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Samuel Roy "Sammy" Hagar (born October 13, 1947), known as "The Red Rocker", is an Americanmarker rock singer, guitarist, composer and solo artist. Hagar was one of the three singers for Van Halen, as well as the original singer of the early 1970s rock band Montrose. On March 12, 2007, Hagar was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Famemarker as a member of Van Halen. He has had the opportunity to work with some of hard rock's most famous guitarists including, Eddie Van Halen, Ronnie Montrose, Neal Schon of Journey, and more recently, Joe Satriani. He currently resides in Mill Valley, Californiamarker and also has a residence in Cabo San Lucasmarker, Mexico. His present musical project is as lead singer of a hard rock band called Chickenfoot.


Hagar was born in Montereymarker, Californiamarker. Although Hagar was born in Monterey, he lived in Fontana, and graduated from Fontana High School. He also took guitar lessons at "The House of Note" in Redlands, California ( circa 1968–1970)—Owned by Chauncey Romero (Jacksonville, Oregon).

Pre-Montrose years

After a brief career as a boxer in the footsteps of his father, Hagar became interested in the burgeoning Southern California music scene, fronting his first band, The Fabulous Catillas.

In 1968, Hagar joined his first professional group, the Johnny Fortune Band, as a vocalist and rhythm guitarist.Reportedly, Hagar was also in some other pre-Montrose bands including Skinny, Justice Brothers, Dustcloud, Cotton, Jimmy, and Manhole.

Justice Brothers also featured drummer David Lauser.

Montrose years (1973–1975)

Hagar's first major success, however, came from his work with the group Montrose on their debut and second albums, including the Hagar-penned song "Bad Motor Scooter". After difficulties with the band's founder, Ronnie Montrose, during a European tour, Hagar departed from the group with bassist Bill Church in tow and drummer Denny Carmassi followed in 1977.

Solo (1976–1984)

Hagar started a solo recording and touring career to increasing success. After moderate success on Capitol Records, with such albums as Nine on a Ten Scale and hits such as Red, Hagar made some personnel changes, including enlisting long time friend and former Justice Brothers bandmate David Lauser as his drummer. With these changes, and a change to Geffen Records, Hagar enjoyed hits such as "Heavy Metal", "Three Lock Box", and perhaps his best-known song "I Can't Drive 55", a gripe against the federally imposed speed limit of 55 miles per hour on all U.S. highways. (The limit was increased on certain roads in 1987, and the law repealed in 1995; the song was updated for NASCAR broadcasts on NBC in 2001 to 65, and is used in NHL Rivals 2004.) The first song on his self titled 1977 album was about his favorite color "Red" and his frequent appearance in his red attire in videos and in concert would lead up to his given trademark nickname of "The Red Rocker".

HSAS (1984)

In 1983–84 Sammy 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 "Whiter Shade of Pale" received some airplay peaking at #94 on the Billboard Pop 100 Singles chart.

Van Halen years (1985–1996)

After parting ways with vocalist David Lee Roth, the remaining members of the band Van Halen contacted many potential replacements. Given Eddie Van Halen's appreciation of Montrose and his car 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. Internal disputes eventually led to Hagar's departure from the band in 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 Hawaiimarker, where they had arranged for a natural delivery of the baby (meaning outside of a hospital), and Eddie wanted him back in the studio. Hagar claimed to have flown to Los Angeles with his wife only to discover that she couldn't 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 Best of Volume I. When Van Halen again parted ways with Roth, instead of rehiring Hagar, the band hired a new singer, Gary Cherone.

Los Tres Gusanos

In 1993, Hagar, drummer Dave Lauser and Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony formed the band "Los Tres Gusanos" (in English, "The Three Worms"). Playing a mixture of Sammy Hagar and Van Halen tunes at Cabo Wabo, the band infrequently got together a few times a year.

