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The Truth According to Sammy Hagar
on March 12, 2011
I read "Red" in a day. It's not a long book but there is never a dull moment. And, much like David Lee Roth's book "Crazy From The Heat", the best moments are when the author dishes on the brothers Van Halen.
But before I will get into that I will say that "Red" is a gorgeous book loaded with colour photos. From candid shots of Sammy and his family to great pics of the mighty Van Halen and the equally fantastic Chickenfoot, you will not be wanting for photos.
The teritory covered here is pretty much what you expect from a rock autobiography these days. Sammy talks a lot about his personal life, and in particular his difficult first marriage. He discusses his career with Montrose and as a solo artist. The genesis of Chickenfoot and the Wabos are interesting. I only wish that Sammy spent more page time on some of these subjects, in particular Chickenfoot. But even his solo career, particularly the post Van Halen part, is barely touched upon. I wish he'd talked more about these things, and in more detail. But maybe that's because there's not much drama to discuss. Certainly not as much as with Van Halen.
Sammy insists that every word in this book is true, and if that's the case, then I feel very sorry for Eddie Van Halen. We've all seen cases in rock of genius musicians reduced to pathetic characters thanks to drugs and alcohol. Eddie Van Halen's case is by far the most tragic I've ever heard of.
However the early part of Van Halen, when Sammy joined the band, is nothing less than inspiring. They were all partying and drinking back then, pass out drunk, but it hadn't gotten ugly yet. Musically they were on fire and the ideas were flowing. Sammy talks about one night, when he was living next door to Ed, hearing Ed bang on his door at 4 am. Eddie had an idea, and such was their creative relationship that Sammy got up with his guitar and jammed out a new song right there on his porch. That's the way bands are when they're hungry and excited about the music. For a lot of the studio sessions with Van Halen, Hagar's storytelling gives you this fly-on-the-wall feeling.
Unfortunately "Red" is over far too soon. I would love for Sammy to have shared more stories, both good and bad. I think he should have spent more time on other parts of his career. But for me, better that a book is over too soon then it goes on far too long.
Highly recommended. 5 stars.