Sammy Hagar Reveals How Eddie Money Inspired His Biggest Solo Hit
"Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy" may not be Sammy Hagar's biggest song in terms of cultural impact. But the December 1982 release remains his best-charting solo song.
The lead single from his seventh album, Three Lock Box, reached No. 13 on the Billboard 100, Hagar's only Top 20 single as a solo artist. Achieving this success was exactly what the song was intended to do.
"I was asked by the head of promotions at Geffen Records to write a Top 40 hit like a hit song Eddie Money had out at that time ('Think I'm in Love'). He said if I did, he would take it Top 10," Hagar tells UCR. "The inspiration was the Eddie Money song. It was up-tempo very catchy pop. Also 'Jessie's Girl' by Rick Springfield, which I was very aware of because of [the Hagar-written] 'I've Done Everything For You' being on that same record. The song wasn't a hit for me, but it was a huge hit for Rick so I thought I would take another swing at it."
Hagar recalls "Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy" was "so easy to write once I had that chorus. I really like that major seventh chord on the harmony and the music it made for a very unique catchy hook."
And while it was Hagar's first and only Top 20 solo hit, it came at a time when his profile was higher than ever thanks to his 1982 album, Standing Hampton, a platinum outing that put Hagar on rock radio with songs such as "I'll Fall in Love Again" and "There's Only One Way to Rock." Hagar says he was "more interested in writing more of those kind of AOR instead of Top 40 songs and still am today." But he was ready for the challenge of vaulting to the next commercial level. "For me ['Your Love ... '] felt like a hit immediately and everyone at Geffen records felt the same," he recalls. "With Keith Olsen producing, who at that time produced Fleetwood Mac, Pat Benatar and Rick Springfield, who all had a boatload of Top 40 hits, we knew we had a hit."
Listen to Sammy Hagar's 'Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy'
The single's success took Hagar into previously uncharted territory that was a bit afield from the rock market. "Having a song on Top 40 radio brings a whole different kind of exposure and fan base," Hagar explains. "My whole career, starting with Montrose, was always AOR-oriented, not Top 40. I relied on touring and classic fist-in-the-air, singalong hard rock anthems that always work in concert, which was the most important thing to me at that time. But once I had a real Top 40 hit ... I saw the concert attendance increase, the record sales increase, and that felt pretty damn good. But it really didn't change my style of writing. I still write album-oriented rock songs today."
Decades later, Hagar notes, "Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy" "is still one of the favorites live for the fans. It always gets the loudest singalong of the night, and people want to get out of their seat and start dancing, which really is cool. And I love performing this song. It holds up really well today. Amazing!"
The hit single helped drive Three Lock Box - which featured guest collaborations with Journey's Jonathan Cain, Loverboy's Mike Reno and Mr. Mister's Richard Page - to No. 17 on the Billboard 200 and gold certification. It was Hagar's top-charting solo album until the No. 14-topping I Never Said Goodbye five years later, which arrived after his first album with Van Halen.
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