Fans Sleep On The Street For Sammy Hagar

As they do every October, but this year we interview some of the crazies
BY: CATHY WATKINS

Every year in October, people from all over the world camp out on the sidewalks outside of Cabo Wabo Cantina for a couple of days. They are diehard Sammy Hagar fans, and they make the trek to attend Sammy’s Birthday Bash at Cabo Wabo (which Sammy founded, if you don’t know your Red Rocket history).

Sammy’s first birthday bash was in 1991, and it has continued every year since then. Being the true rocker that Sammy is, this epic party will last for four evenings, with the Red Rocker rocking the nights away on stage, usually with a couple of famous friends making guest appearances. This year the event was held on October 9, 11, 13, and 14 and was extra special since it was the Sammy’s 70th birthday on October 13. 

sammy.JPGPeople can get tickets to Sammy’s Birthday Bash, if they are lucky, through a lottery that’s held in July.  Tickets to the Birthday Bash dinner are only sold in person at Cabo Wabo immediately before the event. The line for tickets for that starts on the sidewalk at the main entrance to Cabo Wabo, which is at the corner of Lazaro Cardenas and Vicente Guererro. Fans start to line up as early as two nights before ticket sales to be assured entrance.

By 11:00 a.m. on the Saturday before the first night of the Birthday Bash, groups of fans were already lined up on the sidewalk with chairs, blow up beds, coolers, and blankets, ready to spend the night.  People came all the way from Australia, Germany, Brazil, Canada, California, Missouri, Texas, Pennsylvania, Washington, Oregon, and Colorado. Some of them have lined up like this, days ahead of time, for many years now; they know each other and a comradery exists on the sidewalk.  

Patrick, who’s known as Pato (duck), said the first time he came to Cabo was for spring break in 1981, way before the birthday bash began. He found out about the birthday bash because he knows Sammy’s brother, Bobby Hagar. Patrick claims he’s Sammy’s #1 fan. He says Sammy personifies pure love, and you can feel it when around him. An example of this is that Sammy gives any profits from his bars to children.

Debbie Erickson has been attending the Birthday Bash for 11 years or so. A friend turned her on to the event. “If you go once, you get addicted,” she said.

Sure she’s here for the party, but she’s also here because you meet great people and make friends from all over. Debbie always wears a striking hat to the bash, which Sammy usually puts on at some point.   This year she had a fedora that was painted black with red feathers around the brim. She pulled out a large blanket that she had made. The blanket was white with square color pictures of Sammy, the parties, and him wearing some of her hats. 

Eduardo Pinheiro came all the way from Brazil. He’s rather new in this crowd, since this was only his 7th trip. He came for ten days. Like most of the people gathered here, he started as a Van Halen fan and continued as a Hagar fan when Sammy Hagar left the group. The event is extra special for Eduardo because his birthday is also on October 13, so he gets to celebrate his birthday and Sammy’s. He definitely likes the party, the fans and the new family he gains. When Hurricane Odile hit in 2014, the birthday bash was moved to Sammy’s Beach Bar and Grill in Las Vegas. So, Eduardo went to Vegas that year for his birthday, too. 

Steve Anderson is Danish and lives in Canada. He was first a Van Halen fan who loved Eddy Van Halen.   When Sammy joined the Van Halen group, he quickly became a fan of him too. He’s 46 and has been attending the Birthday Bash for 24 years. Steve confided that his greatest fear is something happening to Sammy. He wonders, what will happen to Cabo Wabo, and will other musicians such as Metallica or Tommy Lee come down to play on his birthday to continue the tradition? Actually, Sammy owns just a small piece of Cabo Wabo, having taken in several partners. A few years ago he sold his tequila company, although he continues with a contract to use his name and likeness.

Steve also pointed out that he no longer sits directly on the street corner while camping out in line, after witnessing a police chase last year where a car came speeding around the corner and smashed into the light post on the opposite corner. (I hate to tell you Steve, but without a post on this corner, one seat away from the corner isn’t enough, you’d better get behind that tree. On the other hand, lightening never strikes twice in the same place, or so we’ve heard.)

One fan on the street reminisced about past shows, when Sammy’s wife used to bring out a cake to him on stage. In 2007, for his 60th birthday, she brought out a large cake. The fans started to eat it, but it quickly turned into a huge food fight. Now she’ll just brings out a cupcake, and fans must calmly eat their cake with their dinner on the 13th. 

The first year of Sammy’s Birthday Bash, the tickets were free and one person could get up to eight tickets. Things have changed since then, with tickets limited to two per household. General admission tickets to the show sold for $70 USD (Sammy’s age this year) or $120 for two nights. Dinner show tickets were $120 each, which included a sit-down dinner, one free Cabo-rita, and admission to the show.