Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Because NOBODY demanded it... My Sammy Hagar story

On May 31st, 2002 my wife Melissa, my brother Scott, one of my best friends, and I attended the Sammy Hagar/David Lee Roth concert at the DTE Energy Music Theater in Clarkston, Michigan. I have been a huge fan of Sammy Hagar for many years and have been to every concert that's hit Michigan since Van Halen fired him (and three times with Van Halen). With the exception of the VH concerts, I've done artwork for Sammy and his band each time I've seen him. This concert was no exception. At the time of the concert, my fiancee and I were planned to be married and expecting a baby at the end of August. Due to finances, we knew that this would be our last concert for a long time. So, I created a collage drawing for Sammy Hagar of his career. I spent 40 hours on the piece (it was different paper than I'm used to) and I wanted to make sure Sammy got it. In the past I've been able to hand artwork to him during concerts over the heads of front row fans and security. Sometimes I left the artwork for him or his band with a security guard in hopes it would reach the destination, but would be lied to and ignored. I did NOT want this to happen on this occasion. Before I go further, there is a back story that I feel must be said (explain myself better as well as to stroke my ego).

The first tour of Sammy's solo career, my brother Scott, my friend Neal and I got front row seats by dumb, beautiful luck. I did a painting for Sammy and held it up during the show (the background for this page). There were no guards between us and the stage, or even a guard fence. Sammy almost stepped on us when he rushed out on stage! This provided a better chance to give my, for lack of a better word, idol, the painting. He saw the painting a little later and gave me a thumbs up. During a guitar solo by Victor Johnson (great guitarist, great guy), he came over and asked if I wanted the painting signed. My friend, brother and I kept screaming that it was for him and take it. He grabbed it, slapped my hand, shook it, stood up and showed the audience. The next song he sang with it as he rested his arms and legs on top of it! I was in heaven. Later on, at the end of the show, Sammy has fans onstage to sing "Marching to Mars". He had some contest winners up there and pulled some slutty-dressed women from the audience. He walked towards our side of the stage and perused the front row. He scanned and scanned, set his sights on me and PULLED ME UP ONSTAGE to sing on a mic!! My friend Neal got a drumstick from the drummer that he threw to us. It was GREAT!!!
The next time Sammy was in Michigan was in November, 1997 at the Wings Stadium (I think). This time the same crowd went, with four more friends in tow. I did another painting, but this time of Sammy's baby daughter. Click here to view painting. We got up front right away. During the show I held up the painting, but this time guards and guardrails were in the way. Sammy saw the painting numerous times and gave it a thumbs up. We finally asked a guard to put it up onstage where Sammy stood. After awhile Sammy looked down, picked it up and showed the crowd. He started talking about it on the microphone. "Hey man, is this a painting?" He asked. I nodded. He looked at it more. "Is this for me? Man, alright check this out". He showed the audience and continued, "This cat did a painting of me and my daughter Kama. Man I thought you were holding up a f--kin' poster, man!! This is real nice. This is going up in my HOUSE, swear to God. If there's an address or something on the back I'll send ya something. Thanks." And with that he continued the show. It was great. A month later I received a t-shirt, an autographed photo and a note from Sammy that said, "Yo, Jason! Thanks for the painting of me and Kama. Kari just had it framed. It looks GREAT! See you in '98!! Peace, Sammy Hagar". It hangs on my wall with honor.
The next tour I did a bad sloppy painting and took it to the concert. This was in '99. But, I used up my financial aid money for school to go on vacation to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for Sammy's Birthday Bash at the world famous Cabo Wabo Cantina, Sammy's club!! It was beautiful. I went by myself, but took 3 paintings and a drawing. Each night of the 3 concert bash I planned on giving Sammy artwork. I wound up leaving 2 of the paintings in the club's office, which you can see on the interview section of the Sammy Hagar Birthday Bash 1999 video. The other painting I took into the club during a concert to give to Sammy. He wound up signing it and handing back. I'm not complaining. I met his bass player Mona and keyboardist and collaborator Jesse Harms that trip. Mona had actually arranged for me to attend the first of the 3 shows because I was delayed getting to Mexico and told her I'd trade her an autograph for a