Sammy Hagar says he sustained a “brutal” injury on the opening night of a Van Halen tour, leading to weeks of agony because the shows had to go on.

It was the first of 28 performances under the Monsters of Rock banner in 1988, with Metallica, Scorpions, Dokken and Kingdom Come along for the ride. Hagar admitted that he wasn’t yet familiar with the brand-new stage arrangement.

“We had to have three sets to set up in different cities, because it took three days to set up,” Hagar explains in the video below. “It had these metal stairs … and I hadn’t performed on them."

The incident took place during “the first song, ‘Summer Nights’” – although that was actually the second song on the setlist, with “There’s Only One Way to Rock” preceding it.

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“I’m singing the first chorus, I’m stepping backwards; I stumble onto the stairs, and hit my tailbone right on the corner of one of the metal [edges],” he said.

“And it actually cut through my leather pants. And I was numb; I fell down on the stairs and I got back up and I kept singing, but I felt really weird. I reached back … bloody hand. I go, ‘Oh, my God!’ I felt the bump back there as big as an orange.

Eddie [Van Halen] was playing a long intro, and I ran over to my side of the stage, and I said to my guy, ‘What’s going on?’ He’s like, ‘Dude, you don’t wanna know!’ … I can’t see it [but] I’m gonna faint.

“I make it through the show, get to the hospital – I had a fractured tailbone, vertebrae completely knocked out of whack. I had to have stitches across it, actually. It was brutal.”

Sammy Hagar’s Injury Meant He Got to Meet Sting

The torment was far from over. Describing it as “the worst injury I’ve ever had,” Hagar felt the pressure of the tour dates still to come. That was made worse by his need to fly home to visit his doctor regularly – although it did offer one bright moment: “That’s how I met Sting – he was at my doctor’s office too!”

Hagar says “it was horrendous until the last show. … In Denver, Colorado, I couldn’t hit the high note in ‘Eagles Fly’ because I got a sinus infection [and] an ear infection from flying. I got run down; I was on antibiotics. Every day, I had to have a doctor show up in my room and give me a steroid shot in the spot so I could stand up straight.”

In the end, he has a simple message about this “brutal,” “horrible” mishap: “You don’t want that to ever happen to you!”

Watch Sammy Hagar Tell His Tailbone Story

Van Halen Lineup Changes

Three different singers and two different bassists joined the Van Halen brothers over the years.

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