Sammy Hagar has chimed in regarding recent news about how Van Halen's record label and management wanted the band to change their name when he replaced David Lee Roth.
In a new interview, Hagar recalls, “Yeah, we were all in a room, and I think [head of Warner Bros. Records] Mo Austin said, ‘Why don’t we be careful here?’ Our managers and lawyers and the president of the record company and the band was all in a room when we asked for permission for me to join the band — it was official. Everybody came and said, ‘We wanna have a meeting.'”
Hagar continued, “And we were in the studio and we played ‘Why Can’t This Be Love.’ And Mo Austin went, ‘Oh, I smell money.’ He thought it was just the greatest. But anyway, so then he said, ‘Did you guys ever think about maybe changing the name to, like, Van Hagar or something?’ And I know what they were thinking, because they thought, ‘If this doesn’t work, at least you can go back with Van Halen again. But if you’re Van Halen and it don’t work, now you’ve ruined Van Halen.’ So they were trying to preserve, I think, the Van Halen name.”
Hagar then said Eddie Van Halen told the label and management of that idea, “‘F— that.’ He said, ‘This is Van Halen with a new singer.’ And everybody said, ‘Okay. Word. Gospel.’ Boom.”
As for how he felt about a potential name change, Hagar said, “I was a hundred percent on board with it. It was Van Halen with a new singer. I would have been embarrassed to be Van Hagar. I would have said, ‘Let’s just change it back to [Van Halen’s original name] Mammoth’ or something, you know. Go back to the beginning.”
Earlier this week, former Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony talked about this meeting in a new interview saying, “We had everybody – Warner Brothers, our management, our lawyers – going, ‘Oh, my god. David Lee Roth’s gone.’ They thought that that was such a strong identity. Warner Brothers wanted us to change the name of the band.”
Anthony added, “I remember Eddie and Alex [Van Halen], we were was Warner Brothers, and they were yelling, ‘Hey, hey, this is our last name. This is our careers, and we’re Van Halen.'”