|Born on: 13.10.1947
Sammy Hagar (born October 13th, 1947), also known as The Red Rocker, is an American rock singer, guitarist, and songwriter.
Hagar came to prominence in the 1970s with the hard rock band Montrose. He afterwards launched a successful solo career, scoring an enduring hit in 1984 with "I Can't Drive 55." From 1985-1996, and 2003-2005, Hagar was the singer for Van Halen. On March 12, 2007, Hagar was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Van Halen. He has had the opportunity to work with some of hard rock's most famous guitarists including Eddie Van Halen, Ronnie Montrose, Neal Schon of Journey, and more recently, Joe Satriani.
Outside of music, he is also well-known as the founder of the Cabo Wabo Tequila brand and restaurant chain. He currently resides in Mill Valley, California and also has a residence in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. His present musical project is as lead singer of Chickenfoot.
Named after his mother's father, Sam Roy, Hagar was born in Salinas, California. Although Hagar was born in Salinas, his family soon moved to Fontana, where his father worked at the Kaiser Steel Mill. Hagar would graduate from Fontana High School.
Early years (1967-1973)
Hagar became interested in the burgeoning Southern California music scene, fronting his first band, The Fabulous Catillas. In 1967, the duo of Hagar and Pete Samson, backed by The Peppermint Trolley Co., recorded and released a two songs, entitled, "Reach Out To Find me" and "Read My Thoughts", on a 7" promo record under the Ranwood label.
In 1968, Hagar joined his first professional group, the Johnny Fortune Band, as a vocalist and rhythm guitarist. Hagar was also in some other pre-Montrose bands including Big Bang, Skinny, Dustcloud, Cotton, Jimmy, and Manhole. These bands evolved into The Justice Brothers after hiring guitarist Bob Anglin and a keyboardist, Al Shane. They joined Hagar, bass player Jeff Nicholson and drummer David Lauser. They were the house band at a bar called "The Nightclub" in San Bernardino California before relocating to San Francisco.
Hagar's first major success, however, came from his work with the group Montrose on their debut and second albums, including the first song Hagar ever wrote, "Bad Motor Scooter". After difficulties with the band's founder, Ronnie Montrose, during a European tour, Hagar departed from the group. Bassist Bill Church (who had quit Montrose after the first album) and drummer Denny Carmassi would eventually find themselves playing in Hagar's backing band.
Hagar started a solo recording and touring career to increasing success. Hagar enjoyed initial moderate success on Capitol Records, with such albums as Nine on a Ten Scale and hits such as "Red", which would build as a persona and style, leading up to his given trademark nickname of "The Red Rocker". Hagar made some personnel changes, including enlisting long time friend and former Justice Brothers bandmate David Lauser as his drummer. With this and a change to Geffen Records, Hagar enjoyed greater commercial success, with hits such as "There's Only One Way to Rock", "Three Lock Box" and perhaps his best-known song "I Can't Drive 55". Hagar had become a headlining act in many parts of the United States and Europe.
In 1983-84 Hagar and Neal Schon formed the supergroup HSAS (Hagar Schon Aaronson Shrieve) along with former Foghat bassist Kenny Aaronson and former Santana drummer Michael Shrieve. HSAS did a small Christmas tour to benefit local charities and released an album, Through The Fire. The tracks which appeared on the album were recorded live, but crowd noise was removed during the mixing process to create the feel of a studio album. As intended from its start, HSAS was a short-lived project. One song in particular, a cover of "Whiter Shade of Pale" received some airplay peaking at #94 on the Billboard Pop 100 Singles chart.
