The pair had experienced a rocky relationship and hadn’t directly spoken since the end of 2004’s Van Halen reunion tour before they reconnected earlier this year.
- READ MORE: Eddie Van Halen, 1955 – 2020: a fire-fingered colossus who turned guitar solos into a firework display
In a note provided to The Howard Stern Show, Hagar revealed that he’d secretly been texting his former bandmate in recent months but kept their communication under wraps to prevent possible reunion rumours.
“Eddie and I had been texting, and it’s been a love fest since we started communicating earlier this year. We both agreed not to tell anyone, because of all the rumors it would stir up about a reunion, et cetera, and we both knew that wasn’t gonna happen. But he also didn’t want anyone to know about his health,” Hagar said.
“He stopped responding to me a month ago, and I figured it wasn’t good. I reached out one more time last week, and when he didn’t respond, I figured it was a matter of time. But it came way too soon.”
Hagar first joined the band in 1985, replacing frontman David Lee Roth, who embarked on his own solo career after a series of disputes with Eddie.
Heartbroken and speechless. My love to the family. pic.twitter.com/MQMueMF2XO
— Sammy Hagar (@sammyhagar) October 6, 2020
He continued with the band until 1995, but eventually rejoined in 2004 for a reunion tour – which marked the last time they would work together.
Hagar had discussed the possibility of reuniting with the group as recently as May this year.
“Until Ed or Alex Van Halen die, they’re not finished,” Hagar told Rolling Stone in May. “If there’s concerts next year, Van Halen will probably be on tour next year.”
Hagar’s comments come after Van Halen’s widow, Janie Liszewski, shared an emotional tribute to her late husband.
She wrote: “My husband, my love, my Peep, my heat and soul have been shattered into a million pieces. I never knew it was possible to cry so many many tears or feel such incredible sadness.”
It comes after an outpouring of grief from the rock world with the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Metallica, Muse, Pearl Jam‘s Mike McCready, Red Hot Chili Peppers‘ Flea, Gene Simmons of KISS, AC/DC’s Angus Young and Lenny Kravitz all paying their respects to the legendary guitarist.
Van Halen was first being diagnosed with tongue cancer in 2000. He blamed his illness on metal guitar picks that he used to hold in the same spot in his mouth.