Sammy Hagar: Joe Satriani Is More ‘Fluent and Versatile’ Than Eddie Van Halen
Aside from being one of rock’s more distinctive vocalists, Sammy Hagar is a pretty decent guitarist. But for big chunks of his career, he’s had the good fortune of not having to lean on his own chops. In fact, he’s played with some of the genre’s best axemen, including two of rock’s greatest living guitarists: Joe Satriani and Eddie Van Halen.
In a recent interview with Gibson, Hagar talked about the intimidating experience of playing guitar alongside Satriani and Van Halen, saying, “I just put the guitar on and got a big cheer always, and then I’d burn for a little bit and then take it back off before I ran out of chops, y’know? I rate myself as a guy that can play, and I can express myself extremely well but only in one language. I can only play blues-based guitar.”
Hagar went on to compliment Satriani’s virtuosity, saying, “Once he finishes with my repertoire, he can go into French, Spanish and Russian on the guitar! He’s just so versatile and fluent.”
As for Van Halen? His remarkable skill and influential style are undeniable, but as far as Hagar’s concerned, it’s no contest. “Eddie’s not as fluent and versatile. Eddie’s got a style for himself and he’s very much in that pocket, but Joe can play anything,” he explained. “When Joe and I start to write together, he’ll show me some chords and I’ll start singing, then I’ll pick up a guitar just mainly to figure a lick out: ‘What chord is that? What are you playing?’ so I can know what notes I have to choose from to sing. Then he’ll go ‘That was a cool lick, what did you play?’ and I’ll go “[Expletive], I don’t know!” I don’t get it. I just play.”