Sammy Hagar confirms Ted Templeman suggested Van Halen get him to sing before first album
Former Van Halen frontman Sammy Hagar gave a comprehensive career spanning interview to Dave Everley for Classic Rock on Louder Sound‘s website.
Hagar was asked whether it’s true that renowned producer Ted Templeman suggested to Van Halen that they get him to sing before they started working on their first album to which Hagar replied:
“Yes. It never got to me until I worked with Ted on my VOA record. I thought: “Wow, nobody called me.” If I’d heard Eddie Van Halen play, I would have said: “Fuck yeah!” Mikey [Michael Anthony, VH bassist] told me he knew about it. I guess Dave [Lee Roth, original VH singer] knew about it too. Maybe that’s why he still doesn’t like me.”
Wikipedia states the following about Templeman in part (with slight edits):
“In 1973, Templeman produced another classic and eponymous album, Montrose, which was released in November of that year. The group was founded by guitarist and group leader Ronnie Montrose (who had worked with singers such as Van Morrison and Edgar Winter), and an up-and-coming singer, Sammy Hagar, who brought songs like “Bad Motor Scooter” and “Make It Last” to the guitarist….
In 1977, Templeman saw a performance by Van Halen. He persuaded Warner Bros. Chairman Mo Ostin to sign the group, and Templeman produced their eponymous first album. He would go on to produce five more albums for Van Halen. Templeman‘s voice is heard in the song “Unchained,” saying “Come on Dave, gimme a break!” Lead singer David Lee Roth replies “One break, coming up!”, leading into the song’s chorus. Templeman also produced Roth‘s first two solo records, the EP Crazy From The Heat and the album Eat ‘Em And Smile.”
In terms of whether it was a struggle getting his solo career off the ground, Hagar indicated:
“It was a financial struggle, cos I was trying to pay a band and pay our roadies. But I was lucky that I had a record company, Capitol, and a producer, John Carter, who signed me for three albums. I’d make an album, go out on tour, make album… It was hard work, but I really don’t mind hard work. I enjoy it.
And I had enough money to live on. In Montrose, we had no money. We’d get in a hotel room and they wouldn’t fucking let us out cos Ronnie’s credit card was maxed. We’d have to sit in the room until the manager wired the money so we could leave. That was how poor Montrose was.”
Hagar also shared how he ended leaving Montrose in 1975 as he stated: “We were in Paris, headlining two nights at the Olympic Auditorium. We were in a station wagon – Ronnie sitting shotgun, me sitting behind him. I was sick as a dog – the flu or food poisoning or something. He turned round and said: “I’m quitting the band after this show.” We parked the car in the back of the venue, and he said: “What are you gonna do?” I said: “You motherfucker. What do you think I’m gonna do? I’m gonna start a new band, that’s what.”
Karma’s such a weird thing, because something got me out of that band and it’s the best thing that ever happened. It must have hurt, though. I was devastated, man. I came home, my phone was shut off, I was back two months rent on the house I was living in, I had a wife and child. I immediately went on unemployment and welfare, and I started calling friends saying: “I’m starting a band.”
I reached out to the people around me who were just as desperate as me. I couldn’t afford to hire anyone, I just asked them if they wanted to start a band. It was tough, but I was never, ever helpless and crying. I was fucking getting up in the morning and going to work. Man, no one’s ever gonna outwork me, I can tell you that.”
You can read the rest of the interview with Sammy Hagar at Louder Sound‘s website.