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Sammy Hagar – 35 years ago and now


As you downsize, a process my wife and I are currently going through, the plethora of items from one’s past that you must classify as keep/store/trash is larger than you think. The number of items in one’s house grows to accommodate available space.

Furniture, clothes, tools – those are just things, with little sentimental value. But books and music – those I keep with me, each one a particular memory that I rustle through every so often, flashes returning of events, real and imagined.

I also apparently kept a set of concert tickets with a rubber band wrapped around them. And sitting through an interview session of Sammy Hagar at this year’s South-By-Southwest conference had me digging through albums and concert tix, flashing back. With tickets in hand to see Sammy and The Circle this weekend in Houston (and with a bottle of Hagar’s Santo Mezquila by my side!), I thought it was time to revisit that session.

March 5, 1982 – Sammy Hagar in Concert

San Antonio, Texas. The Rock and Roll capital of the world (at the time). Floor section A 16th row tickets, for a whopping $10.00 to see Sammy Hagar. Before the Internet age of scalpers getting in to get the choice front row tickets, a group of us (me, Tom, Bob, Dano and others) would wait outside the mall on the 410 Loop at either a Joske’s or Foleys (I can’t remember which, and like it that way), sometimes all night. In retrospect, were we the pre-cursor to the Apple fan-boys who waited in line for new iPhones? When the doors opened, we ran in, assuming other rockers were racing from other entrances to line up at the ticket window. If you look at the ticket montage posted at the end of this article, you can see that we used this method to get some pretty choice seats to see some classic rock bands.

I don’t think this ticket represents the first time I saw Hagar. I would have been a junior in college in 1982, and as you can see, some of my precious ticket stubs are from 1979. But whether it was this concert or a later one, I have this image etched in my mind: Sammy sitting, his feet dangling off the stage, guitar flat on his lap, finger slide on the strings playing a extended intro to “Bad Motor Scooter”. The 1982 show would have been the tour supporting the Album “Standing Hampton”, which had the songs “There’s Only One Way to Rock” and “Heavy Metal” (title song of the movie of the same name). But Hagar always played the songs he wrote for the band Montrose (in addition to Bad Motor Scooter, he wrote “Make It Last” and co-wrote “Rock Candy” and four other songs on the first Montrose album).

With these concerts we were always on our feet…and often standing on metal chairs (and sometimes falling) on the floor so we could see (which meant everyone in front and behind us was doing the same thing). The concerts I’ve been to recently seem more concerned with safety than with enjoyment. Running up the aisles to rush the stage in the 80s was not only a contact sport, it was a time-honored tradition.

SammyComesOnStageMarch 16, 2017 – Sammy at SXSW, Austin

I was about the same distance from the stage this past March 16, almost 35 years to the day of that concert, watching Sammy again, this time in Austin at SXSW. We were both obviously older, and this time he wasn’t playing, but talking, being semi-interviewed.

Before Hagar came out, they were playing warm up music…that would have been great for a rap artist…and then a folk singer. The friendly long-haired gent who was sitting next to me said “What is this shit?”…ya gotta dis the warmup music if it isn’t Sammy appropriate. Then they put on some of Austin’s own Brownout (and if you haven’t heard their “Brown Sabbath” covers of Black Sabbath…you owe it to yourself!) to tide us over.

Sammy walked out with Mike Snider (from USA Today), looking bulkier than he did 25 years ago (see the album covers below), but with the same smile on his face. Wearing a leather jacket with a Santo Mezquila shirt (more on that later). he and Mike sat down and did a little walk through Sammy-history.


Sammy’s a guitar player, but, as he put it, he kept winding up in bands with great guitar players: Ronnie Montrose, Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani. When he met Montrose, Sammy said they had most of the songs on that first Montrose album completed in two weeks. He also said it didn’t take long for him to learn his biggest lesson in bandmates: never tour or play with anyone you don’t like. I may not have the exact quote, but Sammy said “Ronnie was a bastard, God rest his soul.”

The first Montrose album (1973) has been called “America’s answer to Led Zeppelin.” The second album, “Paper Money”, was not anywhere near has hard core and rocking as the first (IMHO), and, by no coincidence, was Hagar’s last with the band. I still have my vinyl of “Montrose”, and I had “Paper Money” but may have made it into a frisbee long ago.

I also believe this is the last time Sammy was called “Sam Hagar” on an album cover.



Though he had a long (and continuing) solo career, Sammy only mentioned “Red” and “I Can’t Drive 55″ during the SXSW session.

