Pat and Kyle welcome us to the show, LIIIIIIIVE from the Swedish American Music Hall at San Francisco Sketchfest. Today's guest co-host is returning champion David Wild. He's very excited to be here.
"My name is Dave. I'm Jewish, I think I'm funny, I can't sing. And Sammy always follows people like that very well."
- David Wild, right out of the gate
Pat runs down the numbers for today's special guest:
30 albums total
17 solo albums
4 albums with Van Halen (all #1)
2 albums with Chickenfoot
2 albums with Montrose
1 album with The Circle
2 best-selling books
Successful brands in the alcohol and dining fields
The host of his new show on AXS TV, Rock & Roll Road Trip
Give it up for The Red Rocker himself, Sammy Hagar!!!
Huge applause for Sammy. Pat wonders if Sammy can whip up a few cocktails and Sammy is happy to oblige. He just got back from a month-long vacation in Hawaii and Mexico, so he's not used to wearing jackets and long pants. But he's very happy to be here. Pat starts us off right away with some discussion about Sammy's first major band, Montrose. Both Montrose albums with Sammy were produced by Ted Templeman, who also did VOA and For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. Sammy calls Ted the best vocal producer in the world.
Pat plays one of the big Montrose songs, "Bad Motor Scooter" off their self-titled debut album. Sammy actually wrote that song on the next street over from the Swedish American Music Hall. It was the first song he ever wrote in his life. David points out that a mutual friend of his and Sammy's, CHRIS ISAAK (!), is in the audience. David and Chris were chit-chatting over dinner how Sammy's autobiography is about an American Dream come true. It's also completely honest. Sammy wanted to be 100% honest, even at the expense of making himself look bad.
Pat plays a song from Montrose's second album, Paper Money. The song is "I Got the Fire". Sammy wrote the lyrics, but Ronnie Montrose forgot to credit him for it on the album. That's what ultimately broke up the band. Montrose (the band) ultimately never made a dime. David is impressed how much soul Sammy has as a singer. Sammy feels like he has to push himself to get that soul out because he gets uncomfortable. He looks at a guy like James Taylor who has soul, but he makes it look easy.
David recommends a song from Sammy's recent collaboration album, Sammy Hagar & Friends. It's "Winding Down" featuring Taj Mahal. Pat notes that Sammy keeps his voice so well because he keeps performing. Sammy doesn't tour much anymore, but he loves jumping on stage with friends. At his age (68, if you can believe it) he wants to extend his lifespan as a singer for as long as possible.
"I keep telling my manager and my agent, 'If I have 100 shows left in me, I don't want to do them in one fucking year.'"
Sammy's new project, The Circle, allows Sammy to perform without doing major touring. It features Vic Johnson, his current guitarist in the Waboritas, Michael Anthony, and Jason Bonham. You know, those guys. They play songs from all of Sammy's eras, as well as Led Zeppelin and Van Halen songs.
Sammy thinks The Circle has some of his best performances ever. Pat plays a track from their live album At Your Service called "Little White Lie". It's a completely live album (unlike a certain Van Halen live album with Sammy on it). David wrote the liner notes for the Best of Both Worlds greatest hits album. Eddie Van Halen told David that he didn't want him to mention, think, or see David Lee Roth at all. Don't even think about doing the splits. Of course it's a little hard when David goes to Cafe Wha? and DLR sits down right next to him. But David wrote the liner notes and Sammy was the only guy who stood up for him.
David calls Sammy the kindest, most generous guy around and he loves that he stood up for Michael Anthony when Eddie badmouthed him. Sammy remembers getting a call from Michael about what Eddie had said and Sammy just went off in an interview, vehemently defending Michael. Sammy calls Michael the real deal. He sings high, clean, and perfect. Michael's voice is an integral part of Van Halen. Pat next plays one of Sammy's signature solo songs and the origin of his nickname. Off his self-titled album, it's "Red".
Sammy sings along for a little. Bette Midler actually does a cover version of it. We listen to a little and it's interesting to say the least. Sammy says Bette is nothing but high energy. They got along like gangbusters. David has a track from Sammy's third solo album Musical Chairs. The song is called "Straight from the Hip Kid". Sammy thinks the song is just okay.
Pat play another Sammy solo song, one which got much more popular under the vocal tutelage of another singer. Pat plays "I've Done Everything for You" off the greatest hits album The Essential Red Collection. Sammy thought that song was gonna be a big hit. It wasn't. Then along comes Rick Springfield, he does a cover of it, and it sells millions.
The guys talk about John Carter, who produced a bunch of Sammy's albums and also managed Sammy. Sammy says John had instincts and signed people like Bob Seger, Bob Welch, Eels, Tina Turner, and The Motels. He laments how artist development isn't big anymore. Back in the day, record companies would sign you to three-album deals and if you didn't sell, they dropped you. Then MTV came around and one-hit-wonders became arena acts. Then the internet popped up and people with no talent now could become stars. Hard work makes you better, notes Sammy. Touring makes you better.
