I just got done reading Sammy Hagar's new book, although I liked Van Halen better with David Lee Roth, Sammy's book really opened my eyes to a few things about the band.
Sure the media has picked up on Sammy stories about aliens and his dreams, and that's the way Sammy probably wants the PR to go out. When I picked up the book I really didn't think that it would apply to business that much but it really does. Not many people know that Sammy Hagar is a very smart businessman, that he surrounded himself early with very smart people.
I had no idea of the early history of Sammy's life, the bands he was in, I didn't even know where he came from when he joined Van Halen. My thoughts on Sammy was that he was a one-hit wonder who had that song “I can't drive 55” and that was about it. After reading the book I have a very different opinion of Sammy.
One of the first things that Sammy set up was his own publishing company. Usually this is done by some record company executive and the record company keeps all the profits. But Sammy was smart enough to know that he when he was writing the songs that he should get paid for them as a songwriter.
Sammy had many businesses over the years, and most of them have been very profitable. A lot of people don't know that Sammy was actually one of the first people to have a mountain bike. I forget who it was the brother-in-law or a close friend at a bike shop, but he was one of the first people to convert a beach cruiser into a bike with gears. Sammy ended up making the first mountain bikes and he is even featured in bicycle magazines. He also owned a few bike shops, and had a line of clothing for bicyclists. It was very big in California, not a bad place at all to be in a mountain bike business with all the hills.
From now on whenever I see a bicycle with black rims, I will know Sammy had something to do it since it was his idea to paint the rims black. I'm not sure what happened to the bikes, I think he sold it to a larger bicycle company. Whatever it was he made some nice money.
Along with the apparel company for bikes he also was in the clothing business. Although that wasn't as successful, he made some money on that to. Of course along the way he also made a lot of money by endorsing products like Jackson guitars. Sammy has also written a lot of songs that we heard on the radio back in the 80s and 90s but you would never know it was Sammy who wrote the songs.
One of his other profitable ventures was when he started the Cabo Wabo cantina down in Mexico. What started off as just a vacation place for Sammy in the early 70s it became a place where he could both escape the music industry for a little while and relax. While down in Mexico Sammy got introduced to tequila, and he ended up starting his own tequila company.
Cabo Wabo is one of the best tequila companies in the world. Although Sammy got many offers to sell it for millions and millions of dollars he held out because it wasn't the right deal. He ended up selling 80% of his company for $80 million. Not bad for a lead singer.
After reading how Sammy has a killer work ethic it doesn't surprise me that he has been so successful. Sammy would make an album and then go out on the road for a year promoting the album and then come home and make another album and then right back on the road again. This was his schedule for most of his recording career. He learned very well on the road what to do and what not to do. And this led him very very well to success in his other ventures.
What's funny after reading the book I can figure out what Sammy's going to do next. I am watching him go on talk shows like the Tonight Show and so on and just do interviews – no music at all. He's probably gonna circle the globe in only three weeks doing interviews go home, rest for a little while, record an album and go out on a tour for a year. I don't know if it will be with his band “The Wabo's” or with his other band “Chickenfoot”.
One thing that I learned from Sammy is that he is terribly honest. If he doesn't like something he will say it and say it again. If he doesn't like the deal that is put in front of him he has no problem waiting for a better deal. And I would bet that there was always a better deal out there for Sammy.
After reading this book I really want to go down the Cabo Wabo and have some tequila, kick back and enjoy.