From Eddie Trunks’ narrow-minded-ignorant views on the matter, to Sammy Hagars’ own smart-aleck commentary on David Lee Roth, to certain inhabitants of the Twitter-Verse, I’ve just about had enough of this ridiculous, “who was better” controversy with regard to Van Halen with David Lee Roth versus Van Halen with Sammy Hagar.
In 1979, I was 13 years old and just getting serious about my own music when the, “Day of Rock & Roll” concert in which I was in attendance was rudely interrupted by the theretofore unknown brown sound of Edward Van Halen effortlessly cranking out the intro to Somebody Get Me A Doctor.
For those of us truly indoctrinated Van Halen fans, in the arena of rock music, there’s everybody else, then there’s Van Halen and their first six still unmatched albums of legendary genius.
So with regard to this ridiculous controversy, here’s the thing:
Sammy Hagar has an undeniably awesome singing voice, but capable of equalling David Lee Roths’ performances of Runnin’ With The Devil, Jamie’s Cryin’, or Beautiful Girls?
Sure he could sing them in-tune, as did DLR, but Hagar lacks even the slightest trace of the DLR-Level charisma and attitude required to pull-off the complex tracks found in the early-Van Halen catalog.
A powerful voice is simply not enough.
The early Van Halen tracks included a combination of comedy, drama, erotica, and fierce intensity that would have left Hagar flat-footed.
Hagar lacks the sense of humor, adventure, showmanship, and intellectual depth to effectively breathe life in to tracks of this complexity.
Without DLRs’ intensity-equivalent lyrics, voice, attitude and persona, the early Van Halen tracks would likely have presented well, but would hardly have realized their full potential, and certainly not legendary status.
It pains me to criticize any of my heroes, but the Van Halen brothers dramatically underestimated the size of the colossal hole in the atmosphere of rock music left by an incomplete version of Van Halen without Michael Anthony and David Lee Roth.
To be sure, the juggernaut that was early-Van Halen was equal parts band chemistry/persona/song writing/Ted Templeman, and equal parts David Lee Roth/Edward Van Halen.
But make no mistake ; the legend that is early-Van Halen was fueled by the pure moxy of David Lee Roth, who was a world-class lyricist, and a damn good singer in his own right, but in the arena of rock in its heyday, as a frontman, and for that matter, rock star in general ; David Lee Roth has no equal.
Van Halen is:
David Lee Roth
Edward Van Halen
Alex Van Halen
..and there can be no other.