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Issue Date: March 2007


Van Halen


Jim Vickers
vickers@clevelandmagazine.com
Paper or plastic, boxers or briefs, David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar — the two men who fronted Van Halen couldn’t have been any more different. Roth was a flamboyant, loony ringmaster. Hagar was the cool older brother who would buy you beer. Both men will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame March 12 with Van Halen (Roth is even hitting the road again with his old band this summer), while an exhibit highlighting the 2007 class of inductees, which also includes Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, R.E.M., The Ronettes and Patti Smith, opens at the museum this month.
 
David Lee Roth Sammy Hagar
Stint as singer 1974-1985 1985-1996
Nickname Diamond Dave The Red Rocker
Solo breakthrough Roth’s 1985 remake of The Beach Boys’ “California Girls,” from his solo release “Crazy From the Heat,” proved he was a viable artist on his own.    Hagar’s hit “I Can’t Drive 55” put him on the mainstream-rock radar and ultimately helped him land the gig as Roth’s replacement.
Van Halen high point Van Halen’s “1984” album was the epitome of ‘80s rock done right with hits such as “Panama,” “Jump,” “Hot For Teacher” and “I’ll Wait.” Ten million record-buyers agreed The 1991 release “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge” won a Grammy and gave the band multiplatinum success years after Roth’s cartoonish reign.
Van Halen low point A 1996 reunion  to cut new tracks for a  “Greatest Hits” disc ended following an  awkward public appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards. “Balance,” Van Halen’s dark, harder 1995 release, failed to produce a hit and was the end of Hagar’s stint as the band’s frontman. 
Why he left Reported tension with Eddie Van Halen. Reported tension with Eddie Van Halen.
Side project Roth was hired by CBS Radio to replace departing personality Howard Stern in several markets in January 2006. His show was pulled less than four months later.  Hagar founded Cabo Wabo Enterprises in 1998, which sells premium Tequila and operates the Cabo Wabo Cantina in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Why he was the best Van Halen frontman. Nothing Hagar ever did can compare to Roth’s role in establishing Van Halen as larger-than-life rock superstars. Hagar helped reinvent Van Halen at exactly the right time, providing stability and longevity that allowed the band to survive (and sell) into the 1990s.

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