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Red: My Uncensored life in Rock

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  3,940 Ratings  ·  440 Reviews
Loud rock, fast cars, and Cabo.

This is the life of Sammy Hagar.

For almost forty years, Sammy Hagar has been a fixture in rock music. From breaking into the industry with the band Montrose to his multiplatinum solo career to his ride as the front man of Van Halen, Sammy's powerful and unforgettable voice has set the tone for some of the greatest rock anthems ever written, s
ebook, 272 pages
Published March 15th 2011 by HarperCollins e-books (first published January 1st 2011)
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Apr 05, 2011 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most rock star autobiographies are pretty much the same. Guy grows up in a dysfunctional house in bad neighborhood (The father in this story was the town drunk and the city is Fontana, CA, known to some as Felony Flats), guys falls in love, gets married, has a kid all the while struggling to keep a career as a musician going. Guy has limited success for awhile. There are ups. There are downs. Finally guy hits it big. Joins an existing successful rock band and makes it even bigger. Now either the ...more
Jun 07, 2016 Mark rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book is akin to sitting in a room with a highly energetic, slightly ADD, person who is telling you their life story. The structure is a rambling mess at times and makes you double-check what part of his history you're reading. His co-author is a well-respected writer, so I'm surprised that this went to print the way it is. It almost reads like a direct transcription of the interview tapes and left as-is.

I certainly appreciate the evidence of his strong work ethic. Sammy Hagar is bas
I thought I would love this because this is my kind of music. But unfortunately, I just have one word for this autobiography......UGHHHHHHHH!!!!!! I can't even write a review on this because I would have to break every rule of mine regarding autobiographies/memoirs. I love reading them, but this was painful.
Dec 04, 2011 Chip'sBookBinge rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a huge fan of Sammy Hagar. Now, if you had ask me during the Van Halen days when Roth and the boys were at their Apex if I would ever accept anyone, let alone Sammy as the new lead singer I would have told you to "fuck off". Come to think of it, that's exactly what I did say.

But ever since 5150 dropped, I have been a fan of his. The guy just brings so much raw energy to whatever he does and on top of that he gives some of the best interviews out there and is a likable guy. After reading the
Jul 24, 2011 Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a pretty good read. I've been a Sammy fan since Standing Hampton came out. I saw him on a midwest tour when I was in 8th Grade and he put on an amazing show. The only person I've seen put on as energetic a show was Lenny Kravitz when he opened for the Cult at Hampton Coliseum.

This book managed to capture his energy. It's not always a coherent account, but it flows well.
I read it in one sitting and it was like spending a night sitting there listening to him tell the story of his life.
Jul 19, 2011 That70sheidi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everyone knew that the Van Halen brothers were repugnant, alcoholic psychos, but the stories in the book are awesome and drive home how crazy they really are. Musical talent doesn't remotely make up for the utter contempt I have always had for them (and Roth... what a freak).

I loved the first part of the book because I'd been a fan of Hagar long before VH ever entered my radar. It was great hearing about his life and where he got his work ethic (mom) and it was astounding hearing how diverse his
Book Him Danno
Nov 19, 2011 Book Him Danno rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
I was in High School when 1984 came out and when the Roth/Hagar switch took place. While I loved early Van Halen, and had all their albums (well, cassettes in my day), I really liked the Hagar version more. The album 5150 was phenomenal, way beyond anything that had come before. So I really wanted to read this book as soon as I heard about it; to get the inside scoop on what took place within the band over the years, and to see if Sammy really was that nice of a guy.

Typically in a memoir I judge
Listened to this on audio book read by Scott Shepherd, who does a great California dude accent. Hagar doesn't achieve the heights of debauchery witnessed in The Dirt (the high water mark for dumb rocker biographies), but he exhibits a unique craziness which had me either cringing or laughing out loud. Hagar is pretty compelling as an unreliable narrator. The obvious consequences of his shitty behavior are never his fault (when he leaves his long suffering wife and 5 year old at Christmas she is ...more
Craig Machen
Sep 10, 2016 Craig Machen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Have just started, and already I fear this will send me on another rock star memoir bender.

Please pray for me!


I have seen Sammy Hagar up close and I probably liked him better from a little further back.

