Submerged in Sammy
Judging by the look of utter confusion on most people’s faces when I make a Sammy Hagar joke, I’m fairly certain that most folks under the age of 30 don’t know shit about the “Red Rocker.”
Photos by Cecile Anne Inga
Judging by the look of utter confusion on most people’s faces when I make a Sammy Hagar joke, I’m fairly certain that most folks under the age of 30 don’t know shit about the “Red Rocker.” (Or I’m just not funny, but that’s much less likely.) While I’m hesitant to say that the average fuckface in sweatpants should know anything about him, more people might get more of my jokes if this were the case, so I am going to do us all the favor of conducting a little tutorial on the man.
As luck would have it, March marks the one-year anniversary of the release of Sammy’s autobiography, Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock, which took me 12 months to read because I only read around two-thirds of a page a day. (I didn’t want to have a heart attack due to its overwhelming awesomeness.)
In order to make this Hagarticle a truly immersive experience, I decided the only way to really 100 percent motherfucking rock was to review my notes while drinking más tequila while listening to Sammy records and surrounding myself with Red Rocker-approved ephemera (basically every red thing I own). Bear with me, because I’ll be getting wasted as this goes on, and if you can spot my sly references to Sammy’s greatest hits, you get bonus points that you can spend at the Cabo Wabo store in Las Vegas (not really).
A BASIC PRIMER
Did you know that Sammy Hagar’s power color is RED, and his power number is nine, and the only place to get his trademarked Cabo Wabo in Los Angeles is at the West Hollywood BevMo!? And also that Cabo Wabo-brand tequila is the same price as a monthly car-insurance premium for a C-Class Mercedes Benz, and my credit card is maxed out from months of unemployment? I didn’t! Lesson learned the hard way. So instead, I’m drinking Cuervo.
Outside of his tequila-based accomplishments, my man Sam is also a big fan of mountain bikes (he designed his own, which he named the Red Rocker, of course) and flannel shorts and incidentally had a long career as the front man for post-Diamond Dave Van Halen. You may remember his iconic music video for the Crystal Pepsi commercial “Right Now,” and if you haven’t seen it (it features a guy flying and a rhino), you should really dial it up on the ol’ YouTube, because there’s nothing more 90s than co-opting a pseudorevolutionary song to sell a translucent, caffeine-free soft drink. I’m not saying Sammy is the reason that this fine colorless soda was so short-lived, but there’s a good chance he realized the potential of another clear liquid (one made from agave) and decided to cut his ties from all other beverage ventures. RIP Crystal Pepsi.
I CAN’T DRIVE 55 AND/OR A REASONABLE AND PRUDENT SPEED, GIVEN ROAD CONDITIONS
Sammy Hagar wrote a song called “I Can’t Drive 55” about his inability to follow the law, especially as it applies to burnin’ rubber. Some time ago, a friend of mine was working as the head pastry chef at a five-diamond resort in the middle of nowhere California, and in walked Sammy with his lady. When my friend introduced himself as the chef, Sammy pulled him close, put his mouth to my friend’s ear, and said, “Your dessert is great, but you know what’s better? Driving down a twisty highway at 150 miles per power in your ’67 Sting Ray, with the top down. Bon appétit.”
THE THREE LOCK BOX OF PEOPLE I MET IN HEAVEN, WHOM I ALSO TOLD OFF IN MY DREAMS
Usually, when people have stories about seeing someone in a dream shortly before finding out the person he or she saw passed away, there’s some combination of a tearful reunion, truce, and solemn good-byes. In Sammy’s life, several close friends and family members have drifted through his dreams on the eves of their deaths, and you know what he said to them? “Get the fuck out of my house, Dad!” Or something to that effect.
When Sammy Hagar is on his deathbed (which might never happen because he could be immortal), I hope he appears to me in a dream, so I can say something cryptic to him that might make up for the assholery he inflicted on his dream cadavers. He’ll be like, “Please, tell my sons I—” and I’ll be like, “No whammies, no whammies, STOP!” And then he’ll be dead, I guess, which is a very depressing scenario.
