“This is impossible to play!” Joe Satriani and Sammy Hagar name – and nail – Eddie Van Halen’s hardest guitar riffs during first-ever Best of All Worlds performance

Sammy Hagar and Joe Satriani in the Sirius XM studio
(Image credit: Kayla Oaddams/Getty Images)

Earlier this week, it was announced that a new supergroup comprising electric guitar icon Joe Satriani, Sammy Hagar, Michael Anthony and Jason Bonham would be embarking on The Best of All Worlds tour.

With the announcement came the news that the ensemble would be performing a Van Halen-heavy setlist and, given Satch’s long-touted association with the project, it’s safe to assume this is as close to a Van Halen tribute tour as we’ll get.

Soon after the news broke, the newly formed quartet took to the Sirius XM studio to give listeners a taste of what can be expected from their upcoming tour, tackling five tracks from the VH repertoire in front of host Howard Stern.

But in the midst of those performances, Satriani and Hagar took the opportunity to name what they believed to be the hardest guitar riffs Eddie Van Halen ever played.

For Hagar, it was initially a toss-up between 5150 and Summer Nights but, as he explains in the video above, there was another option: one that prompted Satriani to admit, “This is impossible to play,” when asked to demo the hook.

“There’s something else from the early days,” Hagar revealed, “that everytime Eddie would play and every time Joe plays… it’s fucking nuts.”

The riff in question is the opening hook from Mean Street – a mind-boggling exercise in harmonic, double-stop and two-hand tapping, as well as percussive muting, that would be enough to send shivers down most players’ spines.

Satch being Satch, though, navigates the melodic minefield with effortless aplomb (regardless of any humble protests from the man himself) resulting in an outpouring of praise from Hagar.

In a discussion of why Satch was cast for his role in the band, Hagar said, “The thing about what Eddie did, and the reason Joe is in this band for this tour, is because, if you’re going to go deep into his stuff and the Van Halen catalog, you need a guy like Joe Satriani that’s not just imitating Eddie.”

“So many kids in grocery stores just pick up a guitar... but they don’t necessarily know what they’re playing,” he went on. “They’re just imitating Eddie because he’s so distinct. Joe knows what he’s playing, and Joe can do something like that and know what it means.

“That’s the difference between playing this stuff with Joe and just having some guitar player in the band that can imitate Eddie.”

In what later transpired to be Satch, Hagar, Anthony and Bonham’s first-ever get together ahead of The Best of All Worlds tour next year, the group also made their way through Hagar’s other hardest riffs picks – 5150 and Summer Nights – as well Right Now, Good Enough and Best of Both Worlds.

“Let it be known. This was our first rehearsal/get together,” Hagar wrote on Instagram after the performance. “Can’t wait to put in a couple weeks of hardcore practice. This lineup will be on fire.”

Despite it being a first-time performance, Hagar and co were in fine form indeed. Satch and his assortment of Ibanez guitars once again made light work of 5150 and Summer Nights, and further demonstrated why he was ultimately selected for the gig with a faithful performance of Best of Both Worlds’ two-hand tap-tinged solo and the pinch harmonic-loaded pentatonic noodles of Right Now.

The latter solo, it should be said, prompted yet more praise from Hagar mid-song: “Joe Satriani – come on, man. No rehearsal!”

The Best of All Worlds tour will begin on July 13, 2024, in Florida, and is currently scheduled to run until its closing show in Missouri on August 31. 

Head over to Sammy Hagar’s website for more dates and information.

Joe Satriani has a busy 2024 ahead. Not only has he reformed the original G3 lineup for an upcoming tour, but he is also working on new music and live dates with Steve Vai.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.