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April 14, 2011 / Leslie

Review: RED

Red: My Uncensored Life in RockRED: My Uncensored Life in Rock
by Sammy Hagar
Read by Scott Shepherd

Genre: Autobiography
Publisher: Harper Audio
Publish Date: March 15, 2011
Format: Audible Audio Edition | 7 hours and 28 min.
Version: Unabridged
Rating: 4 of 5

Sammy Hagar—legendary lead singer of Van Halen, founder of the Cabo Wabo Tequila brand, and one of rock music’s most notoriously successful performers—tells his unforgettable story in this one-of-a-kind autobiography of a life at the top of the charts. RED is a life-changing look at one of music’s biggest talents—an essential read for music fans and anyone dreaming of becoming rock’s next number one star.

I listened to the audio version of the book and was impressed with the narration. It was written in a casual tone and listening to it was like hearing Sammy tell his story to a group of friends. Sometimes he would ramble off on a topic (think groupies, drugs and rock & roll) and I’d think, “I can’t believe he’s really saying this”; but it does work. The narrator even sounded a bit like Sammy. For me, I believe it would not have been as enjoyable if I read the book rather than listened to it. It was straightforward and entertaining.

The book begins with background on Sammy’s childhood and growing up in Fontana, California. He candidly talks about what it was like having an alcoholic father and being poor, his early years in music and how he came to join the band Montrose before eventually leaving for a successful solo career. He also speaks openly about his first wife’s mental problems and his efforts to take care of her while he was on the road. For those interested in hearing about the Van Halen years, he doesn’t disappoint. A lot of those stories were already made public and I found his assessment of the band and Eddie to be believable.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I didn’t discover Sammy’s music until he released the song I Can’t Drive 55. It’s still one of my favorites. He explains the story behind that song and talks about making the video. Apparently he really does have a hard time driving the speed limit!

One of the more fascinating aspects of Sammy are his other businesses. He has made many successful investments. Early in his music career he started his own publishing company and kept control of the songs he wrote. He owned one of the first mountain bike shops, founded Cabo Wabo Tequila and The Cabo Wabo Cantina, bar, restaurant and concert hall. He discusses the difficulty he had establishing the cantina and makes it clear that he has worked hard for everything he has.

I listened to this over a few days time. It was a seven hours of audio and would probably be a quick read if one read the book instead. One warning, at times the language and subject matter is R rated. Overall it was enjoyable and highly recommended to Sammy Hagar fans.
Source: Audio download provided by Harper Audio for review.



Leave a Comment
  1. Suko / Apr 14 2011 10:54 am

    This sounds entertaining and honest . Great review, Leslie. I like the addition of the video.


  2. BermudaOnion / Apr 14 2011 2:54 pm

    I’m not a big Hagar fan, but love memoirs, so this is probably right up my alley.


  3. Man of la Book / Apr 15 2011 3:11 pm

    I’d like to read this book, I have been a fan (not a rabid fan, but still) of Van Halen for a while and even liked Hagar’s solo career.


  4. TheBookGirl / Apr 17 2011 6:36 am

    I am not a big fan of his music, so I would probably skip this one. It makes sense to me that this one that would be more enjoyable on audio, as you pointed out.



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