April 23, 2010, - 2:21 am

Video of the Day: Cheesy or Classic?

By Debbie Schlussel

Unlike the conventional wisdom, I think Sammy Hagar was the better Van Halen lead singer than David Lee Roth (though Diamond Dave was quite great, himself–like on “Running With the Devil”).  And the market bears it out, since Hagar as lead singer sold more VH albums than DLR did in the same capacity.  Below is the video of my fave Sammy Tune, which is part of my workout music and is on my Zune and iPod.  And I think it stands the test of time.  It’s part of pre-Van Halen Sammy and part of what got him the job fronting Van Halen.  So am I right that this is a classic?  Or is it a cheesy relic from ’80s hair bands?  And whom did you like better as Van Halen’s lead (and, please, no votes for Gary Charone)? Hagar, BTW, is a strong supporter of the troops and a conservative-leaning libertarian who refused to participate in lefty anti-War stuff during the first Gulf War. Could have done without the lewd title of the album, “Standing Hampton,” though.

Below that video is another video of what may be the most interesting/odd pairing of rock and country, with Kenny Chesney and Hagar singing the song in December.  Could make a good country song, too, if done right.  Strong language alert at the end. As you watch, pretend you’re sipping from a bottle of Cabo Wabo Tequila (“Vitamin T”).

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

30 Responses

Well, I liked a lot of DLR Van Halen albums. 1984 was really good. I thought the 1st album was Sammy was really good. One of their best as Eddie seemed to be free to move in different directions. I did see them with Sammy once and it was a great concert. I would have to say I like the DLR version better though.

John on April 23, 2010 at 7:55 am

I don’t think it’s cheesy, but it is a grade B rock classic. During this time period I regarded Hagar as a good solid rocker, but grade B for some reason. Perhaps his studio productions just weren’t as polished as others. It wasn’t until Hagar joined up with VH that he became more polished, more professional and legitimate.

Roth still gets my vote for VH’s top front man. Hagar is a close second though.

Oscar on April 23, 2010 at 8:23 am

I love this album,not a bad song on the entire album.

To me Van Halen IS Diamond Dave w/Eddie Van Halen.
My greatest hits Van Halen cd excludes the Red Rocker,sorry Slammy.

ebayer on April 23, 2010 at 8:58 am

Diamond Dave gets my vote for sure. I had several chances to see Van Hagar, but as soon as the group “reunited” with David Lee Roth I bought tickets the day they went on sale.

The records with Hagar do not hold up against classics such as VH1, VH2, & Fair Warning.

trewsdetroit on April 23, 2010 at 9:14 am

You’re kidding right? Jump (esp. the video), Panama, Hot for Teacher…. Diamond Dave at his best. Yeah, DD didn’t age well, but in his prime he was 3x the front man Hagar ever was.

Jewish Marksman on April 23, 2010 at 9:30 am

Sammy was always my favorite but I always get shouted down by my hubby, son and boss. They all liked DLR better. My fav song and video by Sammy is I Can’t Drive 55! Very 80’s!

Ann on April 23, 2010 at 9:37 am

Running With The Devil… Is there anything better Van Halen ever produced? Van Halen will always be Van Halen with DLR. It is Van Hagar with Sammy.

CalifrorniaScreaming on April 23, 2010 at 10:01 am

Van Halen with Roth was much better.
This song was good. The vid with Kenny Chesney was what I don’t like in two guys singing to each other. It’s a love song as well, to sing at each other is weird.
Another good “Vision Quest” song.

Joe on April 23, 2010 at 10:26 am

Van Halen to me is still pretty cool, but I’m more of a Big Band Jazz & a Country-Western (country music from the 1920s-1950s I like more than todays country music) guy. At times I listen to some Heavy Metal music, but your right Joe, in that video you have two dudes singing right at one another, that’s looks pretty odd to me as well.

Liberalism is a Mental Disorder!!!

“A nation is identified by it’s borders, language & culture!”

Sean R. on April 23, 2010 at 10:55 am

A small minority of you may prefer Van Hagar, but the rest of us prefer Van Halen!

The vast majority of their best songs came from the DLR era. Hagar came in at the right time and was riding DLR’s fame. If DLR had stayed, Van Halen still would’ve sold those millions of albums.

