Q&A With Sammy Hagar
By Michelle Monroy
It’s hard to think about Cabo San Lucas and not think of the multi-platinum musician, songwriter and entrepreneur, Sammy Hagar. Raised in Fontana, California, Hagar had his musical beginnings in San Francisco and the Bay Area in 1967 and continues to constantly tour and play music. With multiple restaurants and bars, spirit brands, platinum albums, hundreds of sold out concert appearances and an autobiography under his belt, he still finds time to visit his beloved Cabo and continues to celebrate his birthday at Cabo Wabo Cantina every October.
You first visited Cabo in the late 70s and you’ve been a witness to what was then a quiet fishing town transform into today’s internationally renowned travel destination. What are your feelings about the growth in Los Cabos?
Yes there have been quite a few growth spurts in Cabo since I first came down in the late 70s (1978) but nothing like we’ve experienced over the last few years. I remember when Hotel Finisterra and Hotel Solmar were the only things on that beach-- that was the first big one. Then another growth spurt came in pretty strong on what is called the Corridor with Las Ventanas, the Melía, The Westin, Hilton etc. After the last big hurricane (Odile), they started building hotels side-by-side from San José del Cabo all the way down to downtown Cabo San Lucas. It’s still a beautiful place with miles and miles of perfect beautiful uncrowded beaches, my only concerns are the water and pollution from the amount of people coming to the delicate environment and infrastructure of the Peninsula. I know most people would say “it’s good for business,” but in the long run, it may not be good for anyone. There are plenty of rooms and a lot of them are empty. I hope it slows down.
What has been your favorite thing about owning Cabo Wabo throughout all these years?
My favorite thing about having the Cabo Wabo is that it’s right in the backyard of my favorite vacation destination! When I want to go downtown, I just call Jorge at the Cabo Wabo, my long time friend, co-owner/manager and say ‘I’m coming down tonight.’ Then I can just go there and have the time of my life-- starting with a great authentic Mexican meal with some of the best margaritas anywhere, then jumping up on stage with the house band that knows a few dozen of my songs, making a club full of surprised people very happy, and then I get to go home and sleep in my own bed and wake up on the beach! It doesn’t get any better than that. It changed my life years ago and it gets better every year!
Let's talk about Santo Pure Mezquila - in May of this year Santo Fino Blanco was introduced as the second spirit of the Los Santo family, a partnership between you and Chef and Restaurateur Guy Fieri. How did this spirit venture and partnership come about?
When I sold Cabo Wabo tequila (not the restaurants) I really missed seeing my tequila on shelves in bars, liquor stores, supermarkets and restaurants. For me it was kind of like hearing your song on the radio or seeing it being played on TV -- it is a very surreal experience -- and financially, life-changing. The success of Cabo Wabo tequila wasn’t even a dream! I missed owning it. So first because of a non-compete clause, I made Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum which I still have and it’s doing well -- but I love my tequila and wanted to make the world’s best tequila again. First, a group including my partner Marco Monroy and I wanted to do something different, so we invented the mezquila. Then, my dear friend Guy Fieri wanted to be a partner and said “I want to make tequila,” so now we’ve made Santo Blanco, and I think it’s the world’s finest Blanco tequila ever made! Too many secrets to go into it, but I’ve learned a lot about making tequila over the years, and the first thing is never compromise or cut corners on the quality. After that, with the right distiller and the best agave available it’s pretty simple.
After 28 yearly birthday celebrations in Cabo, 2019 being number 29, what is one of your favorite Birthday Bash moments?
My favorite birthday bash moment could never be narrowed down to just one! I’ve had so many great guests, so many great times but maybe in the Top 10 most fun I’ve ever had on stage at the Cabo Wabo birthday bash would be the year Kenny Chesney surprised me with his whole band and played for three hours and 40 minutes -- that night might’ve been my biggest surprise birthday present ever!
The Wabos are back in Cabo for this b-day bash, which makes this is a special year, anything else exciting that Redheads can look forward to for this 2019 birthday bash [without ruining any surprises]?
Oh yeah the Wabos reunion is going to be a hoot! We’re going to play deep Sammy Hagar tracks that don’t get played from my band The Circle or Chickenfoot. Michael Anthony is going to join us and will do a Los Tres Gusanos set at least one night and on the two off-nights (October 10 and 12th) the band The Bullet Boys will play one night and Roger Kline and The Peacemakers are playing on the 12th and God knows who else is going to show up! I don’t even ask anymore, I don’t invite anyone anymore, I just like walking into my dressing room and see who’s gonna walk through the door next, jump on stage and just go for it. I think that makes the best party -- when you plan too much things can go wrong. When there’s no plan, then nothing is disappointing... it’s all good.