Make that a double: Sammy Hagar reuniting with Montrose " then playing with the Wabos
August 8, 2008
Sammy Hagar is a product of the ’60s, but he didn’t need drugs to turn on, tune in and drop out.
The first Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 not only changed rock ‘n’ roll, it also opened Hagar’s mind.
“It was a mind-changing and mind-altering experience, and it wasn’t the LSD,” Hagar told Lake Tahoe Action. “There were no rock stars in those days. There were just bands. I had an instrument, but I had never thought about buckling down and making it a profession. But when I went there, I was just so blown away by that environment.
“Looking back now, it was only about 3,000 people, but it felt like 100,000. All cool people. Everybody getting high, and everybody on the same page.”
Before he decided to pursue a rock ‘n’ roll career, Hagar figured he would follow his father’s wishes and become a boxer. But he dropped those dreams after he getting his driver’s license.
“As soon as I got a car, I thought ‘I ain’t gonna drive down to a damn gym,’ ” Hagar said. “‘If this car works out I’m going to find a girl and take her down to the boonies and park, man.’ “
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The allure of girls made Hagar want to give up fighting altogether.
“When I got tired of going out and getting in fistfights on weekends I started hanging out with a couple of guys who played music,” he said. “We’d jam, and girls would come over because they wanted to see the band and hear the music and sing songs with us and dance. That drove me into it. Before the Monterey Pop Festival, I wasn’t even serious about it, but it was rewarding and fun.”
Hagar became a true rock star in the early 1970s with the band Montrose, which had hit songs such as “Bad Motor Scooter” and “Rock Candy.”
Hagar and Ronnie Montrose will reunite, along with drummer Danny Carmassi and bassist Bill Church at Saturday’s concert at Harveys Outdoor Arena. Montrose will open, followed by Hagar’s band the Wabos.
Beginning in 1976, Hagar became even more successful as a solo artist. He had a penchant for stealing shows from headline bands during mulitiact stadium shows.
In 1984 he was in a supergroup called HSAS, which included Neal Schon (Journey), Kenny Aaronson (Foghat, Derringer) and Michael Shrieve (Santana). Hagar joined Van Halen, which he fronted from 1985-96 and 2003-05.
When Hagar performs with his own band, he sometimes brings along founding Van Halen bass player Michael Anthony. His other bass player is Mona, the second-most famous rock star out of the Willits-Ukiah region (after Robben Ford).
“In little towns, sometimes there’s nothing else to do but sit around and play bass or to sit around and play guitar,” Hagar said. “That’s what happened to me in Fontana.”
Throughout the years, Hagar has kept rocking while still keeping an eye on his first passion. He pointed to a recent fight by 45-year-old Bernard Hopkins.
“He fought 12 rounds like he was a 20-year-old kid,” Hagar said. “That’s because he’s never gotten out of shape. The more time I take off, it’s harder and harder to come back. I think if we take off too much time, it would be a disaster. I keep the machine oiled up ” keep her started and blown out a little bit.”