SAMMY HAGAR Talks About Influences, New CHICKENFOOT Album, His Voice - "Today I’ve Got The Tone I’ve Always Been Looking For"

September 15, 2009, 14 years ago

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Part 2 of's interview with the Red Rocker SAMMY HAGAR (CHICKENFOOT, ex-VAN HALEN) is now online. A few excerpts from the chat follow: Who did you first try to emulate when you began playing guitar, as a teenager?

Hagar: "DICK DALE was my first big influence. And then I tried to learn every solo ERIC CLAPTON had ever done, going back his work in THE YARDBIRDS and in JOHN MAYALL AND THE BLUESBREAKERS. I learned the blues solo for 'Have You Heard' note-for-note. And then when the Fresh Cream album came out, I learned those songs. The same was true for Disraeli Gears. I was more into Clapton, and PETER GREEN, than, say, someone like HENDRIX." Some singers’ voices get better with age, and others get worse. Your voice has definitely gotten better. How do you keep your voice in top form?

Hagar: "I would never smoke cigarettes, and I try not to smoke anything, especially when I’m on tour. Also if you eat really hot, spicy food before you sing, that’s not good for you. But really the only time I can’t sing is when I have a cold, or an allergy. It’s important to keep your voice in tip-top shape. Singers can’t take five or six months off. It’s like being a marathon runner. You don’t just jump out of bed one day and run a marathon. When I was a teenager, I wanted to sing like I sing now. I wanted my voice to be rough and scratchy, and I wanted to sound like an old black guy. Today I’ve got the tone I’ve always been looking for." A strange question, perhaps, but does being proficient on guitar make you a better singer?

Hagar: "No doubt about it. If I wasn’t able to play the melody structure of a song on piano, or guitar, or something, I wouldn’t be as good a singer. I wouldn’t have the chops. Sometimes I’ll sing the melody for a song, and then I’ll go to the guitar and play the melody there. By doing that, I’ll find extra licks I can add to the vocals -- things that makes them more intricate, and more complex. Will there be more Chickenfoot albums?

Hagar: "I can’t say, 'Definitely,' but we want there to be a bunch of Chickenfoot records. We would like to stay together forever. There are some other things that are pulling at us. For instance, Chad has to go back to the CHILIS, but hopefully these things won’t dissolve the band. Hopefully the Chilis can give Chad enough time off, between his responsibilities to them, to continue doing this. I don’t want to wait too long, and I can’t wait two or three years. Meanwhile, I’ll just go back and play with the Wabos, and have fun doing that."

Read the entire interview here.

Check out Part 1 at this location.

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