Singer Sammy Hagar said in an interview with 95.5 KLOS that Warner Brothers, that was Van Halen‘s record company at the time said that they should changed their name after he replaced David Lee Roth on the vocals.
Sammy Hagar recalls Warner wanted a new name for Van Halen when he joined:
“Yeah, we were all in a room, and I think [Warner Bros head] Mo Austin said, ‘Why don’t we be careful here?’ Our managers, and lawyers, and the president of the record company, and the band – we were all in a room when we asked for permission for me to join the band.”
“It was official, everybody came and said, ‘We wanna have a meeting.’ And we were in the studio and we played ‘Why Can’t This Be Love,’ and Mo Austin went, ‘Oh, I smell money…’ He thought it was just the greatest.”
“But anyway, so then he said, ‘Did you guys ever think about maybe changing the name to like Van Hagar or something?’ And I know what they were thinking – ‘If this doesn’t work, at least you can go back with Van Halen again. But if you’re Van Halen and it don’t work, now you’ve ruined Van Halen.'”
“So they were trying to preserve, I think, the Van Halen name. And Eddie Van Halen – Eddie Van Halen, no one else – said, ‘Fuck that. This is Van Halen with a new singer.’ And everybody said, ‘OK. Word. Gospel.’ Boom.”
Were you on board with the decision to keep the Van Halen name?
“I was 100% on board with it. It was Van Halen with a new singer. So I would have been embarrassed to be Van Hagar. I would have said, ‘Let’s just change it back to [Van Halen’s original name] Mammoth or something – go back to the beginning.'”