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Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock Hardcover – March 15, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 640 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Sammy’s no bullsh*tter. If Sammy says it happened, it did. There’s nobody else anywhere like him.” (Michael Anthony)

“Sammy has maintained his all-star success no matter where his Red Rocker career has taken him. He still can’t drive fifty-five, but hey, he’s the one driving the Mustang. So site back and ride.” (Toby Keith)

“Nobody had to explain the American dream to Sammy. He knew in his gut that there was a better life available to him if he refused to accept the status quo. It’s all here in Sammy’s new book.” (Ted Nugent)

“I’ll admit it: I’ve been a Sammy Hagar wannabe since I heard his voice on a Montrose album...I’m proud to call him a rock star hero, a friend, and a brother in the sun. Rock on, Red Rocker!” (Kenny Chesney)

“Sam’s the man. Tequila, fast cars, rock ‘n’ roll—my kind of guy.” (Jimmie Johnson, five-time NASCAR champion)

“There are not a lot of people I would drop whatever I’m doing to go and see, but Sammy Hagar is one of thouse people...The man rocks his ass off, and vicariously through him so do I. My man—Sammy Hagar.” (Whoopi Goldberg)

“Over the many years I’ve known Sammy, his Red Rocker passion in music has always inspired me. But it’s also his love of cooking great food and sharing a good bottle of wine that has been at the core of our friendship for so long. (Emeril Lagasse)

“There are tell-all books. And then there are tell-all books written by Sammy Hagar. The 63-year-old ex-Van Halen frontman holds back nothing -- and I mean absolutely nothing -- in his autobiography...the Red Rocker’s life look-back doesn’t skimp on the details.” (Associated Press)

From the Back Cover

Loud rock, fast cars, and Cabo.
This is the life of Sammy Hagar.

For almost forty years, Sammy Hagar has been a fixture in rock music. From breaking into the industry with the band Montrose to his multiplatinum solo career to his ride as the front man of Van Halen, Sammy's powerful and unforgettable voice has set the tone for some of the greatest rock anthems ever written—songs like "I Can't Drive 55," "Right Now," and "Why Can't This Be Love."

In Red, Sammy tells the outrageous story of his tear through rock 'n' roll, detailing the backstage antics and nonstop touring that have made his voice instantly recognizable. Beginning with his musical coming-of-age in the blue-collar towns of California, Sammy traces his rough and determined rise to fame, working harder than anyone else out there and writing songs about the things he loved—fast cars, loud parties, and lots of good times.

But solo success was just the start, a prelude to his raucous and notorious decade as the front man for Van Halen, one of the biggest-selling rock groups in history. Filled with behind-the-scenes stories from his time with the band, Red offers the Van Halen story as Sammy saw it, holding nothing back about the worldwide stadium tours, the tensions with Eddie, the messy parties, the divided friendships, and, of course, his controversial and widely disputed exit from the band.

After Van Halen, Sammy changed directions again, throwing himself headfirst into the tequila business and creating Cabo Wabo, one of the most successful tequila brands in the world. And all the while he continued to rock, touring the country with his bands the Waboritas and Chickenfoot, and eventually reuniting with Van Halen for a tour that became both a box-office smash and a personal catastrophe.

From the decadence of being one of the world's biggest rock stars to the unfiltered story of being forced out of Van Halen, Sammy's account spares no one, least of all himself. His is a tale of a true rock 'n' roller—someone who's spent decades bringing the party with him wherever he goes but always headin' back to Cabo for mas tequila.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: It Books; First Edition edition (March 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062009281
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062009289
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (640 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #144,886 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Most rock star autobiographies are pretty much the same. Guy grows up in a dysfunctional house in bad neighborhood (The father in this story was the town drunk and the city is Fontana, CA, known to some as Felony Flats), guys falls in love, gets married, has a kid all the while struggling to keep a career as a musician going. Guy has limited success for awhile. There are ups. There are downs. Finally guy hits it big. Joins an existing successful rock band and makes it even bigger. Now either the author or someone close to the author has substance abuse problems which threaten the success of the band that has made it.

Okay, so in this case Sammy Hagar does have a remarkable story to tell: He was the guy who was crazy enough, in a controversial move, to replace David Lee Roth as the lead singer in Van Halen back in the mid-80's, and at the same time turn his back on a highly successful solo career. As a sophomore in high school, I remember the release of "5150" with nervous anticipation. I wanted to project to work, but the newly released single, "Why Can't This Be Love" wasn't my cup of tea. Needless to say, even if the album wasn't perfect, the record was pretty good.

