Sammy Hagar is one of the most interesting figures in rock and roll history. Sammy Hagar began his career in rock and roll as the lead singer in a band called Montrose. The band featured ex-Edgar Winter band member Ronnie Montrose on guitar. On the band’s first album which was released in 1973, Sammy Hagar was responsible for sole writing credit for the song “Bad Motor Scooter.” Sammy Hagar was given co-writing credit on six of the albums remaining eight songs including the band’s big hit “Rock Candy.” Sammy Hagar was still on board when the band released their second album, Paper Money in 1974. Sammy Hagar along with several other members of the band would leave Montrose after the group’s second record.
In 1976, Sammy Hagar would release his first solo album entitled Nine On A Ten Scale. However, it was not until Sammy Hagar issued the album Sammy Hagar (known as the Red album) one year later in 1977, that many more rock fans began to take notice of Sammy Hagar’s incredible vocal chops and intense rock and roll spirit. Serving as the opening act for the band Boston on their 1977 tour, Sammy Hagar began to build the loyal following he has maintained to the present day. I saw Sammy Hagar open for Boston on that tour and the man completely blew Boston off the stage.
After the Sammy Hagar album was released in 1977, the Red Rocker would release three more albums, Musical Chairs, Street Machine, and Danger Zone from 1977 to 1980. It was in 1981 when Sammy Hagar released Standing Hampton that the singer’s solo career skyrocketed. In 1981 Sammy Hagar was interviewed on MTV and claimed that Standing Hampton was the best album he had ever released. And he was right, at least up until that point. It was a great record that contained some of the most successful songs of his career.
Sammy Hagar followed Standing Hampton with the release of Three Lock Box one year later. Three Lock Box continued to display great artistic growth and commercial success while still maintaining that intense Sammy Hagar sound. In 1984, Sammy Hagar released the Voice of America album which contained the biggest hit of his career “I Can’t Drive 55.”
After the release of Voice Of America, Sammy Hagar would once again join a rock and roll band. However, it’s not the one you’re assuming. Before Sammy Hagar joined Van Halen in 1985, he recorded an album entitled Through The Fire as part of a band called Hagar Schon Aaronson Shrieve. The band included Neil Schon of Journey on guitar and Kenny Aaronson on bass who had toured and recorded with Foghat, Joan Jett, and Edgar Winter.
In 1985, Sammy Hagar replaced David Lee Roth in the band Van Halen. While most rock fans had known of Sammy Hagar, his new role as the lead singer of Van Halen made Hagar a household name. However, at the time many hardcore Sammy Hagar fans were upset that Hagar joined Van Halen because it meant an end to Sammy Hagar’s solo albums for at least the time being. (Hagar did one last one to fulfill his contract while he was in Van Halen)
After a 10-year stint with Van Halen, Sammy Hagar left the band and continued to release solo records with his new band called The Waboritas. Sammy Hagar would also form a new supergroup called Chickenfoot. The band consisted of Joe Satriani on guitar, Michael Anthony (Sammy’s soul brother and former bassist of Van Halen) on bass, and Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers on drums. Chickenfoot only recorded two studio albums but remains a side project that Hagar has stated is just on hold.
Sammy Hagar’s new band The Circle features Michael Anthony on bass, but also includes Jason Bonham on drums and Waboritas guitarist Vic Johnson. The band The Circle is known for playing many Led Zeppelin songs because of the inclusion of Jason Bonham in the group. The band also paid tribute to all of Sammy’s bands like Chickenfoot, Van Halen, and Montrose.
With a career that has spanned close to fifty years across a sea of iconic bands, it is nearly impossible to pick only 10 Sammy Hagar songs to include in a Top 10 Sammy Hagar Songs list. In order to make it a little easier, we decided to only choose songs from Sammy Hagar solo albums. No material from Van Halen, Montrose, or Chickenfoot will appear on this list. The Waboritas is fine because, for the most part, they are Sammy Hagar’s backup band for his post Van Halen solo years. Even just choosing Sammy Hagar songs from his solo albums is a momentous task. Let us know what you think.
