Sammy Hagar has offered more details about his renewed friendship with Eddie Van Halen in the months leading up to the legendary guitarist's death.
Hagar, who previously said he hadn't talked to Eddie since the conclusion of VAN HALEN's 2004 reunion tour, discussed his former bandmate in a new interview with Guy "Favazz" Favazza of the St. Louis, Missouri radio station KSHE 95.
Hagar said (hear audio below): "I reached out to Eddie because… George Lopez, the comedian, who I've known for a long time and who also is dear friends with Eddie, calls me up and says, 'Sammy, I need you to call Eddie. I played golf with him. He's not doing good,' blah blah blah. And everyone knew Eddie wasn't doing good. He said, 'I just was with him, and he said he loves you and he's so disappointed that you haven't reached out to him.' I said, 'I reached out to all these people. I reached out to Alex [Van Halen, Eddie's brother].' I didn't have Eddie's contact number. I reached out to all these people: 'Tell Eddie I love him. I hope he's doing well.' So George says, 'Here's his number. Call him.' So I call him. And Eddie said — my favorite line from Eddie in a long time… He goes, 'What took you so long?' I go, 'I reached out to Al. I reached out to everybody.' He's going, 'You didn't call me.' And I said, 'Oh, man. Ed, I love you.' And it was just one big love fest from then on. That was back in the beginning of the year, before COVID. So, yeah, we've been texting and talking about Wolfie [Eddie's son Wolfgang Van Halen] and his new record, and about us and the things we did and how great the stuff is."
Sammy went on to say that he was comforted by the fact that he made peace with Eddie before the influential rocker's death.
"Yeah, it's really a sad thing," he said. "It was a tough one. But if I wouldn't have contacted Ed and we buried the hatchet like that and became friends again, I'm not sure how I could have taken it. It would have been devastating."
Asked if former VAN HALEN bassist Michael Anthony had also reached out to Eddie prior to the guitarist's passing, Hagar said: "You'd have to ask Mike that. I don't think so. But Ed told me a million times, 'Give Mike my love,' or something. But I'm not sure they communicated. I don't think so. It's probably not my place [to say]."
Hagar replaced David Lee Roth in VAN HALEN in 1985 and recorded four studio albums with the band — "5150", "OU812", "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" and "Balance" — all of which topped the U.S. chart.
Sammy, Eddie, Alex and Michael last teamed up in 2004 for a U.S. summer tour. In exchange for taking part in the tour, Anthony reportedly had to agree to take a pay cut and sign away his rights to the band name and logo.
In his autobiography, "Red: My Uncensored Life In Rock", Hagar slammed Eddie, saying the guitarist was unkempt, hunched over, frighteningly skinny, drinking wine straight out of a bottle, missing part of his tongue (after a cancer scare) and several teeth. He told an interviewer in 2012: "What happened on that reunion tour in '04 was some of the most miserable, back-stabbing dark crap I've ever been involved with my whole life."
In a 2015 interview with Rolling Stone, Eddie questioned an "embellished" portion of "Red: My Uncensored Life In Rock" that painted the guitarist as a "very angry drunk" during the group's 2004 reunion tour.
Early last year, rumors were rampant that the classic-era lineup of VAN HALEN would reunite for the first time since 1984. It's unclear why the tour didn't happen, though there has been online chatter that a health setback involving Eddie might have been responsible.
Eddie died at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California. His wife, Janie, was by his side, along with Wolfgang and Alex.
Eddie died from complications due to cancer, his son confirmed.
The guitarist was diagnosed with mouth cancer in 2000 and had tongue surgery. He later battled throat cancer and reportedly had been receiving radiation treatment in Germany.