New Sammy Hagar Book: Red, My Uncensored Life in Rock

This is my first blog post, and hope to stay with it.  I recently interviewed Sammy Hagar for Cabo Living magazine, and am posting the following review.  This tome should be hitting e-readers everywhere soon.


My Uncensored Life in Rock

By Sammy Hagar, with Joel Selvin


This book has a lot going for it, some of which is exactly what you would expect – stories of the excitement and excesses of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle – and some of which may catch you by surprise. If you’re looking for the adventure and inside dish on what life has been like for one of rock ‘n’ roll’s most flamboyant front men, you’ll find it all here against a colorful backdrop of the music business, fast cars and, of course, Cabo. But on another level, the more surprising part of the book is the highly personal story Hagar tells.  In addition to the Van Halen tales and Hagar’s high flying career as the Red Rocker, this is also an amazingly candid story of some very tough times growing up and his struggles balancing family and career.

The son of migrant field hands, Hagar endured an abusive and largely absentee father and a dirt poor childhood, but developed a love for music and recognized it as his ticket to bigger and better things.  Developing his chops through a series of pickup bands in Fontana in southern California, Hagar drew from as many influences as he could and attended the watershed Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. That first wave of a new musical culture, the burgeoning San Francisco ballroom scene with its colorful lifestyle and roots-influenced music, was something he wanted to be a part of.

And he became a part of it in a very big way. With handsewn costuming inspired by David Bowie, he hit the stage in the San Francisco Bay Area at any venue that would have him, and, when the opportunity arose, became a founding member of Montrose.  That led to his first record contract, his first real money as a musician and the experience became a stepping stone to his enormous success as a rock ‘n’ roll star.

It’s all here, from the significance of Ed Matteson, the predictions of Miss Kellerman, the Mobile Home Blues Band and the Justice Brothers to the Van Halen years, the exotic cars, the early days of Cabo Wabo and his recent business ventures and work in a variety of charitable efforts.  And it’s told in a very candid, anecdotal tone, as if you were sitting across the table from him as he shared these colorful stories of rock’s golden era.  The book also includes two 16-page color photo inserts covering Hagar’s career and personal life.

Looking back over his years in the music business, Hagar finds really nothing to regret: “I can’t call anything a mistake,” he says. “I’ve had nothing but great success, and really in a nice chronological pacing that brought me to where I am today. If I’d experienced huge success with Montrose I wouldn’t be here today, doing this.”

When it comes to the big picture, Sammy Hagar also realizes the ultimate importance of family, friends and helping the less fortunate. He may be one of the most successful musicians of the last fifty years, with a fanatically loyal fan base to prove it, but in the final analysis, he’s very much a regular guy, as down to earth and solid as his Mother and he likes it that way. With a realistic sense of perspective and his feet planted firmly on the ground, the story told by Sammy Hagar in Red is a prime example of good things happening to a very good guy.