After leaving Capitol Records, Sammy signed with Geffen Records. His first album with them, Standing Hampton, was Sammy's first platinum album. What exactly is a Standing Hampton? It's Cockney rhyming slang for an erection. Sammy felt it was really cool to be signed to Geffen alongside Elton John, Donna Summer, Neil Diamond, and John Lennon. Gaffe took him off the road (for the first time in forever) and gave him a year to write all the songs he could. Sammy just stayed in the studio and wrote his heart out. One of the songs he came up with is "I'll Fall in Love Again". It was his first legitimate Top 40 hit. Sammy reveals that Geffen donated a couple of bucks to some radio stations (hint hint) to bump it up. Then the head of Geffen decided to stop giving donations and, surprisingly, the single dropped soon after.
"How many ways are there to rock?"
"There's a couple. I was being arrogant."
We turn to Sammy's next solo album, Three Lock Box. Much like a Standing Hampton, there is some confusion as to what a Three Lock Box actually is. Sammy explains that in real life, a three-lock box is a treasure chest that kings and queens and other royalty would put their riches in when they travelled so they couldn't be broken into by rogues and scallawags. Sammy decided to take that concept and turn it into the three-lock box of the human body: Mental, Physical, and Spiritual. If a person masters all three things, then they have power. David admits that he was thinking of a very different box. Pat plays the big track "Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy". That song was the first song Sammy sang on Daryl Hall's TV show Live from Daryl's House. Sammy wanted to sing some Van Halen songs on the show, but the Brothers VH stopped him. That really pissed Sammy off.
In concert, you can cover anything, but for TV you have to get permission. Sammy was also on a ton of soundtracks: Heavy Metal, Back to the Future Part II, Vision Quest, Fast Times at Ridgemont High. After briefly being in the supergroup HSAS, Sammy stepped into the world of Van Halen.
Pat goes with a big one, "Why Can't This Be One" off of Sammy's first VH album 5150. The audience and Sammy sing along. 5150 sold 6 million copies, so it's safe to say the people accepted Sammy Hagar in Van Halen. Sammy says he was already an arena act and MTV helped, but he credits the success of 5150 to the songs themselves. David says this kind of stuff never happens in rock. Sammy brought something completely different, a whole new energy to Van Halen. Eddie played differently with Sammy. All of a sudden people are getting married to Van Halen. Sammy's just a guy who loves love.
Eddie and Sammy meshed very well. They grew pretty tight; hell, they were neighbors in Malibu. Sammy is open to friendship with Eddie and Alex, but he doesn't like how they mistreated him, Michael, and the fans. They fought about ticket prices, they fought about tour dates. But at the end of it all, Sammy loves the Van Halen music and he's very proud of it. Pat thanks Sammy for he and Michael being the only two guys to actually show up to Van Halen getting inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
David remarks how Sammy and Van Halen made videos in non-traditional ways. Sammy's manager told him not to ruin the song with a video. Sammy hates making videos. He likes his TV show because he doesn't have to fake it. He can just hang out with his friends--guys like Alice Cooper, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, Tommy Lee, Jerry Cantrell, Nancy Wilson, and Michael Anthony--and talk about rock and roll in their hometowns.
Pat plays a track from the Van Halen album OU812. The song is "Finish What Ya Started". Eddie playing funky on the guitar. "That is some slippery shit, man," says Sammy. No producer is listed for OU812. Pat asks why. Sammy explains that after the massive success of 5150, the boys got cocky, got rid of everyone, and just did the album with an engineer. Pat has a quote from Eddie after Sammy left the band: "His work ethic sucks." Since then, Van Halen has released two albums. Sammy has released 12 albums, made millions with his alcohol brand, and toured all over the place. That's another thing that ticked Sammy off. He wrote "Little White Lie" about it.
Sammy celebrates his birthday like nobody's business. Pat tells Sammy that he shares a birthday with one of Pat's daughters, October 13. Pat plays a song from Sammy's album Ten 13 called "Deeper Kind of Love". Sammy loves to write about love and sing about love and feeling things. Sammy though can't sing the song he wrote about his daughter Kama or else he'll cry.
We briefly dive into the supergroup Chickenfoot with Sammy, Joe Satriani, Chad Smith, and Michael Anthony. David plays "Learning to Fall" off their self-titled album. Sammy calls Satriani the most prolific guitarist he's ever worked with.
As we wrap things up, a massive thank you is given to Sammy Hagar for being on the show and being so cool. Thanks to David for co-hosting and bringing his experience and wisdom to the affair. And thanks to everyone in the audience for showing up and being excited to see Rock Solid with the Red Rocker. Pat ends the show with "Loud" off the album Cosmic Universal Fashion.