Van Halen Rocker Sammy Hagar Was Asked To Join Pantera

by Chris Haney
(Photo by Evan Agostini/ImageDirect)

During a recent interview with former Van Halen frontman Sammy Hagar, the singer revealed that he was once asked to join the legendary heavy metal band Pantera. While various bands have asked him to fill-in as the lead singer in the past, we’re not sure anyone saw the Pantera connection coming.

Hagar is best known for replacing David Lee Roth as Van Halen’s frontman in 1985. Following his inclusion in the already popular band, Van Halen went on to chart four consecutive No. 1 albums with Hagar singing. However, internal disputes led to Eddie Van Halen and his band unceremoniously firing the singer a decade later in 1996.

Previous to his time in Van Halen, and afterward, Sammy Hagar fronted his own solo band. But after he got fired in 1996, he was in high demand by numerous famous bands. While speaking with SiriusXM’s Jose Mangin, he touched on being approached to sing for Pantera.

“This was before I actually became friends with [Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul]. And [their manager] said Pantera wanted me to be the lead singer of their band,” Sammy Hagar said to Mangin. “He asked me, ‘Would you be interested?’ And I said, ‘No, not after [leaving] Van Halen [in 1996]. I’m not gonna join another band, especially covering for somebody else.'”

Hagar didn’t say exactly when Pantera’s manager asked him about the gig. But iconic heavy metal vocalist Phil Anselmo and his band’s relationship started to deteriorate in the late ’90s. By 2001, the band went on hiatus and a couple years later they broke up for good. Therefore it’s likely the band’s manager asked Sammy Hagar about joining the band around that time period.

“I brought it up to Vinnie one time,” Hagar added. “He didn’t remember it. … But I don’t know if there’s any truth to that.”

Aerosmith Guitarist Reveals Sammy Hagar Almost Replaced Frontman Steven Tyler

Back in 2011, Sammy Hagar shared a few other famous bands that have asked him to be their frontman. While speaking to Forbes, he confirmed that Motley Crüe, Velvet Revolver, and Pantera each approached him to be their lead singer. Additionally, legendary classic rock band Aerosmith asked him as well, but he declined.

“I was asked to be in Aerosmith and I said no,” Sammy Hagar said to Forbes at the time. “Certain bands and certain singers are more difficult to replace than others. Steven Tyler and that band have stayed together for [40] years, and you don’t want to walk into something like that.”

In August 2021, Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry confirmed Hagar’s story. Frontman Steven Tyler became a judge on American Idol in 2011, so his band asked Hagar to fill-in. Hagar declined and Tyler returned to the band after serving as a judge for two seasons.

“It was really another one of those times, you don’t keep a band together without a lot of bumps … You know every band has its ups and downs,” Joe Perry explained.

“I remember Steven doing that TV show, I thought that was great,” the guitarist added. “I just knew he had to do something like that, and doing that solo record that he did. So the band wasn’t that tight, there was talk and there were so many people involved, like I said, lawyers, different managers.”