What makes Hagar's book so intriguing is his story telling style. He's very honest and matter-of-factly. There are several amusing anecdotes throughout the book but sadly the book does deal with the drinking problems of band mate Eddie Van Halen and the fall out that took place ten years into Hagar's tenure as Van Halen singer. Die hard fans of Van Halen will probably be familiar with a lot of the drama written about here, but it's presented tastefully, not in a "I'm good, they're bad" kind of style.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
SPOILER ALERT! I cover some of the book's high- and low-lights in the following review.

It's true that this book seems remarkably candid, so much so that I think some passages reveal more than Sammy may have ever intended. Particularly his attitude toward his first wife, Betsy. My jaw hit the floor when, after her mental breakdown during the recording of "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" and his taking a year off to care for her, he basically came out and said he felt like he'd finally done enough to justify leaving her.

As his fame grew, he'd first subscribed to the Bill Clinton definition of cheating while on the road, but eventually succumbed to full-frontal temptation. All the while claiming sex with his wife was still great. I know, we expect this kind of behavior from rock stars, but the first Mrs. Hagar married the guy before he was famous and probably didn't know what she was walking into. His characterization of her as mentally unstable and "weak" also shocked me.

Meanwhile, his current wife is carrying on w/ him knowing full well he's married to No. 1.

Describing the birth of his first child with wife No. 2 as more meaningful than that of a child with his first wife also was a stunning admission. I give him points for candor, but he sure comes off as something of a dirtbag. (I also wonder how friend and foreword-writer Michael Anthony feels about being called a "loyal dog.")

Finally, unrelated to personal ethics, his descriptions of EVH as, at best, a drunk and, at worst, completely certifiable, made me wonder how the heck the band was ever able to craft some of those classic songs. If Eddie can barely stand, how is he able to even understand verse/chorus/bridge structure?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I liked Sammy's solo music, but when he joined Van Halen, it raised him up a notch in my book. Although the prose isn't that great, the book is an easy read. Sammy is pretty balanced in explaining his triumphs and problems. He's pretty hard on the Van Halen brothers, especially Eddie, but his criticisms appear accurate. The book really portrays Eddie as a troubled genius, battling some form of inner demons. Sammy doesn't give enough credit to the band overall, though. The songs he co-wrote with Van Halen are so far superior to his solo stuff that it's not even a close call. Yes, he made lots of money and became famous as a solo artist, but "I Can't Drive 55" and "Heavy Metal" can't compare to "Dreams" or "Judgement Day" just to name a couple examples.

There's alot to admire about Sammy: his work ethic, refusal to quit, love of family, business acumen. However, he's not perfect, with his infidelities, drug use etc. All in all, he comes across as well grounded despite his substanital wealth and fame. He's mostly objective, but no autobiography can be 100% so. Bottom line: easy read, some fun stories, but it's not going to win any awards.
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Format: Kindle Edition
1) Page 54: "...the first Montrose album has sold more than 4 million records over the years." According to the RIAA, it's certified just ONE million. (Worldwide sales are barely more than USA sales for all Hagar's albums).

2) PAGE 78: I sold out the Oakland Coliseum that Fourth of July [1980]. He fails to mention that he was on the bill with 4 other bands, three of which were hugely popular at the time: Blue Oyster Cult, REO Speedwagon, and Triumph, (and also Randy Hanson). Hagar conveniently implies he sold it out by himself.

3) PAGE 80: [In 1982]: "We went out on tour, headlining arenas, double nights in a lot of places." From my years working in concert promotion at Electric Factory in Philly in the 80s (a huge concert promoter back then), I have the list of Sammy's 1982 tour dates straight from Pollstar. There was only ONE city listed where he played twice: San Francisco. Again, he is lying through his fake teeth.

4-7) Page 90 contains one incredible paragraph that is the biggest pile of BS I'(tm)ve ever read relating to Van Halen in my life!:

"The tour for VOA was my most successful. I sold out arenas everywhere, two, three, or four nights some places, one of the top grossing tours in 1984-right up there with Van Halen, who broke at the same time with Jump and all that. I remember getting an award in Portland, Oregon. I sold out two nights and got the Show of the Year. Van Halen was runner-up. We were neck-and-neck on the road. My album was 1.6 million, but they ended up selling 10 million records."

4) "VAN HALEN 'BROKE' WITH JUMP IN 1984"?? How he belittles VH's earlier success!
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