It’s Sammy Hagar Time!

Every year he celebrates his birthday at his local club, Cabo Wabo
BY: ESSEL SI

Some say the unofficial kick-off to the new tourist season begins with the 25th Annual Birthday Bash, as Sammy Hagar celebrates his 71st solar orbit on Saturday, Oct. 13 at the Cabo Wabo night club in downtown Cabo. He will be performing with his new band, ‘The Circle’, consisting of Sammy, Michael Anthony, Jason Bonham and Vic Johnson. There will be three concerts this year on the 9th, the 11th and the 13th.

People will start pouring in all this week, some lucky enough to have secured tickets via the online lottery that sold out in 13 minutes, and others just hoping for the chance to find a way in or maybe bump in to one of the many rock star friends of Sammy who usually show up, some to perform and some to party like the rock stars they are.

A bit of history:

In 1983 today’s Cabo Wabo general manager Jorge Viana was working at the Twin Dolphin Hotel, when Keith Richards walked in.

sammy.PNGHagar read about it in People magazine so he dreamed of coming to Cabo ,although that trip would be delayed until 1986, because Sammy was becoming the new front man for Van Halen, replacing David Lee Roth. Sammy was already well known in the world of American rock, having fronted the band Montrose in the early seventies and was well established as a solo artist.

Sammy was just another guest at the Twin Dolphin, wandering around with his infant son, but he got to know Jorge. Sammy asked for Jorge’s phone number before checking out a day or two later. “Do you know who I am?” he asked. When Jorge shook his head no, he said, “I’m Sammy Hagar, lead singer of Van Halen.” Jorge says, “I thought it was still Roth, that’s how far behind I was.”

But Sammy was impressed with Jorge and invited him to a show in the United States. There, Sammy offered him money to open a bar together.

The land was chosen because it was right in the heart of town. They hired as an architect Marco Monroy Jr., today a partner in the business. The idea for the lighthouse that has become a defacto logo for the Club was all Marco’s, as was the catwalk that allows the musicians to go from the green room directly to the rear of the stage.

Today, Jorge no longer works the desk at a hotel, he owns six nice cars, but is still working doors and doing all around work. It’s part of his original dream.

With Marco’s architectural plans, Jorge started building the club. Van Halen was on an eight-month tour in Europe but Jorge was on the phone talking with Sammy all the time. “You remember those big, clunky cell phones back then?” Jorge muses, “Well, every week I’d tell Sammy how much money I needed for payroll, concrete, whatever and every week he’d send me the money.” Finally, the band started questioning the expenses. They flew somebody down to check on things and he reported back that work seemed to be going well, but the place sure seemed big, guessing that the main arena could hold 500 people or more. The band originally envisioned a small, quaint place where they could just come down occasionally and jam a little. Sammy asked to talk with Jorge and he said, “Are you sure this is 3,000 square feet?” Jorge said, “Oh, I thought you were talking meters…” He chuckles, “We can laugh about it today, and now we’re glad it is this big and we’ve actually added on to it, but it was kind of a serious problem back then.”

With two years of hard work behind them, Cabo Wabo held its grand opening on April 22, 1990 with Van Halen playing on stage to about 400 people, a fairly small crowd by today’s standards. Since then, almost every name in the world of hard rock has graced its stage.

Between 1992-93, Van Halen broke up and Sammy bought Eddie and Alex Van Halen out of Cabo Wabo, at which time Marco Monroy Jr. became a partner.

There were some lean years. Trying to think of a way to get people to come, Sammy suggested holding a big party on his birthday October 13 and the annual event was born. In 1996, they launched the Cabo Wabo tequila brand, giving further expansion of the name. He has since sold the tequila business in two chunks for $95 million total, which is a big part of his estimated $120 million net worth. Now they’re promoting Mezquila, a blend of mescal and tequila.

Due to the Birthday Bash, the first two weeks in October are a couple of the busiest for those in the hotel/timeshare business. Jorge figures conservatively that the club is responsible for about 10% of the tourists occupying the city’s 16,000 hotel rooms. That number doesn’t include passengers of the 300 or so cruise ships that dock every year, with passengers beating a path from the marina just so they can say they’ve had a cold one at the world famous rock and roll night club. The club keeps a portion of the property open during the day mainly for these day tripping cruise boaters, selling a lot of T shirts at that time.

Jorge explains, “We have pretty much the same number of staff at the Cabo Wabo Hollywood and Cabo Wabo Las Vegas,” where Jorge and Marco are also partners. The Tahoe Wabo in Lake Tahoe is a separate arrangement between Sammy and Harrahs. (Must be way separate, because when asked if he had been to the real Cabo Wabo, a bartender at that Cabo Wabo said, “What’s that?”)

“The three of us work really well together,” Jorge notes. Coming from different backgrounds, they all contribute their strengths.

Jorge says, “Can you believe that I managed this whole place by myself for 16 years?” Today, he has four assistant managers. Jorge approves menu items and even invents new drinks. The Cantina is known mostly for finger food, while the restaurant upstairs features formal dining, serving some of the best steak and fish dinners in the city, as well as Mexican specialties. They also cater private parties and special events throughout the year.

Cabo Wabo has live music almost every night featuring the house band, called Cabo Uno, which performs an acoustic set on the patio during the early evening hours and then three sets on the main stage inside the Club beginning around 10 p.m. They also back up Sammy when he pops in for unexpected visits about three or fourtimes per year. (Sammy has a sprawling house on the ocean front between Cabo and San Jose.) I mention to Jorge how amazing it is to see how much Sammy brings the energy level up when joining these younger men on stage and he says, “Well, of course. He’s the boss…”

For his birthday, Sammy brings his wide history of rock with him, from his Montrose days, some solo hits, Van Halen, the Wabos. Michael Anthony of Van Halen and Chickenfoot, Jason Bonham pounding out his Dad’s hits from Led Zeppelin and Vic Johnson of the Wabos, who envisions himself channeling Jimi Hendrix through his guitar, giving a thirsty crowd a sweet taste of 50 years of rock and roll. They might even throw in some Beatles and ACDC. Michael’s voice has always complimented Sammy’s very well, giving them a wide vocal range, and it’s pretty safe to say that nobody alive today could get away with singing Robert Plant’s songs, not even Plant himself. Anything is possible with this type of talent on stage, and word is that Joe Satriani will also be here this year so, a little Chickenfoot isn’t out of the question. Surprise guest artists also have a way of turning up.

There are 2,000 fans who managed to score tickets via the lottery. They sold out in a mere 13 minutes out with 78,000 who tried. The Club’s sound system, always great, has recently been given a $240,000 upgrade of the latest state-of-the-art equipment, so get ready for Anthony’s bass to blow the hair on your legs back. We’re talkin’ heavy metal noise coming at you with a whole lotta love.


Sammy Hagar Ticket Info

As in years past, there will be a limited number of dinner show tickets available right here in Cabo San Lucas, at the Cabo Wabo Cantina.  Frst come, first serve.

Night 1 (Oct. 9th)Tickets be made available at the cantina club area at noon on Monday, October 8th.

Night 2 & 3(Oct. 11th & 13th)Tickets be made available at noon on Wednesday, October 10th.

Dinner show tickets will cost $120 per person and include a welcome drink, dinner, tax, tip & admission into the show. Dinner reservationsNOT GUARANTEEtable for the show.The show will be standing room only.There are no tables or chairs.Maximum of 2 seats per person present at the sign up for the purchase.ID.

In past years, you would need to camp out all night to get those precious last minute wrist bands, so bring gear. ,