Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Book Review - Red by Sammy Hagar

I have always been a bigger fan of David Lee Roth as the lead singer of Van Halen, the greatest band to ever walk the face of the planet. Yes, I know the band is a head case. But during the DLR years the music was just so much more fun. However, Sammy Hagar brought an element of sophistication and respect that David Lee Roth wasn't able to provide. Don't get me wrong - I love his music, too. But it's sort of like trying to determine who's cuter - Reese Witherspoon or Anne Hathaway?

In 1984-ish, David Lee Roth split with the Van Halen brothers (and Michael Anthony). The obvious choice as a replacement was Sammy Hagar, formerly of the rock band Montrose.

Then Hagar left the band for a while, then he came back, then he was fired, then they hired DLR for a song or two, then he was fired, then they brought in Gary Cherone, then a reunion with Hagar, then another reunion with Roth. I think I missed about 4 firings and rehirings of Hagar, but you get the point. They're nuts. Most notably, Eddie Van Halen is nuts. And the stories in the book about Eddie will really make you scratch your head. Yes, I understand that there are two sides to every story, but if Eddie has a story, it better be pretty damned good to top what's in this book.

So what's a guy to do when he's fired from one of the most successful rock bands of all time? He writes a book, of course! And so Sammy did.

When I heard the book was going to be released, I figured it was be ghost-written by someone else. Hagar would give him a list of thoughts and the writer would put it all together. But nope, not this book. About a chapter into it I came to the firm conclusion that Sammy wrote it himself. Or he hired a terrible writer. The paragraphs go on and on with seemingly disconnected thoughts interwoven with profanity and far-out rock jargon.

But how was the book? Actually, it's really interesting. He grew up in Southern California in a broken home (didn't all musicians?). His father worked in a steel mill that was eventually torn down and is now the home of the California Speedway in Fontana, California. He got in and out of trouble, but always wanted to be a musician. He played in a couple of bands, but found traction with Montross. He eventually went solo and had a very successful career before being called to front Van Halen.

Not knowing if he'd ever make it big as a singer, Hagar invested his money. He bought investment properties. Then he bought a fire sprinkler company, and he also started a mountain bike company - way before mountain bikes were popular. Hagar made a lot of money and proved that he was a successful businessman. And we all know about Cabo Wabo and his Cabo Wabo tequila. He didn't really need to be a singer to be successful, but I'm glad he stuck with it.

The book if full of funny stories, many of them relating to Van Halen, but others connected to his obsession with fast cars, like Ferrari's and Lamborghini's.

I found this book to be fascinating and have recommended it to several friends. I read this book in about 2 weeks, which is fairly quick for me. I love to read, but God help me I'm a slow reader.

So check out this book! What's on your summer reading list?

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