My guilty pleasure for this summer has been to buy some books for my nook that I might not have otherwise picked up. For several months, I have been eying the Sammy Hagar auto-biography, Red. So, I finally picked it up on my nook this summer and powered through it over the course of about 3 days. Before I write any more about it, you need to know that this morning I bought the Chickenfoot CD and the Wabos CD (Sammy Hagar’s most recent recording projects). So, that ought to say something. I get a kick of this guy. You also need to know that I was never a big fan. I knew “I can’t drive 55” and all of the popular Van Halen stuff. I had seen him on a few interviews on MTV over the years. For some reason, I really remember on night that he was on the Magic Johnson late night show, back in the ‘80’s. Otherwise, I really didn’t know that much about him or his music.
Wow. I was knocked out as I read this book. What a life this guy has lived. What a story of determination and success. The book is a little hard to get started into. The writing style is super-conversational. But, as you go, it starts to make sense. Sammy comes from a really rough childhood; an abusive father, poverty, alcohol abuse all around. He essentially is a fighter and a winner. From music, to business, to relationships, there is a lot to like about this guy. He wanted to be a song writer and a musician, so he figured it out. He took some major chances, kicked and scratched, and made it happen. He fronted Van Halen for a bunch of years and wrote or co-wrote some many of their biggest hits. He has strong ideas about music, songwriting, putting shows together, and entertainment that he developed from years of watching, trying things, and learning from his mistakes.
I am so impressed with his business sense, too. He started out in real estate and a bunch of buildings in his home town. He had this super successful early mountain bike business back in the ‘80’s. I had totally forgotten about it. Do you remember the “Red Rocker” mountain bikes? They were high end mountain bikes in the early years. Then there was his club in Cabo. And, of course, he has his tequila business. Not to mention his attention to details and what sells in the music business. He takes care of his employees, too. He gets it. And, he gets into businesses that he thinks are cool. I am really impressed with that.
Another thing that I really love is his honesty. He is honest in the book about his life. And, he seems to be really honest with people. What a great quality. I heard someone say recently that honesty is so much easier than dishonesty: you don’t have to remember anything when you are honest. It is true. It seems like he is pretty good with that.
I also really dig his accounts of spiritual experiences. He talks about encounters that he had with relatives and friends in dreams after they had died, before he knew they had died. I just feel like he is a pretty intuitive guy. I enjoyed hearing about it. Also, he talks for a bit about his relationship with the concept of numerology. It sort of blew my mind. It was hard for me to look at numbers the way he does, but I enjoyed getting the concept explained a bit.
I want to be clear; the book isn’t for faint of heart. The writing style and language is harsh, to say the least. There are lots of stories about his sexual exploits and drug abuse by him and others. That is, for better or worse, part of the rocker lifestyle, story, and mystique, it seems. (We have seenit all over the “Behind the Music” series.) He lived it in every way. But, somehow, he came out the other side. He has a beautiful wife and two daughters, as well as two boys from a previous marriage that he really hung in there on. He is a successful businessman and musician. For goodness sake, he is making music on his own terms, not someone else’s. He is a guy that went for it and succeeded. There is a lot to gain from knowing the story. And, honestly, I am really digging the Chickenfoot and Wabo recordings.
I really enjoyed the story. So much so, that I started in on the Mick Jagger biography yesterday! (I have to say, I have a very different impression of Sir Mick. Rock Icon, but a very different human being – in relationships, business, and motivation. ) This book by Sammy Hagar has been a fun little journey. Rock on!