Sammy Hagar says this song is Van Halen’s Stairway to Heaven

Both this song and Stairway to Heaven achieved success despite never being Number One singles.

[L-R] Eddie Van Halen and Sammy Hagar performing onstage

Credit: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

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What would you say is Led Zeppelin’s defining song? While answers would vary, most would probably give that accolade to Stairway to Heaven.

Now do the same for Van Halen. Probably Jump, Panama or Hot For Teacher, right? In any case, the percentage of people giving the same accolade to Right Now – from 1991’s For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge – would likely be far lower.

But in Sammy Hagar’s opinion, Right Now is Van Halen’s Stairway to Heaven, at least in terms of their success despite never becoming Number One singles.

“The funny thing about Right Now is it’s like one of those songs like Stairway to Heaven for Led Zeppelin,” he says. “Stairway to Heaven wasn’t, like, a Number One single or anything. It wasn’t even really a single. It was just an AOR (album-oriented rock) track played on the radio.

“But it becomes one of their biggest [songs]. I believe it peaked in the 20s – the video got great awards and won three MTV music awards and all that. But the song itself wasn’t a giant radio hit or anything.”

Bassist Michael Anthony adds, “But all of a sudden, you had different sports – basketball, the Lakers – different sporting events, they would start playing bits of that song.”

Sammy Hagar says along with Right Now, the biggest live hits of For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge were Top of the World, Poundcake, Judgement Day and Runaround. “Those were the live hits on this record, and ones we still play today with the Circle,” he says.

The Collection II – a sprawling box set spanning the four consecutive albums in the Sammy Hagar era of Van Halen – 5150 (1986), OU812 (1988), For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (1991) and Balance (1995) – is available now.


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