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I will not let the DLR/Hagar debate die until you all agree with me!

[See here for previous]

I'd like to clear up a fallacy.

I don't hate Sammy Hager. I don't even hate SH era Van Halen. I just like the Dave era better. I think Dave was the heart and soul of Van Halen and what made them so much fun to watch and listen to. Ok, so Eddie's guitar playing sort of tied the whole act together, but I really don't think VH would have had the impact they did if not for the flamboyance, theatrics, showmanship and clown-like presence of David Lee Roth.

As for those who think the Hagar era was better than the DLR era, let's compare and contrast.


I don't know about you, but if I had to choose between rocking out to Dave singing Atomic Punk and Hagar crooning When It's Love, I'm going with Dave every time.

Again, I don't hate Sammy. I don't blame him for anything. But he ain't Van Halen. He's Van Hagar. And yes, there is a difference.

More discussion on this at Blogcritics.


Now, I agree with you, but give Van Hagar its due by at least listing their best songs. "Best of Both Worlds," "Summer Nights," and "Mine All Mine" would be a good start IMO. It still doesn't measure up to the DLR era, but it's fairer to Sammy.

Nah, it doesn't matter: Sammy has no hope no matter what songs you submit on his behalf. Dave was genetically engineered to be the perfect rock star, and cannot be destroyed.

I love Sammy (Three Lock Box, I Can't Drive, etc...)

I saw Van Halen '84; I saw Van Hagar at the Texas Jam in '86(?). Sammy's great, but he ain't Dave. Both were great shows, but I'd rather see Dave up front than anyone else- he's one of a kind.

The lamest part was in the first tour with Hagar they did this bit about how supposedly they had the cops pull over Sammy so they could tell him they wanted him in the band. I started to realize I was getting a little old for rock and roll if they thought I'd buy that ridiculous story.

I hope nothing in my two previous posts were construed as though I disagree with you, because I don't. YOU'RE RIGHT!

DLR was the perfect front man.

I saw Kiss in 1976; Paul Stanley blew me away and I thought he was the coolest frontman ever. I was probably right, then.

I saw Aerosmith in 1978. Steven Tyler was good, but he was no Paul Stanley.

I saw Van Halen in Feb. 1979 (I was wrong earlier when I said 1978). Van Halen II was just being released. Oh my god! I had NEVER seen or imagined anything like DLR in my life. Nor have I since.

I'm a guitar player and I usually focus on the guitar players in the bands. EVH put on a great show--like nothing I had ever seen. But DLR completely distracted me and stole the show. I mean DAMN! I'm a red-blooded hetero, but that show almost had me questioning things.

However, by the time I saw them, DLR was already a primadonna. The show was cut short, mid-song, before any encores were played. DLR supposedly passed out on stage. I never heard what really happened--does anyone know? This was at the Seattle Civic Center Auditorium in Feb or March, 1979.

I agree with you Michele. Sammy's ok, but nobody beats Dave. I like bonk's comment about DLR being genetically engineered to be the perfect rock star; that's gotta be why he is the way he is (or was).

Like millions of teens in the 80s, Van Halen was where it was at. So, in my formidable years I like the Hagar era. But even then I preferred Diamond Dave. Now in my mid-30s, and with a much larger musical vocabulary, there's no doubt that Dave was the man. Look, if you're gonna like hard rock, embrace the flamboyance!

Also, I think Dave was even a little underrated as an artist. Of course, this is because his ADD wildman show is what was always front and center. But really, if you listen to his lyrics, sure they were usually about sex and the rock n' roll lifestyle, but he was much more colorful and creative than most of his peers.

One last thing... Eddie definitely got soft with his writing as he aged. It often sounded like he was going through the motions as the years went on. But, listen to those early records and you hear a man posessed!

Eh, y'all are wrong the greatest loss of Van Halen was Valerie Bertinelli

I think we can attribute the Van Hagar song problems to Eddie. As a band ages, the members become mellow. All the really mellow stuff started showing up AFTER 5150, as Eddie started writing puffy love songs.

So Dave got the A-List material, and Sammy was stuck with the later, weaker ballads. (I fucking hate ballads.)

That said, I can well believe that working with Diamond Dave was indeed a gigantic pain in the ass.

Gotta add something.

I loved DLR in his early days. By the time 1984 came out, I was sick of him. He was screaming more than singing, his karate kicks were cliche, and he had become a clown. What I loved about Running With the Devil, had become his regular schtick. I think this detracted from the serious musicianship Eddie wanted to offer.

When I saw the band in '79, DLR was no clown. He was singing his ass off, strutting and leaping around the stage like the best of Mick Jagger, Freddie Mercury, Paul Stanley and Robert Plant. He was damned serious about being the finest rockstar ever, and many think he succeeded. He oozed sex and rock 'n' Roll from every pore, and it was no put-on. He was the real deal.

This was a much different DLR from the one portrayed in all the 1984 videos. By then he had found a formula and he over worked it ad nauseum. By then, he was pretending to be a singer, pretending to be sexy, pretending to be a rock star. He could have starred in a Weird Al video parodying himself. It was sad, in my opinion.

The first three VH albums are my favorites, tho Women and Children is great only for Eddie's playing. The first two are the defining works for DLR, in my not-so-humble opinion. I would hold him in much higher esteem if I never had to witness his decline, which culminated in 1984.

Of course, 1984 was their biggest selling album of DLR's tenure with the band, and MTV saturated us for the first time with videos of him (the earlier stuff didn't get much, if any, airplay). So most people today probably remember DLR solely for that period. I hope not, because the best was years earlier.

