Regardless on where you stand in the debate as to whether David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar was the superior Van Halen frontman, it’s the Hagar brand that has solidified in the years since. He not only continues to record and tour as both a solo artist and as part of Chickenfoot, but his Cabo Wabo premium Tequila, attendant clubs in Cabo San Lucas, St. Louis and Las Vegas, and his latest spirit, Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum, have made him a rock ’n’ roll epicurean without peer.
Now he’s adding awards host to his portfolio, as Hagar will serve as M.C. of the inaugural L.A. version of the Classic Rock Roll of Honor, an extension of the annual Classic Rock Awards — hosted by UK-based Classic Rock Magazine — that has traditionally taken place at the Roundhouse in Camden, London.
“I’ve been once, in Europe,” Hagar tells Variety about his trip in 1995. “The awards ceremony is phenomenal. I was there with Van Halen, Jon Bon Jovi, Tony Iommi from Black Sabbath; Jimmy Page was there. The royalty comes out for this damn thing. That was the strongest lineup I’ve ever seen in the hard rock field. They’ve just been killin’ it like that.”
Hagar’s admiration for Classic Rock Magazine also extends from personal experience. “What they’ve done for a band like Chickenfoot…” he says. “I mean they broke us in Europe. They put us on the cover, dedicated a whole month’s issue to us, and, boom, we went over there and sold out arenas. I’m impressed with what kind of strength they have worldwide.”
The L.A. ceremony, which will be held Nov. 4 at the Avalon in Hollywood, will entail awards in eight categories, including such left-field choices as “Film of the Year,” for which documentaries that feature the Stones and the Doors will compete with, oddly, the Coen Brothers paean to the early ’60s folk scene in New York, “Inside Llewyn Davis.”
Black Sabbath, the Black Keys, Guns N’ Roses, Iron Maiden, Metallica and Queen + Adam Lambert will vie for Band of the Year, a lineup that might not have seemed out of place when Hagar was present in ’95.
“I don’t know what to expect,” admits Hagar about the show. “I’m interested in doing things I’ve never done, and hosting a show is kind of goofy. It’s a stretch for me. When I saw LL Cool J move into that slot (as host of the Grammys), I thought he was really good. That’s a hard job, and I thought, ‘wow, I’d like to try that.’”