Exclusive Sammy Hagar Video Footage From Upcoming Documentary ‘Go There Once… Be There Twice’
In case you haven’t noticed, we’re big Van Halen and Sammy Hagar fans here at UCR. After hearing that Sammy’s new documentary ‘Go There Once…Be There Twice’ would be premiering on public television next month, we decided to reach out to get some more details.
We tracked down film producer Paul Ware, who happily shared a good amount of scoop with us about the documentary, which celebrates 20 years of Sammy’s birthday celebrations at the Cabo Wabo, while also blending in nearly 40 years of rare Hagar footage. He also gave us an exclusive outtake from the documentary — a 1997 live version of Sammy’s classic ‘Heavy Metal’ — to share with you.
How did you first come in contact with Sammy, and what was the first project that you worked on?
Gil Bettman and I were working together on several corporate projects in the mid 90′s. He had been the director for Sam’s ‘I Can’t Drive 55,’ ‘VOA,’ and ‘Give to Live‘ [videos], but hadn’t spoken to Sammy in years. When I heard that Sammy was releasing a new album, I twisted Gil’s arm to call Sammy up, and get us in the mix to do his next video. That push got us into Sammy’s ‘Red Voodoo’ tour and a trip to Cabo to film ‘Mas Tequila.’ I worked about three weeks on that video, with numerous quick cuts, and a grainy gritty look. Sammy loved it. He thought the hectic, fast editing had the same feel that the Birthday Bash [Hagar's annual birthday celebrations] gave him.
The funny thing was that I never met Sammy during that production. He probably hadn’t even heard my name mentioned. A few years go by, and I hear that Sammy had planned a tour with David Lee Roth. Again I go to Gil, about my idea for a rockumentary with a bonus disc with special features. Except this time I told Gil, that I want to pitch it to Sammy myself.
When I showed up backstage at Sammy’s concert in San Bernardino, with a DVD proposal in my hand, I stepped out of the shadows, and into the Sammy spotlight. That proposal, and all those ideas became ‘Long Road to Cabo’ and shot me way out in front of Sammy from that point forward. Gil went off to be a professor at Chapman University (showing up on occasion on Sammy shoots), and I became Sammy’s producer/editor/and “video idea man” for everything. Cabo Wabo Tequila, music videos, the cantina, promotional material, commercials all came my way. Sammy let me run my creative tail off, and I loved every minute of it.
When did you first really see the concept for ‘Go There Once…,’ and what was Sammy’s reaction?
Going to Cabo was always a shooting nightmare. Getting equipment and people down there wasn’t easy. That is why [documentary footage of] most of the early days of the Birthday Bash, was from fan cameras. Sammy didn’t do many shoots down there.
When his 60th birthday was upon us, I twisted his arm and told him he needed a crew down there to tape it. It needed to be hi-definition, and to my surprise he agreed. Gil came in to direct, and brought with him several of the production people involved with ‘Long Road to Cabo.’ It was a beautiful shoot, with maybe four or five cameras and even a crane. That type of production had never been done in the Cabo Wabo before.
When we got back to the States, there was talk about making it into a DVD. Gil was going to shoot Sammy and his life. He shot a concert in hi-def in Dallas, and went back to Cabo for more footage at Christmas. I set about cutting the actual Birthday Bash concert, and the Dallas concert for Sammy to see, and then……..nothing. Six months passed. Sammy was in a transition period in his musical journey. He changed management, and began the early stages of Chickenfoot. There was a hi-def concert, ‘Live in St. Louis’ that Mark Cuban’s company shot and put out, which really cut into the marketing of our hi-def concert. At the time I guess there wasn’t really anything special about another concert, even if it was at the Cabo Wabo.
So I put my creative hat on, and thought, what would a Sammy Hagar fan want more than anything. That’s when it dawned on me. I had worked for Sammy for ten years at that point. I had been his personal pack rat when it came to his video library. I had so many tapes from over his career sitting on the shelves in my office, it was crazy. When ‘Long Road to Cabo’ was made, the gimmick was that Sammy never makes it to Cabo. It is always with him, but that DVD was about touring in the States. What if I take all the footage I have, and finally get Sammy to Cabo. That is what the true Redhead wants. They want a documentary about Cabo San Lucas, and their Cabo Wabo Cantina. And thus began my two year journey to get this project made.
Having worked with Sammy previously on the ‘Long Road to Cabo’ documentary, was there anything different about the way you approached this new film?
My plan was to tell the story for his core fan base. I thought that we covered a lot of his childhood stuff in ‘Long Road,’ and I didn’t need to get so deep into it this time around. I assumed that the hardcore Redhead had already gotten a copy of LRTC. Looking back… I wish I would have put more of that early story into it.
