Sammy Hagar’s on-going new tour features a slew of classic rock’s greatest hits, notably select favorites from Led Zeppelin — fitting since Jason Bonham is at the traps. Still, a highlight of the show remains Hagar’s collaborations with fellow Van Halen alum Michael Anthony on some of their old band’s most familiar moments.
“We call ourselves the Other Half all the time, as a joke,” Hagar tells KSHE. Asked if he would update that to the Better Half, Hagar demurs — before adding that they are “the Nicer Half, yeah. [Laughs.] The more User-Friendly Half, and the half that can play our songs, if you see what I’m saying.”
Over a stint from 1985-1996, Hagar helped Van Halen to a series of radio hits, and not only its first-ever No. 1 album but an amazing four straight chartopping discs. After a disastrous 2005-06 reunion tour, however, he and the ever-affable Anthony — a key contributor as a background vocalist, as well — found themselves on the outside looking in. They founded a separate group called Chickenfoot, while Eddie and Alex Van Halen went on to reunite with original frontman David Lee Roth. Van Halen’s setlists have since steadfastly avoided the Hagar era.
“They can’t play it,” Hagar adds. “How could they play it? How can they play ‘Dreams’? How can they play ‘Right Now’? How can they play ‘When It’s Love’? How can they play ‘Best of Both Worlds’? They can’t. Ed can play it, but it’s going to be an instrumental! [Laughs.] … Mikey makes it so much better to sing the Van Halen stuff. Our voices, when we’re singing together on those harmonies, it sounds just like the record.”
Bonhan, son of Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham, has appeared several times with his late dad’s group, most notably in a well-received 2007 show that was later released as Celebration Day.