Eddie Van Halen’s Death Hit Hagar and Anthony ‘Like a Mack Truck’

HagarAnthony Eddie Van Halen's Death Hit Hagar and Anthony 'Like a Mack Truck'

This year’s edition of Sammy Hagar‘s annual birthday bash was already going to be a strange one. Now he and Michael Anthony will also be mourning Eddie Van Halen‘s death.

Hagar typically celebrates his Oct. 13 birthday with a series of guest star-packed shows at his Cabo Wabo cantina in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Because the COVID-19 pandemic makes that impossible this year, he’ll instead film an audience-free concert on Catalina Island, Calif., tomorrow that will be broadcast via pay-per-view on Oct. 17.

The only way fans will be able to attend in person is by docking their boats a safe distance from the shore.

Hagar and his bandmates in the Circle – which includes former fellow Van Halen member Anthony, drummer Jason Bonham and guitarist Vic Johnson – got together to rehearse for the show today. Even though they’ve released a number of remotely recorded live performances over the past few months, this was the first time the group performed together on the same stage in about eight months.

It should have been a happy occasion, but news about Van Halen’s death at age 65 earlier this week, after what his son Wolfgang describes as a “long and arduous” battle with cancer, has thrown the duo for a loop.

In a new video posted on Facebook, Hagar noted that hearing about the guitarist’s death “was like getting hit by a freaking Mack truck. It kind of took the wind out of the sails for this sail-in performance.” Anthony agreed, calling the day “bittersweet … it’s very surreal now, it hasn’t sunk in yet.”

You can watch the video below.

The singer, who revealed yesterday that he and Eddie had made peace after years of public sniping, declared his state of mind as “kind of devastated” after his band’s rehearsal. “Thank God we get to do it again tomorrow,” he said. “A Van Halen song never felt so hard to sing or play in my life.”

Still, they’re already finding comfort in performing the music they made together with Van Halen, such as “Right Now,” which briefly appears in the rehearsal video after a moment of silence in honor of the late guitarist. “I felt, Wow, thank God for this,” said Hagar. “It’s, like, we’ll never play with Eddie again, but thank God for this. I’ll sing [these songs] as long as I live.”

“We have the music, if nothing else,” Anthony added. “We love you, Eddie.”