Years: 1967 – present
Styles: Hard Rock, Heavy Metal
Sammy Hagar - Acoustic guitar , Guitar, Lead vocals, Vocals (in band: 1967 - present)
Alan Fitzgerald - Keyboards (in band: 1976 - 1970)
Scott Mathews - Drums (in band: 1976 - 1977)
Bill Church - Backing vocals, Bass Guitar (in band: 1976 - 1985)
Chuck Ruff - Backing vocals, Drums (in band: 1977 - 1980)
Gary Pihl - Backing vocals, Guitar, Keyboards (in band: 1977 - 1985)
Denny Carmassi - Drums (in band: 1977; 1997)
David Lewark - Guitar (in band: 1978 - 1977)
Geoff Workman - Keyboards (in band: 1980)
David Lauser - Backing vocals, Drums (in band: 1981 - 1984; 1987; 2008)
Jesse Harms - Backing vocals, Keyboards (in band: 1984 - 1985; 1987; 1997 - 2003)
Eddie Van Halen - Bass Guitar (in band: 1987)
Jonathan Pierce - Bass Guitar (in band: 1993; 1997)
Vic Johnson - Acoustic guitar , Guitar, Vocals (in band: 1997; 2008; 2014)
Mona Gnader - Bass Guitar, Vocals (in band: 2008)
Samuel Roy Hagar also known as The Red Rocker, is an American rock vocalist, guitarist, songwriter, musician and entrepreneur. 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". He enjoyed huge commercial success when he replaced David Lee Roth as the lead singer of Van Halen in 1985, but left the band in 1996. He returned to the band for a 2-year reunion from 2003 to 2005. On March 12, 2007, Hagar was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Van Halen. His musical style primarily consists of hard rock and heavy metal.
Also a businessman, he founded the Cabo Wabo Tequila brand and restaurant chain, as well as Sammy's Beach Bar Rum. His current musical projects include being the lead singer of Chickenfoot and The Circle.
As a teenager, Hagar became interested in the burgeoning Southern California music scene. He fronted his first band, the Fabulous Castilles, when he was twenty.
That same year, Hagar joined the Johnny Fortune Band as a vocalist and rhythm guitarist. Hagar was also a member of a string of other pre-Montrose bands including Big Bang, Skinny, Dustcloud, Cotton, Jimmy, and Manhole. He next became a member of the Justice Brothers, along with guitarist Bob Anglin, keyboardist Al Shane, bassist Jeff Nicholson, and drummer David Lauser. The Justice Brothers were the house band at a bar called "The Nightclub" in San Bernardino, California, before they relocated to San Francisco.
Hagar's first major success came with the group Montrose, on their debut and second albums, which included the first song Hagar wrote, "Bad Motor Scooter". After conflicts during a European tour with the band's founder, Ronnie Montrose, Hagar quit the group. Bassist Bill Church (who had quit Montrose after the first album) and drummer Denny Carmassi eventually played in Hagar's backing band. After the album Paper Money, Hagar began his solo career.record.
In the mid-1970s, Hagar started a solo recording and touring career to increasing success. He enjoyed moderate success on Capitol Records under the tutelage of A&R man Carter, with such albums as Nine on a Ten Scale and hits such as "Red", which would build his persona and style, leading to his nickname of "The Red Rocker". However, Hagar felt that Carter did not play to his strengths as "a heavy-metal guy" and instead tried to generate Top 40 hits (such as a cover of Otis Redding's "Dock of the Bay") with little success.
Hagar was scheduled to open for Boston in San Bernardino, California, during their 1979 world tour. Prior to the Boston show, Hagar was replaced on the bill by the up-and-coming Los Angeles club band, The Knack, rather than being an opening act so close to his former hometown of Fontana. Hagar split with Carter for his 1979 Street Machine album which he self-produced. But after it and 1980's Danger Zone failed to break out, Hagar felt that Capitol wasn't supporting him sufficiently.
Hagar left Capitol for the newly formed Geffen Records and made some personnel changes, including enlisting long-time friend and former Justice Brothers bandmate David Lauser as his drummer. His first Geffen release, Standing Hampton, was his biggest-selling album to date and went platinum on the strength of songs such as "There's Only One Way to Rock". The follow-up, Three Lock Box, generated his first pop Top 40 hit and his highest charting solo single on the Billboard Hot 100, "Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy", which peaked at #13 in early 1983.
Hagar continued to enjoy commercial success in the 1980s, with perhaps his best-known song, "I Can't Drive 55", from his 1984 album VOA, reaching #26 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. By this time, 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 "A Whiter Shade of Pale", received some airplay, peaking at #94 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart, while "Top of the Rock" became an under-the-radar airplay favorite in markets such as Seattle, Washington.
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 at his 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 era.
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, 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 could not 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, also managed by Danniels.
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 Michael Anthony and one for Eddie and Alex. 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.
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. A brief tour was followed up by a second album, Chickenfoot III, in 2011.
In March 2011, Sammy Hagar released an autobiography entitled Red: My Uncensored Life In Rock, written with the assistance of rock critic Joel Selvin. On April 3, 2011, it reached number 1 on the New York Times Best Seller list of hardcover nonfiction.
During an interview with the American Rock Scene, Hagar announced the forthcoming paperback version of Red would include an additional chapter, stating that he "didn’t want to release the same book again."
In September 2015, Hagar released a cookbook entitled: "Are We Having Any Fun Yet? - The Cooking & Partying Handbook". The book contains over 50 food and drink recipes, along with pictures and stories of Hagar's cooking memories from growing up as a child, to present day.
In the 1990s, Hagar bought a mountain bike store, then built another called Sausalito Cyclery, soon rated the number one independent bike store in California. Hagar designed a mountain bike called the "Red Rocker", built with a red frame by Gary Fisher and black components; no chrome,
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 on the strip in Las Vegas.
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. In 2007, 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, California, earned about $60 million in sales in 2007. In 2010, he sold the remaining 20% interest in Cabo Wabo Tequila to Gruppo Campari for $11 million (bringing the total to $91 million).
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