Van Halen’s Sammy Hagar on making music, managing cash…and ingesting $80K bottles of wine

Sammy Hagar says he nonetheless can’t drive 55. But it’s troublesome to inform if he implies that actually, or if he’s talking about his take-no-prisoners philosophy of life as an entire.

Hagar — aka the Red Rocker — is the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer greatest identified for his stints as lead singer of Van Halen over two intervals (sure, he’s the man who adopted David Lee Roth). He’s additionally labored extensively as a solo artist, together with his 1984 music, “I Can’t Drive 55,” being his largest hit.

But Hagar, now 75 years previous, is a musician who’s discovered equal footing within the enterprise world, virtually like a hard-rocking equal to the entrepreneurial Jimmy Buffett.

He scored a significant success together with his Cabo Wabo tequila model, which he offered to Gruppo Campari for $100 million in 2008. Today, his empire covers spirits (he’s acquired a brand new tequila referred to as Santo); canned cocktails (he launched Sammy’s Beach Bar Cocktail Co.); and eating places (his Cabo Wabo Cantina, situated in Mexico, has been in enterprise since 1990, plus there’s his Sammy’s Beach Bar & Grill chain). He’s even written his personal mixology guide, “Sammy Hagar’s Cocktail Hits.”

Somehow, within the midst of all this, Hagar additionally retains making music. He now heads up a gaggle referred to as The Circle, which launched its newest album, “Crazy Times,” in 2022.

MarketWatch caught up lately with Hagar to find out about his frenetic life and profession, and to get his views on key issues of non-public finance. Here are edited excerpts from the dialog.

MarketWatch: You’ve had a really profitable profession in music, however you simply preserve branching out. Is there a logical thread that connects your profession in music with all these different belongings you do?

Hagar: It’s plain and easy. I’m a inventive individual, and my thoughts expands past simply writing a music. If that’s all I used to be caught with doing, I’d get sort of stagnant. I really like a problem.

The complete hospitality enterprise is so related to my followers. It’s like me entertaining them always, me simply giving them issues to do, exhibiting them a way of life, exhibiting them some good meals, some good drinks, turning them on to issues. And then, I make my very own spirits so that they drink that, they go into my bars, they go into my eating places, they play my music, they arrive to my live shows. I believe it’s a extra full expertise.

Sammy Hagar’s companies create a whole expertise for followers.

MarketWatch: You had been making an attempt to get individuals to take tequila critically lengthy earlier than George Clooney was peddling costly bottles. What did it to take to raise the spirit, which actually had a really bottom-of-the-barrel repute within the U.S.?

Hagar: Boy, it certain did, and I had the identical opinion after I was rising up. Then, I went to Jalisco, Mexico, to purchase furnishings for my Cabo Wabo restaurant. A buddy of mine stated, “Have you ever been to where they make tequila?” And we went there, and I tasted 100% agave tequila. This is like 1987. And I went, “Whoa! I gotta turn people on to this. This is blowing my mind. This is delicious.” So it was simple as a result of the best way I skilled it was such a cataclysmic expertise. I acquired it in individuals’s fingers that had been influencers like Willie Nelson. Everybody that tasted stated the identical factor, and the nice news was that nobody had actually tasted good tequila earlier than.

Ingredients are an important factor (in a spirit). Otherwise, that may be like saying, “I got a great song. Now let’s just get some guy to record a guitar solo for it.” No, you need to say, “Let’s get Eddie Van Halen.” Now, it’s actually music.

MarketWatch: You’ve additionally gone into the canned cocktail enterprise. That’s a crowded market proper now. Some would say it’s too crowded. What do you assume it can take to succeed?

Hagar: The similar factor: a greater product. That’s all I depend on with all the pieces I do. Because I’ve had success in so many alternative methods, I may assist myself greater than I’d ever want with my music, or I may assist myself greater than I ever would wish with my restaurant and cantina enterprise. So it’s not like I’ve to make a residing off this and I’ve to chop corners. I can break even and be completely happy.

MarketWatch: You’ve written a brand new cocktail guide. What’s the most important mistake that most individuals make relating to getting ready cocktails at dwelling?

Hagar: I believe the most important mistake is utilizing an already-made mixer. Make your mixers from scratch. The higher the elements, the higher the cocktail.

MarketWatch: What are you discovering as an artist at your age that you simply want you knew whenever you had been youthful?

Hagar: I want I’d have spent extra time making information as a substitute of simply eager to get my ass on the market on tour. I actually thought touring was my avenue for fulfillment, as a result of I’m a performer and I took recording flippantly. I’d make a document as fast as I may, so I may get again on tour.

MarketWatch: You’re most likely not the man who can reply this query objectively, however we’ll ask it anyhow: Which Van Halen period was higher — the Sammy Hagar period or the David Lee Roth period?

Hagar: Dude, that’s like asking what got here first, the hen or the egg? For me, I believe the Hagar period was way more elevated musically. We wrote a lot deeper, extra advanced songs. And my melodies and my vary had been so significantly better than what Dave may do. Dave was extra concerning the antics of the band and the gimmicks.

Van Halen band members Sammy Hagar (left) and Michael Anthony on the 2007 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

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MarketWatch: What’s one thing you’re prepared to splurge on?

Hagar: Fine wine.

MarketWatch: What’s probably the most you’ve ever spent on a bottle?

Hagar: Oh, God, please don’t ask that query, it’s embarrassing. How about If I’ve advised you I’ve drank $80,000 bottles of wine. I didn’t spend that a lot on them on the time, although. You see I’ve been gathering wine a very long time, so I’ve a really deep assortment. I’ve most likely 15,000 bottles. So, I’d have a bottle that perhaps I paid $2,000 or $3,000 for 40 years in the past that’s value $80,000, $90,000 or $100,000 now.

MarketWatch: Conversely, what’s one thing you hate spending cash on?

Hagar: Lawyers.

Sammy Hagar’s favourite factor to splurge on.

MarketWatch: What’s the most important monetary mistake you’ve made? Have you ever purchased an costly bottle of wine that had turned to vinegar?

Hagar: Oh yeah, I paid a few thousand {dollars} for a ’45 Lafite that was simply shot. And the vendor goes, “Well, it’s an old bottle of wine. There’s no guarantees.” I stated, “You got to be kidding, I’ll never buy wine from you again.” And I didn’t.

MarketWatch: You clearly have head for enterprise. But why achieve this many different entertainers — and rock stars particularly — get into a lot bother with cash?

Hagar: Well, it’s really easy whenever you’re hitting it large to assume you’re simply on high of the world. You don’t take into consideration paying your taxes. You know, the primary time I made one million {dollars}, I spent quite a lot of it. I purchased my first home, and I purchased a Ferrari and I invested some. And then subsequent yr, my accountant says, “You know, you’ve got $472,000 in taxes.” And I’m going, “Holy s—t. I need to book some shows. I’m broke!”

That’s one factor. And additionally, you assume you’re invincible. You’re making a lot cash yr after yr that you simply don’t understand it may come to an finish hastily. And for many artists, it does. The artists who’ve longevity, we’re fortunate. Me, I’m the luckiest man on this planet.

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