I have been a fan of the “Red Rocker,” Sammy Hagar for 20 or more years. Okay, so I had a “thing” for Mr. Hagar and he was the star of some of my better dreams off and on for a number of years. Regardless, I have followed his career and have always been impressed with him as a musician who seems to simply love what he does whether it brings him super stardom or not. His music has been a blend of fun and funky sounds mixed with thought-provoking lyrics and he continues to be a favorite of mine no matter what project he is working on.
Sammy Hagar had a successful solo career before his name was ever linked with the rock band legends of Van Halen. The 62-year-old Hagar started out with the band Montrose with the release of the self-titled album, Montrose in 1973. This first album featured a couple of early hits like “Bad Motor Scooter” and “Rock Candy.”
By 1976, Sammy was on his own with the album Nine on a Ten Scale. He followed up with two albums released in 1977 – Red and Musical Chairs. Between 1978 and 1984, Hagar would stay quite busy, releasing nine more albums (All Night Long; Street Machine; Danger Zone; Turn Up the Music; Red Hot; Standing Hampton – which featured the hit songs “I’ll Fall in Love Again” and “There’s Only One Way to Rock,” a best of compilation titled Rematch; Three Lock Box – featuring “Your Love is Driving Me Crazy,” and VOA which had the smash hit that Sammy is still known for – “I Can’t Drive 55.”) and a side project album – 1984’s HSAS with Neal Schon, Kenny Aaronson and Michael Shrieve.
Hagar became the front man for Van Halen and his first album with the band was released in 1986. Titled 5150, this album spawned a number of hits, including “Why Can’t This Be Love,” “Dreams,” “Best of Both Worlds,” and “Love Walks In.” The band’s previous singer – David Lee Roth had left the band to pursue a solo career and Sammy stepped in to take the reigns – pitting Van Halen fans against each other over which Van Halen was better: Diamond Dave Van Halen or Van Hagar?
The success of 5150 was followed up by OU812 in 1988 and For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge in 1991. The following year, 1992 saw two albums released by Sammy Hagar alone – The Best of Sammy Hagar and I Never Said Goodbye (originally released with the title Sammy Hagar). In 1993, Sammy and Van Halen released a live album, Live: Right Here, Right Now then came Sammy’s compilation of new and old songs of his own – Unboxed. Unboxed featured several of Hagar’s solo hits – including his song “Heavy Metal” for the animated movie from several years earlier. Hagar would release another album with Van Halen – 1995’s Balance and a song for the movie Twister the following year before leaving the band.
He formed a band called The Waboritas in 1997, around the same time he released a solo album, Marching to Mars. The Waboritas is considered a “long term solo band” according to his website, redrocker.com. The 1999 album Red Voodoo was Hagar’s first with The Waboritas and birthed the hit single, “Mas Tequiila.” It was followed by Ten 13 in 2000, Not for Sale in 2002 and Livin’ it Up in 2006.
Sammy released a solo album in 2004 called The Essential RedCollection and another in 2008 called Cosmic Universal Fashion. Between 2002 and 2006, Hagar did side projects which included a Van Halen reunion. The Waboritas continue to perform in between Hagar’s other current project – Chickenfoot.
Chickenfoot is an all-star lineup of Hagar on lead vocals, guitarist Joe Satriani, Chad Smith on drums and former Van Halen bandmate Michael Anthony on bass. Smith was drummer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Chickenfoot released a self-titled album in 2009 and a live album called Get Your Buzz on Live in 2010.
What’s next for Sammy Hagar? As if he isn’t staying busy enough, according to a recent article on huffingtonpost.com, Sammy is penning his autobiography. The Red Rocker has signed a deal with It Books – an imprint of HarperCollins – to write a memoir. It is scheduled to be published in 2011 – and I can’t wait to read it.