# 12 & 11 – Stand Up / Hallelujah
Since we originally released this Top 10 Sammy Hagar Songs list, we went back and re-listened to Sammy Hagar’s catalog and felt that we really blew it on missing some of the great tracks on the Not 4 Sale album. So after having a hard time choosing one song to represent from the album, we went with these two killer tracks. Yup. this list goes to
11 oops we mean 12.
The Not 4 Sale album featured Sammy Hagar on lead vocals and guitar, Victor Johnson on guitar, Jesse Harms on keyboards, Mona Gnader on bass and David Lauser on drums. The album was produced by Bob Daspit and the Waboritas. Sammy Hagar’s Not 4 Sale album was also independently released on Sammy Hagar’s own music label. Because the album was released that way, a lot of music fans never knew anything about the album.
# 10 – Red
Opening our Top 10 Sammy Hagar Songs list is the opening track from Sammy Hagar’s second solo album entitled Sammy Hagar. The track entitled “Red,” was the perfect opening album track in the way the drums and bass delivered a great groove that set the way for a series of lightning guitar strikes that intensified with every measure.
It is a song that featured a perfect build-up and an introduction to one of the most exciting singers in rock and roll history. Sammy Hagar’s album which we all simply call Red remains one of the strongest albums of his career. It was an album that I wore out on my turntable only a few months after purchasing it. The only other records that I wore out like Sammy Hagar’s Red, were Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti and Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run.
The Sammy Hagar Red album featured Sammy Hagar on lead vocals and guitar, Bill Church on bass, lan Fitzgerald on keyboards, David Lewark on guitar, and Scott Mathews on drums. The album was produced by John Carter and released on Capitol Records.
# 9 – Winner Takes It All (Over the Top Soundtrack)
The great track “Winner Takes It All,” is probably the least known of all the songs on our Top 10 Sammy Hagar Songs list. That’s a shame because it is such a great Sammy Hagar Song. The song appeared on the soundtrack to the Sylvester Stallone film Over The Top.
It was a soundtrack that also featured Robin Zander of Cheap Trick, John Wetton of Asia, Eddie Murphy, Larry Greene, Big Trouble and Frank Stallone. The song showcases some great Sammy Hagar guitar playing and at the time his band-mate Eddie Van Halen on bass.
# 8 – Mas Tequila
After Sammy Hagar left Van Halen, he went back into the studio and began once again releasing Sammy Hagar’s solo albums. The song “Mas Tequila,” was released on the Red Voodoo album that was issued in 1999. It was Sammy Hagar’s second solo album released after he had left Van Halen.
His first solo album to be issued in the post Van Halen years was Marching To Mars which was released in 1997. The cover of the album showcased Sammy Hagar holding a glass of his famous Cabo Wabo Tequila. The very same brand of Tequila that Sammy Hagar had developed on his own and would later sell an 80 percent share of to Gruppo Campari for 80 million dollars. Talk about a successful life!
# 7 – I’ll Fall In Love Again
The brilliant pop-rock tune “I’ll Fall In Love Again,” was released on Sammy Hagar’s breakthrough album Standing Hampton. The album was released in 1982. Sammy Hagar’s Standing Hampton was the singer’s sixth album. Standing Hampton was also the first record Sammy Hagar recorded for his new record company Geffen Records.
Classic Rock History is loaded with stories of artists who changed record companies and then saw their careers rejuvenated and ignited by the change. The switch to Geffen Records changed Sammy Hagar’s sound a bit making it more radio-friendly in a pop-rock type sense.” I’ll Fall In Love Again,” was a perfect example of that change. And then again, writing and recording perfect pop rock songs like this one doesn’t hurt.
The classic Standing Hampton album featured Sammy Hagar on lead vocals and guitar Gary Pihl on guitar and backing vocals Bill Church on bass and backing vocals and David Lauser on drums and backing vocals. The album was produced by Keith Olsen who had produced everyone from Fleetwood Mac to Ozzy Osbourne and from Heart to Emerson Lake & Palmer.