He definitely has admirable qualities. It's hard not to like a guy from a poor, abusive home who makes something of himself against all odds. He is, in my opinion, a total over-achiever. Not really a freakish talent or an especially magnetic performer, and yet, 40 years later he's still her
Sep 05, 2016 Charles rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfic-music
I was never a huge Sammy Hagar fan, not even when he was in Van Halen. But I always thought he was a decent fellow and played good, solid music. This was interesting reading. There was a lot of business stuff in here as well as music, but it did give us a pretty good look at his Van Halen years, and after. If you like rock autobiographies then you'll probably like this one.
May 20, 2011 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I give this one a 5 because I couldn't put it down. I didn't know anything about Sammy Hagar except he replaced David Lee Roth, in Van Halen. He had a bad childhood, with an alcoholic and abusive parent, started petty crimes, and did drugs, and somehow found a mentor, who got him interested in the guitar, and he gave up the drugs, and turned to music, and never looked back, so to speak. If you love Van Halen, this is not the book for you, because Sammy doesn't mince words about the two brothers. ...more
G. Branden
Red is primarily a narrative memoir about Hagar's rags-to-riches life story, padded out with vague tales of debauchery involving sex and drugs, and moderately detailed accounts of conflicts with agents, managers, record company staff, bandmates, and--on one occasion--a hostile Kiss audience in New York City.

Sammy's kind of a mystic, which detracts from the book. There are improbable tales of fortune tellers and semi-precognitive dreams, and a loopy preoccupation with extraterrestrials who lurk c
Aug 03, 2013 Frode rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been a true fan of Van Halen since I bought the "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" album in the spring of 1991 as a seventeen year old (Van Halen was never that big in Norway, so I never really listened to them before that). That year I used all the money I had to buy all the albums, first starting with cassettes - and then cd's when I got my first cd-player. One of the best memories of my life was when I drove 10 hours back and forth to Oslo with my two friends to see the band perform their o ...more
James Jr.
Mar 23, 2011 James Jr. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just bought and devoured Sammy’s autobiography, Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock. It only took three evenings for me to finish that book. I grew up with the listening to man, so I was keenly interested in everything from his stint with Montrose, Van Halen, Chickenfoot and all of the solo work that he has done. I have seen him perform in the Fresno, California area four times: the For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge tour with Van Halen, the Balance tour with Van Halen, the Marching to Mars solo tour a ...more
Feb 23, 2012 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a sucker for rock memoirs--not only of rock and roll stars who I am a fan of (like Hagar) but nearly anyone in the rock world. I it a guilty pleasure. Or maybe it's something to do with my love of rock music and I am always looking to know and learn more. Especially since I am no musician and have no musical ability whatsoever--I figure I need to appreciate the music in SOME way!

Sammy Hagar's memoir interested me. I remember being 12 years old and hearing that "SAMMY HAGAR JOIN
I have no idea what I was expecting when I started reading this. Maybe a lot of dirt, a lot of drugs and alcohol maybe. What I didn't expect was Sammy being by far one of the sanest guys in rock and roll. This is a guy that made more money outside of music than he did inside. If there was money to be made he found a way to do it. You get an alcoholic father, a batshit crazy wife, and a batshit crazy guitarist named Eddie, but the problem is that Sammy comes off as a nice guy which is really une ...more
Aug 14, 2012 Bryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, music
As a music fan, my tastes typically run to heavier fare than Van Halen. I've spent time with their early albums, but was done with them by the time "Jump" came out, and then never bothered with the Hagar years. Likewise, I know a few of Sammy's solo songs, but beyond an obscure compilation called "Cruisin' and Boozin'" I've never bought any of his stuff. (Hmmm... I did have HSAS on vinyl though.)

But I really liked this book, and because of it I'm now buying the Chickenfoot cd releases (and reall
Mar 17, 2011 Shawna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book and was so excited to read it. I grew up listening to a lot of Van Halen/Sammy Hagar tapes because of my father. He loved them and cranked their music up all the time. The Van Halen story always fascinated me as I always loved Sammy Hagar with them. His voice is incredible!

The book revealed a lot about Sammy's past and how he went from growing up poor to being a very successful rocker and also, businessman with his Cabo Wabo tequila and restaurant/bar.

There were only
May 28, 2012 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I like to read biographies and other similar types of books in the summer, so this year I started with this one that had been on my shelf for a while. I'm not a Sammy fan, but this book got a lot of press when it was released, so I decided to check it out.

Sammy has had a busy and interesting life, but the book was pretty horribly written. There is enough of a story here to keep me from giving it even fewer stars, but otherwise I would. Thank goodness it was pretty short, otherwise I may have giv
Jake Caldwell
May 10, 2013 Jake Caldwell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read Sammy Hagar's auto-biography, "Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock". I never thought I would enjoy an auto-biography, until I found one written by a rock star. Sammy's life was like a movie, involving a guy who grew up rough and made it big-time after going through so many obstacles. I believe Mr. Hagar wrote this book to let people know that he worked for what he has. He was definitely not born into money or fame. He did that himself. There is also a constant theme in this book. Throughout ...more
Apr 11, 2013 Jason rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook-listen
I was surprised how good this was versus other rock autobiographies. I like Van Halen (more with Roth, but some Hagar songs were good, too) and saw the "I Can't Drive 55" about a thousand times, but I am by no means a big fan.