Red is all about numerology (“Red’s my number…”), which Sammy said he was into at the time. He was walking down the street after the song came out, and some one called him the “Red Rocker”…and it stuck. And, as you can see in the album covers from my collection below, he embraced the “Red” moniker.


Mike, the interviewer, asked Sammy, given his penchant for fast cars and fast driving, how many tickets he’d gotten. Sammy said “two. You have no idea how many times that song has gotten me out of a ticket.” Obviously “that song” was “I Can’t Drive 55.”

Hagar Schon Aaronson and Shrieve

This didn’t come up in the interview at all, but I’ve got the vinyl of the Hagar-Schon-Aaronson-Shrieve album (1984), and am probably one of the few packrats that kept it. Gratuitous album cover shot, still in the plastic with the $5.99 Sound Warehouse price tag on it! One of the early super groups, this album features Neal Schon, lead guitarist of Journey and early Santana. There’s a good cover of “Whiter Shade of Pale” and the lead song “Top of the Rock” did pretty well, as I recall.



Albums had some pretty slick inner sleeves, back in the day. The sleeve for HSAS show the boys all with their 80′s rocker stares and Sammy living that Red Rocker persona.


Van Halen

Much has been said and written about Sammy and Van Halen. He only mentioned two main topics at the SXSW session – a desire to do a live concert performance with David Lee Roth, where they would trade-off sets as a type of competition (which was met, of course, with approval from the crowd); and that he had reached out to Eddie Van Halen, sending birthday regards.

For background, Hagar was in Van Halen for four studio albums that all went at least 3x platinum (5150, OU812, For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, Balance) from 1986 to 1995. Then he and bassist Michael Anthony left (or were dumped, depending on which story you listen to). Anthony still plays with Sammy on both Chickenfoot and The Circle.

Sammy HagarBusiness and Booze

This was at SXSW, which features Interactive, Film, Music and Education tracks, so there was quite a bit of discussion about Sammy’s businesses (past and present) and the music biz. Hagar has been a serial entrepreneur his entire adult life, so he touched on several of his ventures, past and current.

  • Cabo Wabo. In the 1990s, Hagar started selling tequila from his Cabo Wabo Cantina in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. In 2007, Hagar sold an 80% interest in Cabo Wabo Tequila to Gruppo Campari for $80 million (he later sold the rest of his part for $11 million). So…Sammy is set. And said he really doesn’t play for money any more, and doesn’t do hundreds of live shows a year. He has quite a few charities he works with, including a local annual acoustic set in San Francisco to generate enough dough for a local healthcare organization.
  • Beach Bar Rum. Sammy’s former attire (check out any video of The Circle) consisted of “Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum” t-shirts. Four years after he sold the last part of his Cabo Wabo business, Hagar started a Rum business made in Hawaii from locally grown sugar cane.

Santo Mezquila Sammy Hagar

  • Santo Mezquila. Sammy was wearing a Santo shirt promoting his new alcoholic venture. He said he couldn’t do another tequila because Cabo was his baby. However, he told the story of meeting Adam Levine of Maroon 5, and how Sammy doesn’t like the smokey taste of Mezcal and Levine didn’t like tequila. A few (no doubt enjoyable) chemistry sessions later and they had a mix they both enjoyed. Some lucky and forward thinking young lady actually had a bottle with her at the session, which Sammy signed. He said there weren’t that many bottles shipped to Texas yet. I found my own bottle (mine!) at a Total Wine after a hot tip from a friend. On the side it says “50% Distilled Blue Agave and 50% Distilled Espadin Agave.” For tequila drinkers, tequila can only be made with blue agave, but mezcal can be made with several different kinds of agave, espadin being the most prevalent. And, to further complicate things, all tequilas are mezcals by definition. I vote we just let Sammy keep this straight for us.  Although the lyrics of Van Halen’s Cabo Wabo does mention going after that “guave worm” there is indeed no worm in Santo. I’ve looked.

We drink Mescal right from the bottle
Salt shaker, little lick a lime, oh
Throwin’ down, down tryin’ to reach the bottom
Where the guave worm, well he’s mine, all mine

  • TV show. Sammy has a show on AXS TV called “Rock and Roll Road Trip” which was in Season Two during SXSW. He talked about how he enjoys getting to know fellow musicians outside of the normal “on-the-road” work environment. He’d just finished an episode with John Mellencamp, and had an upcoming episode with Mick Fleetwood.
  • The music business today. Since it was SXSW, Sammy was asked what he thought about getting noticed in the music business today. He commented on how hard it would be to get started today, and said that it is obvious that an artist has to have a very active social media presence (Sammy got on Instagram in August 2014, and is up to 94,000 followers).

