Van Halen just started touring to promote a new studio album with original singer David Lee Roth. I grew up listening to Van Halen and watching their videos on MTV. In my earlier years I didn’t discriminate between Van Halen and Van Hagar…until I saw them in concert. In 2002 David Lee Roth and replacement singer Sammy Hagar decided to do a tour together. That’s when I officially became a “Red Head.”
The Sammy and Dave Tour was a lot of fun. Each singer did a full set of their radio hits and b-sides, riling the audience up. Their styles are completely different. Roth loves to get dressed up putting on the different outrageous outfits, while Hagar looks like he rolled out of bed wearing flip-flops, shorts and a signature red t-shirt. Roth loves to belt out tunes that his voice can no longer hold, while Sammy just likes to rock and roll. Lyrically, Roth is like listening to a beach read while Hagar is like reading a book club book.
Since the 2002 show, my husband and I have seen Hagar’s solo shows when he comes to the state. The atmosphere is reminiscent of a Buffet concert, with audience members hitting inflatable beach balls to the beat of the music and singing along. He recently released an autobiography that chronicles tidbits of how certain rock ballads came to be. His voice is authentic, he doesn’t hold anything back, and the stories from the Van Halen days will stay with you as you listen to their music.
Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock begins in sunny California among orange groves and chicken ranches. His youth was spent in a home where there was always chaos. The ups and downs of his childhood gave him the foundation for taking criticism, and the roller coaster ride of being a rock star.
Hagar’s first studio album with Van Halen was 5150, titled after the nickname for their studio. The love ballad, and one of my favorites, “Why Can’t This Be Love,” came from this album. Hagar wrote about his first meeting with the band in his biography. They immediately clicked in the song-writing arena and produced the beginnings of several hit songs.
In the late ’80s Hagar discovered the beauty of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The Van Halen crew spent time in that area and inspired a track from the OU812 album named “Cabo Wabo.” Hagar bought property down there and started a bar on the beach. The guys from the band chipped in and owned shares of the business. They even did a show to promote the bar. He currently has full ownership of the bar and does a special birthday show every year in early October. My husband and I keep talking about going one of these years.
Music videos were really important when MTV actually played videos rather than reality shows. “Right Now” was released as a single from the For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge album and the band had to make a video. Hagar described having the flu during shooting. He was miserable and hated making a concept video. He admits that the finished product came out awesome and still loves the video to this day.
Our favorite album is one of his solo albums, Livin’ It Up. It’s the perfect feel-good CD. It emotes being on a beach with your feet in the sand. I turn it up in the winter to remind me of warm times, and turn it up in the summer to complement the sun shining on me.
Hagar’s latest venture is a super band called Chickenfoot. Michael Anthony, his buddy from VH, guitar legend Joe Satriani, and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith form the newest band. With the Chili Peppers promoting their latest album, I’m not sure if Chickenfoot will be able to do a tour. The music is a unique mix of rock filled in with Satriani’s guitar solos.
I can’t wait to see what music Hagar comes up with next, whether it be a solo venture or a new kind of band!
Right now Lisa Shaia is reading M: Music and Musicians.