Van Halen (1985-1996)
After parting ways with vocalist David Lee Roth, the remaining members of the band Van Halen contacted many potential replacements. In July 1985, given Eddie Van Halen's appreciation of Montrose and his car mechanic's suggestion, the band auditioned and quickly hired Hagar to fill the opening. With Hagar at the front, Van Halen produced four multi-platinum, #1 Billboard charting albums: 5150, OU812, For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, and Balance, as well as many chart hits, including nine #1 Mainstream Rock hits. During Hagar's stint as Van Halen's vocalist, the band was often informally referred to by fans as "Van Hagar" as a way to distinguish the band from the previous "David Lee Roth albums". Internal disputes eventually led to Hagar's departure from the band in June 1996. Hagar disagreed with a decision to record two new tracks for the soundtrack to the film Twister, after the band had agreed to take time off following their 1995 world tour. Hagar was also opposed to the issuance of a greatest hits record at that point in the band's career. These two items were pushed by Van Halen's new manager Ray Danniels, Alex Van Halen's brother-in-law, brought in after the death of their longtime manager Ed Leffler. Hagar wanted instead to record a new studio album, but only after Eddie, Alex, and Hagar's pregnant wife had all dealt with their respective medical issues. Although there are several versions of how the split occurred, Hagar has stated that the final straw came when he was with his wife in Hawaii, where they had arranged for a natural delivery of the baby (meaning outside of a hospital), and Eddie wanted him back in the studio in California. Hagar claimed to have flown to Los Angeles with his wife only to discover that she couldn't fly back to Hawaii. In the ensuing argument, he claims that he was fired. Eddie, on the other hand, says that Hagar quit. The end came when Eddie started to work with former lead singer David Lee Roth instead of Hagar, and two new songs were made with Roth for the greatest hits album Best of Volume I. When Van Halen again parted ways with Roth, instead of rehiring Hagar, the band hired Gary Cherone, the former lead singer of Extreme.
Los Tres Gusanos (1993-1996, 2002, 2005-Present)
Having jammed as a trio in 1992, Hagar, drummer David Lauser and Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony formed the harmony-singing rock band "Los Tres Gusanos" (in English, "The Three Worms") in 1993. Playing a mixture of Hagar, Van Halen, and cover songs at Cabo Wabo and in San Francisco, the band infrequently got together a few times a year. Initially active during the 1990s, Los Tres Gusanos regrouped in 2002, then again in 2005, and has performed together many times since. Photos of their reunion can be seen by selecting the 2005 archive section of Michael's website. Lauser has gone on record to say, "Los Tres Gusanos will never die, and rumours abound that they may resurface in Cabo soon."
Musician Robert Berry stood-in for Michael Anthony in 1996 and 1998 while the bass player fulfilled his touring commitments with Van Halen. And being basically a bar/jam-band, it has also hosted a number of guests with them on stage.
Like related project Planet Us, Los Tres Gusanos has played at the BAMMIES (aka the California Music Awards) and is known for its live performances. Similarly, neither band has ever made any official releases, although a number of unofficial bootleg live recordings have been widely circulated on CD and download, though these tend to be credited to Van Halen even when Hagar refers to Los Tres Gusanos by name during the recorded performances, (Tracks 10 to 14), (Disc 4).
Hagar went on to produce several new solo records after the split with Van Halen in 1996. In 1999, Hagar formed a long term solo band, called The Waboritas, consisting again of David Lauser on drums, as well as former keyboardist Jesse Harms, and new to the mix was former The Bus Boys guitarist Vic Johnson, and former Tommy Tutone bassist Mona Gnader. His subsequent tours were known for spontaneity, once doing an improve version of "Folsom Prison" by Johnny Cash at the IC Light Ampitheatre in Pittsburgh after a train disturbed his show.
