Top Ten Reasons Why Dave's Van Halen Was Better Than Sammy's

Aug 23, 2005

The Bottom Line Van Hagar (Sammy Hagar and Van Halen) versus the original Van Halen (with David Lee Roth). Which is better? Diamond Dave, man!

This morning, I was pondering a weighty issue. No, it wasn't the war in Iraq, the possibility of nuclear weapons in North Korea, or potty training my son. No, I was thinking about Van Halen. Yeah! VAN HALEN! Kings of 80's heavy metal, which now sounds like tame hard rock...

Van Halen! Boy, what a great band... er, guitarist... er... Okay, Van Halen was a great band with an awesome guitarist backed by a pedestrian rhythm section comprised of his brother and their high school buddy (by the way, did you know that Eddie Van Halen started out playing drums, but then swapped with his brother Alex? Wouldn't the world be a different place if Alex Van Halen were a guitarist and Eddie a drummer?!). Together, they bursted out of the the Southern California rock scene with a sound predicated on Eddie's application of classical techniques on electric guitar (hammer-ons and pull-offs, along with fret-tapping), not to mention a joyous, raucous personality that would eventually charm millions of metalheads,hard rock fans, and pop music listeners alike.

Hey, wait! Aren't I forgetting somebody: the lead vocalist, the frontman? Who was that? Wasn't it David Lee Roth? Yeah, the really flamboyant guy with the long blond shanks, tight pants, and the ability to do the splits in mid-air. He was cool. He didn't have much of a vocal range, but he had bravado, swagger, and that almost comical shriek. But, didn't "Diamond Dave" leave after 1984 (the album, not the year)? Didn't that Montrose guy take over, Sammy Hagar? Yeah, that guy with the frizzy hair, decent guitar chops, and equally decent vocal range. Right, Sammy Hagar. The man who must have penned the lyric, "Only time will tell if we stand the test of time." Uh...

Van Halen (with the exception of their last album, which was fronted by that Extreme guy), has actually had two frontmen in its lifetime. Of course, the remaining band members have been constant, but we have been "treated" to two distinct periods of Van Halen history: the David Lee Roth years, and the "Van Hagar" years. Both periods of Van Halen have been successful in turning out hits and selling out concerts, which is remarkable considering how difficult it is for a band to change frontmen and still be successful. However, there has always been the question of which period of Van Halen history was better. Was David Lee Roth's Van Halen better, or was "Van Hagar" the tops?

Well, after much forethought, I have the unequivocal answer: Dave! Why? Check out my Top Ten list of why Diamond Dave's Van Halen was superior to Van Hagar:

10) Dave could do the splits, while Sammy could only split his pants.

9) Dave's Van Halen was heavy metal/hard rock; Van Hagar was hard rock turned pop music.

8) Dave was svelte and handsome, while Sammy... was not.

7) Dave's Van Halen used a bit of synthesizer music; Van Hagar was drenched in it.

6) Dave's Van Halen's great love song was "Ain't Talking 'Bout Love"; Van Hagar's was "When It's Love." No contest!

5) Dave and his Van Halen were charming in a boozy, macho sort of way, while Sammy brought a frat-boy-cling-on quality to Van Halen.

4) Dave's Van Halen had decent album titles: Diver Down and Fair Warning are two good examples. On the other hand, Van Hagar had the cheesiest album title ever: OU812?!

3) Dave's Van Halen featured Eddie Van Halen with his home-made guitar; Van Hagar featured an Eddie Van Halen with a commercialized Music Man Eddie Van Halen guitar...

2) Dave's Van Halen featured Eddie's and Alex's dad on clarinet (on Diver Down), which is actually pretty cool. Did Van Hagar ask Eddie's and Alex's dad back? NO!

1) Dave's Van Halen had 1984; Van Hagar never topped it.

Now, I'm not a completist when it comes to Van Halen, so please feel free to contribute. Nonetheless, I would be hard-pressed to find anyone who thought that Van Hagar was comparable to the Diamond Dave days. Personally, I think that if you have the six Dave/Van Halen albums, then you have all the Van Halen you need!

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