Band includes Smith, Anthony, Satriani

Sammy Hagar has come a long way since his days as a member of the Justice Brothers, an Inland Empire bar band of the early ’70s. When told that his interviewer caught that act in San Bernardino, he laughed the raspy laugh that punctuates much of his conversation. “You saw us at the Night Club? Wow! That place was tough! We used to call it ‘the Knife Club.’ ”

Of course, that was before the hard-working hard rocker made his bones in the band Montrose, found solo success by proclaiming “I Can’t Drive 55″ and fronted the post-David Lee Roth version of Van Halen. Since then he’s become a tequila mogul — his Cabo Wabo rocks as hard as his hits — and he has kick-started a new career chapter with his latest band, Chickenfoot, which he is working overtime to make clear is all about “play,” but most definitely not about “overplay.”

With the band comprised of Hagar, Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, former Van Halen bandmate Michael Anthony and guitar god Joe Satriani, Chickenfoot’s pedigree certainly looks good on paper, but don’t go near the “S” word around Hagar. “That word, ‘supergroup,’ is a plague we’ve all pledged to avoid,” laughs Hagar. “Our goal is to keep that bad supergroup mojo away.”

Super or not, Chickenfoot’s eponymous debut album landed at No. 1 on Billboard’s Indie Chart out of the gate, and the band has already done 43 days straight on a U.S. “road test” tour of clubs, then moved on to larger European venues. It will be hitting midsized halls back in the U.S. in early August for 31 dates, kicking off its North American tour in Halifax, Nova Scotia, before wrapping things up at the Gibson Amphitheater in Universal City on Sept. 27.

Despite the superstar credentials of the players and the band’s quick, out-of-the-box CD success, Hagar describes his new outfit as “a cult band. We just see ourselves as a band for our fans, and that’ll be just fine.”

Not to argue with a guy from “the Knife Club,” but after several listens to the Chickenfoot CD, comprised of playful, propulsive tracks spruced up with Satriani’s supercharged guitar chops, it seems that its accessible, good-time power rock could appeal to an awfully big cult. No need to worry for Hagar, though. If he fails, there’s little chance he’ll wind up back in his hometown of Fontana, Calif.

“My contract to tour makes sure I’m back in Cabo (his Baja California home) for my annual birthday bash on Oct. 13,” explains Hagar. “Man, people come from all over and sleep on the sidewalk to get in because they know it’s going to be one big free party. It’s so laidback, I had a guy come up to me last year and say, ‘Dude! You look just like Sammy Hagar!’ ”

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Vince Gill is set to be honored by the Recording Academy with the first-ever Grammy Salute to Country Music on Sept. 9 at the Loveless Barn in Nashville, Tenn. The 20-time Grammy-winning country legend, who has recorded 21 albums in his 30-year-plus career, will be feted at the star-studded tribute by Alison Krauss, Steve Martin, Brad Paisley and Gill’s wife, Amy Grant. The inaugural event follows in the footsteps of others in the “Grammy Salute To” series, with dedications to classical, jazz and gospel.

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In an apparent effort to reverse the tide of consumers cherrypicking singles when they purchase music online, Apple has been strategizing with the major record labels on ways to entice potential buyers to purchase full-length albums, according to the Financial Times and Rollingstone.com. The campaign, code-named “Cocktail,” provides such inducements as interactive liner notes, lyrics, photos and videos in booklet form, as well as the ability to play music on computers without using iTunes.

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All 10 of Nine Inch Nails’ swan song shows in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago have sold out in advance of their scheduled July 31 sale date, according to NIN.com. As is customary for the band, a significant percentage of the tickets for the “Wave Goodbye” shows was reserved for a presale on the band’s site, held July 17. Those sold out instantly, with the remaining tickets snapped up on local presales sites July 24, selling out within an hour. The tour, spanning small- to midsized venues, kicks off at New York’s Bowery Ballroom on Aug. 22 and wraps at L.A.’s Echoplex on Sept. 9.

Steve Chagollan and Shannon Smith also contributed to this article.

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