Sammy Hagar, known to many as the legendary RED rocker, has been blessed with total success in the music business and his charm and positive outlook on life has propelled Hagar to lead a very enjoyable life, whether he’s making music or in his very successful entrepreneurship and business ventures. It’s always interesting when life long rockers come back and make a new album as it is with Sammy’s new record “Sammy Hagar & Friends” a release which has Hagar getting some help from buddies in the scene such as Kid Rock, Nancy Wilson (Heart), Toby Keith, Taj Mahal, Ronnie Dunn (Brooks & Dunn), Michael Anthony (ex-Van Halen, Chickenfoot), Neal Schon (Journey), Chad Smith & Joe Satriani (Chickenfoot), Bill Church & Denny Carmassi (Montrose)and more.
Perhaps it’s fitting to quote the people that know him best when we talk about Sammy the person, and here’s one from his long time friend and former Van Halen bassist Michel Anthony; taken from Sammy Hagar’s auto biography “Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock”. “He is the most upbeat, positive guy in the world. He loves life. He only happens to be a singer and play music, too. And another thing–he’s not bullshitter. If Sammy says it happened, it did. There’s nobody else anywhere like him. I don’t know how to put it. Sam is one crazy motherfucker. But I mean that in only the best possible way”
Interviewed by Mark Dean (Journalist/Writer/Contributor) Myglobalmind Webzine
especial thanks to James Gypsy Nagy for setting up the interview.
I’ve been a huge Sammy Hagar fan since the eighties through his solo releases ,Van Halen and up to the present with Chickenfoot. I recently had the opportunity over two days to have a chat with the legend himself through the Transatlantic airways. Unfortunately due to the mans legendary status time was limited albeit precious.
“Sammy Hagar speaking”
Hi Sammy, it’s Mark from Myglobalmind
Sammy”How are you Mark”?
Glad I managed to get you, tried several times with no luck.
Sammy”What actually happened was that my first interview started late.The guy didn’t call me and he went fifteen minutes late, so the whole thing is now out by fifteen, twenty minutes(laughs). But we are fine, the next guy is going to have the same problem and you and I will just finish up our interview the way we are supposed to.”
I found it very difficult to condense your whole musical career into just ten minutes, but I will try my best.
Sammy(laughing)”We can stretch it to fifteen,come on now Mark, I will try to give you short, sweet answers.”
I understand that the original idea with your new album was that you were going to re record some Van Halen numbers. Obviously that was stopped by the other two guys. Do you as a person find it difficult to understand people that can hold grudges for quite so long.?
Sammy”Yes it is difficult but you know what I wasn’t going to re record any of the songs. What I was going to do was, because I could do that. No one can stop you from rerecording anything. I was trying to license the original tracks, and I was going to put a greatest hits anthology record together. That would have some Montrose tracks, some early Sammy, some Van Halen, some later Sammy and some Chickenfoot. Then write some new songs to kind of match each era. That was the way that I was going to start the thing. I didn’t pursue it, but their first initial response that they didn’t want me to have the original masters to put on my thing. So I thought you know “Who cares” because you know honestly you when I decided to make a whole new CD and start calling up all my friends to come and play on it, I’m so glad because if probably if they would have said yes then I would have done the other record and it wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun and interesting as this one. So sometimes things happen for a good reason and when the time is right and I want to use those songs I have the right to use them and I will use them. Right now I don’t need them,its great. I have been going out and playing live with Michael Anthony in the band and the guys from Montrose, Denny Carmassi on the four decades of rock tour. I play forty five minutes of Van Halen songs. I feel comfortable about that because there is two guys, me and Mikey in the band number one, and number two in their present lineup no one can sing those songs. So they cant even play my era of songs, there is like 42 million records worth of songs that they cant even play anymore. I am happy to play them myself, and every things fine.”
Then I unfortunately lost connection to adverse weather here, Sammy was kind enough to arrange another slot, and we picked up.
Sammy”What do you need to know,what didn’t we talk about yet?
You can easily retire and enjoy the rewards of your success but what keeps you driven and motivated to keep going, playing live and recording?
Sammy”I think , that I still really love it. It’s like when I first started playing music and I did it because I really loved it. I just wanted to play guitar, I would carry my guitar all the way across town. I mean walk with my guitar, in my hand all the way across town to a friends house just to sit in his garage and only play the one or two songs that we knew. We would play them over and over all day. Playing music is a blast you know, it really is fun to do when you play and sing. Then I started getting rich and famous, and it kinda turned into a business. Like in Van Halen ,and things like that. We would always think about what we were going to do next. We would discuss it and we would talk about it. It became like business. It was like”well we cant do that because of this, or maybe we should do this and that”It was all just……as great as it was it was a little bit of crazy bullshit in the middle of it that made me think”wait a minute, why cant we just go and play music”We would get paid fine and we made plenty of money, so we will again figure out how to make more money, how to do this, how to do that. The money is fine. So anyway when I left Van Halen I decided that I was going to get back to the roots of playing music and not big business. If big business wont accept my music-fine but I am not going to adapt my music or my lifestyle to big business. It really worked for me ,because it still made me love what I wanted to do. I think now its even more so than ever. When I want to make a record its because I really want to go record it. I’ve wrote a new song, I am excited and I want to go and record it. Then once I record it(a new song)I want to go out and play it for my fans. I’m pretty much motivated by that, by getting excited. I am excited about my new music, I am excited about playing it for people.”
You have many interests outside music, food, drink, racing cars etc.Do you still have any unfulfilled ambitions and life goals?