Solo again (1996–2002)

Hagar went on to produce several new solo records after the split with Van Halen in 1996. In 1999, Hagar formed a long term solo band, called The Waboritas, consisting again of David Lauser on drums, as well as former keyboardist Jesse Harms, and new to the mix was former BusBoys guitarist Vic Johnson, and former Tommy Tutone bassist Mona Gnader.

Planet Us (2002–2003)

In 2002, with Van Halen still unreformed at this point, Hagar joined again with guitarists Neal Schon of Journey and later Joe Satriani to form a new side project called Planet Us. Along with Van Halen member Michael Anthony on bass and Deen Castronovo (also of Journey) on drums. Despite big intentions, the band only recorded two songs and played live a few times before dissolving when Hagar and Anthony rejoined Van Halen. The two songs, "Psycho Vertigo" and "Peephole," would not see release until Sammy's 2008 effort, Cosmic Universal Fashion.

Van Halen reforms (2003–2005)

Hagar with Van Halen, 2004
After the successful "Heavyweights of Rock" tour (2002), where he co-headlined with David Lee Roth, (and jokingly suggested the name the "Sans Halen Tour") Hagar started thinking about his former Van Halen bandmates, calling Alex Van Halen in late 2003 from a tip by a mutual friend. In early 2004, Van Halen with Sammy Hagar was announced to the general public, culminating with a highly anticipated summer tour and a 2-CD Best Of album, entitled Best of Both Worlds featuring three new Van Halen tracks fronted by Hagar.

The subsequent tour brought on more problems, however, most notably Eddie Van Halen's alleged relapse into alcoholism, which resulted in a somewhat infamous final show in Tucson, Arizonamarker. 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 that Eddie had changed and wasn't the same person anymore.

Sammy and The Waboritas (2006–2009)

In 2005, Hagar continued to play with The Waboritas as he toured the Atlantic coast and the Midwest and added ex-Van Halen bass player Michael Anthony, calling the band Los Tres Gusanos (The Three Worms). In August of that year, Hagar went on another mini-tour starting at DTE Energy Music Theatre in Clarkston, Michiganmarker and then hitting the southwest before finishing at his own Cabo Wabo Cantina. Hagar's 2006 tour with The Waboritas also included a segment with Michael Anthony playing as a band called The Other Half (a reference to Sammy and Michael being the half of Van Halen that was not Van Halen by name) for a set of songs in the middle of the show, including both Hagar- and Roth-era tunes. The band also invited Kid Rock on stage at DTE Energy Theatre for a couple of songs, including covers of Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll" and The Beastie Boys' "You Gotta Fight For Your Right (To Party)". Hagar also released an album and DVD called "Livin' It Up! In St. Louis" with the Wabos on July 25, 2006. Sammy has a longstanding and strong relationship with St. Louis. Often in concerts, Sammy can be seen wearing a red St. Louis Cardinals cap. Sammy has said that he credits St. Louis fans and the longtime rock radio station KSHE in St. Louis with helping to launch his professional career.

Chickenfoot (2008–present)

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. The band played June 5th on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien, the last day of O'Brien's first week as host of the show. They then launched a European and North American tour that lasted through September.In September 2009, the RIAA certified the Chickenfoot debut as Gold (having sold 500,000 copies).The band was also featured performing the track "Sexy Little Thing" on the November 6th, 2009 broadcast of Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Musical equipment

Hagar currently endorses Yamaha Guitars, which are currently producing a line of Sammy Hagar signature guitars named the Yamaha AES620 SH. The guitar is based on Yamaha's AES620 guitar and features a number of modifications requested by Hagar, including a Seymour Duncan JB pickup in the bridgeposition, a "Cabo Wabo" inlay at 12th fret and custom translucent red finish. In addition to his signature model Hagar also plays a handmade AES920 solid body guitar. Previously Hagar collaborated with Washburn Guitars which also made a Sammy Hagar signature guitar named Washburn RR150 which also featured Seymour Duncan pickups and a piezo pickup incorporated into the bridge.

Hagar currently uses Crate Amplifiers which is concurrently marketing a Sammy Hagar signature 120 watt amplifier named Crate BV120RH Red Voodoo Amp Head.

