Top 10 Sammy Hagar ’70s Songs
The top Sammy Hagar '70s songs demonstrate the talent, charisma and drive that enabled him to get to the top of the rock world, and stay there for more than four decades. From his work on Montrose's (then under-appreciated, now legendary) self-titled debut in 1973 to tracks from his first four solo albums, this list shows an artist who arrived with talent nearly fully formed and proceeded to work hard at honing his craft and making connections with rock fans around the world. We hope you enjoy the first list in our four-part Sammy Hagar: Four Decades of Rock series -- Top 10 Sammy Hagar Songs of the '70s.
The first song on our Top 10 Sammy Hagar '70s Songs list kicks off his last album of the decade with the promise of better things to come. With a slightly relaxed tempo and plenty of open spaces, the music sounds as confident as Hagar himself as he vows to heed the call of the wild and make the most of the opportunities in front of him.
You may think you have a favorite color, but trust us, it's nothing compared to the love Hagar has for all things red. Need proof? Think about his "Red Rocker" nickname, or look at the cover of his second solo album, or listen to this longtime concert favorite, which finds Hagar earnestly rhapsodizing about "crimson rays" and "ruby lights."
Despite the fact that it's just about impossible not to sing along to it, this Hagar-penned kiss-off to a no-good, about-to-be ex-girlfriend didn't earn much chart success when he released it back in 1978. But three years later, Rick Springfield had a Top 10 hit with his cover of the track. It wouldn't be long before Hagar started having more success of his own.
By the time 'Street Machine' was released, Hagar had already spent years touring nonstop. With an opening guitar figure that sounds like it belongs on an early Iron Maiden album, there's no sign of weariness in this track musically. But the lyrics are another story, as our hero wearily navigates canceled flights, sleepless nights, hard drugs and other evils. Of course, that includes a shot at record labels: "You make a deal to sell your soul / Just to find out, baby, it's been sold."
When Hagar replaced David Lee Roth as Van Halen's singer in 1985, "Diamond Dave" publicly reveled in the fact that Hagar would have to perform 'Jump' onstage every night, while he would never sing a Hagar song. Well, maybe he meant never again, because back in their club days Van Halen did in fact cover this stately anthem from Montrose's masterful debut album. And who can blame them? Even on an album full of hidden classics this one stands out for its primal level of appeal.
Sammy Hagar has written some lyrically deep songs in his career. This is not one of them. Instead, it's a charmingly simple, infectious ode to the now largely forgotten joy of driving around and waiting for your favorite song to come on the radio. Suddenly, a quick guitar quote from Chuck Berry's 'Johnny B. Goode' -- or as Hagar labels it, "this beautiful noise" -- appears, and the only proper thing to do is crank it up even louder.
Thanks partially to a distinctive "gear-shift" slide guitar introduction improvised in the studio by Ronnie Montrose, the first song Hagar ever wrote has gone on to be one of his most popular of all time. In a cocky twist on the standard "driving all night to get some" routine, our protagonist is not only asking for sex, he's asking the girl to make the drive over the red bridge across the bay to give it to him!
As our list of the Top 10 Sammy Hagar Driving Songs demonstrates quite clearly, this was hardly the first or last time the Red Rocker wrote about fast cars. But it might be the best. Over a souped-up Bo Diddley beat, Hagar literally spells out the name of his favorite ride while pissing all over its competitors. Nowadays this sort of testimony might have earned him a lucrative product placement deal. Then again, his taste in cars may now have gotten a bit too exclusive and expensive for that.
Once again, the level of confidence, skill and charisma displayed on Montrose's debut album is simply astonishing. Here, Hagar and guitarist wunderkind Ronnie Montrose blend a cosmic, driving riff with spacey, near-psychedelic interludes as they dream of leaving this planet behind to travel freely across space and time.
Hot, sweet and sticky! The track that tops our list of the Top 10 Sammy Hagar '70s Songs finds him already in full control of the powerful voice that would serve him well for so many years. Over a near-glacial drumbeat and lurching guitar riff, Hagar looks in the mirror and vows not to stop rocking until he reaches the top. How this song and album didn't do the job right away is a question for the ages. But he'd get there soon enough.