Sammy Hagar may have miscalculated a bit if he was looking to bolster his aw shucks good guy reputation with his just-released memoir.
Before the book came out he was pretty much a clean slate, with many having little or no opinion about the red rocker. Sure he got dinged a bit for stepping into David Lee Roth’s shoes, but contrary to popular belief, he was a far better songwriter than Roth even if he did lack the gigolo’s over-the-top stage presence. But with the publication of Red, Hagar in his own words (or those filtered through writer Joel Selvin) pretty much make the case that… well he pretty much comes off like a complete dick.
I mean, let’s get past the obligatory booze and drugs and focus on the fact that he almost proudly boasts of his screwing around on several different continents while on tour as his wife (the one he married when he was penniless) stays at home and raises his kid, skirting the poverty line the whole time. It’s almost like he’s trying to up Motley Crue, the guys in Motley Crue. And once he becomes rich enough and finds his real soul mate, he whines about how his first wife was dragging him down with her anxiety attacks and obvious struggle with depression. Never fear, the story end well for Hagar when he find a doctor to pump her full of anti-depressants so he can finally get on with his new life, living in paradise with his younger, less damaged future wife (I’m paraphrasing here a bit).
The book is wildly entertaining, especially Hagar’s dishing about his days in Van Halen, where the brothers Alex and Eddie pretty much lived in a drunken stupor every minute of every day (Alex finally sobered up, but that didn’t stop Eddie from getting trashed in front of him). The chapter on his co-headlining tour with Roth is as expected (Van Halen’s original singer comes off as an aging diva, but no one ever really doubted that) and the rehashing of Van Halen’s comeback tour is just downright depressing. The only person in Hagar’s life to escape pretty much unscathed is his longtime buddy and former Van Halen band mate Michael Anthony, who provides the foreword. To be honest, Anthony is barely mentioned in the book, which is probably a good thing.
If nothing else, thanks to Red, Hagar will finally be known for more than just that tequila guy who took over for Roth and wrote that speed limit song.
Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock by Sammy Hagar and Joel Selvin/Hardcover/256 pages/It! Books