Sammy Hagar recalls how Van Halen told him that he could do Cabo Wabo or be in the band
Former Van Halen frontman Sammy Hagar was recently interviewed by Inc. and spoke about he became the multi-millionaire that he is today and how his departure from Van Halen helped him to cash in on his Cabo Wabo tequila bars.
Hagar stated: “I’ve never started a business thinking, Oh, I’m gonna make money off of this. All my ideas have come from sheer enthusiasm. I felt that way about Cabo San Lucas. I bought a condo down there in 1981. There were three hotels, and none of the restaurants had air conditioning, telephones, or TV. But I fell in love with the place. I wanted a place to hang out down there, so I said, “I’m going to build a tequila bar.” I had an instinct that people would come.
By then, I had joined Van Halen. So there I was, the lead singer of the biggest band in the world. I opened Cabo Wabo in 1990 and then invited the band members to become partners in the restaurant–it felt like the right thing to do. But then, in 1996, I got kicked out of Van Halen. They basically said, “You can do Cabo Wabo or be in this band.” I was like, “Why can’t I do both?” At that time, I was so brokenhearted about it, but it turned out to be the best thing I’ve ever done. I bought the band out, fired the team that had been managing the restaurant, and teamed up with Marco Monroy, who still runs Cabo Wabo today. It has been a freakin’ gold mine for 22 years.
After I left Van Halen, Shep Gordon, a music manager, came to visit me at Cabo Wabo. I was wearing shorts and flip-flops, and he said, “You need to roll your whole thing into your whole thing.” Around that time, I met Kari, my current wife, who said, “You remind me of Jimmy Buffett.” I thought she was nuts. But then she took me to see him and I’m going, “Holy shit. This is awesome.” Some fool with a parrot on his head would get his ass kicked at a Van Halen show. But a light went on. He created a lifestyle for his fans. I had already started Cabo Wabo. I said, “We beach all day, eat tacos for dinner, drink tequila. I get onstage and play. That’s it.” It’s not like I’m some genius.”
You can read the rest of the interview with Sammy Hagar at Inc.