Rockin’ the House

Sammy Hagar takes “party like a rockstar” to a new level. The Red Rocker is a legendary metal man with his own tequila and rum lines, along with party bars and restaurants galore. He works hard and plays hard, enjoying the success he has built over his nearly 50-year career.

Hagar fronted his first band at age 14 and played in several throughout high school. He was playing in a cover band in San Francisco when guitarist Ronnie Montrose asked him to join his new band Montrose. The group’s first album, “Montrose” came out in 1973, followed by “Paper Money” in 1974. Hagar left the band after those two projects and began his solo career, with the former Montrose bassist and drummer following him.

Hagar released his first solo album, “Nine on a Ten Scale,” in 1976 under Capitol Records. His second album, “Sammy Hagar,” contained the song “Red” that lead to his nickname. After three more albums under Capitol, Hagar left to sign with Geffen Records.

He found the response he was looking for when his first album under Geffen, “Standing Hampton,” was released in 1982 and became his biggest-selling album to date, going platinum on the strength of songs such as “There’s Only One Way to Rock.” His success continued with his next release, “Three Lock Box,” which hit No. 17 on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart and contained the popular single “Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy.”

Hagar had another winner with his 1984 album “VOA,” which contained his massive hit, “I Can’t Drive 55.” After this release, Hagar was asked to replace David Lee Roth as the lead singer of Van Halen.

With Hagar out front, Van Halen produced four multi-platinum, No. 1 Billboard charting albums: “5150,” “OU812,” “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge” and “Balance.” Van Halen charted numerous hits during this time as well, including nine No. 1 Mainstream Rock singles, like “Black and Blue,” “When It’s Love” and “Top of the World.”

Although it wasn’t chosen to be released as a single off the “OU812” album, another notable Van Halen song hit the airwaves in 1988, “Cabo Wabo.” The track about crashing by the sea in Mexico was inspired by watching a tipsy man wobble along the beach after a night out, and it spurred a lasting legacy for Hagar.

The Cabo Wabo brand instantly instills images of relaxing and partying on a slice of paradise south of the border. Hagar bottled this image in his own tequila line, and opened a string of restaurants to serve as a laidback hangout with rock music always flowing. The original Cabo Wabo Cantina opened in 1990 in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. There is a second cantina on the Las Vegas Strip, which opened in 2009. That same year, Hagar opened the first in his chain of Sammy’s Beach Bar & Grill restaurants in St. Louis.

After his Cabo Wabo tequila became the second-best selling premium tequila in the United States, Hagar decided to venture into rum as well. He created Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum in 2011, which is distilled on Maui by Hali’imaile Distilling Company.

Meanwhile, Hagar had left Van Halen in 1996 and was back to solo work. He formed Sammy Hagar and the Waboritas in 1997 and have played on and off with them since. In 2008 he formed the band Chickenfoot and released two studio albums with this group.

His latest configuration is called Sammay Hagar and the Circle, which he formed in 2014. The band includes Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony, Waboritas guitarist Vic Johnson, and drummer Jason Bonham, who is the son of legendary Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham. With this mixture of notable names, they play hits from Montrose, Van Halen, Led Zeppelin and Hagar’s solo work.

The band has also produced two albums — 2019’s “Space Between” and 2021’s “Lockdown 2020” The former hit No. 1 on the U.S. Top Rock Albums chart. The latter is project the band created while separated in lockdown during the pandemic.

“When we first start doing these lockdown sessions, it was only meant to stay in touch with the fans until we could get back out on the road again,” Hagar stated. “But as the weeks and months drew on, it also became a fun way to keep the band together, musically and creatively.”

They ended up recording 11 tracks and putting together a full album, which includes some popular covers of classic songs, like The Who’s “Won‘t Get Fooled Again,” Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” and David Bowie’s “Heroes.”

Now the band is finally able to get back on the road and play live for fans, and the party will be rockin.’ Sammy Hagar and the Circle will take the stage at the Laughlin Event Center Saturday, May 7, with support from REO Speedwagon and Sir, Please.

REO Speedwagon

Keyboard player Neal Doughty joined with some fellow students at the University of Illinois to form REO Speedwagon in 1967. After a few years of regional gigs and several lineup changes, the band was signed to Epic Records in 1971 and released its self-titled debut album later that year.

Kevin Cronin came in the following year to take over lead vocals and record on the band’s second album, “R.E.O./T.W.O.” However Cronin left before their third album was recorded and did not come back until 1976 to record the group’s sixth album, titled “R.E.O.”

Although the band was churning out studio albums, they were not seeing mainstream success. For their next album, they recorded a live record, “Live: You Get What You Pay For,” which was certified platinum.

After that release, Bruce Hall replaced their bassist and they produced their ever-popular seventh studio album, “You Can Tune a Piano but You Can’t Tuna Fish,” which hit No. 29 on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart and was certified double platinum. Their next album “Nine Lives” followed suit and also charted in the Top 40 albums.

Building on that success, REO really broke through with the 1980 release of “Hi Infidelity,” the band’s first No. 1 album and the best-selling album of 1981. It was certified 10 times platinum and contained the No. 1 hit single, “Keep On Loving You.” After that song, REO could not be denied a spot on the mainstream airwaves.

Their popularity soared into the mid-‘80s with several more hit singles, such as “Keep the Fire Burnin,’” and “Can’t Fight This Feeling.” As a live act, they were in demand across the country and were part of the 1985 Live Aid U.S. concert.

REO closed out the decade with one more studio album, 1987’s “Life as We Know It,” and a compilation album the following year, titled “The Hits.”

In 1989 Dave Amato joined the lineup on lead guitar and in ‘90 Bryan Hitt took over on drums. That year, the band released it’s 13th album, “The Earth, a Small Man, His Dog and a Chicken,” producing their last charting single, “Love Is a Rock.” They put out one more album for the decade, 1996’s “Building the Bridge.”

Eleven years later, REO released a new album for fans with 10 tracks, titled “Find Your Own Way Home.” The group’s last new release came in 2009 and was a Christmas album called “Not So Silent Night … Christmas with REO Speedwagon.”

Since then, the band has continued touring, making television appearances, such as their slot on season three of “Ozark,” and was inducted into the Hall of Fame at the Illinois Rock & Roll Museum on Route 66 in 2021.

Sir, Please

Opening the show at the Laughlin Event Center is indie-rock band Sir, Please. The band members include Kevin Cronin’s twin sons, lead singer Shane Cronin and bassist Josh Cronin, as well as Michael Leese on rhythm guitar and David Kohn on drums. Sir, Please gained attention a few years ago with their song “Dance With Me,” which has more than 2 million streams. Their debut EP, “Simply Loved and Lingered On,” is out now.