Norman Blitzer on April 23, 2010 at 11:04 am

    Well, just for the record,
    for once I agree with Norman Blitzer 100%


    theShadow on April 24, 2010 at 1:22 am

Sammy Hagar is not my cuppa, but I really love “I Can’t Drive 55”. Actually, it’s the only Hagar song I like. I do prefer Van Halen with Diamond Dave…don’t know what happened to him once he left though…really wacky and losey songs.

It’s not cheesy…Oscar above said it best.

Skunky on April 23, 2010 at 12:37 pm

Personally, I liked them both, but the songs with DLR have standed the test of time better.

Blayne on April 23, 2010 at 1:16 pm

I like Sammy, saw him in concert pre-Van Halen, he rocked, “I can’t drive 55” is pre-VH. Sammy is a way better singer than DLR.

Dave on April 23, 2010 at 2:00 pm

While I think DLR was certainly a great performer and one of the primary reasons that made VH a classic rock band, Sammy Hagar maintained and even increased VH’s influence in rock throughout the 80s to the mid 90s. He also carried them to a far superior level, musically; the band utilized more of their talents in live performances and in a wide range of songs.

If I had to pick between DLR and Sammy, I would pick Sammy, but only by a small margin.

As far as this song, it is an essential classic. No cheese, here.

ICBMMan on April 23, 2010 at 2:06 pm

I’ve gotta say David Lee Roth was a much better lead singer. Those 70’s and 80’s cd’s (tapes for those of us who bought those albums back then) of Van Halen rock way much more than the somewhat boring songs of Van Hagar.

Jarhead on April 23, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Really? Sammy Hagar defines cheese! DLR by far.

mozart on April 23, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Though Sammy Hagar is a much better singer, the music was much better in the Roth era. Sorry, I did like Charone, also.

While I like Hagar’s solo stuff, this song doesn’t work for me. If you want a no holds bar, American rocker, try V.O.A. (Voice of America).


Gregg on April 23, 2010 at 2:44 pm

I liked Sammy Hagar better mainly because Van Halen never topped “1984” which was the best they’ve ever done. “Dreams” was an awesome song among others. Eddie Van Halen without DLR was able to diversify their sound.

I think people who wanted a “show” of course like DLR more, but I go for the music and the CDs with Hagar were better even though each successive CD was not as good as the previous ones. I blame a lot of that for Eddie Van Halen’s jerkiness and them just losing steam.

Even though I go with Hagar my favorite song is actually DLR singing, “Dance the Night Away.”

Jeff_W on April 23, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Speaking of Van Halen and Sammy Hagar, why doesn’t anyone make rock & roll music anymore?

I don’t like rap or the Miley Cyrus/Britney Spears types who can’t sing and are just studio magic.

There just is not rock music anymore. That good ole blues based Stones/Who/Van Halen type of music has died. There are few if any artists left who just want to put out good music.

Jeff_W on April 23, 2010 at 3:39 pm

I prefer Sammy. IMO: Diamond Dave squeeks too much.

Besides sells a lot of tequila, Sammy is now rockin’ with
the band Chickenfoot.

His bandmates:

Chad Smith
Joe Santriani
Michael Anthony

Mas Tequila!

Sam Adams on April 23, 2010 at 3:42 pm

NO, DEBBIE, NO! “Van Hagar” is NOT Van Halen. Van Hagar is simply Sammy Hagar with a better band backing him up. I always like Hagar, but he ain’t Van Halen.

Your logic of “And the market bears it out, since Hagar as lead singer sold more VH albums than DLR did in the same capacity.” is fatally flawed, because if you truly believe that popularity is an indicator of worth, then by that reasoning “American Idol” is the best show ever aired on TV and Obama was the best choice for president because both of them had the most popularity.

