On this day in 1947, singer and sometime-guitarist Sammy Hagar was born in Monterey, Calif. Hagar first appeared on the rock scene in Montrose, but became a star replacing David Lee Roth in Van Halen.
Hagar was a boxer in his youth, but he turned to music in the late '60s, singing in such bands as Skinny, Dust Cloud and the Justice Brothers in his native California. In 1973, Ronnie Montrose, formerly with Edgar Winter, asked Hagar to join his band, Montrose. Hagar served as vocalist on the band's eponymous 1973 debut and the following year's Paper Money.
Hagar left Montrose for a solo career in which he employed other ex-Montrose members, including drummer Denny Carmassi and bassist Bill Church. Neither Hagar's first album, 1976' s Nine on a Ten Scale, nor his 1977 self-titled effort received a great deal of attention (though the latter eventually achieved gold record sales).
But after he began touring regularly with the outfit he dubbed the Sammy Hagar Band, the singer began to attract a considerable following. Standing Hampton (1982) -- which included "Heavy Metal," from the soundtrack of the animated film of the same title, and the hit "There's Only One Way to Rock" -- went platinum.
Hagar played several shows with guitarist Neal Schon (of Journey fame), bassist Kenny Aaronson, and drummer Mike Shrieve (of Santana). The quartet issued a live album under the name HSAS and a single cover of Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade of Pale."
The solo Hagar enjoyed hit singles with "Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy" and "I Can't Drive 55" before Eddie Van Halen came calling for him to take over David Lee Roth's frontman spot in Van Halen. Hagar's first album with the band was 1986's 5150, which included the hits "Why Can't This Be Love?" and "Best of Both Worlds."
Judging by the sales of the band's post-Roth albums and their sell-out shows, most fans accepted the notion of Hagar in Van Halen. Other big Van Halen sellers with Hagar included OU812 (1988), For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (1991), LIVE: Right Here, Right Now (1993) and Balance (1995).
But suddenly Eddie Van Halen began having problems with Hagar, as he had earlier with Roth. Whether Hagar quit or was fired is disputed, but Roth returned to Van Halen for tracks on their Best Of, Vol. 1 album, before former Extreme singer Gary Cherrone took the helm for Van Halen 3 (1998).
Hagar went solo again on 1997's Marching to Mars. He also has issued a hits collection, 1994's Unboxed.
Hagar made an appearance this month on the CBS-TV series "Nash Bridges" and is reportedly getting ready to issue his next album, RedVooDoo, which is slated to include slide guitar work from the bluesman Roy Rogers.
Other birthdays: Robert Lamm (Chicago), 54, and Marie Osmond, 39.