Sammy”Yeah, I still………wow that’s tough. I still want to help. I have a tendency that I want to help people more than I have been able to. It’s not just money, its having time and a direction of how I can help people. One of the things that I do, is that I try with my restaurants that I own . I give the money away in five different cities ,I give the money away to food banks and to hospitals and stuff for helping kids that don’t have insurance, and people that are hungry. Families that live homeless, and so I try to feed those people. You know its not enough to take care of everybody. So as I said I would like to be able to do more, its not just financial. It’s really having the time to go out and do the infrastructure. I would really like..I am on a quest right now, and I really like helping people. It means a lot to me, and I feel good about it”
What are your thought about free music downloads and free music sites? Do you think that its more difficult these days for bands to actually make a living at making music?
Sammy”Well, yeah I am OK with it because I have done really well,and I don’t really need that money to survive on. It doesn’t bother me as much when people you know like just steal my music. I think music kind of should be free, and then when you go and play in concerts you should be paid for that. It is expensive because you have to pay your band, and your crew, and you have to get travel. So you need to be paid for that, but for making music I don’t know….Lets put it like this, I think it got too expensive and so that’s the payback. It needs to find a middle ground, you know. Paying a little bit for music is OK, but you shouldn’t have to pay 19.95 for somebodies new record, when once you get it you go”Fuck I can go home and make a million of these. I can burn them and give them to my friends.Its kind of crazy to charge somebody that much, and it makes it easier for them to want to steal it. Anyway I feel sorry for young bands that are starting out because if you cant make a living at what you want to do in life then its kind of miserable, you have to have another job. Growing up when I was playing music i didn’t make any money hardly at all, but I didn’t have another job. I was poor, I just didn’t give a shit. I thought “man I just want to play music”I don’t care. I sleep on this guys floor, in his house. I get up and I rehearse with my band and we would go and play that night. We would make ten dollars apiece, it doesn’t matter. I wish I was making more but its ok this was what I wanted to do. Bands sometimes cant even do that now, and they have to have other jobs or something. I don’t know, its kind of a bummer”
Unfortunately my slot of media time with Sammy was then up,was glad to have had the opportunity to speak to a global legend of the rock scene,and would have relished more.
On the eve of his fourth decade in rock & roll, Grammy Award®-winning, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Sammy Hagar has teamed with a seminal array of his legendary rock and country artist friends and bandmates, past and present, for his first-ever rock collaborations album, “Sammy Hagar and Friends.” The release will see Hagar joining forces with award-winning artists including Kid Rock, Nancy Wilson (Heart), Ronnie Dunn (Brooks & Dunn), Michael Anthony (ex-Van Halen, Chickenfoot), Neal Schon (Journey), Chad Smith & Joe Satriani (Chickenfoot), Bill Church & Denny Carmassi (Montrose), The Wabos and more on an epic collection of 10 new songs and unexpected covers. Produced by Hagar and Grammy winning engineer/producer, John Cuniberti, “Sammy Hagar and Friends” will be released by Frontiers Records on September 24th in North America and September 27th in Europe (29th in the UK).
From new originals like “Knockdown Dragout” with Kid Rock, “Bad On Fords and Chevrolets,” with Ronnie Dunn, “All We Need Is An Island,” with Nancy Wilson, “Going Down” with Neal Schon, Michael Anthony and Chad Smith, and “Father Sun,” a duet with his son Aaron Hagar – to reimagined covers of classics like Bob Seger’s, “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man,” and Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus,” – Hagar has masterfully assembled an album that delves into rock, country, blues and pop. “Sammy Hagar and Friends” is Hagar’s first solo album since 2008. Full details, including a complete artist list, cover art, tracklisting and presale information will be announced shortly.
The release of “Sammy Hagar and Friends” will follow on the heels of his “Four Decades of Rock” summer tour which kicks off July 26th in Tucson and wraps September 7th in his hometown of San Francisco. The 14-city tour celebrates Hagar’s arsenal of hits from his career-spanning success as a solo artist, songwriter and frontman for Van Halen, Montrose and Chickenfoot. The tour, which features Hagar and his band, The Wabos will also see influential bandmates from his career including Michael Anthony, Denny Carmassi, Bill Church and more joining him on select dates. Hagar and his line up of guest stars will take fans on a hit-filled retrospective from the Red Rocker’s prolific career. Fans can also expect some surprise “friends” to join Hagar on stage for a sneak peak of tracks from the new album. For a full list of tour dates, visit www.redrocker.com.
Sammy Hagar, also known as The Red Rocker, is a Grammy award-winning vocalist, guitarist, songwriter and musician, who in 2007 was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Van Halen. From breaking into the industry with the seminal hard rock band Montrose to his multiplatinum solo career and his ride as the frontman of Van Halen, he’s set the tone for some of the greatest rock anthems ever written—with songs like “I Can’t Drive 55,” “Rock Candy,” “I’ll Fall in Love Again,” “There’s Only One Way to Rock,” “Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy,” “Finish What Ya Started” “Right Now,” and “Why Can’t This Be Love.” Throughout his prolific 40-year-career, Hagar’s solo and group albums have globally amassed 25 Platinum certifications on sales surpassing 40 million. In 2009, he formed the supergroup Chickenfoot with bassist Michael Anthony (ex–Van Halen), guitarist Joe Satriani, and drummer Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers). The band’s self-titled debut album was certified gold and their subsequent tours were lauded by both fans and critics. In 2011, with the release of his critically acclaimed autobiography, “Red: My Uncensored Life In Rock,” he became a # 1 New York Times Best Selling Author. With his Cabo Wabo Tequila, Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum and succession of successful bar & restaurant brands, he’s evolved into an auspicious entrepreneur, pioneering the now popular celebrity spirit trend. Raised in Fontana, CA, Hagar’s hardscrabble upbringing instilled in him an unstoppable work ethic that’s been the driving force behind his rise to the top – and continues to fuel his dedication as a philanthropist.