Andy Greene of Rolling Stone spoke with singer Sammy Hagar. Excerpts from the interview appear below.
Rolling Stone: What are the best and worst parts of success?
Sammy Hagar: The best part is that you get to live your dream. The only downside – maybe – is that someday you’re not as relevant as you were. There are times when I go, “Wow, I can see it winding down. I’m not gonna have a big hit record, I’m not gonna be this hottest-rock-star-in-the-world kind of guy ever again.” I’m not having a hard time, but some people can’t deal with that.
Rolling Stone: Do you feel any sympathy for young stars like Justin Bieber complaining about paparazzi and all the unwanted attention?
Sammy Hagar: No, I don’t. Guess what? Keep that s–t up and it’ll be gone pretty soon anyway. And then you’re probably gonna go, “Damn, where’d it go?” The workload of the climb can be tough, especially when you’ve gotta go out on tour and you’ve got a family and all that. So there’s some times that are, “Damn, I’m kinda tired of this.” But take a break. That’s what I always do.
Rolling Stone: Who is your hero?
Sammy Hagar: Elvis, man. He was a great singer, and he dressed far-out for his days; people wanted to beat him up. The Beatles were fantastic, but they were four guys that got away with what they were doing. Brian Epstein kind of created it. Elvis created himself. Even when he was old and fat and doing all them crazy things, I still liked him.
Rolling Stone: What are the important rules you live by?
Sammy Hagar: Keep your finger on where you started, and don’t ever lose sight of that. Family over fame and fortune. People that get too caught up in the fame and fortune thing think they’re better than other people. They think they’re better than the people where they came from. You can turn your family members off because all of a sudden they look at you like you’re a different person. The truth is, if you stretch your arms out from there to there and you measure that, that’s how big you really are. If you’re only who you are now, that’s just a little dot. And that’s not very big and that’s not lasting and that won’t serve you well.
Rolling Stone: If you were on death row, what would you want as your last meal?
Sammy Hagar: If they’re gonna put me down, I would take osso buco, which is braised veal shanks with the marrow in the middle. Not with saffron risotto; I like it over linguine. With a little bit more sauce so it’s a little bit soupier. And with a great loaf of Italian bread. With probably an ’85 Conterno Barolo…that would make me very happy.
Rolling Stone: What music still moves you the most?
Sammy Hagar: Blues. Old R&B. Otis Redding. Then you listen to John Lee Hooker or Lightnin’ Hopkins or Jimmy Reed. Listen to James Brown. Oh, f–k. I got goosebumps on my whole body just now saying his name, because last night I was watching my AXS TV show, and they showed an ad for a James Brown special they’ve got coming up. And seeing that bad motherf–ker hit that stage and start dancing and giving it up and screaming and leading the band and going down and back up and splits and back up. Man, there was nobody better than James Brown. I mean, he is the man.
Rolling Stone: Describe your parenting style.
Sammy Hagar: Oh, I’m big fun. I wrestle my kids and tease my kids and goof off all the time. But I’m really stern, and my wife is even more stern. If you lie to me and I find out, you’re gonna get punished worse than if you just told me the truth and it was something that really pissed me off. They don’t lie to me, so they’re afraid to do things that they’re going to have to tell me about. It’s a real interesting way to raise kids without having to use the iron fist.
Rolling Stone: How do you feel about turning 70 in October?
Sammy Hagar: F–ing out of sight, man. If I’d have known when I was 30 that things would be like this at 70, I wouldn’t have been so worried. Not that I was worried, but you get insecure and go, “Ah, I wonder what I’m gonna do when I’m 60. What if I have to go back to work or something?” Piece of cake, man. I can sing as good and play guitar as good as ever. I’m functional. I have sex as much as I ever did.
Read more at Rolling Stone.