Hagar dives deeper into the business deals he cut throughout his career, as well as the politics of the music business than most other books do. And I appreciated that, as someone who has worked in the music business in parts of my career. Even when he talked about his teq
Of course there are 3 sides to every story, so keep that in mind when you read Sammy's book about his career in the rock business as well as the distillery end of things. I personally think that he was the boost that Van Halen needed at the time. He is a solid performer and a damn great singer. He paints a clear portrait of how drugs, booze, and greed can ruin lives and relationships.

Looking at how the cards were played now, one can easily see that much of what Sammy shares is pretty accurate re
Jan 20, 2014 Kerry rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Sammy should not quit his day job. First part of this book was atrocious. He would start to relate a story and then dive off on a tangent - constantly!! And the side comment was never relevant.

I ended up skipping everything up to the point where he joined Van Halen which is why I was reading it in the first place. Not a lot surprised me about his revelations with the band since a lot of it had been in the media before. The behind the scenes look at the complete dysfunction was interesting. What
Chris Mcgowan
Mar 25, 2011 Chris Mcgowan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A quick read. I am a fan of VanHalen music with Roth and Hagar so I knew it would be enjoyable. There is the typical sex, drugs, and rock and roll, but Sammy goes into the business side of things more so than other rock biographies. One of his early managers set up a publishing company for him so he did not get "screwed over by the music business' like so many other musicians claim to have been (Skid Row comes to mind).

You can see how driven and opportunisic he was. Having funds allowed him to
Lisa Brandt
I am an unapologetic, mainstream, classic rock fan. It's the music I was raised on when it was just simply "the hits". So I love rock autobiographies. Sammy Hagar cowrote this one with a journalist and its style is very conversational and rather simplistic.

Hagar doesn't hold back on his judgments of former bandmates in Van Halen and lays open his own mistakes, of which there were many. I guess I just didn't live the experience of Sammy Hagar as a huge rock icon before he joined Van Halen so his
Tony Bertauski
The problem with celebrity autobiographies is they often don't actual write anything. Instead, they tell a ghost/"co-writer" his or her life story to transcribe and take out the wrinkles. It reads conversational. That's not a big deal, it just loses an element of enjoyment. I realize Sammy isn't a writer, so it is what it is.

I grew up listening to Sammy Hagar, solo and Van Halen, so I was interested in how his life unfolded. As with most biographies, I found the first half of the book interesti
May 16, 2011 JazzRizz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library, 2011
First off, I'm a huge Sammy Hagar fan. I grew up just a hour away from St. Louis, and Sammy's not kidding when he mentioned St. Louis being his biggest market. I'm still disappointed that I've never seen him in concert. When I saw that this book was coming out, I could not wait to read it. It was not a disappointing book.

The life of a rock star is not pretty. If they're successful, and have had a run as long as Sammy has . . . it's going to have a rough beginning and a pretty rough and raunchy
Apr 12, 2011 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sammy Hagar's music has always been a semi-guilty pleasure of mine, and RED provides the same basic thrills offered by his music. Sammy's life story -- from a rough childhood in Fontana, California, to stardom as a solo artist and member of Van Halen -- is truly rags-to-riches, with plenty of entertaining tales of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll along the way. I was surprised at how astute a businessman he is, starting up businesses ranging from restaurants to bike shops to fire sprinkler systems, ...more
May 20, 2011 Eric rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, 2011
Sammy says he believes in God and UFOs. He also says Tone Loc sampled "Rock Candy" for "Funky Cold Medina." And he blames Napster for "ruining everything." Obviously he's off his nut. God is dead, "Funky Cold Medina" rips off Foreigner, and Napster actually saved music. But he's right on the money about UFOs. They're totally real.

He's got a hundred funny stories about the Van Halen brothers too. One of my favorite stories takes place during rehearsals for the Van Hager reunion tour in 2003. At
Jun 14, 2011 Aaron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I will start with saying I have never been a big Sammy fan. I enjoyed his work with Montrose, but never got into him as a solo artist. I am also a die hard Roth era Van Halen fan. I cried for a week when Dave left the band. I never embraced Sammy in the band, and quit listening to them.

A buddy gave me this book, and I finished it in a couple of days. Time for me to give Sammy a listen. Including the Van Halen I ignored. I thought this book was a good look at his life, and gave me an insight to t
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Samuel Roy "Sammy" Hagar, known as "The Red Rocker", is an American rock singer, guitarist, composer and solo artist. Hagar was one of the three singers for Van Halen, as well as the original singer of the early 1970s rock band Montrose. On March 12, 2007, Hagar was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Van Halen. He has had the opportunity to work with some of hard rock's mo ...more
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