Relations between the guitarist and Van Halen’s second frontman soured badly in the wake of the quartet’s disastrous 2004 reunion tour, the grim details of which Hagar laid bare in stark terms in his best-selling 2011 autobiography Red: My Uncensored Life In Rock. But following the guitarist’s passing on October 6, 2020, Hagar revealed that he had managed to reconnect with his former friend and that the pair were on civil terms in the months before Van Halen’s death.
Now, in a new interview with former MTV/VH1 host Matt Pinfield on the the New & Approved show on KLOS, Hagar has revealed exactly how he reached out to Van Halen, and shared details of the pair’s final conversations.
Hagar says that he had attempted to build bridges with both Eddie and Alex Van Halen in recent years by sending the brothers friendly messages on their birthdays and at the dawning of new years, but was largely ignored. But after Eddie responded to an Instagram posting from Hagar, the singer was encouraged to think that the passing of time had healed some old wounds. When rumours began to circulate within the music industry that Van Halen was unwell, Hagar says he got in touch with Alex Van Halen, Eddie’s guitar tech Matt Bruck and the band’s manager Irving Azoff, who recommended that he contact Alex Van Halen once again.
Hagar tells Pinfield, “I said, ‘I don’t wanna bug Eddie. I don’t wanna call Eddie and have him tell me, “Fuck you, you asshole”’… I wanted to talk with someone else first and see how he was doing and if he would be cool with me calling. Nobody’s calling me. Nobody’s calling me back. Nobody’s responded to my e-mails, no response to my texts.”
“So, [US comedian/actor] George Lopez calls me, and he’s a dear friend too,” Hagar continued. “And he goes, ‘Sam, you’ve gotta call Eddie,’ and blah blah blah. I said, ‘I tried to reach him.’ [He says], ‘Here’s his number. I just talked to him. He loves you, man. He loves you.’ And I said, ‘Wow. Okay.’ I call him, and he’s going, ‘What took you so long?’ I’m going, ‘Well, I called Al. I called this guy. I called that [guy].’ And he goes, ‘Well, you didn’t call me.’ And I said, ‘Well, I’m calling you now.’ And we just burst out laughing.”
Hagar reveals that he and Van Halen communicated for 4 or 5 months before their conversations tailed off.
“All of a sudden, he wasn’t returning the texts and he wasn’t returning my calls and I wasn’t getting no response for about a month,” he says. “It was heartbreaking, ’cause I knew. And then one time I said, ‘Hey, dude. What the fuck? You didn’t give me no love.’ And he goes, ‘Man, I’ve been in the hospital.’ And I’m, like, ‘Oh, fuck.’ And then that was the last I heard [from] him.”
The full interview with Hagar is shared below.