Saturday, February 11, 2012

Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock by Sammy Hagar (and Joel Selvin)

Gee, Sammy doesn't like David Lee Roth and describes Eddie and Alex Van Halen as the two biggest drunks on the planet (though he says Alex eventually cleaned up) - no surprises there.

Sammy says some pretty nasty things about the Van Halen brothers, some less than flattering things about his own first wife, and takes digs at some other folks. He also throws in some pats on the head for all those people. It kind of strikes me as not being willing to take a stand and just say "I don't like anything about this person." He doesn't seem like a person afraid of lawsuits.

If Roth really couldn't sing well, would fans have kept buying Van Halen records? Maybe his voice didn't hold up well live, but again, fans kept buying tickets. If the brothers and Roth were the walking shambles Sammy describes, I think the fan base would've fallen off.

Still, Sammy says the kind of things that make you wonder. VH is bringing its latest reunion tour to my town in March and I'd almost like to go just to see what happens onstage.

If it's true that sometimes Eddie and Alex would argue in Dutch when they didn't want anybody to know what the stink was about, I would love to be a fly on that wall (a fly who knows Dutch).

What I do like about this book is that it doesn't sound like the professional writer did all the work. It sounds like Sammy all the way. I could picture him lounging in a beach chair while reciting all this stuff. I didn't realize that the guy has several viable businesses. I just think it's funny how he makes himself out to be this guy who worked hard for everything he has and only has a couple regrets, while the Van Halens come off as dudes who can't seem to hold anything together.

Two things about the writing did bother me. One, I didn't get a sense of how much time passed, in the first 2/3 of the book. Sammy talks about projects getting started, getting derailed, then put back on track without giving an idea of how long any of that took. For me, time references are touchstones that really help give a sense of a life being lived.

Two, Sammy repeats himself sometimes. Then he  comes off as defensive or bragging. At this point in his career and his life, one would think he'd be past feeling the need to get some revenge in print. I guess we really are all alike inside.

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