In the summer of 2002, Roth and Hagar teamed up in the Song For Song, the Heavyweight Champs of Rock and Roll tour (also known as the 'Sans-Halen' or 'Sam & Dave' Tour). The joint tour headlining both former lead singers attracted media and audience fascination because it seemed more improbable than even a Van Halen tour with Roth or Hagar could be. The tour drew large crowds and featured no opening acts, Roth and Hagar alternating opening as the first act during the tour. In an interview, Roth contrasted his personality with Hagar's, saying, "He's the kind of guy you go out with to split a bottle with a friend. I'm the kind of guy you go out with if you want to split your friend with a bottle." Michael Anthony guested with Hagar's band, The Waboritas, numerous times and sometimes even sang lead vocals. During performances, Hagar would tease Anthony by asking, "Do the brothers know you're here?". Anthony never played with Roth. Gary Cherone appeared on occasion. Hagar released a live album (Hallelujah), featuring vocals by Mike and Gary, and a documentary DVD, Long Road to Cabo, about touring with Roth.
Planet Us (2002-2003)
In 2002, with Van Halen still unreformed at this point, Hagar joined again with guitarists Neal Schon of Journey and later Joe Satriani to form a new side project called Planet Us. Along with Van Halen member Michael Anthony on bass and Deen Castronovo (also of Journey) on drums. Despite big intentions, the band only recorded two songs and played live a few times before dissolving when Hagar and Anthony rejoined Van Halen. The two songs, "Psycho Vertigo" and "Peephole," would not see release until Hagar's 2008 effort, Cosmic Universal Fashion.
Reunion with Van Halen (2003-2005)
After the successful "Heavyweights of Rock" tour (2002), where he co-headlined with David Lee Roth, (and jokingly suggested the name the "Sans Halen Tour") Hagar started thinking about his former Van Halen bandmates, calling Alex Van Halen in late 2003 from a tip by a mutual friend. In early 2004, Van Halen with Hagar was announced to the general public, culminating with a tour and a 2-CD Best Of album, entitled Best of Both Worlds featuring three new Van Halen tracks fronted by Hagar.
The subsequent tour brought on more problems, however, most notably Eddie Van Halen's alleged relapse into alcoholism. The relationship between Hagar and Van Halen eventually got so strained that they completed the tour using two separate charter jets, one for Hagar and one for the rest of the band. The tour ended with a somewhat infamous final show in Tucson, Arizona. As the show ended, Eddie smashed his guitar on stage sending shrapnel into the audience. This caused tensions backstage after the show and eliminated the possibility of a new album. Hagar said in an interview (and later confirmed in greater detail in his 2011 autobiography) that Eddie had changed and wasn't the same person anymore.
Sammy and The Waboritas (2005-present)
In 2005, Hagar continued to play with The Waboritas as he toured the Atlantic coast and the Midwest and added ex-Van Halen bass player Michael Anthony, calling the band Los Tres Gusanos (The Three Worms). In August of that year, Hagar went on another mini-tour starting at DTE Energy Music Theatre in Clarkston, Michigan and then hitting the southwest before finishing at his own Cabo Wabo Cantina. Hagar's 2006 tour with The Waboritas also included a segment with Michael Anthony playing as a band called The Other Half (a reference to Hagar and Michael being the half of Van Halen that was not Van Halen by name) for a set of songs in the middle of the show, including both Hagar- and Roth-era tunes. The band also invited Kid Rock on stage at DTE Energy Theatre for a couple of songs, including covers of Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll" and Beastie Boys' "You Gotta Fight For Your Right (To Party)". Hagar also released an album and DVD called "Livin' It Up! In St. Louis" with the Wabos on July 25, 2006. Hagar has a longstanding and strong relationship with St. Louis. Often in concerts, he can be seen wearing a red St. Louis Cardinals cap. He has said that he credits St. Louis fans and the radio station KSHE in St. Louis with helping to launch his professional career.
