‘He said the song was a hit because he was better looking’: How Rick Springfield got the best of Sammy Hagar

Long before Sammy Hagar hit as a solo artist, much less joined Van Halen, his biggest success on the charts came courtesy of Rick Springfield’s 1981 cover of the song “I’ve Done Everything For You.” Back then, Springfield joked that there was a secret to his success.

“Rick had me beat when he said the reason the song was a hit was because he was better looking than me,” Hagar tells Pat Monahan. “That’s what he told me when I asked him.” Further, Springfield — because he had started as an actor — was a natural for the looming MTV age, whereas Hagar admits to being intimidated by the camera.

And so, a track that first appeared on Hagar’s 1978 concert project All Night Long would streak into the Top 10 for Springfield, following his charttopping success with “Jessie’s Girl.” The truth is, though, that Springfield wasn’t the first person to consider “I’ve Done Everything For You” as cover material.

Hagar says he thinks producer Keith Olsen brought it to Springfield’s attention but only after first trying to get Pat Benatar to do the track. “Keith said they made of a demo of it, and it was killing,” Hagar remembers, “but they decided to write their own song.” That became Benatar’s similar-sounding 1979 Top 15 hit “Heartbreaker.”

Fast forward more than three decades, and Hagar still admits that Springfield had him beat back then in the looks department. But the game has changed in the interim.

“He was a handsome young man, but I don’t think he’s aging as well as me,” Hagar quips, laughing. “If you put in wine terms, like some California wines are big and beautiful and forward and fruity, and luscious to drink when they are young. But as they get old, they kind of fade and lose their tannins, and the fruit comes out too much. They kind of get a little raisin-y. I’m like a frickin’ Cheval Blanc — or a good ’61 Bordeaux or something. I think I’m aging pretty good.”

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