Sammy Hagar Forms New Supergroup With Joe Satriani And Michael Anthony


May 23, 2008

Sammy Hagar has a new supergroup that includes a virtuoso guitarist and a fellow Van Halen alumnus, but fans eager to see the so-called Red Rocker sing alongside the six-string hero he’s most famously associated with shouldn’t hold their breath.

It seems a peace settlement in the war of wills between Hagar and Eddie Van Halen could be years away, if it arrives at all.

“I love Eddie, but we don’t love each other,” Hagar said during an interview Thursday.

“I heard that he got cleaned up again. Hopefully he stays that way and doesn’t die, because before we both die we have to be friends again.

“But like I said, people have to be level-headed and have to be healthy before you can settle a feud.”

Eddie Van Halen’s battles with drug and alcohol addiction are legend, marring past shows with Hagar and delaying the start last year of a reunion tour with original singer, and Hagar’s predecessor, David Lee Roth.

Instead of waiting for that friendship to be repaired, Hagar has teamed with acclaimed guitarist Joe Satriani, Red Hot Chili Pepper drummer Chad Smith, and former Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony. The group, code-named Chickenfoot, will enter the recording studio just before Labour Day.

“We’ve written eight, nine songs. We just got to go in the studio Sept. 1,” Hagar said.

“When people hear the music, it’s Led Zeppelin. It’s as good as that. I know that’s a mighty bold statement… We could rival Zep.”

Hagar, 60, stills looks remarkably like he did during his time with Van Halen – suntanned and goateed with that trademark mop of curly blonde hair.

In town following a show at Casino Rama, north of Toronto, with his “party band” The Wabos, Hagar took up residence for the day in a downtown hotel to promote his latest career turn as a spirits connoisseur.

Halen fans are no doubt familiar with the song “Cabo Wabo”, a track from the multi-platinum 1988 album “OU812” that sang the virtues of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Hagar’s love of all that is Cabo has seen him open cantinas bearing the name, and now he’s spending the summer selling Cabo Wabo Tequila.

The brand, with its origins in Hagar’s desire to serve a local, high-end tequila at his cantina in Cabo San Lucas, grew over the years, eventually gaining recognition and robust sales in the United States. Last year, Hagar sold an 80 per cent stake in the company to multinational spirits company Campari for a reported US$80 million.

“It wasn’t planned. All this happened step by step. Every time I turned around there was a new opportunity for it,” Hagar said.

“Everyone thought it was a gimmick. It’s an expensive tequila (a 750 ml bottle retails for $71.20 in Canada). They thought, what does this guy know about premium tequila?”

Apparently Hagar has even convinced bassist Anthony, who was known for drinking Jack Daniels whisky straight from the bottle onstage during his Van Halen years, to quaff his tequila while performing.

The two have remained close, and perform together often, since the Hagar incarnation of Halen finally folded after a reunion in the late 1990s.

When the band reunited last year to tour with original singer David Lee Roth, Anthony was replaced by Eddie Van Halen’s son Wolfgang.

Although it’s “great that they finally did the reunion with Dave,” Hagar said he had no desire to take in the show.

“Mikey should have been there. It’s ridiculous,” he said.

“(Seeing the show) just wouldn’t interest me in the least, all the hoopla and all that around something without it being the original.”

As for the Van Halen vs. Van Hagar debate, Hagar is content to let the fans choose their favourite and listen to the old recordings.

“I’m really not interested in being in that band right now. I’m so much more interested in our little Chickenfoot project,” Hagar said.

“To me that’s 10 times Van Halen, because it’s functional, we all like each other.”

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