Bassist Michael Anthony recently talked to “Steve Gorman Rocks!”, a Westwood One five-hour weeknight program, where he talked about Van Halen and singer Sammy Hagar, as well the band’s label that wanted to change the name after David Lee Roth’s departure.
“I’d obviously seen Sammy play a few times. I never actually paid too much attention. Yeah, his stuff [was] great. I liked the Montrose stuff. Obviously, he had his solo stuff going on. But the first time I actually met him, I was in the studio at Ed‘s [Van Halen, Van Halen guitarist] house, the 5150 studio, and Sammy, I guess, was on a break. He had cut all his hair off. And he comes walking into the studio. I was sitting there in the studio, and he comes walking in. And I go, ‘That’s not Sammy Hagar. He’s the guy with long hair.’ And we instantly became friends.
“We played probably for about 10 minutes tops, and we knew that we had something happening. We had a couple of songs that would end up on the ‘5150’ record; I think they were ‘Good Enough’ and… There was another one; there was a couple of them that were pretty much written. And we played it for him, and we said, ‘Just sing. Just sing something.’ And there were bits that he actually sang that ended up — and I kid you not — on the album. The chemistry was just such, like, ‘Wow!’
“We had everybody — [our record label] Warner Brothers, our management, our lawyers — going, ‘Oh my God. David Lee Roth‘s gone.’ They thought that that was such a strong identity.
”Warner Brothers wanted us to change the name of the band. I remember Eddie and Alex [Van Halen, Van Halen drummer], we were at Warner Brothers, and they were yelling, going, ‘Hey, hey, this is our last name. This is our careers. And we’re Van Halen.'”