Cooking, UFOs and ghosts

Sammy is Italian. He calls chef Guy Fieri his “brother from another mother.” During this session he said to the audience that he could walk into anyone’s kitchen, go out to their garden if they had one and cook a great meal. I invited him over…about the same time everyone else in the audience did.

During the Q&A period, someone asked Sammy about his appearance on a Celebrity Ghoststories show. In his bio, Hagar says he is a bigger believer in UFOs and Ghosts. Below is a video of his re-telling of his ghost story, with a bit of the end of his opinion Mexican Mariachi music (which he likes, but only acoustic and not in big arenas).



SammySquattingThen it was time to once more rush the stage. I got as close to Sammy as I’d ever been, close enough to comment on how good his knees were at our age, as he squatted down for a selfie. My comment elicited a quick look and a chuckle. Above all else, Sammy seems happy. A TV show, a place in Hawaii, three bands he plays with (The Waboritas, ChickenFoot and The Circle, which is touring this year), a new mezquila and his rum bars.

Sammy Hagar is on tour this year with The Circle (concert dates on the Red Rocker events calendar), and I aim to see him somewhere along the tour.


SXSW 2017

SXSW2017 Health Technology sessions

Notes on the 2017 SXSW Health Tech sessions I attended (some with photos, some with photos of slides from the presenters) in order of relevancy to current projects. The sessions (and links to each if you want to jump down) are:

Screening for Heart Disease with the Apple Watch

No More Apps – Why Reinventing Devices is Key

Diabetes Avalanche

Dunking on Disparity: Health Tech for All

Health Data: WFT? We’ve been to the Moon, But…!

To Build in Health, Follow the $ Not the Patient

To see notes from other SXSW2017 sessions:

Bruce Sterling

Equity Crowdfunding

Screening for Heart Disease with the Apple Watch

Presenters: Dr. Ray Duncan, Dr. Joshua Pevnick (both from Cedars-Sinai Health System)

This was an excellently balanced and informative presentation where Dr. Duncan presented the technical perspective and Dr. Pevnick presented the data analytics and research perspective. I took pictures of most of their slides, the pertinent ones are included here.

Cedars Sinai starting allowing patients the option through their patient portal (voluntary)  to link wearable devices and their readings, and integrated those readings into their EPIC EMR system. With little advertising they got up to 2800 patients (out of 130,000 portal users) sending in readings.

SXSW Health Tech Cedars Sinai


  • EPIC integration for wearables (for some) comes out of the box
  • Early data was from younger, healthier patients (who are the target early adopters of this technology)
  • Due to amount of data, visualization is key (and I would assume, some machine learning for pattern matching would be great with this data)
  • Some data is erratic – is it device error or normal variant or pathology?
  • Dr. Duncan and Dr. Pevnick’s slides and presentation were both excellent. I’ve inserted a few of them below.

SXSW2017 Health Tech Cedars Sinai

SXSW2017 Cedars Sinai

SXSW2017 Health Tech

SXSW2017 Health Tech Cedars Sinai

SXSW2017 Health Tech Cedars Sinai

SXSW2017 Health Tech

SXSW2017 Health Tech

SXSW2017 Health Tech

SXSW2017 Health TechNo More Apps – Why Reinventing Devices is Key

An interesting session title, especially given that two of the panelists with devices also had apps that were critical to their devices. The incongruity was somewhat rectified by the discussion that the focus was on the device, as opposed to YAAS (Yet Another App Syndrome, my acronym).

Panel: Lu Zhang (NewGen Capital, VC), Stuart Blitz (SeventhSense Biosystems), Janica Alvarez (Naya), Jeff Dachis (OneDrop)

  • SeventhSense has TAP, a one-touch blood collection device (for use by healthcare professionals, not consumers currently). The device was just FDA approved. Stuart was formerly with Agamatrix, a connected blood glucose meter vendor.
  • Naya Health has a connected smart breast pump.
  • OneDrop has a subscription service for their bluetooth connected meter, strips and lancet. The device is FDA approved.
  • Discussion on FDA approval, and seeing the FDA as a friend, not the enemy. Naya FDA approval took five months.
  • Why no more apps? The device plus the app is an ecosystem.

SXSW Health Tech Diabetes AvalancheDiabetes Avalanche

I could have elected to wait in the two lines for Joe Biden (one for wrist bands, one to get in) and his cancer moonshot discussion. And, as I found out later, I also could have fanboyed out and found the Game of Thrones session (which I wasn’t aware of) which was right new door to Biden (apparently).