Business interests

  • Hagar owns a nightclub and restaurant in Cabo San Lucasmarker, Mexicomarker 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 has also 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 off the strip in Las Vegas.
  • In early 2009, Hagar opened "Sammy's Beach Bar & Grill" at Harrah's Casino in St. Louis, Missouri. Shortly after, another was opened at McCarren Airport in Las Vegas, NV. Hagar donates all of the profits of both locations to local charities.
  • 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. Last year, 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, Calif., earned about $60 million in sales in 2007.

Additional biographical notes

  • He is interviewed in the 1991 documentary Finally.
  • The album I Never Said Goodbye was originally untitled, until MTV ran a contest to name the album. Future presses of the CD appeared with the new title.
  • In 2002, Sammy Hagar was Commissioned as a Kentucky Colonel by Kentucky Governor Paul Patton.
  • In 2007, Hagar starred in a number of National Automotive Parts Association ('NAPA') commercials with Nextel Cup drivers Michael Waltrip and Dale Jarrett. The campaign centers around Hagar's song "I Can't Drive 55", changing the words to "I Can't Drive the 55", a reference to Waltrip's car number 55.
  • Hagar co-wrote two songs for Heart's "Brigade" album.
  • Hagar covered the Patti Smith song "Free Money" early in her career. In 2007, Smith and Van Halen were both inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Famemarker. "Free Money" was prominently featured in a video montage of Smith's performances. At the end of the induction show, Hagar jammed with Smith to her song "People Have the Power".
  • Hagar was present at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festivalmarker, and he was in the VH1 documentary about Monterey, stating that it changed his life.
  • Hagar holds the city record for selling more tickets in St. Louis than any other musical entertainer in St. Louis history.
  • Hagar penned the song "I've Done Everything For You", which appeared on Rick Springfield's 1981 album "Working Class Dog". Hagar used to introduce the song in concert in one of two ways by saying either, "I wrote this song, but Rick Springfield had a hit with it because he's better looking." or "Here's a song Rick Springfield made famous for me."
  • On May 23, 2006, San Bernardino Countymarker California supervisors declared the day to be "Sammy Hagar Day". Hagar showed up at the county chamber with his mother, Gladys. He then gave a short speech, posed with commissioners for photos, embraced his mother, and left through a back door.
  • The song "Sammy Hagar Weekend" is a popular song by punk rock band Thelonious Monster, and is listed on their CD Stormy Weather.
  • Hagar appeared in Celebrity Ghost Stories on The Biography Channel. He told of how he was awakened by someone pounding on his front door. It was his estranged father, in a drunken stupor and asking to see his new grandson. Hagar angrily sent his father away. Moments later, the loud knocking resumed but when Hagar opened the door, it was a bandmate alerting Hagar to a phone call. Hagar's father had been found dead that night. As they were separated by several hundred miles, it would have been impossible for Hagar's father to have been at his front door only moments before.
  • Yamaha released a signature version of the AES620 renaming it the AES620SH. Featuring a mahogany body with a figured maple veneer top powered by two humbucking pickups including a Seymour Duncan JB in the bridge. The set-in mahogany neck and rosewood fingerboard are enhanced with the world-famous Cabo Wabo logo inlaid at the 12th fret. The custom red color is based on the Red Rocker's favorite translucent red finish.