In 2008, Hagar formed a "supergroup" named "Chickenfoot" with Michael Anthony, Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, and guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani. Their self-titled debut album was released in June 2009 and debuted at #4 on the Billboard Music Chart. The band played June 5 on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien, the last day of O'Brien's first week as host of the show. They then launched a European and North American tour that lasted through September. In September 2009, the RIAA certified the Chickenfoot debut as Gold (having sold 500,000 copies). The band was also featured performing the track "Sexy Little Thing" on the November 6, 2009 broadcast of Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Hagar currently endorses Yamaha Guitars, which are currently producing a line of Hagar signature guitars named the Yamaha AES620 SH. The guitar is based on Yamaha's AES620 guitar and features a number of modifications requested by Hagar, including a Seymour Duncan JB pickup in the bridgeposition, a "Cabo Wabo" inlay at 12th fret and custom translucent red finish. In addition to his signature model Hagar also plays a handmade AES920 solid body guitar. Previously Hagar collaborated with Washburn Guitars which also made a Hagar signature guitar named Washburn RR150 which also featured Seymour Duncan pickups and a piezo pickup incorporated into the bridge. Hagar currently uses Crate Amplifiers which is concurrently marketing a Hagar signature 120 watt amplifier named Crate BV120RH Red Voodoo Amp Head.
In March of 2011, Sammy Hagar released his first autobiography entitled "Red: My Uncensored Life In Rock" with Joel Selvin. It recently topped the New York Times best seller list.
Hagar married his first wife, Betsy Berardi, on November 3, 1968. They had two sons together, Aaron in 1970 and Andrew. In 1994, the couple divorced after 26 years of marriage. He married his current wife, Kari Karte, on November 29, 1995, and together they have two daughters, Kama and Samantha.
On May 23, 2006, San Bernardino County, California supervisors declared the day to be "Sammy Hagar Day". Hagar showed up at the county chamber with his mother, Gladys. He then gave a short speech, posed with commissioners for photos, embraced his mother, and left through a back door.
The title track off the album VOA, is a jingoistic tune, and he and his brother have suggested in interviews that Hagar supports the Republican Party. According to newsmeat.com he is said to have contributed $2000 to the Bush-Cheney campaign. He has acknowledged that he is a close friend of Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, to whom he contributed $4500 over the course of almost 15 years. Hagar wore an "Hasta La Vista, Davis" t-shirt, apparently in support of then-candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger, at some live shows during the 2003 California recall of then-Governor Gray Davis.
Hagar owns a nightclub and restaurant in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico called Cabo Wabo Cantina, where the video for the 1999 hit song "Mas Tequila" (from the Red Voodoo album) was filmed. Hagar plays at the club during his annual autumn "Birthday Bash". Hagar also has opened another nightclub in the franchise in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, and markets a highly successful line of premium tequilas by the same Cabo Wabo name. Cabo Wabo Cantina opened in Fresno CA on August 29, 2008. However, it closed a few months later when the operator had a falling out with Hagar. In November 2009, a Cabo Wabo Cantina opened in the Planet Hollywood Hotel's Miracle Mile shopping mall, directly off the strip in Las Vegas.
In early 2009, Hagar opened "Sammy's Beach Bar & Grill" at Harrah's Casino in St. Louis, Missouri. Shortly after, another was opened in the Southwest Airlines terminal at McCarren Airport in Las Vegas, NV. Hagar donates all of the profits of both locations to local charities.
It was announced on May 7, 2007 that Hagar was selling an 80% interest in his Cabo Wabo Tequila to Gruppo Campari, the world's seventh-largest spirits company, for $80 million. Skyy Spirits of San Francisco, a vodka producer and subsidiary of Milan's Gruppo Campari, will market Cabo Wabo globally, with continued participation by Hagar. Gerry Ruvo, president and chief executive of Skyy Spirits said "Sammy has done a fantastic job building the brand, so we are going to obviously spend time with him and work with him to continue our efforts to take the brand to an even larger level, both here in the U.S. and, more important, globally." Ruvo said Great Britain, Spain, Australia, Southeast Asia, Japan, Germany and Italy are considered key expansion markets for Tequila. Hagar created Cabo Wabo Tequila to serve patrons at his Cabo Wabo Cantina in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. He began to distribute it in 1999. Last year, his company sold 147,000 cases, making it the second-best-selling premium Tequila in the United States, he said in a telephone interview. Cabo Wabo Enterprises, based in Novato, Calif., earned about $60 million in sales in 2007.
