Van Halen weren’t trying to get a Diamond Dave clone after David Lee Roth left.
While the band might have taken some time before grabbing Sammy Hagar, the Red Rocker can thank his mechanic for snagging the job.
After going through different ideas for singers, Hagar told the story about how Eddie Van Halen called him off a tip for his mechanic saying,
“He was working on Eddie’s Lamborghini and I had a Ferrari at the same shop. Eddie was looking at my car saying ‘Who’s is this? It’s a nice car.’ This guy said ‘It’s Sammy’s, you should get him in the band. And Eddie said ‘You got his phone number?’ and he ended up calling me from the office. That’s how stupid my life is.”
As Hagar writes in his book, he was pretty confident about getting the job saying,
“When Eddie called me, it didn’t come as a complete surprise. David Lee Roth had split a few months earlier, and I’d told my wife at the time, Betsy, ‘They’re going to call me, you watch.’ Who else were they going to get? There was Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie James Dio, and me.”
Once they were in a rehearsal room, the guitarist mentioned hitting it off right away saying,
“Sammy and I were immediately in tune with each other. Dave and I were always at odds. We came from different backgrounds. But Sammy and I were more alike, and it seemed to work better. There was some worry that 5150 would sound like a Sammy Hagar album, but I knew that wouldn’t happen.”
After Van Halen’s death, Hagar saw Van Halen as one of the reasons why he became the superstar he is today saying,
“It was a life-changing thing. I don’t think I would’ve been as legendary of an artist as I am today without the Van Halen thing… that was the peak of my musical career.”