Released: 2003, Sanctuary Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
THE LONG ROAD TO CABO is essentially a road movie, filmed documentary style as Sammy Hagar and his band, The Waboritas, circle their way through an ill-fated 2002 U.S. tour with Hagar’s Van Halen predecessor, David Lee Roth. As Hagar slips comfortably into his fifties, the rock and roll party lifestyle seems to be taking a backseat to family life as Hagar takes his (much younger) wife and children on the band’s “Cabo Wabo Express Plane” with him from city to city. Essentially, THE LONG ROAD TO CABO documents a summer-long vacation where Dad just happens to play in front of a few thousand people every night and swill tequila while watching women flash him from the audience (why didn’t my high school guidance counselor present this career option to me?).
Hagar is a legend, no doubt about it. His tenure in hard-rock legends Montrose began in the early seventies and Hagar continued to deliver classic albums like STANDING HAMPTON and V.O.A. before signing on with a little band from California called Van Halen (maybe you’ve heard of them?). After quitting (or being fired depending on which side you believe) Van Halen, Hagar picked up his solo career once again releasing several albums along the way which takes us up to where the documentary takes place.
This is hardly a “concert video” and, in fact, the live footage almost takes a backseat to the narrative and behind-the-scenes stuff that goes on. Kid Rock, Ted Nugent, Randy “Macho Man” Savage and other famous faces show up to meet Hagar and his own family explains just how the Red Rocker came to music. The interviews are quite interesting and his mother’s pride almost beams from her face as she talks about her son. Looking like an aging surfer, Hagar putters around in flip flops and Hawaiian shirts as he demonstrates his love for cooking, a garage full of vintage cars and is all about his fans as he does meet-and-greets backstage. The most amusing footage surrounds the sideshow that seems to follow Roth. Looking absolutely dreadful with bleached blond hair and spandex, Roth’s glory days are clearly behind him. At one point, Hagar reads aloud a newspaper review of the previous night’s show and seems to revel in the fact that the piece pans Roth and praises him. Roth’s bus blindsides a car and the look on Hagar’s face is one of “What have I gotten myself into?” Hagar addresses the state of Van Halen—which has since become a moot point given their 2004 reunion—and seems genuinely happy on his own while “Beavis & Butthead” (referring to Eddie and Alex Van Halen) decide what is happening.
Of the musical portions, the band rips through killer versions of “Heavy Metal” and “When It’s Love.” Van Halen bandmate, Michael Anthony, appears on a few dates to play some VH classics with the band, as well. In what truly must have caused the universe to fold in on itself, Hagar’s replacement in Van Halen, Gary Cherone, comes on stage to perform a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll.” Too bad Roth wasn’t around at this point because how trippy would that have been to see the three of them trading verses together?
The second DVD features over four hours of Sammy Hagar bonus features and information that take the viewer even further into the artist and the man. Included are a painfully detailed discography with sound clips from EVERY song on EVERY album Hagar has ever released, an intimate photo gallery (backed with a rare Hagar song), original hand-written lyrics, complete videography (with and without commentary by Hagar and director Gil Bettman), a short documentary detailing his rise from a dirt poor family to a hard rock legend, a trivia game with access to extra footage if you get the answers right, how to make a Waborita using Hagar’s premium Cabo Wabo tequila and the best piece, the “Cooking With Sammy” documentary where Hagar shows in full detail how he makes his famous spaghetti sauce.
All in all, THE LONG ROAD TO CABO is a fascinating exploration of the life of Sammy Hagar. Do not pick up this DVD if you are looking for a two hour Hagar show because that is not what it is about. His life, both off-stage and on, are covered in painful detail and with a very candid approach. Hagar’s disdain for David Lee Roth is never hidden nor are his feelings towards his former bandmates in Van Halen so this really is a warts-and-all production. The bonus features would be worth the price of a standalone DVD themselves so for around $30, you’ll get more information than you ever needed to know about Sammy Hagar, some great music and a bit of a look into the life of what makes a rock and roll legend tick.