The "Red Rocker" first achieved notoriety as the vocalist for Montrose. Feeling he could do better on his own, that's exactly what he did. However, all Hagar was able to achieve was a handful of marginal hits and Rock journeyman status. Given his nickname due to an affection for all red attire, Hagar filmed the video for one of his bigger hits "I Can't Drive 55" in a black Corvette. A red one wasn't available. That seemed indicative of Hagar's career. Things just never entirely clicked. He was saved from this calamitous fate when asked to join Van Halen following the departure of David Lee Roth (he too set out on an ill-advised solo career). Hagar stayed with the group from 1984 (starting with"5150") through 1997 (his tenure was far longer than Roth's). Commercially, it was a highly successful period highlighted by "OU812."
Angered that Roth had been asked to return for a "Greatest Hits" project, Hagar left to re-establish his solo career. He released a series of albums that did little to burnish his reputation.
However, his stint with Chickenfoot, a band that included fellow Van Halen vet Michael Anthony, guitarist Joe Satriani, and drummer Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), returned Hagar to the Top 10 on the Album Chart.
Returning as a solo (sort of) "Sammy Hagar and Friends" arrived in '13. Hagar's first set in three years featured the track "Knockdown Dragout" with guest appearances by Kid Rock, Satriani and Montrose vet, drummer Denny Carmassi.
1976 Nine On A Ten Scale
1977 Sammy Hagar
1977 Musical Chairs
1979 Street Machine
1980 Danger Zone
1981 Standing Hampton
1982 Three Lock Box
1984 Through The Fire (Hagar Schon Aaronson Shrieve)
1987 I Never Said Goodbye
1997 Marching To Mars
1999 Red Voodoo
2000 Ten 13
2002 Not 4 Sale (Sammy Hagar & The Waboritas)
2006 Livin' It Up! (Sammy Hagar & The Waboritas)
2008 Cosmic Universal Fashion
2011 Sammy Hagar & Friends
Also see Montrose, Van Halen and Chickenfoot
Sammy Hagar is essentially a singles artist in an LP format. All his albums have their moments but Hagar's boastful macho act quickly wears thin (though Hagar's efforts are far more palatable than the solo outings of Van Halen's other singer). "Unboxed" collects Hagar's more notable tracks in one package. "VOA," released just before Hagar joined Van Halen, contains the title track and "I Can't Drive 55." It's his best studio effort.
It's a bit of a shock hearing Sammy Hagar cover Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus" and turn it into a gospel song. Hagar, in Montrose, solo or with Van Halen, never travelled in the same circles as Martin Gore's band. But there it is, and it's not bad.
"Sammy Hagar & Friends" also jumps to the other extreme as Hagar launches into Jimmy Buffett's "Margaritaville," which is merely serviceable. His rendition of Bob Seger's "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man" yields far better results.
Of course, a highlight is "Knockdown Dragout." It is just the sort of track you'd expect if you threw Hagar and Kid Rock into the same room. Another key track is "All We Need Is An Island," with guest vocals by Heart's Nancy Wilson. Any ballad with Wilson can't go wrong.