Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Red: My Uncensored Life In Rock by Sammy Hagar

Lets get this out of the way from the jump: the best Van Halen was when Dave fronted the band. I still remember getting up early to hear the debut of new single with Sammy on WPDH and being pretty flummoxed at the lack of rocking. As a VH obsessive, I still picked up the record, but secretly hoped that there would be a reconciliation. Don't get me wrong, Hagar has some great tracks and expect that sooner or later a Montrose epiphany will occur, but the first four Van Halen records are pretty untouchable.

That said, after I heard about Red on That Metal Show, I was at The Strand the next day picking this up. Not that I wasn't openly mocked (anonymously) by the staff when they paged me to pick it up, but such are the crosses one must bear to be old and metal in the new millennium. Ok, so now that we've added the Dave caveat, let it be knowm that Red is one hell of a book. Assuming that most of the tales herein are true, Hagar is quite a guy. Frankly, I thought the Cabo thing and the sale of 80% of the tequila franchise for a cool 100 million were dumb luck, but come to find Hagar has struck gold a couple times before, having been the biggest (and second ever) mountain bike purveyor on the West Coast and invested heavily in Northern California real estate even before he made his stadium turn with Van Halen.

Hagar is no angel and is quick to admit it, but to hear his side of the Van Halen story, especially in the wake of the ridiculously disrespectful ousting of Michael Anthony, it's not that easy to be part of the Van Halen machine. Anyone who saw the cadaverous cover he did for Guitar World could tell that there was something seriously awry, even above and beyond his fight with cancer and divorce from long-time partner Valerie Bertinelli. Red dishes dirt, but not from an especially malevolent place. Hagar seems like a filthy rich older guy who appreciates what he has. It makes for an engaging read that is optimized for the rock nerd but compelling for the average punter. I'd pick it up. Try here.

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