The Reverend Red Rocker

Platitudes on life, religion and music from the depths of a tequila bottle

In hindsight, Hagar says he would have preferred to quit the band clean after the Balance tour rather than have this messy divorce. "Because the fans are saying, 'Eddie says this, Sammy says this, Roth says this, and I don't know who the fuck to believe.' I'm over the whole thing, and it actually turned out well for me, though I still scratch my head about it." He does credit his days with Van Halen with sharpening his singing, guitar playing and songwriting.

Hagar released the solo Marching to Mars only a couple years after the breakup (with the telling track "Little White Lies") but feels that Red Voodoo really marks the next phase of his musical career. And he's wise enough to take what he has learned from all his other incarnations. "The only reason I'm still around today is because I did change and play with all those different people and have those [new starts]."

Hagar is still very much open to musical collaboration, something the Waboritas provide in abundance. The backup band includes longtime compadre (back to 1967) David Lauser on drums, solo years veteran and Red Voodoo co-producer Jesse Harms on keyboards, and new additions Vic Johnson on guitar ("He could play all of Ronnie and Eddie's licks as well as add a lot of his own style," Hagar says) and a woman named simply Mona, whom he hired despite some reservations about her gender, on bass.

"Yeah, I fought the female thing for awhile, because I wasn't sure how it would work out with all the testosterone in the band. I figured she might quit after the first show," Hagar says with a laugh. "But she really was the best person we auditioned, and thank God, she's the coolest chick in the world. Plus, she can play the hell out of that instrument."

Macho rocker and aggressive performer Sammy Hagar realizes the impact the fairer sex has had on his life in 1999. "When you think about it, Mona rules me on stage and my wife rules me off. Ha! So much for the tough jock rock and roller. My life is run by women."

And with a three-year-old daughter in tow, it looks like the Red Rocker might be turning in his "I Can't Drive 55" creed for a "Baby on Board" sign.

Sammy Hagar performs Sunday, June 27, at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $15, $25 and $50. Call (713)629-3700 or (281)363-3300.

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