Rock Legend Turns 72

And celebrates in his Cabo Wabo Cantina
BY: FERNANDO RODRIGUEZ

Aside from the two Bisbee million-dollar fishing tournaments, October is also Sammy Hagar's annual birthday bash, held every year at his Cabo Wabo Cantina, during the second week of October. This year events are being held on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, October 9, 11 and 13. Part of the annual festivities is the long line of American and Canadian ''Red Rocker" fans waiting to purchase the much-prized tickets for any one of the three shows. Groups as big as 16-26 people set up camp near the Cabo Wabo ticket window eagerly waiting for their chance to celebrate Hagar's birthday at his world-famous restaurant and bar. 

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Born on October 4, 1947, in Monterrey, Northern California, young Sammy Hagar founded his first band at age 20 in 1967 called The Fabulous Catillas. A year later, he formed The Johnny Fortune Band, in 1968. By 1973, Haggar joined Ronny Montrose and in 1977 released his first solo album, featuring the hit song, "Red." A half-decade later, in 1977, Sammy joined Van Halen and in 1990 opened his Cabo Wabo Cantina.

Like all of his previous birthday bash celebrations, the event was announced on March 4, 2019, in which fans are assured entry into the Cabo Birthday Bash registration lottery in which winners are chosen randomly, and those who don't get in via the online lottery, make their annual journey to Cabo in hopes of obtaining admission to these cult-like festivities whose live rock & roll performances are legendary. Hagar also performs one evening that is free to the public, in which they perform on the backside of Cabo Wabo, where the stage is set up and the area can accommodate roughly 300 people, the rest can view and hear the concert from the sidewalk, on the street and from across the Calle Vicente Guerrero street as well. This year, Hagar, also performed an extra free concert on October 8. 

Formed in 2014, the acclaimed supergroup featuring Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees Sammy Hagar and bassist Michael Anthony, drummer Jason Bonham and guitarist Vic Johnson, have quickly established themselves as one of the most emphatic and exciting live acts on the road today, seamlessly ripping through career-spanning hits from Montrose, Van Halen, Sammy Hagar and The Waboritas and Led Zeppelin.

Sammy Hagar explained, "The 10 songs on the 'Space Between' are not just a bunch of new songs grouped together on an album. They were sewn together conceptually for a complete mental, emotional and physical experience. Inspiration is a beautiful thing and making this album is living proof that when the fire of creativity strikes, the songwriting process doesn’t have to be painful or a struggle. Once I had the overall vision, the lyrics and music began to just flow through me and the songs unfolded like chapters in a book.”

"On tour, the critically-acclaimed supergroup takes fans on a musical journey through rock history with a set list spanning four decades of Hagar’s hits from Montrose, his solo career, Van Halen and beyond — and with Bonham on board, they also tear into a few Led Zeppelin classics — thrilling audiences and critics alike. The music draws on the bands' substantial careers independently and collaboratively; presenting a veteran band still at the peak of their game," states the redrocker.com website, and their renditions from the album shared in Cabo was magnificent. 

Individual dinner show tickets were available at $90 USD, always while they last. The forever sold-out affair is a Cabo tradition, and this year's concerts were once again, as memorable as every previous edition. A typical gift purchased by fans for the flight home has always been Sammy Hagar's Cabo Wabo Tequila, which he created in 1996 while performing in Guadalajara, Jalisco.  

The tequila is 100 percent Weber blue agave, baked in wood-fired adobe ovens before being double pot distilled the old fashioned Guadalajara way; for a rich, chest warming taste. Hagar's Red Rocker Reposada tequila is barrel-aged in oak casks for anywhere from 4-6 months. The difference being, more ageing, produces smoother style and flavor.

The unique hand-blown Mexican blue bottles are an eye-catching plus, and difficult for die-hard Hagar fans to throw away once they're totally empty. The famous rock star initially partnered with an unknown tequila-making family with more than almost 90 years of experience.

In 2012, Cabo Wabo's Añejo was again voted a double gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. An honor the company has attained since 2008. That same year Anthony Dias Blue of Bon Appetit magazine recognized Cabo Wabo tequila as one of the top three tequilas in the world. On August 4, 2010, Italy's Grupo Campari obtained full ownership after acquiring the 20 percent stake still owned by Sammy Hagar & Associates.

An acquisition solidified by the $11 million Campari of Italy agreed to pay the famed musician for the last of the company's controlling interest. A small fee, when considering Grupo Campari forked over $80 million in 2008. Interestingly, part of the deal includes Sammy Hagar continuing his role as ambassador to the Cabo Wabo ultra-premium tequila brand.

The Cabo Wabo tequila is mostly marketed and sold in the U.S. where its publicity is managed by Skyy Spirits; a subsidiary of the Campari Group. Amazingly, sales reached 678.7 million USD during the first half of the 2010 calendar year. Under Hagar's control, the tequila was an instant success as sales went from 37,000  the first year to 140,000 cases in 2006; making it the second best-selling premium tequila in America at the time.

Gerry Ruvo, president and CEO of SKyy Spirits, said after Grupo Campari's Cabo Wabo Tequila company's consolidation purchase, "Sammy has done a fantastic job in building the brand, so we are going to obviously spend time with him and work together to continue our efforts to take the brand to an even larger level, both here in the U.S. and more importantly, all over the globe."

And to believe that Sammy Hagar is now 72 years old and still rockin' out like he was at the beginning and peak of his career is yet another amazing thing, related to the Red Rocker. Cabo's link to rock & roll fame and one of the most celebrated birthday parties in the Western Hemisphere.