(L) Jennifer Lourie / FilmMagic / Getty Images, (R) Jo Hale / Redferns / Getty Images
It’s hard to imagine Sammy Hagar as anything but the grinning, one-man party we’ve come to know and love over the decades. Yet, as he tells it, there was a time that his stage presence was much quieter – shades away from the over the top rock and roll frontman he’d grow into.
Until 1973, that is.
In an interview with Uncle Joe Benson on the Ultimate Classic Rock Nights radio show, Hagar shared that it was joining metal act Montrose in 1973 that began his evolution into a proper rock and roll frontman, taking his cues from none other than Rod Stewart, whose own magnetic stage presence transforms your regular, run of the mill concerts into an event to be talked about for years on end.
“Montrose was a heavy metal band; I was a blues, R&B singer, and then I got thrown into this heavy metal band,” he said. “And I became it, and I dug it. I started trippin’ on guys like Rod Stewart – I was really a big fan of Rod’s. He was a great performer, and I dug the way he sang, and he had a great sense of humor with the Faces.”
Calling Faces “the party band,” Hagar was wildly impressed by Rod’s ability to turn a concert into a party. Whether he was tipping back glasses of champagne, cracking jokes, dancing up a storm or wearing whatever he wanted, one thing was clear: for a frontman, the only rule onstage (besides sing your tail off) was to just have fun.
While the audience loved Sammy’s approach to performing, not everyone was a fan…namely Ronnie Montrose, who would have preferred Sammy take a more serious, nose to the grindstone approach instead.
“Ronnie was so serious,” Hagar said. “’Don’t say anything to the audience! Don’t do this! Don’t do that!’ – and I was like, ‘Get outta here! Let’s make an event out of this thing!’”
Clearly, Sammy Hagar is a man who follows his own advice. At 71, every single show is an event to be remembered and no fan walks away unhappy or wishing they’d gotten more energy from him. Now – if only we could get Sammy and Rod together on one stage…
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