Sammy Hagar, from Van Halen, Talks About Working With Bette Midler
By Will Harris
Jan 20, 2016
How did Bette Midler come to record two of your songs?
“Keep on Rockin’” was for the movie “The Rose,” and somebody reached out and said, “Do you have any songs for Bette Midler?” And I thought that song was cool for that. But it was a different version than the one that I put on my first record. I wrote different lyrics, but when John Carter produced that record, he co-wrote the lyrics with me and he changed them. So when I sent her the song, I grabbed the demo I had…and I sent her the wrong one! [Laughs.] But she loved it, so she recorded it.
And then after that, she asked if I had any more songs, and I think her next album was “Broken Blossom,” so I said, “Hey, you being a redhead, how ‘bout ‘Red’?” I played it for her, she went nuts, and the producer of that album (Brooks Arthur), when I went into the studio, he was not down with it. He was, like, “Get this rock ‘n’ roll guy out of here! He’s ruining this record for me!” [Laughs.] But Bette, she was the coolest. She and I are cut from the same cloth, man. She’s like a female Sammy Hagar, and I’m a male Bette Midler. Our stage antics, our raps on stage, the sh** we yak about on stage, our neurotic, jacked-up, nervous stage energy… I think we have a lot in common. I haven’t seen her in a long time, but when I see those old clips of Bette, she was quite the performer. She’s a very special lady.
[Writer’s note: The timeline shows that “Broken Blossom” came out in ’77 and “The Rose” hit theaters in ’79, but when I mentioned as much, Hagar still seemed to think he had the order right. Maybe he did: given the way things work in Hollywood, it’s not impossible that Midler could’ve asked for the song for “The Rose” in ’77 and just had it take that long for the movie to come to fruition. Then again, maybe he’s just misremembering.]