By Walter Price
In late February of 1983 I was a preteen about to perform my largest con-job, on my mother. Night Ranger and Sammy Hagar were playing at the Ector County Coliseum in the Texas desert city of Odessa. The place I had to call home.
Here was the plan. My best friend, Mike Miller, had an older brother Terry who had a ticket to the hottest show to hit Odessa in months and he wanted me to go. AWESOME! I was a huge fan of the recently released ‘Three Lock Box’ from Hagar and I had only been to a couple concerts before and I was about to explode!
Here was the cunning plan. I would tell my mother, who either worked late or partied later each night of the week, that we kids were to meet at the roller disco for an early week skate party. Then, if it was okay, I wanted to stay for the ‘late skate’ that lasted until midnight. My Mom was a gem. Without hesitation she agreed!
Hot dang, time for part two of the covert operation. Get into the sold-out concert without my very own ticket. Not to worry, Terry Miller had a plan and he wasn’t going to share until we hit the venues parking lot. After we parked and started the walk towards the gate he unleashed his more than embarrassing idea on me. He explained “when we get to the gates, let’s look for the goofiest person and get in that line”. Good enough I thought. He continued “Just go with whatever I say and don’t say anything and keep your head down!”.
When we found our mark, a girl with glasses, braces and a field of acne, we pounced! When it was our turn to present our tickets Terry opened his pie hole and said “we only have one ticket, my little brother is retarded and I was hoping you’d let him in. We can’t stay long because of his medication anyway.” I was about as embarrassed as I had ever been in my twelve years. This girl may have had braces and glasses but she was cute. She smiled and said “No problem” or “okay’ then followed it up “Stay standing and leave out of this gate”. AGREED!
I didn’t really like having to be mentally challenged but it worked!
(by the way it was a different time and not even then were we trying to hurt anyone’s feelings with the word ‘retarded’. I certainly do not use the word today)
That night was so cool. I was hanging with the big kids, the stoners, the roughnecks, the cowboys, hippies, acid heads the cool chicks from the high schools and a few moms and dads I could recognize. I was in a music wonderland as Night Ranger and Sammy Hagar pounded the roof tiles from that old arena.
Night Ranger was great but what I remember the most to this day is how the Red Rocker dominated the stage, taunting the crowd into rocking even harder than their drunk and stoned minds could go. Eventually there was a sea of swaying, singing and fist pumping zombies of rock!
It was after this I became a follower of Sammy Hagar. Not too long after this show, about a year or so, he released his ‘VOA’ album with the mega hit “I Can’t Drive 55” and the charming “Dick In The Dirt”. BOOM, he was the superstar guitar slinger and the king rock vocalist of the era.
I read every interview, watched every TV appearance I could and I very quickly found out that not all rockstars are a-holes. This dude was nice, seemed intelligent and could speak better than any of the other adults I knew. A life long fan was born.
The reason I mention this landmark occasion in my life is because of this interview I found on RollingStone.com talking about Sammy’s new album,Sammy Hagar and Friends, and a ton of other must read topics that I realized that this guy is the same exact guy I started following 30 years ago. Not a bit jaded. Just a down to earth lover of life, cars, music, drink and all things good kind of dude.
So I can;t wait to take a listen to this new album which features collaborations with Nancy Wilson, Kid Rock, Ronnie Dunn, Joe Satriani, Mickey Hart, Toby Keith (pictured), Neal Schon (of course) and and more.
Sammy Hagar is 65 years old and doesn’t look like he plans to stop the rock anytime soon..
Good news for us all!
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