‘Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock’ by Sammy Hagar with Joel Selvin – Book Review

I know, I know. I am a little late to this book as it came out way back in 2011. But I’m finally here, I’ve finally drenched myself in to the pages and I am ready to tell you all about it. Thanks for being so patient with me. Sammy Hagar! What is there to say about Sammy. I remember seeing “I Can’t Drive 55” on MTV and really starting to discover who he was. I found out he was the lead singer of the band Montrose from the 70’s and then around 1985, I remember he was named the new lead singer of Van Halen. That was when I really started to find out who he really was. I picked up some Sammy albums and definitely bought the Van Halen albums and I really liked him. Then in the 90’s after leaving Van Halen, he started up his solo stuff again. Eventually he turned in to what I felt was the Jimmy Buffet of Rock & Roll. He had this laid back, surfer dude, all sunshine, relaxation and Tequila. He has always seemed like such a cool dude! And this book proved that to be the case, but I discovered so much more.

The book has Sammy really focusing on his rock & roll life with nuggets of his early childhood, but thankfully he stuck to the music mostly. Well, almost thankfully, as I would’ve loved to hear more about his business side as he only touched on it (except for Cabo Wabo and the Tequila) a little and that seems to be the area where he made most of his money and let me tell you, the man looks like he made more money on the business side of his life then the music side and I find that fascinating. Hell, he sold his Tequila brand for around $100 million…DAMN!!! He had a fire safety sprinkler company before there as really such a thing. He’s had his bar Cabo Wabo which is now bar’s’ with an ‘s’. He seems to invest in the right things at the right time and I have never been that lucky.

But the main reason to read the book for any Sammy fan is the Va Halen stories and they don’t disappoint. I’ve heard that he was really harsh on Eddie Van Halen and he regrets that a little, but I don’t think it was that harsh. I don’t think it is anything we didn’t expect or know. Eddie was an addict and his behavior over the years has shown that. I think Sammy was being honest with how he interpreted the stories and that is what I want in a book. I can read other people’s books to get their side and then draw my own conclusion, but Sammy’s seemed authentic to me. The sunshine and roses of how he got with the band seems to coincide with what Ted Templeman said in his book which is all good. But the downfall is where it got interesting. The little things they did to each other, the backstabbing, the drugs and alcohol and just the shitty way things went down was outright riveting to me. Sammy laid it all out there for you to read. So go do it.

I also found his relationship with his first wife, Betsy Barardi, who he was married to for 26 years very intriguing. The struggles they faced early on with him being broke and struggling to make it as a musician. They had 2 boys and then his wife started having mental issues that really strained the relationship. He does make himself out to be the all loving husband and he did try a lot to support her through these times, I can imagine how bad it was. But it didn’t stop him from sleeping around while he was on tour. He was basically a man whore but all rockers back in those days were so I am also not surprised. He did divorce her and love with his wife no of 26+ years, Kari, who they have 2 daughters. Now that relationship was really described as pure joy and heaven and always perfect, but come on, there has to be issues. I think maybe he held back since he is still married to her and for such a long time. Maybe it is all rainbows and unicorns.

Speaking of rainbows and unicorns, Sammy believes in the unbelievable as well. There was talk of psychics and being abducted by aliens and lots of weird hallucinations. I had heard about these stories before but I don’t think they were as weird and bizarre as people have made them out to be. They sounded almost like dreams and hallucinations and not that he was really abducted by aliens. They were strange and yet interesting stories.

All-in-all, I did thoroughly enjoy Sammy’s book. I loved learning about his early days as a struggling musician, his work with Montrose, his solo career, his time with Van Halen and then all his solo ventures even up to Chickenfoot. I loved all his cars as the man loved his cars and especially Ferraris, a man after my own heart…except he actually has Ferraris and I have a Hot Wheels version. I feel Sammy did lay everything to bare and you can take it how you want to take it. I took at as truthful and honest as he believes it is and I have no reason not to as nothing seemed to outlandish or far-fetched except for the alien thing but drugs can do wonderful things. I highly recommend this book if you are a Sammy fan, a Van Halen fan or just a fan of rock & roll biographies as you won’t be disappointed. I found my copy at a used book store for like $4 bucks and worth every penny! Overall, I give it a 5.0 out of 5.0 as he kept it interesting by sticking to the rock world and music business without bogging us down in too much personal stuff. But that personal stuff he did go into was just as riveting and telling about who he is or who he wants to think he is. Whoever he is, he still seems like a cool dude to have as your friend. And he is turning his world in to a brand like Jimmy Buffet did so maybe he is the Jimmy Buffet of Rock & Roll.

28 thoughts on “‘Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock’ by Sammy Hagar with Joel Selvin – Book Review

  1. Got the book for 4 bucks? Lucky u. I paid full price.
    It’s been so long since I read the book that I don’t recall much except that story about how he got the VH gig.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sammy seems like a cool dude! I’ve seen his show, ‘Rock & Roll Road Trip with Sammy Hagar’ and he looks like the type of guy you can sit down with and have a nice chat! He looks great for his age too. By the way, the ‘Hot Wheels version’ comment got a laugh out of me! “I loved all his cars as the man loved his cars and especially Ferraris, a man after my own heart…except he actually has Ferraris and I have a Hot Wheels version.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lol the Jimmy Buffett of Rock and Roll… his fans would be Hagarheads? Sammyskulls? CaboKooks? Lol I dunno. Sounds like an interesting book. Honesty is the best, even the feel of honesty is better than an obvious sell-job.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Good read. Thinking Sam regrets now some of the stuff he said about EVH not that Hagar would admit it lol
    Like you I liked the fact that he had the drive and determination to succeed.
    Great stuff pal

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The guy is really into bikes! I saw him open for ZZ Top in the 80s and was never a big fan but I enjoyed the book a lot. That 2004 tour sounded like torture. I felt for Michael Anthony more than anyone.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Good stuff Loud. I have always liked Sam in all his stages. He pops up all over my music pile. Like CB he has a toilet mouth (which Im trying clean up),. Dealing with drug addiction and mental illness puts him in the front lines of one of the biggest social issues we face as a people. But back to the music. ‘The Iceman’ has always been a fave tune.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Have RJD Rainbow in the dark in my hands. Conflicting feelings. Eager to read the book but hesitating the thought that this book may make me cry. Dio was and still is one of my absolute favorite artists. Went to see Dio show every time they come to play here. Is there a better album than Holy Diver?

    What book are u reading at the moment?

    Liked by 1 person

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