Studio albums

Band Album Year Chart (USA) RIAA (USA) Guitar Bass Drums Keyboards
Montrose Montrose 1973 133 Platinum Ronnie Montrose Bill Church Denny Carmassi Alan Fitzgerald -
Paper Money 1974 65
Sammy Hagar (solo) Nine On A Ten Scale 1976 167 - sessions Bill Church sessions Alan Fitzgerald
Sammy Hagar 1977 89 - David Lewark Scott Mathews
Musical Chairs 1977 100 - Sammy Hagar / Gary Pihl Denny Carmassi
Street Machine 1979 85 - Chuck Ruff -
Danger Zone 1980 28 - Geoff Workman
Standing Hampton 1981 171 Platinum David Lauser -
Three Lock Box 1982 17 Gold
VOA 1984 32 Platinum Jesse Harms
Hagar Schon Aaronson Shrieve Through The Fire 1984 42 - Neal Schon/Nick Sciorsci Kenny Aaronson Michael Shrieve -
Van Halen 5150 1986 1 6x Platinum Eddie Van Halen Michael Anthony Alex Van Halen Eddie Van Halen
Sammy Hagar (solo) I Never Said Goodbye 1987 14 Gold Sammy Hagar Eddie Van Halen David Lauser Jesse Harms
Van Halen OU812 1988 1 4x Platinum Eddie Van Halen Michael Anthony Alex Van Halen Eddie Van Halen
For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge 1991 1 3x Platinum
Balance 1995 1 3x Platinum
Sammy Hagar (solo) Marching To Mars 1997 18 - Sammy Hagar/ Vic Johnson Jonathan Pierce Denny Carmassi Jesse Harms
Sammy Hagar & The Waboritas Red Voodoo 1999 22 - Sammy Hagar /Vic Johnson Mona Gnader David Lauser
Ten 13 2000 52 -
Not 4 Sale 2002 181 -
Livin' It Up! 2006 50 - -
Sammy Hagar (solo) Cosmic Universal Fashion 2008 95 -
Chickenfoot Chickenfoot 2009 4 Gold Joe Satriani Michael Anthony Chad Smith

Note: The album Through The Fire is actually a live album, but the crowd noise was muted during mixing and the album presented as if a studio release. Hagar Schon Aaronson Shrieve never released a studio album, so all songs included were not available elsewhere. The band did not shy away from overdubs and other studio tricks because of this, so the album has been included in this list.

Backing bands

During his solo career, Hagar has had a number of backing bands. Many played with him on a regular basis as more than just guest musicians. Generally these musicians also record most of the backing vocals for Hagar's albums. The most notable and longest standing group of Hagar's are called The Waboritas, who were founded in 1997 when Hagar toured promoting his album Marching to Mars. On some of his work, Hagar played all guitars himself hence the guitarist position not being constantly filled on the below timeline. Also, time spent in Van Halen interrupted Hagar's solo career; it was on hiatus from 1985–1996 other than small returns to studio work in 1987 and 1993. When Hagar went on tour with Van Halen in 2004 however, his band were paid to be ready for him should he want to return to playing with them at any time.

Hagar Put the Waboritas on lifetime PAID salary/vacation again with the understanding that when he wants to play with them they will be there ready to play. He will still be doing his shows with the Wabo's in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico home of the original Cabo Wabo Cantina for his B-Day Bash's going forward. Since the inception in 2009 of Chickenfoot that has became his main band a short outlook has been guessed since Joe Satriani's plans to remain a solo artist while Chad Smith's commitments to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers are still in the works but all members are still committed to Chickenfoot, Hagar will have time off and any future plans as a solo performer have yet to be properly discussed in interviews.


  • David Lewark (1976–1977)
  • Gary Pihl (1977–1985)
  • Vic Johnson (1997–2009)



  • Scott Mathews (1976–1977)
  • Chuck Ruff (1977–1980)
  • Denny Carmassi (1977, 1997)
  • David Lauser (1981–1985, 1987, 1993, 1997–2009)


  • Alan Fitzgerald (1976–1979)
  • Geoff Workman (1980)
  • Jesse Harms (1984–1985, 1987, 1997–2003)


  1. Sammy Hagar Signature Model Electric Guitar
  2. Sammy Hagar
  3. Sammy Hagar
  5. Crate BV120RH Red Voodoo Amp Head
  6. Wild for Wabo: $80 million will lift Hagar's spirits
  7. Sammy Hagar's Tequila Supergroup
  8. Sammy Hagar Plans Huge US Tour @ - 40 Top 20 & Top 40 Music Charts from 25 Countries
  9. San Bernadino County has 'Sammy Hagar Day'

External links

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