“If you are going to go deep into his stuff, into the Van Halen catalogue, you need a guy like Joe Satriani”: Sammy Hagar watches in awe as Satch plays Eddie Van Halen’s most difficult riff

Joe Satriani, Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony
(Image credit: Kayla Oaddams/Getty Images)

Video footage from Sammy Hagar’s newly announced Best Of All Worlds Tour lineup’s first public performance has emerged, with Joe Satriani emphatically confirming why he was the popular choice to perform Eddie Van Halen’s parts on electric guitar should an EVH tribute show ever happen.

When Hagar announced on Tuesday 14 November that he had put an all-star lineup together and had booked an epic 28-date tour of the US, performing Van Halen classics, and other choice cuts from the Red Rocker’s catalogue, it was the news that we had been waiting for. 

Okay, this wasn’t the full-on Eddie Van Halen tribute that has been mooted then shelved and debated over the past couple of years, but The Best Of All Worlds Tour 2024 was as good as it was going to get.

The band had Michael Anthony on bass guitar, Jason Bonham on the drums, there would be summer weather, and a number of songs from the Van Hagar era that have not been performed live since the band enjoyed a reunion in 2004.

This, however, was their first big test, and make no mistake, Stern had a little fun putting them to the test. If ever there was a question to put the heat on Satch it was this: “What is the most difficult riff that Eddie ever came up with?” Now you’re talkin’.

Hagar says his favourite was either the intro to 5150 or Summer Nights but as to most difficult he had something else in mind, one from the old days – the before times when David Lee Roth was fronting the band, with Hagar admitting that every time they heard heard Eddie playing Mean Street it would blow their minds. 

Satriani was good enough to demonstrate just what they meant. No pun intended.

“This is impossible to play, right?” he says, a little modesty as he brings the intro riff to life on his Ibanez JS-1 signature guitar. No small feat; that Mean Street intro is as though as they come. Everyone talks about the two-handed tapping in the context of lead guitar, in Eruption and elsewhere, but on the Mean Street intro it is Eddie applying it to lead-rhythm guitar and it sounds off-the-charts crazy.

Hagar was in awe watching Satriani play it. He has witnessed Satch’s genius up close before, in Chickenfoot, where he, Anthony and Chad Smith would preside over their own brand of virtuosity. There was no doubt in Hagar’s mind that Satriani should be the one entrusted to play Eddie’s material.

“The thing about what Eddie did, and the reason Joe is in this band for this tour, is because if you are going to go deep into his stuff, into the Van Halen catalogue, you need a guy like Joe Satriani that’s not just imitating Eddie,” said Hagar. “Joe knows what he is playing, and Joe can do something like that and know what it means. 

“I’m going, ‘I think that’s just Eddie fucking around, beating the shit out of his guitar.’ He says, ‘No, no, he’s actually playing the third here and the octave there…’ He knows this stuff and that’s the difference between playing this stuff with Joe and just having some guitar player in the band that can imitate Eddie.”

And with that they then did perform a favourite of Hagar’s, launching into 5150 – again, Satriani put on the spot – and if Hagar is as good as his word that there were no rehearsals then it bodes well for the shows next year. The Best Of All Worlds lineup also played Summer Nights, Right Now, Good Enough and Best Of Both Worlds.

Hagar said that he got the idea for the tour when playing these tracks at his 76th birthday party. 

“We pulled out a couple of them and it was an instant lovefest with the fans from our first riffs,” he said. “The music we created is going to outlive us all. They deserve to be heard so it’s time we go out and serve the fans that music, while we still can.”

For tickets and dates, head over to the Red Rocker’s official site.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.