Tag: Van Halen

Sammy Hagar Discusses New Album, ‘Sammy Hagar & Friends,’ and His Four Decades of Rock

HagarAndFriends

There’s only one way to celebrate 40 years of rock, and that’s with your friends.

Sammy Hagar’s new album, Sammy Hagar & Friends, is a collection of songs that pay tribute to the Red Rocker’s musical success.

With contributions from Joe Satriani, Neal Schon, Nancy Wilson and Michael Anthony (among others), Hagar not only looks back on his solo career, but also his time with Montrose, Van Halen and current bands the Waboritas and Chickenfoot. The new album also gives fans a taste of what the future might hold for Hagar.

I recently spoke with Hagar about the new album and got his thoughts on Van Halen, Chickenfoot and some of his best memories from four decades in rock.

GUITAR WORLD: What sparked this new album project?

John Carter [Hagar’s manager who died in 2011] had a dream of getting me to do a “four decades of rock” record and tour. The idea was to do something from the Montrose, early Sammy, Van Halen and Geffen years and write a new song from each of those eras. Write a Montrose-type song, a “cars” song from the Red Rocker era, a Van Halen/Chickenfoot-esque-type song and a lifestyle song.

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Read the rest of my Guitar World Interview with Sammy Hagar by Clicking Here!

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How Badly Do I Want To See Van Halen?

Like everyone else I was stoked when Van Halen finally announced “A Different Kind of Truth“, their long-awaited new album with original singer David Lee Roth. But even more amazing than the first new music with Roth on vocals in 28 years was the bands plan to embark on a tour to support the new record.

I never had the opportunity to see Van Halen with either of its two singers, Roth or Sammy Hagar (I don’t count the Gary Cherone “experiment”). And even though original bassist Michael Anthony would not be taking part I still wanted to hear Eddie shred on Eruption and experience “Jamie’s Cryin”, “Ain’t Talking Bout Love” and “Hot for Teacher”. I mean, let’s face it, Eddie Van Halen is one of the few remaining Guitar Gods. I had to see him and pay homage.

All the while I was consuming myself with the thought of seeing Van Halen for the first time a little voice inside my head was telling me that I had better hurry up and order a ticket. For if the past is any indication, I’m quite certain that it’s only a matter of time before the devil they’ve been running with inevitably rears his ugly head again and breaks up the band again. So time was indeed of the essence.

I was very excited to discover that the band would be making a stop in Philadelphia on March 5th and so I immediately grabbed my credit card and proceeded to the ComCast Tix website to make my purchase.

Since I ‘d be going alone I didn’t really care where I sat. I noticed that the cheapest ticket available online was in the upper bleachers for $49.50. That sounded good enough to me so I added the ticket to my shopping cart and proceeded on to the next screen.

“Uhm… excuse me, is there something wrong here? There must be some mistake.”

I was greeted by a screen that told me that the $49.50 ticket I was about to purchase would also require me to pay a “fee” of $11 and another $5 “order charge”. What these so-called “fee” and “order” charges were wasn’t explained but suddenly my ticket cost had gone up to $65.50 (a 32% increase).

As the blood pressure started to rise I was able to calm myself by singing out loud some possible Van Halen songs I’d hear: “Might as well JUMP! JUMP!”…. “PA-NAH-MA!”…”Daaaance The Night Away!”….That seemed to work although my dogs, which were within earshot of me in the living room, made a bee line for the exits. My confidence had been restored.

I was next asked by the website if I’d like to purchase advance parking for the event ahead of time. “Yes, I guess that makes sense”, I said to myself as I clicked on the link.

My cart was immediately updated and now things were beginning to get a bit out of hand. Parking for the show would be $25 and, you guessed it, that cost did not include another additional $2.25 “fee” bringing the total for my original $49.50 cheap-seat ticket to see Van Halen to a whopping $92.75. Beg pardon Comcast, but you do realize that now I am paying almost double the cost of what my ticket is worth don’t you?

But if you thought it ended there, wait….there’s more!

I had the ticket and parking covered but now the question was: how did I want to receive my one SINGLE paper ticket? My choices ranged from an additional $2.75 just for the opportunity to print the ticket out at home up to a $19 charge for express delivery.

After adding everything together, including the mandatory toll charges to and from the event, I concluded that the cost for me to go by myself to see Van Halen in Philadelphia with a $49.50 ticket was going to be over $100. I clicked “Cancel” on the transaction screen.

The more I think about it, the angrier I become. Not at Van Halen mind you. My issue is with these outrageous parking fees and the Comcast Tix, Ticketmaster and Live Nation sites who are supposed to be doing service to the fans but instead wind up screwing them with fees. It’s frustrating to essentially have to pay double the price printed on a ticket just to see the show.

Worse still, it makes me do something else I’ve never done before besides see Van Halen. It’s made me start to second guess just how badly I want to see a concert.

And shame on these ticket outlet sites and venues for making me feel that way.

