Was Van Halen More Successful with Roth or Hagar?

Was Van Halen More Successful with Roth or Hagar lg

While they weren’t the only singers for Van Halen, most people think of David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar as the singers for the band. But was Van Halen more successful with Roth or Hagar?

Here’s what I know from being a fan for decades:

Van Halen sold more records and had their only #1 hit with David Lee Roth as lead vocalist. However, they did have 9 Top 40 hits under Sammy Hagar, compared to 7 under David Lee Roth. But most fans will always prefer David Lee Roth.

Van Halen had a wild and illustrious career that spanned two decades. During this time, the band had three different lead singers: David Lee Roth, Gary Cherone, and Sammy Hagar. However, Cherone’s time with the band was brief and is rarely brought up.

David Lee Roth was the original lead singer for Van Halen back in 1978.

Van Halen released its sixth album in 1984, and while sales were highest at this point, so were tensions between band members. David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen reached the point where they could no longer work together, and Roth left the band.

Van Halen needed a new frontman, and they eventually found Sammy Hagar.

This leaves two distinct eras in Van Halen’s history: The David Lee Roth era Van Halen, and the Sammy Hagar era Van Halen.

Did Van Halen have more hits with Roth or Hagar?

Van Halen had more hits when Sammy Hagar was its lead singer than under David Lee Roth. With Sammy Hagar, the band enjoyed 9 Top 40 hits, compared to 7 with David Lee Roth. But those 7 ranked higher on the Billboard Top 100, including Van Halen’s only #1 song, “Jump”.

That being said, there isn’t a strict definition for a ‘hit’. A song is usually considered a hit if it reaches the Top 40 of the “Billboard Hot 100” and remains there for at least a week.

As I said, during Sammy Hagar’s time with the band, Van Halen had nine songs that reached the Top 40.

The highest-ranking of these was “Why Can’t This Be Love”, which topped out at number three. The song was featured on Hagar’s first album with the band: 5150. 5150 also had two more hits, “Dreams” and “Love Walks In”, which both topped out at number 22.

David Lee Roth era Van Halen had seven songs that reached the Top 40.

However, the total number of hits isn’t necessarily the most important thing to look at. While Sammy Hagar had more hits during his time with Van Halen, David Lee Roth had hits that all averaged higher rankings in the “Billboard Hot 100”.

Van Halen also had their one and only number 1 single, “Jump”, when David Lee Roth was the frontman.

“Jump” topped the charts and remained number one for five weeks straight after its release. The song was nominated for a Grammy and has become one of the most popular rock songs of all time.

Which Van Halen album sold the most?

The best-selling Van Halen albums are both their self-titled debut which has sold over 15 million copies, or their 6th album 1984, which has sold roughly the same amount. Both feature David Lee Roth as the vocalist.

Depending on what type of sales you look at, the answer to ‘which Van Halen album sold the most’ varies. However, without question, it comes down to either their self-titled album Van Halen or their album 1984.

Van Halen exploded on the rock scene in 1978 when they released their debut album, Van Halen.

It seemed the band had caught lightning in a bottle as the album soared to #19 on the charts and was certified platinum the same year it was released. In 1999 Van Halen was certified Diamond.

Globally, the album is estimated to have sold 15,575,000 original records. The album also features the band’s first single, “You Really Got Me”. A fan-based poll conducted by Rolling Stone magazine placed Van Halen as the fifth best album of the ’70s.

Every subsequent album dipped in sales until Van Halen found their second wind with their sixth album, “1984”.

1984 features the band’s number one and number two top singles. Their number one single being, of course, Jump, the group’s most popular song. The album reached number two on the “Billboard 200” chart and has also been certified Diamond.

1984 has sold 15,440,000 original records, just shy of Van Halen.

However, this isn’t the full story. When you account for compilations, sales of singles, downloads, and streams, the numbers change. With these factored in, Van Halen has sold just shy of 20,000,000 total units. 1984 has sold over 25,000,000 units making it the band’s most sold album.

Both these albums were released when Roth was the lead singer.

When was Van Halen most successful?

Van Halen’s career peak came with the album 1984, released in January of 1984, which produced their only #1 Top 40 hit, “Jump”. It was their 6th album and the last album to feature David Lee Roth on vocals until his return to the band in 2007.

Success is a difficult thing to measure. However, as far as popularity and sales go, Van Halen seemed to peak in the 1980s.

