The Red Rocker
“I want to play with people I enjoy and like. I'm going to surround myself with friends and have fun. Rock n' roll stinks without fun. You might as well have a real job.” Sammy Hagar
First coming to prominence as the original vocalist of the 1970’s rock group Montrose, American rock singer, musician and songwriter Sammy Hagar, who is known by the nickname “The Red Rocker,” continued to gain success as a solo artist during the mid 1970s to the early 1980s thanks largely to the platinum albums “Standing Hampton” (1981) and “VOA” (1984) as well as the gold record “Three Lock Box” (1982). He enjoyed even more recognition with the heavy metal band Van Halen (1985-1996, 2003-2005). While with the group, Hagar, who was hired as the replacement of original lead singer David Lee Roth, scored four No. 1 hit albums with the group titled “5150” (1986), “OU812” (1988), “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge” (1991) and “Balance” (1995) and the double platinum live album “Live: Right Here, Right Now” (1993). He also recorded the song “Humans Being,” which he co-wrote for the movie “Twister” (1996) soundtrack. During his next stint with Van Halen, Hagar recorded three new songs for the album “The Best of Both Worlds” and toured with the group. Hagar has also pursued his solo career. His more recent solo albums include “Marching To Mars” (1997) and “Cosmic Universal Fashion” (2008). He has recorded several albums with his backup band, The Waboritas, including “Red Voodoo” (1999), “Ten 13” (2000), “Not 4 Sale” (2002) and “Livin' It Up” (2006). More recently, he released the 2009 album “Chickenfoot” with the band of the same name. As a member of Van Halen, Hagar was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 12, 2007.
Hagar owns a nightclub and restaurant in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, called Cabo Wabo Cantina, and a nightclub in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. In early 2009, Hagar opened Sammy's Beach Bar & Grill at Harrah's Casino in St. Louis, Missouri. It was followed by the opening of another one in the Southwest Airlines terminal at McCarren Airport in Las Vegas. Hagar also manufactures tequila under the name Cabo Wabo. He is a fan of INDY Car Series racing and his Cabo Wabo Tequila has sponsored English driver Darren Manning.
Hagar has homes in Mexico, Hawaii and Northern California. He has two sons with his first wife Betsy Berardi (together from 1968 to 1994) and two daughters with current wife Kari Karte (together since 1995).
Childhood and Family:
Sam Roy Hagar, who would later be popular as Sammy Hagar, was born on October 13, 1947, in Monterrey, California. He graduated from Fontana High School in Fontana and studied harmonica at The House of Note in Redlands, California.
Sammy has been married twice. He was married to Betsy Berardi from 1968 until 1994. The marriage produced two children, Aaron and Andrew. He married Kari Karte on November 29, 1995. The couple has two daughters named Kama and Samantha.
Prior to becoming a rock musician, Sammy Hagar pursued a brief career as a boxer. After quitting boxing, he formed The Fabulous Catillas band. In 1967, he performed with Pete Samson and they recorded and released two songs called “Read My Thoughts” and “Reach Out To Find Me.” He also performed with the Johnny Fortune Band, Justice Brothers, Skinny, and Dust Cloud, among other California bands, before joining the hard rock band Montrose in 1973 as their lead vocalist.
Along with guitarist Ronnie Montrose, bassist Bill Church and drummer Denny Carmassi, Hagar enjoyed his first real success with Montrose's self titled debut album, which was released in October 1973 under Warner Bros. Records. The album peaked at No. 43 in the U.K. and No. 133 in the U.S., and scored three singles, including “Bad Motor Scooter.” It was certified platinum by RIAA. He went on to work with the group for the album “Paper Money” (1974), which rose to No. 65 on the Billboard 200. It became Hagar's last album with Montrose before he left the group in 1975. Bill Church, who was replaced by Alan Fitzgerald on “Paper Money,” would work with Hagar on the singer's first eight solo studio albums.
Hagar began his solo career in 1976. His first solo effort, “Nine on a Ten Scale,” was released in May 1976 on Capitol Records and went to No. 167 on the Billboard 200. It was followed by “Sammy Hagar” (1977, #89), which is known for producing Hagar's first anthem “Red,” from which his nickname “The Red Rocker” was derived, “Musical Chairs” (1977, #100), “Street Machine” (1979, #71) and “Danger Zone” (1980; #85). After average success with Capitol, Hagar signed with Geffen Records and gained success with the 1981 album “Standing Hampton,” which made the top 30 on the Billboard 200 (#28) and went platinum. The album spawned the singles “I'll Fall in Love Again” (#2 US Rock; #43 US Hot 100) and “Piece of My Heart” (#73 US Hot 100; #67 UK Singles). “Three Lock Box” (1982) hit the Billboard 200 at No. 17 and generated the No. 13 Billboard Hot 100 single “Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy” (also a No. 3 single on the US Rock Chart). The album eventually was certified gold by RIAA. “VOA” (1984), his last solo album before he joined Van Halen, peaked at No. 32 on the Billboard 200 and became Hagar's next solo record to go platinum. It produced the well known single “I Can't Drive 55” (#26 US Hot 100; #9 US Rock).
