The 9 Saddest Eddie Van Halen Stories From Sammy Hagar’s Memoir

Photo: Tim Mosenfelder

This month, Rolling Stone excerpts Sammy Hagar’s upcoming memoir, Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock, focusing on his tumultuous relationship with Eddie Van Halen. It’s really depressing! Shifting from the mid-eighties Van Halen days to the 2004 reunion, Hagar has nothing but horrible, horrible things to say, mostly about how much of an awful drunk Eddie is. Here are the nine worst parts. By the way, if anyone out there has any mean stories about Sammy Hagar, now would be the time …

• “Eddie and Al[ex Van Halen] were tight as nails. They never walked into the room with just their own beer. They always had a beer in their pocket for the other guy. It was beautiful unless they’d started fighting, then it was terrible. When they were both drinking, they’d fight at least once a week. I mean, go at it. Fistfights.”

• “Eddie drank all day too. They both [Eddie and Alex] woke up, grabbed a beer, lit a cigarette, and that was the way they started their day.”

• “He was wearing a pair of wrinkled pants … he and Valerie [Bertinelli] were living out of suitcases. They had been off the road for a few months, but they didn’t have their stuff hanging in their closest. There were piles of stuff everywhere.”

• “He walked around all day drinking cheap shiraz straight out the bottle. That’s why his teeth were all black. ‘Ed, why don’t you get a glass for that?’ I said. He held up the bottle. ‘It’s in a glass,’ he said.”

• “He may have lost a chunk of his tongue to cancer, but he was still smoking cigarettes. He claimed the cancer came from putting the guitar pick in his mouth while he used his fingers to play.”

• “He finally invited me over to this giant, extravagant house that he and Valerie had built before she split. It looked like vampires lived there. There were bottles and cans all over the floor … there were spider webs everywhere. He had big blankets thrown over the windows. The mattresses were stripped off the beds and leaned against the wall for soundproofing.”

• “He smashed the bottle. ‘Fuck you,’ he said. ‘I will kill the first motherfucker that tries to take this bottle away from me. I left my family for this shit. You think I’m going to fucking do this for you guys?’”

• “’Fuck you,’ he said, and started bashing his bottle on the plane window. One of the security guys tried to calm him down, but he kept yelling and pounding the bottle … The stewardess and the pilot started freaking out. They were reluctant to take off with this madman on the plane.”

• “One time, we got on a plane after a show and he spent practically the whole flight in the bathroom. When he finally came out, he had this hairbrush … twisted up in his hair … He was soaking wet … like he tried to take a bath in the airplane sink. He flopped down on the floor, fussing with the brush caught in his hair, and never went back to his seat, landed that way.”

Exclusive Excerpt: Surviving Eddie [RS]

The Saddest Eddie Van Halen Stories From Sammy Hagar’s Book