Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I Got Naked with a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer

Well, sort of. And it wasn’t Patti Smith.

(Forgive me if you’ve heard this one before).

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame held its annual induction ceremony last night, and Ms. Smith, R.E.M. and others joined the pantheon, as did Van Halen, the heavyweight champs of big badass American rawk. I didn’t catch the event live on TV, but I did check the official blog today. It seems that no one actually named Van Halen bothered to appear (for the record, Eddie is currently in rehab), nor did former (and, apparently, future) front man David Lee Roth. However, the band’s most notable ousted members – bassist Michael Anthony and singer mach two Sammy Hagar – showed to pick up the hardware, thank the fans, and lay a little live rock and roll on the masses.

In the press room, when asked about the rumored forthcoming VH tour featuring Roth, the ever gracious Sammy said "If there's anything Van Halen should do for the fans, it's a reunion with Dave." That prompted the official bloggers to declare “Hagar continues to be the most humble man ever inducted into the Rock Hall.”

Humble, indeed.

Years ago, in another life, I was practicing law at a very fine firm in Kansas City, when I learned that the partner two doors down from me had been retained by the Red Rocker. It seems that Sammy had gotten crossways with a local guy who was writing his authorized biography. On the day of a hearing in the matter, I showed up early at the office and was greeted with a strange request: Sammy is here and he’s not really dressed appropriately for court. Would you mind trading clothes with him?

Would I mind? How could I refuse? How better to spice up a day of legal research at a mid-sized, mid-American law firm than to don the threads of the man who penned “There’s Only One Way to Rock”?

So I went and introduced myself to Mr. Hagar and led him back to my office, where we closed the door, made some small talk, and stripped to the waist. He was genuine, affable and a little embarrassed, but he didn’t complain even as he slid into a shirt too small in the neck and too long in the sleeves. I helped him tie a necktie, and then, despite almost certainly feeling a little ridiculous, he gladly posed for pictures, the results of which clearly demonstrated which of us the rock star was and which was not.

With the start of a tour just days away, Sammy headed straight from the courthouse to the airport in my clothes, but a few days later, a box arrived with soiled white business shirt, Sammy’s sharpied autograph sprucing up the otherwise unremarkable tail. A couple of weeks later, at the artist’s invitation, a group of us sat about eight rows back, center stage, as Sammy and the Waboritas blasted through town, churning out a set of tequila-soaked hits.

So here’s to the newest hall of famer. Sammy might not have Eddie Van Halen’s genius or Diamond Dave’s blinding charisma, but he had the decency and sobriety to show up to thank the masses who made them all very rich men.


Trip McClatchy said...

Just curious hoss - are those your lawyer clothes Sammy is sportin' in the accompanying photo?

Michael Atchison said...

Man, I wish. Those are sweet.

juanita said...

I have a pair of sneakers just like that!