How Sammy Hagar Was “Crucified” For Promising A Free Show

How Sammy Hagar Was “Crucified” For Promising A Free Show | Society Of Rock Videos

via Van Halen / Youtube

On December 4, 1991, Van Halen gave a free concert to around 80,000 fans at West End Marketplace in Dallas. This performance was a promise kept by frontman Sammy Hagar three years earlier. But the story behind this epic performance was met with bumpy roads that almost tore the band apart.

Hagar recalled the ordeal and shared, “It almost broke the band up. It cost us about $200,000 to come back and do a free show.” It all began in 1988 during the Monsters of Rock Tour, a colossal event featuring Van Halen alongside Metallica, Dokken, Scorpions, and Kingdom Come. The tour came with a hefty financial undertaking, with production costs running $350,000 for every show.

Hagar, who was already battling health issues was facing mounting pressure as the tour progressed. He recalled:

“I had an ear infection. I had a sinus infection. I had a broken tailbone.
“Every night, I couldn’t sing. It was too big of a deal to cancel because it was so expensive.”

The breaking point came during a performance at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Hagar’s vocal struggles reached a climax. “I was about to cry onstage… I stopped in the middle of the first song,” he recounted. So in that moment of desperation, Hagar made a promise to the audience: Van Halen would return to Dallas for a free concert.

But the band’s reaction to Hagar’s impromptu pledge was less than enthusiastic. Hagar admitted:

“They crucified me for that. It was three years before we made good.”

With all the logistical challenges and financial implications, Van Halen kept their promise in 1991, staging a free concert in Dallas. The event featured an 11-song setlist mostly from their album For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.

Hagar remarked on the experience, “It was so real and so honest… We were just gonna play until it was over.” For Hagar, the concert symbolized a fresh start for Van Halen and their relationship with Dallas.

Decades later, in May 2024, the band announced an expanded version of For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, which included audio and video footage from the historic Dallas show.

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