After being Montrose singer and creating a solid solo career, Sammy Hagar joined Van Halen in 1985, replacing David Lee Roth. The musician recalled in an interview with Classic Rock in 2019 how it was his first rehearsal with the group.
How was the first Sammy Hagar rehearsal with Van Halen:
“Oh, I can tell you exactly what it was like. At that stage I had a good career going, I was wealthy, I was eating in the finest restaurants and wearing the finest fucking clothes, I was driving Ferraris. I was becoming a little too sophisticated – it was killing my music. Whereas those guys were living a completely different lifestyle.”
“Long story short, I walked in that room and these guys had cigarette butts and empty beer cans and whiskey bottles everywhere, multi-thousand-dollar guitars lying upside-down on the ground. And it stunk like shit because of the smoke. Eddie comes walking out with a pair of sunglasses, jeans with holes in them, just outta bed, cracking a beer and smoking a cigarette. Alex was still drunk. Mike hadn’t even been home.”
“They’d been up all night waiting for me. I’m looking at these guys, then I’m looking at myself in a suit, and I go: “I look like a fucking idiot. This is a real rock’n’roll band.”
Did you start jamming right away?
“Yeah, we just cranked up. They had written some ideas for the music to Summer Nights and Good Enough, and I just start scatting and singing. Alex is making fun of my haircut, cos I’d just had most of it shaved off apart from a little poodle pouf on top. And I’m going: [jokingly] “Fuck you guys, let’s step outside…”
“We ran cassettes all day, recording what we did. I got home at two in the morning and played one of these cassettes, and it was so rock’n’roll. I went: “Fucking wow, I’m joining this band right away!”
“And I’m so glad I did. It changed my life, because otherwise I would be some guy fucking walking around in suits and shit. Van Halen took me back to the rock’n’roll.”