Like two aging grizzly bears well past their prime but refusing to retire gracefully, David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar continue to fight bitterly about who is the best man to front Van Halen.
In the red corner is Diamond Dave, the flamboyant verbal virtuoso, martial arts expert, and ladies man whose rock just keeps on rolling. And in the blue corner is former boxer and Roth’s replacement in Van Halen, Sammy Hagar.
Roth and Hagar’s beef is an ancient and highly entertaining one. Roth pretty much had Hagar on the ropes in the mid-’80s with a flurry of witty jabs and below the belt cheap shots, but Roth never quite managed to deliver the knockout blow that would silence his portly and frizzy haired replacement for good.
On top of his game and posturing like a perfumed peacock, Roth once vowed that, unlike Hagar, he’d never have to sing one of the other’s songs in concert. And we all know how that ended.
Like a meaty and tenacious bull, Hagar soaked up all of Roth’s punishing jibes and turned the tables in the later rounds. Hagar’s defining moment of triumph came when he repeatedly taunted Roth to duel with him on stage during their 2002 co-headlining tour.
More recently, Hagar has been extremely vocal in his criticism of the Roth-fronted Van Halen’s live set, and has remained sceptical as to the exact reason why Roth refuses to sing Hagar-sung tracks on the current Van Halen tour.
Ultimate Classic Rock reports that Roth’s refusal to sing Hagar songs is because the fans want classic Van Halen martial and not sloppy seconds, and also because, “This hamburger don’t need no helper.”
“There’s a credibility issue there. Good, bad or in the middle, you know Roth means it; the other guy doesn’t. … And why would you bring that into the proceedings? This hamburger don’t need no helper.”
One punch Roth baby! That’s all I need!
Not about to let such an insult of the so-called Van Hagar period pass unnoticed, Sammy responded to Roth’s comments at a recent gig with his new band Circle, before launching into a a live version of Van Halen hit ‘Right Now.’
“The boys are out on tour — happily doing well, I hope, but they’re not playing any Van Hagar songs. My buddy Diamond said it was something about a quality issue. I laughed. I’m cracking up. You know, sometimes the guy says the wackiest things. But there’s a lot of truth in that. A quality issue — you think about that. Think about them with Diamond, singing this next song, it would definitely be a quality issue, OK? [Chuckles.] It would definitely be a quality issue.”
(Photos By Scott Gries, Jason Merritt, Ethan Miller/Getty Images)