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Sammy Hagar Recalls Playing First Van Halen Song to Record Label Bosses

Sammy Hagar
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Sammy Hagar recalled the moment when his version of the Van Halen lineup played their first complete song to the record-label bosses.

There was a certain amount of tension around the 1985 incident following Hagar’s replacing of David Lee Roth.

“‘Why Can’t This Be Love’ is the first song we played for everyone that we’d kind of finished,” Hagar told Uncle Joe Benson on the Ultimate Classic Rock Nights radio show. “We finished that song and we played it for Mo Ostin at Warner Bros. Records, because they weren’t too sure if Sammy Hagar was gonna work in Van Halen.

“The powers that be – Ted Templeman and Lenny Waronker and Mo Ostin, three of the greatest record guys ever in history – came walking in the room and we played them ‘Why Can’t This Be Love’ … and Mo Ostin puts his finger in the air and says, ‘I can smell money!’ And he was right!”

Indeed, 5150, the album that contained the track, went on to be certified six times platinum in the U.S.

“We got their blessings with that song, and that’s really, really cool, I think, that that was the song that did it,” Hagar noted. “That was the first song the world heard from Van Hagar. … It was different from the old stuff but it still sounded like Van Halen. That’s what’s so cool about that song.”

Be sure to listen to Ultimate Classic Rock Nights on more than 50 stations across the U.S. from 7PM until midnight, Monday through Friday. You can see the list of radio stations where it airs here.

Next: Top 10 Van Hagar Songs

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