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Seeing Red

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One day in 1987, Sammy Hagar -- known to fans throughout the world as "The Red Rocker" -- was driving around his Northern California town when he saw a drunk with only one shoe stumbling down Cabo Road. The fellow repeatedly slammed himself into a roadside fence, causing Hagar -- no stranger to the bottle himself -- to laugh. "He's doing the Cabo Wabo," the Red One joked. It might not have been a particularly good joke, but it inspired Hagar to write a song, open a cantina, and develop a successful, award-winning line of premium tequilas called Cabo Wabo. Compared to most stars of the hair-metal era -- who are too busy whining on VH1 about how grunge ruined their careers to pull themselves out of a bottle, let alone launch anything like a comeback -- Hagar is an unqualified success.

From his early days screeching about a "Bad Motor Scooter" with Montrose to his anti-David Lee Roth avatar fronting Van Halen, Hagar has been an ongoing inspiration to hard rockers. But it's his populist voice and pop sensibilities that have kept him from turning into a cartoon of the aging wildman, à la Ted Nugent.

These days, a Hagar show can seem a little bit like a musical billboard for Cabo Wabo Tequila, but if you want to pack up your troubles in a three-lock box and hear one of hair metal's founding fathers sing about how he can't drive an outdated speed limit, head to Mud Island this Wednesday.

Sammy Hagar at the Mud Island Amphitheatre, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 12th, $35

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