In the summer of 2010 Hagar will open a beach bar at the Ballys Casino on the Atlantic City beach.
When asked how he has balanced being a rock star and tequila mogul, Hagar responded: "I always had other people doing everything. It was my palate and my concept. I would go in taste and say, 'Leave this in the barrel a little bit longer.' That was my job. I could do that right before I went on stage. That's a perfect time to do it, as a matter of fact!"
He is interviewed in the 1991 documentary Finally.
The album I Never Said Goodbye was originally untitled, until MTV ran a contest to name the album. Future presses of the CD appeared with the new title.
In the 1990s, due to his avid interest in the burgeoning mountain bike industry, Hagar lent his "Red Rocker" nickname and image to the short-lived (and currently rare) line of Gary Fisher-produced "Red Rocker" mountain bikes.
In 2002, Hagar was commissioned as a Kentucky Colonel by Kentucky Governor Paul E. Patton.
In 2007, Hagar starred in a number of National Automotive Parts Association ('NAPA') commercials with Nextel Cup drivers Michael Waltrip and Dale Jarrett. The campaign centers around Hagar's song "I Can't Drive 55", changing the words to "I Can't Drive the 55", a reference to Waltrip's car number 55.
In the video for "I Can't Drive 55", Hagar's California driver's license shows a date of birth of 10-13-54, exactly 7 years after his real date of birth.
Hagar co-wrote two songs for Heart's Brigade album.
Hagar covered the Patti Smith song "Free Money" early in her career. In 2007, Smith and Van Halen were both inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. "Free Money" was prominently featured in a video montage of Smith's performances. At the end of the induction show, Hagar jammed with Smith to her song "People Have the Power".
Hagar was present at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, and he was in the VH1 documentary about Monterey, stating that it changed his life.
Hagar holds the city record for selling more tickets in St. Louis than any other musical entertainer in St. Louis history.
Hagar penned the song "I've Done Everything For You", which appeared on Rick Springfield's 1981 album Working Class Dog. Hagar used to introduce the song in concert in one of two ways by saying either, "I wrote this song, but Rick Springfield had a hit with it because he's better looking" or "Here's a song Rick Springfield made famous for me."
The song "Sammy Hagar Weekend" is a popular song by punk rock band Thelonious Monster, and is listed on their CD Stormy Weather.
Hagar appeared in Celebrity Ghost Stories on The Biography Channel. He told of how he was awakened by someone pounding on his front door. It was his estranged father, in a drunken stupor and asking to see his new grandson. Hagar angrily sent his father away. Moments later, the loud knocking resumed but when Hagar opened the door, it was a bandmate alerting Hagar to a phone call. Hagar's father had been found dead that night. As they were separated by several hundred miles, it would have been impossible for Hagar's father to have been at his front door only moments before.
Yamaha released a signature version of the AES620 renaming it the AES620SH. It features a mahogany body with a figured maple veneer top powered by two humbucking pickups including a Seymour Duncan JB in the bridge. The set-in mahogany neck and rosewood fingerboard are enhanced with the world-famous Cabo Wabo logo inlaid at the 12th fret. The custom red color is based on the Red Rocker's favorite translucent red finish.
Hagar is mentioned in an episode of "My Name is Earl" where Earl Hickey is perturbed when his new wife Billie selects a Van Halen song on the Crab Shack's jukebox featuring Hagar while there are "at least 20 Roth-era songs on it." His brother Randy defends Hagar, saying if people didn't like his music, his songs wouldn't be in the jukebox.
Hagar has claimed that he (or at least his brain) has been abducted by aliens. He described it as similar to wireless connection (but many years before such technology was publicly known or available) where the aliens downloaded or uploaded information from/to his brain.