DS_ROCKS! on April 23, 2010 at 6:50 pm

how can a picture of an album cover with music in the background be cheesy or classic? I thought I was going to watch a music video. didn’t happen

spiffo on April 23, 2010 at 9:37 pm

I’ve been a fan from the start. Saw Van Halen touring after the first album opening for Black Sabbath. Though I like Sammy better as a person, I prefer the Diamond Dave years with Van Halen. Better tunes in my opinion plus I think Dave showed more dynamics in his singing while Sammy always seemed to be straining for the highest note. His lyrics can be somewhat cheesy and cliche’d at times too. Live, Dave was the better showman but Sammy’s voice fared better.
Though Dave didn’t impress me with his solo career I really like Sammy’s recent work with Chickenfoot. With Joe Satriani on guitar and Chad (Will Farrell?) Smith on drums how can you go wrong? Add Michael Anthony with his solid bass and amazing backup vocals and you have one helluva rock-n-roll band.

My favorite Chickenfoot tune at this time-great solo:
Of course the obligatory love song-not too sappy:
Hey Sam Adams, Chickenfoot’s playin’ at CaboWabo tonight and tomorrow. If we catch a plane now we could make the next show 🙂
Ed VH is a drunken dope for letting Mike Anthony go. The egomaniac really didn’t see how much Mikey added to their sound. Definitely under-apreciated. I heard some live material with Diamond Dave and son Woolfie on bass. Dave actually sounds really good but the band sounds flat without Mikes backup vocals. Even Alex’s drums just don’t sound as solid without Mike.

theShadow on April 24, 2010 at 1:13 am

Van Halen with David Lee Roth was my favorite. I think Sammy plugged in well with an already established world-class act. David’s showmanship was as much of his act as his singing. My favorite Van Halen song is And The Cradle Will Rock. I can shake my car apart when listening to it.

Great debate, though!

David on April 24, 2010 at 6:53 am

Surprised nobody called me on it, and not that anyone will notice even now, but I meant to say “5150” not “1984” as Van Halen’s best album.

Actually, the best CD is their greatest hits CD which has the best of both worlds, DLR and Sammy.

Sammy has actually had the much better solo career, too.

One thing I think is beyond a doubt. Eddie Van Halen is a major jerk who sabotaged the band with his jerkiness.

Jeff W. on April 24, 2010 at 1:45 pm

I like Sammy Hagar better than DLR.

First, I’ll give DLR his due. The songs, “Jump” and “Dance the Night Away” are good.

However, I think that Sammy Hagar is the better singer and I love the song, “When it’s Love”. I also like “Love Comes Marching In”. “Best of Both Worlds” is good also. Hagar’s, solo pre-Van Halen hit, “I Can’t Drive 55” is good and I really liked its video. “VOA”, linked above, is also good–especially its video.

JeffE on April 24, 2010 at 10:10 pm

Both of VH’s lead singers are top tier performers.

For the recod, VH sold nearly twice as many albums with Diamond Dave. One of only 5 bands to sell 10 million plus units on two different occasions (VH1 & 1984).

Favorite Hagar line….. “I was around before Van Halen and I’ll be around after Van Halen”

Ms. Schlussel is courageous and also ROCKS!!!!!!

josey on April 25, 2010 at 9:44 pm

Make no mistake. I love and respect Sammy Hagar, and his solo work and his work in Montrose holds up well.

But Diamond Dave is, and always will be, THE MAN!

Think of Hagar-era VH as this – think of a surfer who after a long period of time catches the perfect wave. He starts riding it well. All of a sudden, both the wave and the surfer start fighting with each other. Rather than risk being crushed, the surfer backs off, regroups, then waits for the next wave that he can tame. A second surfer sees this and goes up to the first wave, riding on the crest that was originally mastered by his predecessor. He does the job well, but not as well as the man who discovered it in the first place. Yet, he is more respected for his longevity in his sport than his predecessor, who has since found an equally big wave to ride to shore.

It’s not as complicated as it seems. I guess it’s all about personalities and resumes to me.

The "Reverend" Jacques on July 14, 2010 at 7:55 am

I LOVE EDDIE. Van Halen is all Eddie. Both singers are fine, but it’s all about the guitar. 5150 is some amazing guitar playing, on a par with Diver Down or VH2 or any of them. Sammy’s got some great solo rock: When the Hammer Falls, Heavy Metal, 3 Lock, and this song. BUT most of it is embarrassing. Dave was born cooler. Sam is cheese.

Mrs. VH on August 22, 2013 at 7:29 am

Leave a Reply

* denotes required field