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Sammy Hagar Biography
After spending several years as the lead vocalist and rhythm
guitarist for the mid-'70s hard rock band Montrose, Sammy Hagar began a
solo career that produced several hits and made him an album rock
favorite. Hagar became a true star once he joined Van Halen in 1985,
but he was a popular hard rocker ever since his first album with
After giving up a boxing career, Hagar began singing in the late '60s,
performing with various California bands including Skinny, the Fabulous
Catillas, Justice Brothers, and Dust Cloud. During this time, he built
up a solid reputation in the California hard rock scene. Former Edgar
Winter guitarist Ronnie Montrose asked Hagar to join his band,
Montrose, in 1973. Hagar recorded two albums with Montrose before going
solo in 1976, taking the group's bassist, Bill Church. Montrose's
drummer Denny Carmassi later joined Hagar's band, along with
keyboardist Geoff Workman.
Hagar's self-titled red album was his first chart entry; it
eventually went gold. In 1979, he created a new supporting band
featuring Workman, Church, guitarist Gary Pihl, and drummer Chuck Ruff.
This lineup played on Hagar's most popular solo album, 1981's platinum
Standing Hampton, plus 1982's gold Three Lock Box with only one member
missing -- drummer Ruff was replaced by David Lauser. After Three Lock
Box and its number 13 hit single Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy, Hagar
played several shows with guitarist Neal Schon, bassist Kenny Aaronson,
and drummer Mike Shrieve; the group recorded a live album under the
name Hagar Schon Arronson Shrieve (HSAS), as well as a studio version
of Procol Harum's A Whiter Shade of Pale. His 1984 album VOA
contained the hit single I Can't Drive 55, which peaked at number 26.
In 1985, Hagar replaced David Lee Roth in Van Halen; his first album
with the group was 1986's 5150. Hagar released his last solo album in
1987; the record was coined I Never Said Goodbye in an MTV contest.
Hagar stayed with Van Halen through the remainder of the '80s and half
of the '90s. During that time, the band had four other multi-platinum
albums -- OU812 (1988), For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (1991), Live:
Right Here, Right Now (1993), Balance (1995) -- before tensions began
to surface between Hagar and the rest of the band.
In the summer of 1996, Hagar either quit Van Halen or was fired; the
band had Roth return to sing two tracks on Best of Van Halen, Vol. 1
before hiring former Extreme vocalist Gary Cherone as Hagar's
replacement. The entire incident became a media sensation, ensuring
that Hagar's 1997 solo album Marching to Mars -- his first in ten years
-- would be greeted with much media-generated fanfare. It sold
surprisingly well, peaking in the Top 20 and re-establishing Hagar as a
viable solo act. With a backing band called the Waboritas in tow
(consisting of guitarist Vic Johnson, keyboardist Jesse Harms, bassist
Mona, and drummer David Lauser), Hagar followed the success with Red
Voodoo two years later; it too sold very respectably on the strength of
the single Mas Tequila, just missing the Top 20. Hagar's resurgence
continued with 2000's Ten 13. Not 4 Sale arrived in 2003, followed by
his first live album in 20 years, Live: Hallelujah. 2006 saw the
release of Livin' It Up! ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide
Written by Stephen Thomas Erlewine