“His solo turned into a disaster. It used to be the highlight of every show. Now he would play nothing, just garbage. He would try to play Eruption, one of his greatest pieces, and screw it up. He would just grab the whammy bar, hit the sustainer, and start making all this noise. The audience wasn’t buying it, either.”

Here’s an example of what Sammy’s talking about, a lame, wandering, totally out-of-focus solo by Eddie from Oklahoma City:

So if the audience wasn’t buying it, you know Sammy wasn’t buying it, either. He says:

“It seemed to me that Ed was going through the motions, like he didn’t care about his playing. He didn’t care about the way he looked. He just went out there and took the money. He was embarrassing. Al, Mike and I did it from the heart. We played our a$$es off every night. Ed went out there and jerked off.”

Ouch! I can hear a couple of my Van Halen-hating friends right now: “When’s Eddie Van Halen not been jerking off with his guitar!” But the truth is, Eddie Van Halen’s style and charisma was, in the late ‘70s, revolutionary. Unfortunately, by the turn of the Century, thanks to cancer and addictions and a ruinous lifestyle, that charisma seems to be fading fast, and his style deteriorating into parody.

Rolling Stone has much more to read about Sammy’s reminiscing, and you can buy the book and get the whole story at, including more information about Sammy’s belief that something was downloaded into his brain by aliens when he was a child in order to upload the information in his brain.

In an interview with MTV Sammy explains:

“That’s right. It was real. [Aliens] were plugged into me. It was a download situation. This was long before computers or any kind of wireless. There weren’t even wireless telephones. Looking back now, it was like, ‘F–k, they downloaded something into me!’ Or they uploaded something from my brain, like an experiment. ‘See what this guy knows.’”

As for Van Halen, Eddie’s look has improved somewhat, but according to most fan reviews, the playing is still not back in shape. Here’s hoping Eddie can get it back into gear.

Until then, how about a look back at “Van Hagar” when they were at the top of their game?

Eddie Van Halen and Sammy Hagar interviewed by MTV at Farm Aid 1985(Eddie and Sammy during happier and healthier times, at Farm Aid in 1985.