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Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock    by Sammy Hagar order for
by Sammy Hagar
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Leslie McKee

To many, Sammy Hagar is known as a successful musician and businessman. Now, in Hagar's own words, the reader will learn about his rise to fame from a blue collar background. Hagar is extremely candid, sometimes to a fault, about his love of fast cars, parties and women. A career in rock and roll was a perfect fit.

In 1968, Hagar married Betsy Berardi and they had two sons (Aaron and Andrew). His first real encounter with musical success was with Montrose (1973-1975). After leaving them, Hagar had some solo projects (1976-1985) before joining the classic arena rock band, Van Halen, in 1985. In line with the rock and roll lifestyle, Hagar tells how he would have sex with multiple women under the stage during the set. He was still married to Betsy, though their marriage was crumbling. They divorced in 1994. Hagar had met Kari Karte and had an affair for four years prior to his divorce from Betsy. Hagar and Kari married in 1995 and they have two daughters (Kama & Samantha).

After a decade that spawned many successful albums (including 5150, OU812 and For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge), Hagar was unceremoniously kicked out of Van Halen in 1996. Hagar was determined to prove to them that they made the 'biggest mistake of their lives.' Van Halen made an attempt to replace him, with both Gary Cherone (of Extreme) and David Lee Roth, but both attempts failed to produce the success Van Halen had experienced in the past.

As expected, Hagar's memoirs contain many antics associated with a rock and roll lifestyle. The Foreword is by Michael Anthony (ex-Van Halen), with whom he shares an amicable relationship. Many celebrities share their praises (including Ted Nugent, Kenny Chesney, Whoopi Goldberg and Emeril Lagasse). The reader will learn of his obsession with numerology and the color red ... including how he came to be dubbed The Red Rocker. Some, however, may find Hagar's recounts to be a bit too candid, especially in relation to Becky's medical issues and Eddie Van Halen's troubled history (including alcoholism, cancer and his marriage).

The writing is relaxed and does contain crude language that could be offensive to some. A number of color photos are included. Information on his success in the business world (example: Cabo Wabo tequila) and music business (with his bands the Waboritas and Chickenfoot) is also included. While a bit more information on the inspiration behind some of his biggest hits, as well as on his family, would be a nice addition, overall this book sheds intriguing light on the career of a musical hall of famer.

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