Stop Being a Baby

It was recently announced that 75% of the original members of Van-Halen would be releasing a long-awaited new album and embarking on a new tour. In an effort to give some high level members of the media a taste of what’s to come, the band performed a set of songs in New York City at an invitation only event where new songs and classic hits were showcased.

Now I am someone who would have begged, borrowed and stolen to be part of such an experience. But since someone at VH1 dropped the ball and forgot to mail me my ticket I instead voraciously sought out any and every review of the showcase I could find. Hoping to hear not only about the new music but also tid bits of how everyone in the band was holding up physically as well. Because, let’s face it, the members of this band have been through a lot.

Eddie Van-Halen, a revolutionary guitar hero, had been diagnosed and treated for cancer and had recently completed a stint in rehab. I wanted to know how his health was. And then there’s Diamond David Lee Roth. Would he still have the crazy gymnastic moves in his arsenal? And what about the booze? Has the band finally rid itself of the alcohol demons?

So many questions and I wanted them all answered immediately. But alas, the only conclusion I drew while reading these articles was that the ones in attendance at the showcase would have been better suited wearing diapers.

Instead of focusing on one of the most influential bands in the last 35 years and whether this will be their final hurrah, many media reviews I read seemed to focus on the fact that original bassist Michael Anthony wasn’t in the group. “Micheal’s not there, it’s not the same”….was a theme I read often. 

My response? “DUDE, you just saw VAN-HALEN playing in a club atmosphere and this is what you write about? Don’t you know that people would KILL to be in your shoes right now? Stop being a baby!”

Did the people who actually get into this event not know that Michael hasn’t been in that band for over a decade? Or worse still, even if they were already armed with this knowledge, why would they not focus on all the positive and instead bring up only the negative?

These are the same forty somethings who, having now attained their dream job of working as part of the entertainment media, will bitch and moan all day long that THEIR kind of music is becoming obsolete. Yet when given the golden ticket and being able to be part of a unique experience such as an intimate showcase with Van-Halen, still find reason to hate on them.

Here’s a suggestion: Next time you folks in the media get tickets to a VIP event such as this, please allow me to go in your place. At least I’d be able to report on what people really want to know and not why someone who hasn’t been in the band for years couldn’t somehow magically be there that night.

No takers? Hmmm, how about if I throw in a pacifier?

Is Anyone Listening to “New” Music?

Have you heard? The new Night Ranger CD, Somewhere in California, was released a few weeks ago. It’s probably their best studio album since Midnight Madness when Sister Christian peaked at #5 on the Billboard charts.

Oooh, has anyone given a listen to the new Whitesnake CD, Forevermore? The single, “Love Will Set You Free” is simply infectious. As for the new Journey CD, Eclipse? Eh, I can take it or leave it. I mean, I’m really not as big a fan since Steve Perry left a few years ago.

I am still looking forward to the new Van Halen record this fall though. There’s sure been a lot of buzz about it on their Facebook fan page since David Lee Roth came back. I can’t wait to see if Eddie still has those guitar skills. If only this were 1987, it sure would be a great time to be a music fan. For me anyway.

But alas, here we are in the middle of 2011, and although everything I’ve said about those bands above is true (they all have already or will have new studio albums and tours this year) I bet 75% of the fans they had back in their hey day do not even know it.

To them, as to everyone else who are fans of the synthesized robotic voiced artists, the bands they once loved and adored a quarter century ago broke up years ago and the members are now active AARP recipients.

And if you really want to get that old album you wore out on the turntable signed, well you might just find them at a convention signing autographs and taking pictures. The ones former childhood stars and “B” movie actors also attend. The same artists, whom you couldn’t get near when their music ruled the air, will now even have lunch with you (if you’re buying of course).

Truth is, by the way today’s music business works, that’s probably the way it should be. These bands, who once dominated the charts, are still releasing quality product but no one is listening. Sadly, some of the songs on these albums, which would have been sure-fire chart toppers twenty-five years ago, won’t even get airplay.

I already know what you’re thinking: Get over it. Times have changed and so has music. And you may be right. I just might be turning into something I always said my parents were when it came to music, an old fuddy duddy. I really miss seeing my music on store shelves and being talked about.

But I think Mom and Dad would agree with me on something else: a lot of the songs that are popular on radio right now sound exactly the same. Today’s pop/rock music is driven primarily by the same old beat and tired cliché’ lyrics.

Meanwhile, bands like the ones I’ve mentioned are finding no outlet for their new music and are relegated to signing exclusive deals with Walmart or foreign record companies to peddle them while they embark on tours (most times in groups of two or three together) playing their hits just to stay relevant.

One of these record companies, Frontiers Records, seems to have landed the motherload of these now “classic” rock bands. If you look at their artist catalogue, it reads like something you’d see on the program from Live Aid in 1985.

Although I am saddened to no longer see their records on the shelves, it only reinforces the fact that these artists are still in it for the music. There’s really no need for them to try and put out new material that will sell nowhere near what their old records did back in the day.

I’m just glad they continue to do it for fans like me who appreciate everything they’ve accomplished.

Article first published as Is Anyone Listening To “New” Music? on Technorati.