Around 1983/1984, Hagar joined forces with Neal Schon to start the group HSAS (Hagar Schon Aaronson Shrieve), whose members included ex-Foghat bassist Kenny Aaronson and ex-Santana drummer Michael Shrieve. During its short life, HSAS performed in a small Christmas tour to benefit local charities and also recorded an album called “Through The Fire” (1984).
In 1985, Hagar put his solo career on the backburner to begin his work with the hard rock band Van Halen, when he replaced vocalist David Lee Roth. With Hagar, Van Halen released the album “5150” on March 24, 1986. It charted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and went on to achieve 6x platinum status in the U.S. The album scored three singles on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Dreams” (#22), “Love Walks In” (#22) and “Why Can't This Be Love” (#3).
On June 23, 1987, Hagar resumed his solo career by releasing the studio album “I Never Say Goodbye” (also sometime known as “Sammy Hagar”), featuring Eddie Van Halen on bass. It went to No. 14 on the Billboard 200 and gold. The album spawned several rock hit singles, including “Winner Takes It All,” “Give to Live” and “Boy's Night Out.”
Hagar's second album with Van Halen, “OU812,” was launched on May 24, 1988, and became the next No.1 record for the band. Thanks to hit singles like “Black and Blue” (#1 Mainstream Rock Tracks; #34 US Hot 100), “Finish What Ya Started” (#2 Mainstream Rock Tracks; #13 US Hot 100) and “When It's Love” (#1 Mainstream Rock Tracks; #5 US Hot 100), the album received 4x platinum status in the U.S. On June 17, 1991, Hagar and Van Halen released “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge,” which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and stayed in the position for three weeks. It won a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance. The album produced three No. 1 singles on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks with “Poundcake,” “Runaround” and “Top of the World” and was certified 3x platinum by RIAA.
After the double platinum live album “Live: Right Here, Right Now” (1993), which peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard 200, Hagar and Van Halen returned with “Balance,” which was released on January 24, 1995. With hit singles like “Don't Tell Me (What Love Can Do)” and “Can't Stop Lovin' You,” the album peaked on the Billboard 200 at No. 1 and was eventually certified triple platinum by RIAA. “Balance” became Hagar's last studio album with Van Halen before he quit in June 1996. Prior to his departure, Hagar recorded the song “Humans Being” for the soundtrack of the film “Twister” (1996). The song spent two weeks on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart at No. 1 and became the group's eleventh chart topper. He was replaced by former Extreme vocalist Gary Cherone.
Following his split with Van Halen, Hagar released the solo studio album “Marching to Mars” on May 20, 1997, under MCA Records. It made the top 20 on the Billboard 200 (#18). The single “Little White Lie” rose to No. 1 on the Mainstream Rock Track chart and remained in the position for five weeks. “Marching to Mars” became Hagar's second solo album that featured former Montrose band member Denny Carmassi on drums after 1977's “Musical Chairs.”
In the late 1990s, Hagar founded a backup band called The Waboritas (later known as The Wabos), whose members include long time collaborator David Lauser on drums, Jesse Harms on keyboard (left the band in 2003), Vic Johnson on guitar and Mona Gnader on bass. Hagar and The Waboritas have released the studio albums “Red Voodoo” (1999, #22), “Ten 13” (2000, #52), “Not 4 Sale” (2002, #181) and “Livin' It Up” (2006, #50) and one live album titled “Live: Hallelujah” (2003).
In 2002, Hagar collaborated with guitarists Neal Schon of Journey and Joe Satriani to form a new side project called Planet Us, which also include Van Halen member Michael Anthony on bass and Deen Castronovo (also of Journey) on drums. The rock band only recorded two songs and performed live a few times before disbanding when Hagar and Anthony rejoined Van Halen in 2003. On July 20, 2004, Van Halen released the greatest hits compilation album “The Best of Both Worlds,” with Hagar singing lead on the three new tracks “It's About Time” (#6 US Rock), “Up for Breakfast” (#33 US Rock) and “Learning to See.” The album peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and No. 2 on the Canadian Albums chart. It was certified platinum by RIAA. He would stay with Van Halen until 2005.
On November 18, 2008, Hagar released the studio album “Cosmic Universal Fashion.” Containing new material, a cover of The Beastie Boys' “Fight for Your Right to Party” and a new version of “Dreams,” which he originally sang with Van Halen, the album debuted at No. 95 on the Billboard 200. Also in 2008, Hagar founded a group called Chickenfoot, with bassist Michael Anthony, guitarist Joe Santriani and drummer Chad Smith of Red Hot Chili Peppers. The band released their self titled album, “Chickenfoot,” on June 5, 2009. It rose to No. 4 on the Billboard 200 and No. 5 on the Canadian Albums chart. The album yielded three singles with “Oh Yeah” (#1 US Rock), “Soap on a Rope” (#16 US Rock) and “Sexy Little Thing,” and went gold in the U.S. The group's second album is set to be released in spring 2011.
Hagar has also performed with the band Los Tres Gusanos (The Three Worms), which he founded in 1993 with David Lauser and Michael Anthony. Playing a mix of Hagar, Van Halen, and cover songs, the band occasionally performed a few times a year until 1996. They joined up again in 2002 and 2005. Since then, they have performed together several times.
Grammy: Best Hard Rock Performance, “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge,” 1991