At the time the 1984 album was released, their album sales had been waning, and interest in them was diminishing.

Of course, it can’t be overlooked that in 1984, synthesizers and new wave sounds dominated MTV. Eddie Van Halen took a chance with the song Jump by making it synth-based.

While it may have alienated some of the band’s original fan base, the move worked, and this album revitalized the Van Halen fan base and rocketed the band up to the levels of success they had when they first debuted, possibly even higher.

Some say the success of this period was only due to Van Halen’s most popular song, Jump. This song topped the charts and may be responsible for the success of 1984 as a whole.

But Van Halen was also incredibly successful when they first came onto the rock scene back in the ’70s.

Their two peak points of success were when they first emerged and in the ’80s with 1984. In both cases, there was a steady decline in sales and popularity after these peak points.

Both peak points in sales were during the David Lee Roth era of Van Halen.

Who was the best lead singer for Van Halen?

Comparing Van Halen singers, Sammy Hagar has a stronger voice and wider range than David Lee Roth. But Roth’s wild onstage presence, antics, and charisma are often seen as vastly superior to Hagar’s. And most people completely forget about Gary Cherone.

So it is hard to say definitively whether David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar was better for Van Halen. Fans certainly have their own opinions, but when the statistics are looked at, things aren’t as cut and dry.

For me, there’s no question; I want David Lee Roth, or I won’t listen to Van Halen.

David Lee Roth era Van Halen brought in about $57 million in sales. Sammy Hagar era Van Halen brought in about $27 million. Clearly, Roth brought in more money. However, that was over the course of seven albums. Hagar reaches his estimate with only four albums.

If you take the averages, Roth still brings in more money per album, but it is a much closer call than you would think looking at the grand total.

David Lee Roth era Van Halen had the highest peaks in sales. With Roth as the lead singer, the band produced its most successful song, Jump. However, no album from this era ever charted as number one.

In stark contrast, all four albums from Hagar era Van Halen charted as number one.

Roth seemed to have more popular songs and higher peaks, but Hagar had more popular albums as a whole and more consistency to his career.

Why do most Van Halen fans prefer David Lee Roth (despite Sammy being a better singer)?

David Lee Roth epitomized the rock star lifestyle, and his charisma and energy made every Van Halen show and video exciting. He was a performer and entertainer. By comparison, Sammy Hagar was a musician who was more focused on the technicalities of the performance, and many fans found him boring, by comparison.

Looking at the evidence, a decent argument can favor either David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar. Yet hardcore Van Halen fans will cast their vote for David Lee Roth every time.

Fans will admit, albeit begrudgingly, that Sammy Hagar is technically a better singer than Roth. He has a wider range, better tonal awareness, and more consistency. Still, fans prefer Roth.

It may be the inconsistent nature of Roth that earns fans’ adoration.

His voice might be weaker and messier, but this could add to the excitement of his performances. Roth’s energy was all over the place, and no one really knew what he would do next. He took risks that sometimes left him flat on his face but also brought him to his highest heights.

There is also the simple fact that David Lee Roth is the original frontman of Van Halen.

And let’s face it.

It’s hard to come in as the replacement singer for a successful band. And only a few people have really pulled that off, such as Brian Johnson in AC/DC. But most of the time, an established band with a new lead singer tread water or lose their fan base altogether.

In Van Halen’s case, rockers knew Hagar and respected him, and he probably also brought a lot of new fans to the band. But the band’s sound changed drastically under him, and it was just never the same.

When fans think of their beloved band, they will always think of it as they first knew it. And they first knew it with David Lee Roth at the mic.

David Lee Roth - Why Van Halen is Different with Sammy Hagar | Joe Rogan


Depending on your definition, Van Halen had more hits with Hagar. But Roth was with the band when they hand their greatest hit, Jump.

When you factor in compilations, sales of singles, downloads, and streams, 1984 is Van Halen’s most successful album.

Van Halen seemed to be at the height of its success right before David Lee Roth quit in 1985.

David Lee Roth was around for the band’s most successful moments. But Sammy Hagar had the highest-ranking albums.

Fans will most likely always prefer Roth to Hagar because Roth is the original member and one of the main reasons Van Halen ever became successful in the first place.

Photos that require attribution:

Sammy Hagar by ArtBrom and Van_Halen-8570 by Abby Gillardi are licensed under CC2.0 and were cropped, edited, merged, and had a text and graphic overlay added.

Recent Posts