But the statistics and perspectives presented in this SXSW Health Tech session were a reminder of the size of the problems of diabetes and pre-diabetes.

Panel: Dr. Phyllisa Deroze (Black Diabetic Info), Dr. Sarah Mummah (IDEO), Marie Schiller (Eli Lilly), Adam Brown (diaTribe.org)

  • The cancer moonshot (dollars for a cure) was upstairs with Vice President Biden. Adam Brown asks where is the moonshot for diabetes and pre-diabetes?
  • Slide of how large the problem is, and growth rates (see below)
  • A lot of comments on poor diabetes education, and what can be done about it (both websites linked to in the panel list have lots of great education information)

SXSW2017 Health Tech

DunkingOnDisparityPanelDunking on Disparity: Health Tech for All

Panel: Dr. Baker Harrell (It’s Time Texas), Michael Mackert (UT Austin), Nish Parekh (IBM Watson), Stephen Pont (Dell Medical Children’s)

This was a Texas focused session, which featured using technology to reach all Texans. Statistics were presented about smartphone penetration (e.g., there almost everywhere) and the app called “Choose Healthier“, a collaboration between It’s Time Texas and the Dell Children’s Medical Center was introduced. It initially contained events and location information for in and around Austin at the time of the presentation.

The slide below shows stats from a PEW on smartphone penetration from 2016. The point of the panel was that apps could be delivered to all people regardless of income level or demographic factors.



Health Data: WFT? We’ve been to the Moon, But…!SXSW Health Tech Data Panel

This is the session where I got stuck in an elevator on the way up to the Austin Chamber of Commerce. Lovely! Apparently this is the only way to get up to the chamber of commerce. We weren’t in there for longer than ten minutes, and since it was raining out it wasn’t too steamy…just another bit of excitement at SXSW.

Panel – Brian Baum, Charles Huang, Karen DeSalvo, Sukanya Soderland

This panel had an interesting mix of local and national perspectives, all of whom agreed that data collection is hard but data integration is harder. One of the best slides was one I got a mostly crappy photo of (if you get stuck in an elevator you don’t have the best choice of seats, or so I found out). But it talks about the amount of money that is invested in segments of healthcare that create or utilize data…versus integrating or sharing it. That slide is below.


Karen DeSalvo, the former director of the ONC, shared the goals of data and system integration between the public and private sector. Little discussion on what would happen with these goals with the new administration.

At this panel, Brian Baum introduced Connected Health Austin, a local initiative. There was discussion on defined data communities within Austin, and all they “solve the same problem differently everywhere” followed by discussion on how Connected-Health Austin would be different in this regard. I heard of several of these type initiatives in Austin during SXSW, hopefully they will all inter-connect.


To Build in Health, Follow the $ Not the Patient

Panel – Abhas Gupta, Andrew Rosenthal, Carine Carmy and Matt Klitus

The focus here was on providing advice for starting a company in the health tech sector.

  • Discussed using Net Promoter Score, something we see more and more in healthcare for feedback
  • Try shifting money/cost from wellness budget to medical budget. $500 is a large sum for wellness, not at all for medical
  • LTV/CAC – Lifetime Value over Customer Acquisition Cost; LTV is $ per customer per year, how many years, % profit margin. This ratio should be over 3x per Gupta
SXSW 2017

SXSW2017 Equity Crowdfunding

SXSW2017 Equity CrowdfundingNotes from the SXSW2017 Equity Crowdfunding session.

Presenters: Slava Rubin (one of the founders of IndieGogo), Bill Clark (CEO of Microventures)

First Democracy VC is their joint venture that focuses on Equity Crowdfunding that was made possible by Reg CF, Title III. Slava and Bill said all of their ventures thus far has reached their funding goals. A slide they shared (at the end of these notes) shows that as March 2017 about 230 Reg CF offerings have been filed with the SEC (this is since it ‘went live’ in May 2016).

Brief History

Slava shared a brief timeline leading up to the availability of equity crowdfunding.

  • 1933 Securities Act (created SEC, accredited investors, IPOs)
  • 2012 JOBS Act (which contains Reg CF about equity crowd funding)
  • 2016 (May) JOBS Act goes live

Three types of Equity Funding

  • Reg D506 – accredited investors only. Form LLC, can only have 99 people to invest
  • Reg A, mini IPO. Raise up to $50Million
  • Reg CF, Title III (which was created out of the JOBS Act): raise $1 million in 12 months. If you raise over $100,000 requires financial review. Have to use a portal, other rules apply.