LOVE WALKS IN WHEN IT’S LOVE WHY CAN’T THIS BE LOVE
At one point in his book, Sammy lets us know that “Finish What Ya Started” is about unfulfilled sex, as opposed to “Good Enough,” “Get Up,” “Source of Infection,” “Pleasure Dome,” “In ’n’ Out,” “Man on a Mission,” and “Poundcake,” which concern fully fulfilled sex. A lot has been made of Hagar’s “sex tents,” which are rumored to be pitched under behemoth arena stages—all of them equipped with seven or eight girls who would do anything for a taste of some Red Rocker crotch. But nobody ever talks about his justification of adulterous behavior by enforcing the rule that blowjobs totally don’t count. Nobody ever thinks about Sammy and what he wants, except for the tiny village in Mexico, which he pays to do exactly that.
UNIDENTIFIED FUCKING OBJECTS
There are few people in the world who are chosen by aliens to study, but according to this book, Sammy Hagar is one of them. And boy am I glad, because I wouldn’t want those aliens beaming down here to Earth, finding the biggest asshole on the planet, and thinking we were all egotistical pricks, so preoccupied by our tequila and relaxation ambitions that we were unable to properly care for our mentally ill wives, and just deciding to obliterate us from the galaxy because of our selfishness. Thank GOD they chose Sammy Hagar.
Sammy Hagar’s other current band is called Chickenfoot. It’s a “rock supergroup” that also includes Joe Satriani, Michael Anthony, and the drummer from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. And just to be clear, this is not a joke. In the book, Sammy mentions that he had wanted to name a band Chickenfoot for almost his whole life, and now he’s finally fulfilled his lifelong dream. Actually, most of this autobiography reads like a list of the best band names you could ever imagine, but we’re lucky he chose Chickenfoot and not the runner-up: Sammy Wild and the Dust Cloud. By the way, he’s only five years younger than my grandma. Sort of looks like her too.
OK, so six months in I got to the point where I was furiously underlining and circling all of the craziest stuff, i.e., 75 percent of the book. Looking back at a few chapters I had already read, I realized I had drawn a heavily lined square around the words “Juicy Lucy” at least eight times. Why did I want to remember that? Anyway, I thought it prudent to relay a few choice quotes. Of course, they’re completely out of context, but so is life so we’ll all just have to deal with it. My notes are in brackets.
1. “… all of us, having brutal [???] sex while Eddie was out there doing his thing.”
2. “Betsy wasn’t hugely overweight, but, like any woman who’s had a couple of kids, she had to struggle with her weight.” [Had to?]
4. “It all went down shortly after I had bought this airplane… and started spending a lot of time in Mexico.” [Same here, buddy.]
5. “Kingdom Come” [Christian?]
6. “We were the mountain bike kings.” [WTFWTFWTF!!!]
7. “Back Street Crawlers” [Why?]
I’M TOO DRUNK TO WRITE ANYMORE
In the end, after pages and pages of talking about rare Ferraris he bought simply because Ronnie James Dio previously owned them and the Cabo Cantina he built in Mexico and the private plane he pilots on a whim, Sammy says he doesn’t see a rock star when he looks in the mirror. Honestly, when I look at him, I don’t see one either. At the very least, the guy does participate in charity stuff and says several times he doesn’t believe in killing people, which is reassuring to hear, I guess.
My overall impression? What a read! Seriously! My mind is all over the place, lost in this conundrum of a curly-headed man, and now my face and hands are stained red with lipstick and cheap food dye. I wish I could say I feel more powerful having immersed myself so heavily in tequila and the color red, but I think this stuff really only works for Sammy Hagar. Because I just feel ill and think I’m breaking out into hives. Also, my hands are burning. Come to think of it, that’s probably how I’d feel if I’d actually touched Sammy Hagar, so maybe it all worked out like it was supposed to.