# 6 – Eagles Fly
When Sammy Hagar joined the band Van Halen he was still under contract to Geffen Records. The album I Never Said Goodbye was an album recorded and released to fulfill part of his contractual obligations to Geffen Records. The album was released in 1987. Eddie Van Halen played bass on all the album’s recorded tracks. Sammy Hagar handled all the guitar work.
The song “Eagles Fly,” was released as the album’s second single and was also performed by Van Halen on tour along with I Never Said Goodbye’s other stand-out track, “Give To Live.” which appears later on this Top 10 Sammy Hagar Songs List.
# 5 – Your Love is Driving me Crazy
Sammy Hagar’s follow-up album to the great Standing Hampton record was the magnificent Three Lock Box album. The album featured one of the strongest singles of Sammy Hagar’s career in the standout track “Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy.”
The song was a top 20 hit for Sammy Hagar as it reached the number thirteen spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1983. The songs great chorus featuring a spectacular harmony mix and clever use of synthesizers made this one a perfect pop-rock single.
# 4 – Give To Live
Sammy Hagar’s“Give To Live,” was that rare track that contained that late 1960’s early 1970’s vibe mixed with modern 1980s production. It always reminded me of Janis Joplin’s “Piece Of My Heart.” Yet, it was far enough removed from Janis Joplin’s song to stand on its own. It just had that same spirit.
Interestingly Sammy Hagar recorded a cover of “Piece Of My Heart,” for the Standing Hampton album in which it appeared as the record’s last track. The song “Give To Live,” was the first single released from Sammy Hagar’s I Never Said Goodbye album.
# 3 – Heavy Metal
The last three songs on our Top 10 Sammy Hagar songs list are pretty interchangeable as far as positioning. While some may have charted higher than others, the songs themselves would become iconic tracks in the Sammy Hagar song catalog. One of our favorite Sammy Hagar songs of all time is one that seemed to come out of nowhere.
Sammy’s great track “Heavy Metal,” served as the opening credits to Heavy Metal magazine’s animated feature film The movie was released in theaters on August 7th, 1981. The soundtrack featured a wide range of artists including most notably Grand Funk, Blue Oyster Cult, Stevie Nicks, Cheap Trick, and Black Sabbath.
Sammy Hagar’s song “Heavy Metal,” not only appeared on the Heavy Metal soundtrack, it was also released on Sammy Hagar’s Standing Hampton record. However, the Standing Hampton version was slightly different from the movie soundtrack cut.
# 2 – I Can’t Drive 55
While the Standing Hampton and Three Lock Box albums provided Sammy Hagar fans with the two most successful albums of Sammy Hagar’s career, the red rocker had only just begun. Two years after Three Lock Box was released Sammy Hagar came roaring back with the Voice of America album in 1984. The album was known to most fans as the VOA album. The album’s opening track, “I Can’t Drive 55,” became Sammy Hagar’s signature song.
In an interview in 1994, Sammy Hagar claimed he came up with the idea for the song after he was pulled over by a trooper in upstate New York. Sammy claimed he was given a ticket for doing 62 miles an hour in a 55 mile an hour zone. When the trooper told Sammy Hagar that in his territory they gave out tickets for driving over 60 mph, Sammy Hagar replied but “I Can’t Drive 55.” While the trooper was writing up the ticket, Sammy Hagar claimed he began writing the song at that very moment.
# 1 – There’s Only One Way To Rock
The Standing Hampton album is all over this top 10 Sammy Hagar Songs list. So it’s fitting that our choice for the number one position on the Sammy Hagar Songs list comes from that great album. While “I Can’t Drive 55,” maybe Sammy Hagar’s signature song, Sammy Hagar’s song “There’s Only One Way To Rock,” just about sums it all up.
With the song’s great opening guitar riff and dynamic chorus, “There’s Only One Way To Rock,” delivered on all cylinders. It was one of the first Sammy Hagar songs that Van Halen began performing with Sammy Hagar in concert when Sammy first joined the band. Listening to Eddie Van Halen play that great guitar lick with Michael and Alex playing like thunder and lightning was almost too good to be true.
Top 10 Sammy Hagar Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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