Admit it – we’ve all referred to the Sammy Hagar-fronted version of Van Halen as Van Hagar at least once or twice. But the question remains: did the members of Van Halen ever consider actually changing their moniker after the singer replaced David Lee Roth in the mid ‘80s?
According to Hagar, the possibility was brought up prior to the release of his first album with the band, 1986’s 5150, but never gained traction, thanks to electric guitar great Eddie Van Halen.
“We were in the studio and we played Why Can't This Be Love,” he told Marci Wiser of 95.5 KLOS radio in a new interview. And [Warner Bros. label head] Mo Austin went, 'Oh, I smell money.' He thought it was just the greatest. 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 the name Van Halen.' So they were trying to preserve, I think, the Van Halen name. And Eddie Van Halen – Eddie Van Halen, no one else – said, 'Fuck that.' He said, 'This is Van Halen with a new singer.' And everybody said, 'Okay. Word. Gospel.' Boom."
As for how Sammy felt about Ed’s decision?
"I was 100 percent on board with it. It was Van Halen with a new singer. I would have been embarrassed to be Van Hagar. I mean, I would have said, 'Let's just change it back to Mammoth [Van Halen’s original moniker] or something. Go back to the beginning."
“It's gotta happen,” Hagar said. “Of course it’s gonna happen.”