This is the story of how I became a fan of Sammy Hagar. It was Sunday, September 9, 1984.
I was a massive fan of Krokus and their album “Headhunter”. The song “Screaming in the Night” was in heavy rotation on MTV, back when they actually played music, and there was something about this band that I really loved.
I found out Krokus was coming to the El Paso County Coliseum, opening for a guy I didn’t know at the time, Sammy Hagar. Sammy was on tour for his new VOA album, and Krokus was his main support band. At the time, I couldn’t have cared less for seeing Sammy, but I had to go see Krokus. This was going to be my first concert ever.
My brother took me the show, and I entered a world unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in my life. There’s nothing like the atmosphere of a rock concert. The mass of people, the energy of the show, the volume…it’s something that can only be experienced, not explained.
I had my first experience with an El Paso concert institution, Simon Z. There was this crazy, skinny, long-haired guy running around the whole place, air guitaring and trying to get the crowd excited. It was something I’d never seen before. He actually threw out guitar picks sometimes, and at one show I got one. It had Simon Z Invisible Guitarist engraved on it. Like he was in a band or something.
He was an institution at rock and metal shows for decades until he passed away.
When Krokus finally hit the stage, I was so stoked to see the band I’d only seen on TV play. It was in support of their less-than-stellar “The Blitz”, but they were fantastic live.
Marc Storace sounded amazing, the band was on fire. Remember, this was the era of the flashy presentation, crazy stage clothes, and the screams were getting higher and higher! It was just before the hair craze got really nuts, so bands were still transitioning from the 70s hippy hair to the late 80s big hair.
I really liked the songs from Headhunter, the heaviness of them, the cool guitars…this is a phenomenal album. If you haven’t listened to it, do so. It’s amazing. The energy from the title track “Headhunter” was something I wasn’t prepared for. I loved it! Still do, to this day.
After Krokus was finished, I knew I was a concert guy. They’re an integral part of who I am, and I can’t imagine not seeing music live. It’s such a different experience to just listening to recordings.
Next up was Sammy Hagar. I didn’t know anything about him, really, just that I liked the song “Three Lock Box”.
When he hit the stage, I was taken over. Sammy is a great singer, musician, and musician. He can rock, and also has great mellow ballads.
Early in this show, he was running along a catwalk or something at the back of the stage, singing, when he ran head first into something. It cut his forehead open and he began to bleed.
Not only did he not stop the show, he played the full set, holding a towel to his head, drinking beers, and didn’t miss a beat. It was an impressive performance. Most musicians would bail on a show if their head was pouring blood down their face. Not Sammy. He even came out and did his encores.
Before Sammy left Van Halen, during their last stop in El Paso, Sammy was taking his turn on stage to do his solo bit. He brought up that show, and mentioned cutting his head open. He asked if anyone was there, and I was one of those who was and made some noise. It’s still one of the most impressive things I’ve seen a performer fight through.
It made me an instant fan of his, and I went on to discover his solo albums, his music with Montrose, and really like his music with Van Halen.
Thank you, Sammy, for making my first concert experience something I’ll never forget, and making me a concert addict for life. This show set me up perfectly for my next show…