I didn’t know that he would have a book come out a few months ago, hit No. 1, and now have a lot of non-Redhead attention. I also didn’t know that I would be working on it for so long. Long enough to hit the 20-year anniversary mark of the club. That was just good timing luck.
The only real thing that I didn’t get the chance to do, was to include more performances from the 20 years. When you make a documentary and you’re telling a story, you need to move through it at the right pace. It is hard to be moving through, and then hit the brakes on a three-minute song. ‘Long Road to Cabo’ had more of a concert feel to it, but if you look back at it we never played even half of a song. I had way more footage to chose from this time around, but so little time to show it on the screen.
I remember getting some great feedback from fans when LRTC came out, as well as great comments on ‘Go There Once,’ but there will always be that fan that says…”You didn’t put enough of the song in it”. Maybe if we get this to DVD, Sammy will allow the floodgates to open and it will be like Tom Petty’s ‘Running Down a Dream,’ with four to five hours of material.
What was the most surprising footage that you came across as you were going through Sammy’s archives?
Well the footage is a whole story in itself. When I started to put ‘Go There Once’ together I had a big problem. As I mentioned, Sammy didn’t have much material from the first ten years of the Cabo Wabo. He didn’t send crews down there. How was I going to tell the story without any footage? The only thing available was fan cameras.
I started asking online and in internet forums, about who had what. I began getting some select footage from people who had been around at the beginning. They had to climb up into their attics to get the stuff. I also had a collector in Denmark, who sent me his entire Sammy Cabo fancam collection.
So with what I collected, I began telling the story. As time went by I found more and more stuff. A lot of it from a technical slant was horrible. Quality, camerawork, resolution, and sound is hard to do when number one, you aren’t a professional shooter, and two, you are trying to get above a roaring crowd of 800, [plus] enjoy the concert and maybe a few margaritas at the same time.
By the fall of 2009 I thought I was ready to release this. A few months later would be Cabo Wabo’s 20th anniversary, and the perfect time to do whatever we were going to do with this project. Gil and I went to Sammy’s warehouse/soundstage/studio to do a few quick video shots we needed to help tie everything together.
While there I had one of those professional life moments that I will always remember. While walking around for the first time in his warehouse, and marveling at all the things I saw that Sammy had held onto over the years of performing, I came across a corner with a large amount of boxes stacked on top of each other. I asked his tour manager what that was.
He said “Oh that’s just a bunch of his old tapes.” A rush of adrenaline came over me, and I curiously began opening boxes. To my surprise, I found, not only some of the footage I had been working with (Sammy’s tapes were much better quality), but concert footage that was over 30 years old, that the public hadn’t seen before. These were videos from arenas that Sammy played at, that just happened to have video recording equipment — remember not many did that long ago.
I boxed up everything up and took it back to Los Angeles, and began another six months of tweaking and trying to get some of this footage into the project. The most important tape to me was an entire concert from the ‘VOA’ tour, with that yellow custom made jumpsuit he wore in the ‘I Can’t Drive 55′ video. That jumpsuit was one of those defining ’80′s iconic images that I had never gotten my hands on during my time with Sammy, and here I was looking at an entire concert with it.
What sort of footage in ‘Go There Once…Be There Twice’ will Redheads really geek out about?
Certainly ‘I Can’t Drive 55′ in that yellow jumpsuit. Those beautiful hi-def shots across the stage with Sammy, Michael Anthony, Ted Nugent, and Toby Keith from the 60th Birthday Bash. Early Sammy footage, boxed up in a warehouse and almost forgotten. Fans sleeping in the streets for that every elusive birthday bash ticket. And of course, the fans themselves. There are a lot of moments where you can see many faces in the crowd. I am sure when this gets to the Redheads at home there will be a lot of paused TIVOs and DVD players, searching those crowds for an image of themselves rocking to the greatest 20 years of rock and roll.
Big thanks to Paul for sharing so many good details with us. Now, we just need to see this thing for ourselves! Lucky Redhead fans in Northern California will get that chance when ‘Go There Once…Be There Twice’ premieres locally on KQED-TV on August 18 and 19.
For now, enjoy this exclusive footage that Paul gave us to share with UCR readers, originally shot by Hagar fans Todd Sutherland and Scott Plunkett. This video was submitted for inclusion in ‘Go There Once…Be There Twice,’ but with the overwhelming amount of classic Sammy footage to choose from, it unfortunately didn’t make the film.
Watch Our Exclusive Footage Of Sammy Hagar Performing ‘Heavy Metal’ At The Cabo Wabo