Sammy Hagar is opening about his final phone call with late guitar legend Eddie Van Halen.
In an interview with Variety, the 73-year-old Red Rocker recalled a heartfelt conversation he had with his longtime friend and former Van Halen bandmate before the guitarist died at age 65 in October following a long battle with cancer.
“Poor Eddie, broke my heart, but thank God we connected before [he died],” Hagar said. “I heard he was in bad shape and I wanted to reach out; I finally said, ‘I’m just calling him.'”
Hagar said that it wasn’t easy getting in touch with Van Halen, but that he persisted in tracking down the musician’s phone number.
“I was calling his brother, I was calling his manager, I was calling his friends, and I’d say, ‘Hey, tell Ed, give him my phone number. Tell him if he ever wants to talk to me, I really, really want to talk it out, help him and see what I can do,'” Hagar told Variety. “I [told them], ‘I want to be his friend, I want to bury the hatchet,’ but they never got it done.”
Hagar and Van Halen were eventually connected through their mutual friend, comedian George Lopez.
“George is a dear friend and he was Eddie’s friend and he said, ‘Sammy, Eddie’s in bad shape, he loves you brother, you need to reach out.’ I said, ‘Give me his f—ing number and I’ll make sure I call him,’” Hagar said.
After finally connecting, the former musical collaborators instantly restored their bond and had a meaningful conversation.
“I said, ‘Why don’t you respond? I’ve been reaching out,’ and Ed said, ‘Why didn’t you call me? Don’t f—ing call my brother, f—ing call me!’” Hagar recalled. “And I said, ‘I love you man,’ and it was like, boom, we were good. It was a beautiful thing.”
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”).
After band tension forced him out, Hagar returned for a brief two-year stint from 2003-2005.