Sammy Hagar: Red Rocker as Business TycoonBy: Mike Tuttle - August 31, 2014
Sammy Hagar has made the news lately because of a libel lawsuit that has been dogging him for years. Lawyers have managed to keep more serious issues away from the Red Rocker, but a twist of Iowa state law is pulling the rock star closer and closer to court.
The whole thing stems from statements Hagar made in his autobiography “Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock”, where Hagar admits to bedding an unnamed former Playboy Bunny while he was married to his former wife. According to Hagar, the woman claimed she was then pregnant with Hagar’s child, but the baby died within five days of birth and no paternity test was performed.
Hagar doubted that the baby ever existed. And even though he never named the woman in his book, the fact that even a handful of people know who he is referring to means that he must face the libel suit.
But make no mistake, Hagar comes to this issue with more than the usual rock star retinue of attorney coverage. Sammy Hagar is a businessman who could go toe-to-toe with the acumen of a Gene Simmons and come away smelling like a rose.
For example, Hagar owns multiple restaurants and nightclubs. He developed and later sold his interest in Cabo Wabo Tequila in a deal that netted him a cool $91 million.
But restaurants, clubs, and even booze are par for the course for a rock star with scratch to invest, right? Well, how about a fire sprinkler company? Hagar’s done that, too. In his autobiography, he tells the tale of starting that company.
“Shortly after we’d started building the apartments, the fire department came to my brother-in-law and said he needed to put a fire hydrant in front of every apartment building. He told the fire department that his plumber could put fire sprinklers in the building that would be more effective for about the same price. The insurance companies went along, because sprinklers put out fires before fire departments could even get there, but the fire department needed some convincing. We staged a demonstration for them. We bought one of my old houses, sprinkled it, and then lit a fire in a trash can. We waited for the neighbors to call the fire department, which was parked, waiting, right down the street, and, by the time they got there, the sprinklers put everything out. The house was still totally cool. Fire sprinkling is amazing. It really saves lives. The city passed an ordinance and gave us some money. Before long, we had 180 employees and ran the second-largest fire sprinkler company in America, Fire Chief Inc.”
Hagar’s business sense also played along the lines of “a penny saved is a penny earned”, learning how to write off business travel by starting his own travel agency.
“I started a travel agency because I was traveling so much for tours that I was paying my travel agent a small fortune. I decided to start my own, Steady State Travel in Mill Valley, hired the two ladies that used to work for the old travel agency, and gave them a piece of the action. It didn’t make a lot of money, but it also didn’t cost me anything when I went on tour.”
How does Hagar keep up with all this while still living the life of his dreams as a rock star father?
“I always had other people doing everything,” Hagar says. “It was my palate and my concept. I would go in taste and say, ‘Leave this in the barrel a little bit longer.’ That was my job. I could do that right before I went on stage. That’s a perfect time to do it, as a matter of fact!”