Sammy Hagar told Howard Stern on Wednesday (Oct. 7) that he and former bandmate Eddie Van Halen quietly reconciled earlier this year, just months before the legendary guitarist’s death.
A longtime Van Halen superfan, Stern opened the SiriusXM broadcast with an extended tribute to the virtuoso, saying, “When Eddie Van Halen came on the scene, I had never heard guitar playing like that — you know something superior was happening.”
Then, after playing some of EVH’s most iconic riffs and dissecting his mind-blowing style, Stern turned the conversation to one of his other favorite, frequent musical guests: former Van Halen frontman Hagar. He read a statement from Hagar, who famously stepped into the very big, sparkly shoes left behind by the band’s original lead singer, David Lee Roth, who split the band in 1985, at which point former solo star Hagar stepped in for a multi-platinum, decade-long run.
“I tried to get in touch with Sammy yesterday. Sammy didn’t want to come on the air today, but he said, he says he is not up to talking in person. But he did send me this note, so I will share it with you,” Stern told his listeners, revealing that the estranged bandmates had reached a détente before Eddie’s death from cancer on Tuesday.
“I would love you to share that Eddie and I had been texting and it’s been a love fest since we started communicating earlier this year,” Hagar said in the statement. “We both agreed not to tell anyone because of all the rumors it would stir up about a reunion, et cetera, and we both knew that wasn’t going to happen. He also didn’t want anyone to know about his health. He stopped responding to me a month ago and I figured it wasn’t good. I reached out to him one more time last week and, when he didn’t respond, I figured it was a matter of time. But it came way too soon.”
Hagar joined Van Halen in 1985, launching the band’s most successful period, with multiplatinum hit albums and singles from 1986’s 5150 (“Why Can’t This Be Love,” “Dreams”), 1988’s OU812 (“When It’s Love,” “Finish What Ya Started”), 1991’s For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (“Poundcake,” “Top of the World,” “Right Now”) and 1995’s Balance (“Don’t Tell Me (What Love Can Do),” “Can’t Stop Lovin’ You”) before band tension forced out Hagar — who returned for a brief two-year sting from 2003-2005 — leading to a reunion with Roth in 2007.
Watch Stern’s tribute below.