During a recent appearance on The Howard Stern Show, the host posed a question to the band, inquiring about the most challenging Eddie Van Halen riff to play.
Sammy Hagar expressed his love for tracks like ‘5150’ and ‘Summer Nights,’ but he emphasized that the most challenging riff comes from Van Halen’s “early days.”
For Hagar, it was initially a toss-up between 5150 and Summer Nights but, as he explains in the video above, there was another option: one that prompted Satriani to admit, “This is impossible to play,” when asked to demo the hook.
Howard Stern, acknowledging the difficulty, exclaimed, “That’s nuts!” Michael Anthony chimed in, providing context, stating, “That was an intro to a song called ‘Mean Streets’ from early Van Halen stuff. You listen to that, and it blows your mind.”
Sammy Hagar added his perspective, describing it as “lunatic.” He highlighted the uniqueness of Eddie Van Halen’s style, noting that many young guitarists imitate him without fully understanding the nuances. Hagar praised Joe Satriani, stating that having someone like him on the tour, who comprehends and interprets Eddie’s work rather than merely imitating it, adds depth to the performance.
Hagar shared a moment where he thought Eddie was “just messing around,” while Satriani explained the intricacies, showcasing the difference between imitating and understanding the music.
In a discussion of why Satch was cast for his role in the band, Hagar said, “The thing about what Eddie did, and the reason Joe is in this band for this tour, is because, if you’re going to go deep into his stuff and the Van Halen catalog, you need a guy like Joe Satriani that’s not just imitating Eddie.”
“So many kids in grocery stores just pick up a guitar… but they don’t necessarily know what they’re playing,” he went on. “They’re just imitating Eddie because he’s so distinct. Joe knows what he’s playing, and Joe can do something like that and know what it means.
“That’s the difference between playing this stuff with Joe and just having some guitar player in the band that can imitate Eddie.”