Sammy Hagar, known as the Red Rocker, recently reflected on a memorable on-stage meltdown that occurred in 1977 during his time opening for Kiss on their Rock And Roll Over tour. Recounting the incident during a discussion on the That Rocks! channel, Hagar revealed that the experience, which involved him exposing his genitals to an angry crowd, is now seen by him as a “beautiful” moment that fueled his drive and determination.
The Madison Square Garden show in New York on February 18, 1977, was sold out, but the audience was largely unfamiliar with Hagar and didn’t know he would be performing. As he took the stage, he was greeted with boos and confusion from the Kiss fans in attendance. Hagar explained that the lack of promotion for his appearance led to a disgruntled crowd who were unaware of his presence.
Undeterred, Hagar attempted to win over the audience with his energetic performance, starting with two rock songs. However, when he transitioned to a ballad, the crowd’s negative reaction intensified. Frustrated by the hostile response, Hagar halted the song, addressed the audience, and expressed his disdain for their lack of appreciation. He then shocked the crowd by exposing his private parts, smashing his guitar in frustration, and leaving the stage, declaring “Fuck you.”
In the aftermath, Hagar was met with stunned reactions from Kiss members and legendary promoter Bill Graham. Their disbelief and shock at his actions were palpable. Despite their reaction, Hagar remained resolute in his decision to never perform with Kiss again, although he maintained a friendship with the band members.
Reflecting on the incident, Hagar expressed that while it was a low point in his career, it now holds a humorous element. He acknowledges that the rejection he faced on that night was initially disheartening, but he has since found the experience to be a driving force in his life.
In his autobiography, “Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock,” Hagar previously described the incident as the worst experience he had ever faced on stage, noting how it had a lasting impact on his reputation in New York. However, he now laughs about the incident and acknowledges that the rejection he faced ultimately fueled his determination and desire to prove himself.
Hagar even proposes the idea of redoing the night with Kiss, without the controversial antics, as a way to reconcile and create a positive experience. Although the possibility of such a performance remains uncertain, Hagar’s perspective on the incident has shifted, and he now views it as a defining moment in his career that propelled him forward.
It was beautiful in its own way because it gave me drive”, Hagar says. “It made me angry, and I said that fucking shit is never going to happen again.”
As the musician explains, his booking on the bill hadn’t been promoted, so no one at the show knew he’d even be playing, resulting in a very confused and disgruntled crowd of Kiss fans.
“They didn’t really know I was going to be on the show,” he explains. “So when the guy came out to announce it, I’m standing on the side of the stage, I’m pumped and the guy goes, ‘Ladies and gentleman please welcome Sammy Hagar!’ And the fucking place started booing! They didn’t even know who the f*** I was.
“I tried to give it up, I f****** worked them hard with the two rock songs,” he adds, explaining how he tried to impress the audience. “And then I went to the ballad – in those days you did two heavies and then you did your ballad, which was usually your hit – and oh, man they went off.”
Speaking of the moment where he eventually exposed his private parts, Hagar says: “I just stopped the song and said, ‘I’m so glad they flew in a special audience from Los Angeles for me. Then I pulled my pants down, f***** shook it at them and then smashed my guitar to bits and walked off the stage saying, ‘F*** you.’
“That was a ’61 Strat. I believe that thing would be worth half a million bucks probably, but I smashed it to pieces, that’s how pissed off I got.”