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Hagar, Sammy & Selvin, Joel
Red: My Uncensored Life In Rock (Book Review)
August 2011
Released: 2011, It
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: JP

I’ve been looking forward to RED ever since it was announced. Sammy has had quite the life. This is a nice book to look at, good layout, lots and lots of colour plates of Sammy in various era’s. Major flaw: No discography! Thee should have been an extensive discography for us, the fans.

Sammy life is one of going from success to success, peak-to-peak aided no doubt in part by Hagar’s enthusiasm and positive outlook on life. You get the sense he is the embodiment of the American Dream. Born in relative poverty, early values of determination and hard-work were instilled early on and those fundamental skills helped him develop into the person he is today.

This book was fascinating. He has had so many aspects of life that are not widely known to the music public. He discusses his various successful businesses and interests, Mountain Bikes, Real Estate, Fire Prevention Systems and of course nightclubs and (mas) tequila. Sammy speaks about his various businesses and as a multi-multi-millionaire how he could plausibly with more hard work turn himself into a billionaire. The sale of his Tequila company a few years back for about 80 million was a good start! He doesn’t shy away from talking about the business side of his life and rock and roll. He walks a fine line between bragging and telling the story. There are fortunes to be won (and lost!) in the Rock and Roll game!

Sammy has had a rough go at times, dabbling with drugs, countless traffic violations, a mentally ill wife, endless affairs, an alcoholic father, actually taking a pay-cut to work with the weirdoes in Van Halen, (against his managers and lawyers advice!) extortion by manipulative females, incompetent mangers, drug-dealing business partners, but through all that adversity he triumphs time and time again. He is survivor and a fighter yet with grace and charm.

Like most autobiographies the book is quite short on detail for the true die-hard Hagar fan. There is very, very little info on his solo career, (pre and post Van Halen) many albums are just completely skipped over. There is very little to no info on who played on those records, writing, recording…it’s all a bit thin. This book could have easily been double the size, if he talked about his music career more often. At 236 pages with big font, it’s easy to read but could have, should have been way longer.

There is the dirt on the Van Halen’s brother bad habits, bad attitude and bad behaviour. He doesn’t have too much to say about David Lee Roth and when he does it’s mostly unflattering. He loves Michael Anthony like a brother and that comes through. The rock and roll stories are present but downplayed to a large degree and despite RED being pushed as a tell-all biography, Sammy probably could have painted his former colleagues and co-workers in a much worse light. Although I must admit the story about the very drunken Alex Van Halen dancing (and falling) on the industrial restaurant stove grill-top and getting rushed to hospital with burns all his body made me cringe!

I’d say that RED is more about Sammy Hagar the man, the entrepreneur, the business man, the father, the husband and lastly, Sammy the Red Rocker. Sure music is always relevant but only as the means to live a life that most of us will only dream of achieving.
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