Entertainment Weekly


Stay Connected


Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content


Behind 'Van Halen'

Behind ‘Van Halen’ — How hating Sammy Hagar spawned a hit

Posted on

”Everyone hates Sammy Hagar. Who doesn’t?” asks Parry Gripp, vocalist-guitarist for Santa Barbara band Nerf Herder. Channeling that hatred, Gripp wrote ”Van Halen,” a ”pop-punk, pro-Dave, anti-Sammy” ode to the supergroup that stands ready to replace ”The Macarena” as the novelty hit of the moment.

As teens, Gripp and his band mates, Steve Sherlock and Charlie Dennis, worshiped Eddie and Co. (”I bought Van Halen I/It was the best damn record I ever owned,” begins the irresistible rave-up). But when David Lee Roth was replaced by Hagar in 1985, the trio became livid. A decade later, Gripp penned the song, which now appears on the band’s self-titled debut on indie label My Records.

The rest is pop hysteria. Before Nerf Herders had even seen their finished CD, ”Van Halen” was one of the most requested songs on San Francisco’s LIVE 105. It’s now on playlists in New York, Nashville, Houston, New Orleans, and Phoenix; a video is in the works; and Arista, which had been tracking Nerf Herder for a year, has signed the band.

All of which places Nerf Herder (whose name comes from a line in The Empire Strikes Back) on the brink of their 15 minutes. ”Yeah,” says a delighted Gripp, ”we’re riding the rock-star train right now.”