Sammy Hagar has apologized for exposing the late Eddie Van Halen’s “dark side” in his 2011 autobiography, Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock.
Hagar opened up about the book’s contents in a new interview with Brazil’s Inside With Paulo Baron, expressing regret for including stories and passages about Eddie Van Halen that didn’t paint the shredder in a positive light.
After Hagar said that he’d wished he’d put more positive childhood stories in his book, he offered remorse for the darker EVH content that made it in.
“But more than anything, because of the untimely and tragic death of Eddie Van Halen, I apologize from the bottom of my heart for exposing his dark side to where I don’t think anyone wants to hear that now, and, unfortunately, it’s in the book,” Hagar said (as transcribed by Blabbermouth). “And it’s true — it’s all true. It’s not like I have to say, ‘Oh, I was lying’ — no, no, no. If I wrote the book today, I would only put the good of Eddie Van Halen, because he was such a brilliant, genius guitar player and such a great friend and a great partner — until everything went wrong, like everything else.”
Indeed, Hagar and Eddie’s relationship soured toward the end of the “Van Hagar” years, with the two becoming mudslinging rivals in the media (friction between longtime frontman David Lee Roth and Hagar also ensued). Though Eddie’s darkness and struggles with alcoholism had been documented, Hagar’s biography featured particularly shocking recollections of the guitarist.
One damning passage from Red: My Uncesored Life in Rock sees Hagar decrying Van Halen’s 2004 reunion tour. Here, Hagar describes Eddie as unkempt, hunched over, frighteningly skinny, and drinking wine straight from the bottle. Hagar later called the tour “the most miserable, back-stabbing dark crap I’ve ever been involved with my whole life” in a 2012 interview with “Vegas Rocks!”.
“No one knew a lot of that about Eddie, but they’d see him on stage and they would think, ‘Why is he acting like that?’ And I would say, ‘Well, you should have seen what happened backstage. Holy f**k!’” Hagar told Inside with Paulo Baron. “If we’d have known he was sick then, then I would have understood and I would have been a little more, ‘Hey, Ed, come on,’ try to reel him in. But he was impossible. He was on a track of just wild. It was tough.”
While Hagar stands by the validity of the book’s content — which Eddie called “embellished” in a 2015 Rolling Stone interview — the Red Rocker is singing a different, less spiteful tune these days.
“Anybody’s that’s been divorced or broke up with your girlfriend or your boyfriend, you know how it goes,” he said. “Happy endings aren’t always the case in a relationship. [Eddie and I] had a happy ending — thank God — but before that, it wasn’t a happy ending of the band. But thank God we got it back together.”
Separately, Sammy Hagar also has announced a Las Vegas residency in which he’ll play songs from throughout his career. He’ll be backed by his band The Circle, including longtime Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony, guitarist Vic Johnson, and drummer Jason Bonham (for the first two gigs). The shows, taking place at the STRAT Hotel, Casino & SkyPod on October 29th and 30th, and November 5th and 6th, will also feature guest appearances by Jerry Cantrell, Toby Keith, Rick Springfield, and Kenny Chesney.
Watch Sammy Hagar’s full interview with Inside with Paulo Baron, as well as a local news report on his Vegas residency, below.