drawing. The next show I'd done a drawing of her, as well as the rest of the band. I left it at Victor Johnson's feet with a note that said, "Please give to the Waboritas (the band)" After the show Mona was outside with the fans as she did the night before and she thanked me for the artwork. That's when I introduced myself to Jesse Harms. I asked him if he saw the drawing and he hadn't, so he ran up to the office to look at it. He came back and thanked me and signed his own backstage pass and gave it to me. SO, I had Mona sign it too! The drawing I left for the last night, which I ran to get after the show (I stayed around the corner from the Cantina). I came back and couldn't get the drawing to Sammy, but his wife saw it as she was scurried into their vehicle ( the drawing was of him and her).Click here to view the drawing. She saw it and her face lit right up! A security guard was nice enough to put the drawing into the vehicle after Sammy got in. He placed it on their laps and they drove off. Two days later, I returned home to Michigan and 2 days after that, I met my future fiance, Melissa Pendell. That was a great year.
My fiance and I were fortunate enough to meet his band, the Waboritas individually January 8th, 2001 at Kewadin Casinos. I did drawings of each band member and arranged to meet with one of Sammy's people. I wound up leaving the artwork with him before the show and decided to hang out before the show out in the hallway near where I met Sammy's guy. As we waited, Sammy's drummer and longtime friend David Lauser walked up to the room we sat in front of. I introduced myself and told him I did that drawing for him in Cabo. He remembered, signed my tour book and posed for a picture. Little did we know, we were sitting in front of the SECRET entrance for the band!! A few minutes later Vic Johnson the guitarist walked up. As soon as he saw me he knew me, but we'd never met before. He thanked me for the drawing in Mexico and described where he had it hung up and told me he'd send me a picture of it. I told him about the drawing I left inside for him and he ran in and grabbed it. He liked it and posed with it and myself and Melissa. After the show, we ran into Mona and she actually saw me a good 40 yards away and screamed "HEY, JASON!" She thanked for the drawings, signed our stuff, I introduced her to Melissa and she posed for a picture. We also ran into Jesse and he remembered me, signed our stuff and posed for a photo. THEN, he told me to be in the lobby before noon and I might catch Sammy as he's leaving!! Later, Vic told me the same thing!! So, we showed up in the lobby and saw each member of the band come down. We wanted to leave them alone so they could go about their business, but each one came up to us and talked to us!! I thought that was cool! I gave each of them a card and told them anytime they're in Michigan to expect artwork. They went out to the bus and Jesse came back in. As he passed us he told u s Sammy was coming down the elevator and to get ready. We waited and Sammy and his wife Kari came out. It was brief, but I finally met him face to face. He thanked me for taking care of his band and Kari thanked me for the artwork of her and him and Kama. Click here for more photos with Sammy and the Waboritas.
Now, back to where I started.
I arranged with security during the David Lee Roth set to get backstage. They actually worked with me and Sammy's people said it was okay. I took the drawing back and his management were there and LOVED the drawing. His manager went inside to okay with Sammy for me to give it to him and get a picture of him and me with the drawing. He took the drawing inside and I waited. As I waited, Mona came out to talk to me!! She saw the drawing and loved it. I gave her a more recent card and told her about getting married and expecting a baby. She congratulated me and we talked for a little while. Sammy's manager waved me and at the end of the corridor was my man, The Red Rocker Sammy Hagar with a big ol' toothy white grin!! He walked up to me and thanked me for the drawing, shook my hand and told me that it's going up at the Cabo Wabo(The photo above is from this meeting). I told him this would be the last time for awhile I could bring artwork to his concerts, and he stepped back with a surprised and concerned look on his face. "Why, man? What's up? What's wrong?" he asked. I told him that I'm getting married and expecting a baby and everyone in the corridor cheered and shook my hand and congratulated me, as did Sammy. I told him money's tight now and will be for awhile, but I could send him artwork. He seemed okay with that. He got the drawing, looked at it and told me "Man, that's awesome. Thanks." We posed for the photo and said goodbye because he had to get ready for the show. He congratulated me again and later put on a GREAT show, as he always does.

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