It’s hard to think about Cabo San Lucas and not think of the multi-platinum musician, songwriter and entrepreneur, Sammy Hagar. Raised in Fontana, California, Hagar had his musical beginnings in San Francisco and the Bay Area in 1967 and continues to constantly tour and play music. With multiple restaurants and bars, spirit brands, platinum albums, hundreds of sold out concert appearances and an autobiography under his belt, he still finds time to visit his beloved Cabo and continues to celebrate his birthday at Cabo Wabo Cantina every October.
A chat with Sammy…
Can you tell Destino Magazine readers about your first trip to Baja and what made you fall in love with Cabo?
It was the early 80s and Keith Richards had just gotten married in Cabo San Lucas. I saw a picture in a magazine of an infinity pool going off into the beautiful ocean. You could see the turquoise water, golden sand, cactus and palm trees and I said, where is that? I have to go there, that looks like my dream come true place. I decided to visit in October for my birthday and stayed at the Twin Dolphin hotel. After that, I returned every year for my birthday, which turned into the on- going birthday bash. It was an October thing, the weather was beautiful, the beaches were fantastic and nobody knew who I was, not one person, so I thought, this is a great hideaway for me. That kept me coming back.
You are considered an icon of Los Cabos; when you founded Cabo Wabo back in 1990, did you ever imagine the impact it would have on the sleepy fishing town it used to be?
No I did not, I had no idea, and it was not my intention to make it into a popular tourist attraction. My intention was to have a place where I could bring my friends and play music and party with them. MTV did that big special of Cabo Wabo’s grand opening with Van Halen; they gave us three million dollars worth of advertising for the three months leading up to the event and people started talking about it. I wrote a song called Cabo Wabo, that said, “go there once, you’ll be there twice.” The ones that would make it down here told other people back home and I think that’s how it happened, it just exploded.
A lot of people say that Cabo isn’t what it used to be and I disagree completely. Cabo, even as built up as it is and as commercialized as it’s gotten, is still one of the greatest destinations in the world. It might even be better than it used to be because now you get things that you didn’t get before, like great culinary experiences.
With new Cabo Wabo and Sammy’s Rockin’ Bar & Grill locations, Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum, and your new album titled Sammy Hagar & Friends launched on September 24th 2013, fans are wondering, what is next? Any new ventures planned?
–Laughs– I think that’s enough for now. Right now I’m committed to promoting all those things. I don’t just start and idea and move on to the next one. I start an idea and then I go out and
“…turquoise water, golden sand, cactus and palm trees…my dream come true place”
promote it and try to make it successful before I move on to the next thing. I have to get my rum and Sammy’s Rockin’ Beach Bar & Grill up to where Cabo Wabo is before I can jump ship and start another project. The way I promote my spirit brands and restaurants is through my music. I write new music, then I go on tour and play it, I do interviews and I talk about all this. In the long run, it’s all about the music. Hopefully it always will be.
What is a regular day in Cabo like for Sammy Hagar?
I wake up in the morning, as early as possible, while it’s still cool, I go for a wonderful walk on the beach and swim in the ocean. I come back, have breakfast and coffee outside and just enjoy the beauty of sitting on the beach, I’m telling you, to me, that’s the best seat in the house. I do silly things now and then; I grab my fishing poles and go shore fishing by the rocks. I very seldom catch a fish; I’m a lousy fisherman. Another thing I enjoy is making my own sea salt. When the tide is quiet I take a walk down to the beach to collect some water to make it at home. We actually use my sea salt at the Cabo Wabo restaurant. So, I mess with my salt, I play my guitar for a little bit and I always take a siesta after lunch. In the evenings, I look forward to going to the Cantina (Cabo Wabo) and playing music with the house band or whoever is in town. I have a few tequilas, go to bed, and start all over again. I think that’s the perfect day.
What is your favorite beach in Cabo?
I like beaches that have rocks you can climb and tide pools when the tide is low. There’s a beach between Las Ventanas hotel and the old hotel Cabo San Lucas that has some great rocks. The Hilton’s beach is beautiful, but what I really enjoy is the rocky area at the end of that cove.
What are your favourite restaurants in Cabo?
There are so many great restaurants in Los Cabos, dinning here is at the levels of places like L.A. I really think that the food at Cabo Wabo is underestimated because people think that it’s just a party and rock and roll place, but our restaurant offers fine dining Mexican food. For me it’s perfect because I can call in the afternoon and they will make me anything I want. The Chef and Jorge and all the people involved in the restaurant upstairs are capable of preparing the best food in Cabo. But, I don’t always eat there, so I think for fine dinning you have places like Capella Pedregal that has great high-end food. Niksan has great sushi and I think Chef Larbi at Agua in One&Only Palmilla is one of the best Chefs in Mexico. Flora Farms is great and they are creating a fun drink for me with Sammy’s Beach Rum. My favorite is going to the taco stands off the main drag, you can’t go wrong at those places. The carnitas at Los Michoacanos are the best I’ve ever had. I would eat there every day if I could.
After 22 yearly celebrations, 2013 being number 23, what is one of your favorite
Birthday Bash moments?
I have to say, probably my 60th because, first of all, my mother was still alive and she was there. A lot of friends surprised me and came down without telling me, like Ted Nugent, Toby Keith of course, Chad Smith, and many more. It just seemed like it was a milestone. I don’t think that there’s been one Birthday Bash that isn’t just as great as the one before and I’m looking forward to this year being, once again, the best one ever.*
“In the long run, it’s all about the music”
By Michelle Monroy