CHAMOIS gayhar, is more like it

Van Hagar sold far more records. Hagar was a far more talented musician, songwriter and frontman. I like both eras of VH for the record.

DLR was good for a brief bit of time.

Aw, Andrew, now look whatcha done!

I was a big Sammy fan, too. I saw him at the Cow Palace in San Fran in 1982; Quarterflash opened for him. Somehow my hair caught fire! Sammy was GREAT! Tons of charisma, decent songs around then, and adequate guitar. He put on a great show.

I also saw him open for Ted Nugent in Portland Oregon sometime in the 81-83 period. Ted was past his prime, but Sammy rocked hard! Another great show.

Sammy was still great in '93 when I saw him with Van Halen at the Pacific Ampitheater in Costa Mesa.

But despite Sammy's natural charisma, songwriting talent, musicianship and everything else he had to offer, he was no DLR. DLR's presence on stage and his raw sex appeal was god-like in the early days.

Then his talent dried up and he became a clown.

Ok, I've been listening all day. Damnit!

Gotta say this:

Sammy is, and always was, a far better singer and songwriter than DLR. He's got the voice, and he has a hell of a lot more to say than DLR ever did.

But DLR's portrait on the cover of the first album shows the bigger-than-life rock god he was.

There, I'm done. VH goes back on the shelf, and I don't intend to dust it off for another 10 years or so.

I'm not sure whom I agree with, if anyone.

Succinctly: VH are slightly less annoying with Sammy Hagar than they were with David Lee Roth.

DLR w/ Van Halen was awesome, and the spirit of "Van Halen" continued with Steve Vai. Have a listen to those albums of DLR's after 1984 - it goes to show that (a) not only does Sammy Hagar lack the charisma and make a poorer front man but also (b) Eddie Van Halen is just as replaceable as DLR. Whereas Eddie and Eric Clapton et al have become glorified lounge or folk singers, Steve Vai gets better and better.

Ian: Have you listened to any of Vai's solo albums of late? Better and better ain't the word for it...pretentious bollocks is more accurate.

It was either '77 or '78 (the backend of that decade is very blurry, memory-wise) and me and my crew were at MSG to see Black Sabbath. The opening act was Van Halen, who no one had ever heard of. We all stood there going "who the hell are these guys?" and is seemed no one in the crowd had ever heard anything about them. They came out and played their just released first album front to back, blowing the roof off the joint as they closed with "You Really Got Me" for what seemed like twenty minutes.

Ozzy could have bit the head off my Mom on stage and I wouldn't remember it, but I remember DLR acting like a maniac and Eddie whacking out on his guitar and we all left the Garden wearing Van Halen tee shirts and tracked down the album before getting on the train to head home.

Hagar? Puhleeze!

(The following year (or previous--like I said, blurry) we went to see Sabbath and Ted Nugent opened and we walked out of MSG again not remembering a damn thing about the band we were going to see but totally smoked over the undercard. That was some dumbassed management Sabbath had back then when it came to picking opening acts.)

Was there ever a question?? Its like comparing new to old Misfits... two different bands entirely. Unfortunately, the SH days of VH was Eddie's idea.

Sad but true.

Its like comparing new to old Misfits..

If there were enough interest among my readers, I'd do a whole post on that.

Here's a disjointed ramble.

Both versions of the band had one--count 'em--one legitimate great from start-to-finish album, and they were the first ones, "Van Halen" and "5150," in both cases recorded when the band had something to prove.

Afterwards, everything was very uneven. "Fair Warning" is rightly lauded for "Unchained" and "Mean Street", but most of the rest is filler--and that, sadly, is Van Halen's real track record: two or three great songs along with 20-30 minutes of filler (I might be moved to make an exception for "1984" on some days, but certainly not "Women and Children First," "Diver Down," or any of the post-"5150" Hagar albums). I'll readily grant that the best songs from Dave are by and large better than the best songs with Hagar (although I still have a sneaking suspicion that the title track from "5150" might be the best song VH ever recorded).

I missed seeing the original lineup. Had a chance at a ticket for the 1984 show in Birmingham, but it was on a Monday night, I was in junior high, and that was just too much hassle. "I'll catch 'em on the next tour," I said.

Who knew?

When "5150" came out, I was a record store dude (and they were still records back then, just barely). It was, by far, the best-selling album of my three-or-so years in that store. 100 copies in the first week, and that was unheard-of for a small town in south Alabama. We used to play it religiously, every night. At 8:30, "Good Enough" hit the turntable, we locked the doors at 9, and by the time "Inside" rolled off on side two, we were ready to GTFO for the night. I don't listen to it every day (okay, or even every month) any more, but I still love that record.

I did see Roth on his first solo tour, and that was one hell of a show. Too bad he's still doing the same tired act 20 years later. Caught the Sam-and-Dave tour a couple of years ago. Dave wasn't bad or anything (and frankly had better material as a whole), but Hagar blew him off the stage. It wasn't close.

They're both losers. It's unfortunate that the bigger loser made the better music, but such is real genius.

I liked VH with Sammy but I loved VH with Dave. Dave rocks!

I have seen both Sammy and DLR solo at their peaks. Saw Sammy in the mid-80s and DLR on his first solo tour. DLR was freaking amazing with Vai; however nowadays DLR solo is pathetic while Hagar (and the Waboritas) still manage to put on pretty damn good shows. While Hagar has become a brand name (with his Tequila, Cabo Wabo Cantina, solo and VH stuff etc); DLR continues to try an do the same stuff he did in the early 80s despite not being able to the high notes or be able to move as well anymore.

Yeah ole' VH was fun live but on record Van Hagar was far better.

Classic Van Halen all the way.