He might be best known for his work with Van Halen, but Sammy Hagar has also managed to forge a hugely successful solo career. After first tasting success with hard rock outfit Montrose in the 1970s, he dropped his solo debut in 1976. It didn’t really go anywhere in the charts, but five years later, he broke into the mainstream with the mega-selling Standing Hampton. Now aged 74, he’s still rocking as hard and fast as ever. Here, we take a look back at his finest moments with our pick of the 10 best Sammy Hagar albums of all time.
10. Ten 13
Hagar’s tenth studio album, Ten 13, hit the shelves in October 2000. Described by tprs.com as “Hagar’s rebirth into the world of hard and heavy rock ‘n roll,” it’s a riot of crunching guitars, roof-raising riffs, and pounding drums. The energy is almost exhausting at times, but even if you need a nap afterward, it’s still a hugely enjoyable listen.
9. Space Between
In 2019, Hagar scored a late-career hit with his eighteenth solo album, Space Between. The album debuted at number 4 on the US Billboard 200 chart – his second-highest position on the chart to date. Hagar is at his best when he’s shooting from the hip with lean, heavy, good-time rock and roll, and here, he dishes up a ton of it. Key tracks worth taking for a spin include the hook-heavy Bottom Line, the invigorating Free Man, and the powerful Trust Fund Baby.
8. Musical Chairs
Musical Chairs might feature three-quarters of Montrose, but it’s still a Sammy Hagar solo album, and a very good one at that. Lean, mean, and face-meltingly aggressive, it’s one of the rawest, most uncompromising albums in his back catalog. It wavers slightly on songs like Crack in the World where he over-reaches lyrically, but there’s too much good stuff happening elsewhere on the album for the odd misstep to trip it up.
7. Not 4 Sale
There’s nothing to say old dogs can’t learn new tricks, but sometimes, it’s better for everyone if they just stick to what they know. Hagar has stuck to the same basic formula for most of his career… something that’s not always been looked on kindly by critics, but which on albums like Not 4 Sale comes as a blessed relief. Unlike certain aging rock stars who’ve tried and failed to keep up with the times on their later albums, here, Hagar simply dishes up another helping of the same sound he’s been peddling for years – and, with any luck, will continue to peddle for a few more to come.
6. Marching To Mars
If you were around in the 1990s and tuned into rock radio every now and again, there’s a good chance you’ve rocked out to Little White Lie in your time. Released as the lead single from Marching To Mars, it dominated the charts in 1997, spending a stonking five weeks at the top of the mainstream rock tracks chart. The rest of the album’s no turkey either, which probably explains how it landed up at number 18 on the Billboard 200.
5. Sammy Hagar
Hagar’s self-titled second album was released in July 1977. It didn’t exactly break the charts, stalling at a disappointing number 89 in the Billboard albums chart, but if ever there was proof that commercial success isn’t everything, it’s this. Unquestionably his finest solo effort from the 1970s, its tracklist is bristling with gems, with Rock ‘n’ Roll Weekend, Cruisin’ and Boozin’, and the anthemic Red (a song All Music describes as one of the most effective rock anthems of Hagar’s solo career) ranking among the sparkliest.
After earning his commercial breakthrough with Standing Hampton in 1983, Hagar continued his one-man assault on the charts until some band called Van Halen threw a spanner in the works by signing him up. His last record as a solo artist before joining the band was VOA. A big blast of high-octane rock, it’s about as subtle as a sledgehammer… which is probably what makes it so much fun. Released in July 1984, it hit number 32 on the Billboard Charts before eventually certifying platinum.
3. Livin’ It Up
On Livin’ It Up, Hagar does his best Jimmy Buffett impression as he waxes lyrical about the joys of being a beach bum. An easy-going, party-ready album that demands to be listened to with sand beneath your toes and a Cabo Wabo tequila in your hand, it’s a little bit silly, a little bit obvious, and absolutely not something that should be taken seriously. It’s also an absolute blast that deserves to be played as often and as loudly as possible. Released in July 2006, it made it to number 50 on the Billboard Charts.
2. Standing Hampton
In a review for Kerrang, Dante Bonutto had a lot of positive things to say about Standing Hampton’s opening track, There’s Only One Way to Rock, but no kind words at all for the rest of the album. Which leads you to suspect he never actually got further than the opener. Even taking There’s Only One Way to Rock out of the equation, this is a fine, fine album, with enough lean menace to satisfy his fans and enough commercial appeal to earn Sammy the first platinum-selling success of his solo career.
1. Three Lock Box
Standing Hampton was a great album, but its follow-up, Three Lock Box, was even better. Released in November 1982, Hagar’s seventh studio album became his biggest commercial success till that point, climbing to number 17 on the Billboard 200 album chart and spawning his first (and so far, only) top ten solo hit, Your Love is Driving Me Crazy. A sleek, stylish affair with a pop-orientated sound and a hefty scattering of gems, it’s irresistible.