Types of CF raises

  • Equity Campaign
  • Revenue Share: Investors get a percentage of sales until the initial investment is paid back. Example: invest $100K, if they are successful, returns $150K, but no equity. This type of CF raise can include perks in an equity campaign (similar to a kickstarter or indieGoGo campaign).

A slide the gents shared on current equity crowdfunding statistics is shown below.

SXSW2017 Equity Crowdfunding Stats

SXSW 2017

SXSW2017 Bruce Sterling

SXSW2017 Bruce Sterling – notes from his customary keynote at the end of the Interactive portion of SXSW titled “The Future: History that hasn’t Happened Yet.”

SXSW2017 Bruce Sterling1st half – normal cantankerous recap

Some quotes from Sterling’s recap:

Intro – calls himself a “South-by Heritage item”

About global warming:

“Every year I appear, I’m like ‘wanna know about the future, climate’s changing.’ And every next year I come back, and it’s worse. CO2 this year, out the roof. There will be hell to pay.”

About the Donald:

“It tires me to hear America say this is not our America because Donald is President. That’s silly, right? Nobody outside America has that attitude. Of course they know this is the President of the United States. This is the president of the United States – a rich TV-star con-artist who mostly talks self-serving bullshit. And that’s very American. Russians, Germans, French, Norwegians, South Africans – none of them have a moments illusion about it.”

I haven’t been able to find a posted video of the talk, but there is an audio recording at Soundcloud.

2nd half – Universal Basic Income

The topic Mr. Sterling chose to be of interest this year was Universal Basic Income. It’s got an acronym – UBI.

He reviewed other times in history when cultural change has frightened people into thinking jobs are going away (e.g., the industrial revolution) but, as he says “people don’t just stand around….people just pickup, and life kind of proceeds diagonally.”

So it’s possible that UBI is hokey and will never happen, but it is possible that deep learning and automation will force a surplus of people that are unnecessary. There might be zero work with plenty and leisure, but they might be zero work with scarcity…”universal robotized poverty.”

UBI might get support from the polarized left and right…for different reasons.

He noted that we’d done this kind of thing before, “if it happens, it will be like previous historical human arrangements.”

I believe I captured his list, which is classified as in order from worst possible outcome to least harmful (which Sterling says is always the best way…”like going to gym first thing in the morning…it’s painful, but it’s the worst thing that will happen to you all day.”

  1. reservations (Native American Indians). “Took a couple of centuries….today we’d use drones.”
  2. prison systems and labor camps. “…an engineering solution….you don’t do it to be the villain.” Mentions Nazi death camps.
  3. refugee camps. “displaced people, they don’t have an economy.” Mentions UN Camps at $1200 per year.
  4. armed forces. “one huge paramilitary defense corps.” “an Army is not at the mercy of the robot engineers.” “Probably the most plausible.”
  5. retirement villages. “universal pension income.” “Everybody just learns to mimic the elderly.”
  6. academic. “Everybody learns. People are busy even if they aren’t making a wage.”
  7. religions. “No competition because the robots are all atheists.” Monasteries and nunneries. “Maybe you could be religious and in an army.”
  8. healthcare uber alles. “would you rather be rich and employed or be immortal?”
  9. intentional rural communes. “go back to the land, live next to nature.” “traditional, romantic, never works. Sucks unless you’re the Amish.”
  10. drop out urban bohemia. “like Christiania, Denmark…why doesn’t everyone just become a beatnik?” “This is the Austin solution…this is the Keep it Weird contingent….you’re going to pay me to keep it weird, let’s see how weird I can get!”
  11. enlightenment. “an aspiration for many centuries…become spiritual mendicants….permanent vacation from economics.” “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water; after enlightenment – chop wood, carry water.”

It is possible that a UBI solution is completely new and bizarre and totally revolutionary and not something from human history.

“We’re so inventive that we’ve got no use for ourselves. We’re making ourselves obsolete.” If you said that to people 100,200 or 400 years ago, would they congratulate us?” They would probably question why they are defaulting our future to robots and AI? They are not historical participants.

“If humanity declared itself useless and we all vanished, our machines would stop.” Long discussion about machines having no ambition or appetite. Sterling is obviously not on the side of AI taking over the world.

“When we say our machines can render us irrelevant, we are buying into a suicidal ideology.” His basic concept here is the UBI concept is humanity bailing out on its responsibility, leaving running the world to machines.

I tried to find videos of Mr. Sterling’s other closing keynotes so I could keep them all in one place. Here’s what I’ve found:



none found yet




none found yet



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