Before the band Boston had a chance to perform for the New York crowd, the lights went down and the opening drum and bass line from Sammy Hagar’s song “Red,” filled the arena and silenced the crowd instantly. There was an excitement in the music that seemed perfectly written to open a rock concert. As the music built to a crescendo, from out of the corner of the stage,a crazed rock and roll singer dressed entirely in red, sprinted ferociously across the stage. With multiple guitars lighting up New York’s Madison Square Garden, and the band ripping into the opening licks of the song “Red,” the Garden was introduced to one of rock and roll’s greatest voices.
For forty minutes, Sammy Hagar’s opening set introduced to all of us in that audience, some great new rock and roll music from his first few albums. Furthermore, Sammy’s guitar playing was on fire. At the time, I was young and had not known of Sammy’s previous work with Montrose, but it was evident from Sammy’s stage presence, that this was a singer who knew how to work a crowd, and he held the Garden in the palm of his hand.
Sammy Hagar’s live band in 1977 featured Denny Carmassi on drums, Bill Church on bass, Gary Pihl on guitar and Alan Fitzgerald on keyboards. The band’s energy surrounded Hagar supporting the singer all night long. Most of the songs Sammy Hagar and his band performed that night had been released on his debut solo album Nine On A Ten Scale, his sophomore album Red and his newest record Musical Chairs. Of course Sammy also performed his Montrose classic “Rock Candy.” A song he continued to perform as a solo artist and even during his years as a member of Van Halen.
Sammy Hagar’s energy on the stage that night was only matched by the vocal range that he displayed in incredible fashion. This was no opening act, Sammy Hagar and his band played like they were headlining the Garden. Fans in the 1970s always ignored opening acts during most concerts. Everyone wants to see the headliner and most fans have no patience for opening acts. That is unless you hit the stage like Sammy Hagar did that night. Within seconds, Sammy Hagar was turning heads and keeping fans in their seats and away from the concessions. That does not happen often.
In all honesty, it should have been Boston opening for Sammy, because after Sammy Hagar left the stage, Boston had no chance of matching his energy and talent. Rock and Roll history is filled with stories of opening acts blowing away the headliners. Sammy Hagar’s opening night at Madison Square Garden in front of Boston was a Rock and Roll moment for the ages.
Sammy Hagar at Winterland in 1977. Same tour. There is no footage of the NYC shows. Sammy Hagar also opened up for Kiss in 1977 on multiple shows,
The recording below is from his 1977 tour
Updated Nov 26, 2020
How Sammy Hagar Blew Boston Off The Stage In 1977 article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2013
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I saw this tour as well, at Philly Spectrum, and Hagar just rocked it. I loved it! Did he upstage Boston, though … no way! They completely rocked in my opinion, with Scholz and his cape leaping down over the organ or whatever…. amazing show from Boston too. Such a great concert.
Now the Cars DID blow away Foreigner around that same time period. 😀
I was at this show at the Garden. You are correct. Sammy blew this show away. I think he ended it with Bad Motor Scooter. Went out and bought the Red Live album the next day, and it’s still one of my all time favorites. Sammy is one of the greatest rockers ever. Just think of the bands and musicians he’s played with. Thanks for a great memory.
I saw that tour in New Haven, CT. Hagar impressed me hugely and I’m glad the setlist is captured on All Night Long. but Boston owned it!
I saw the same tour when it came to Birmingham, AL. While I liked the energy Hagar brought to the stage, I thought the songs were lame. “Bad Motor Scooter” and “Crisin’ and Boozin'”–really? I thought Boston was terrific, though some of their new songs (“Television Politician” for example) were certainly not up to snuff with the first album. Hagar came through town on a couple of other tours around that same time period. He was enjoyable enough, but he seemed to me that he was always going to be a minor leaguer on his own. His stuff with Van Halen proved more of what he was capable of.
Saw this same show at the Rochester NY War Memorial! Left after 2 songs of Boston! Sammy got you so charged and Boston was like a Xanax ! ZZZZZZZ
I grew up in West Islip, N.Y. and loved all of the 60’s 70’s and 80’s rock songs from that era.
We won 1st place in our city wide battle of the bands in 1968 and 1969.
Moved to San Diego, Ca in 1970 and started our first band called SOMA with MikeThompson on keyboards and vocals (currently playing keys with the EAGLES)
We entered our first battle of the bands against 30 other bands in 1972 at “THE PALACE”
on Pacific Hwy. where we took 1st place over 5 weeks of battles.
I saw the in Indianapolis Oct 78, Sammy broke something on the PA system there was a 2 hour delay for Boston to start which started a war of people throwing stuff, so everybody was pissed at Sammy, But Boston rocked after that
Saw this tour in South Bend, IN. At the time, I only knew Sammy as the former Montrose singer. I was really impressed with him, and have been a fan ever since. I think Van Halen raised his profile beyond what he would have done solo, but the talent was there either way.
Omg! My first concert was Sammy Hagar opening for Boston (who I loved!) I was 15, Checkerdome St.Louis Mo!!! Sammy blew us away that night!! When Boston came on stage, they must have been having a bad night, they were terrible! People started calling Sammy, Sammy, Sammy!!!! Have loved Sammy Hagar from that moment on!
Avagail, I was also at that show at the Checkerdome. KSHE 95 played Montrose and solo Sammy a lot so the locals were stoked. After Sammy’s set the crowd went batshit crazy for an encore. (Not bad for an opener!) When Sammy came back out he said something like, “St Louis, I was just told the next time we’re back we’ll be headlining!” Boston was a snooze after that.