Sammy Hagar Admits He Stole A Guitar To Play Like Eric Clapton

Sammy Hagar, also known as The Red Rocker, revealed in a recent interview with The Washington Post that Eric Clapton greatly influenced him during his early career and even encouraged him to learn how to play the guitar.

Hagar is best known as the lead vocalist of Van Halen but that is not how he began his career. He entered the music world with his former band Montrose and left it to continue his work as a solo artist. He proved himself as a successful solo artist when he released a hit single named ‘I Can’t Drive 55’ as a reaction to a speed ticket he got in Albany, New York.

One year after the release of ‘I Can’t Drive 55,’ Hagar became the lead singer of Van Halen replacing David Lee Roth. He stayed with Van Halen from 1985 until 1996 and climbed the ladder of international success. Although he is known as a rock, hard-rock, and heavy-metal musician, in an interview with The Washington Post, he confessed that he has been greatly influenced by the blues.

Sammy also mentioned that Eric Clapton had a huge influence on him. He spoke about the time he saw the successful blues vocalist and guitarist and how that ignited his desire to play like him. However, Hagar was so inspired by numerous blues artists, especially those who also influenced Clapton, that he also ended up singing like them.

Hagar’s full statement about Eric Clapton and blues was:

“When I started playing music, I was always listening to the blues guys. Eric Clapton had a big influence on me because I saw him in Cream’s first American performance at the Whisky a Go Go and I said ‘That’s it, I’m gonna play guitar like that.’

I stole the guitar – don’t do it, folks, I did it and yes I got away with it – but I paid for it a million times. I started playing like Eric Clapton so I had to go back and listen to what he was listening to which was B.B. King… you know, the blues guys.

And yeah, that’s how I learned to play guitar and I started singing like that too. What are you gonna do? You’re listening to old blues songs, you know, I’m singing the same songs Clapton was singing later. I was singing ‘Crossroads’ before Cream did it.”

Although Hagar left Van Halen in 1996, he returned for a reunion during 2005-2007. Since 2007, he has continued to release solo work, and his most recent album with The Circle, ‘Lockdown 2020,’ was released in January 2021. The album consists of 11 cover tracks from legendary artists.