"This is like test-driving a new car," says the man whose pre-Van Halen fame is inextricably linked to his autobiographical 1984 single, I Can't Drive 55. "With a new band, before you start it up, you're really not sure where it's going. But it's exciting."
From the first thunderous notes of Led Zeppelin's Good Times Bad Times, it's apparent that this latest Hagar-and-pals machine is firing on all cylinders. That's good news for fans planning to hit Sammy Hagar: A Journey Through the History of Rock, the group's upcoming run of summer shows, which kicks off Thursday at Rock Fest in Cadott, Wis., and wraps up Aug. 16 in Stateline, Nev.
When the band puts the final cymbal crash on Good Times, Hagar, 66, can't contain himself. "That was powerful, guys," he says to three compadres assembled at his private Northern California studio for the group's first rehearsal, which USA TODAY was invited to attend. "This is going to work. Man, I love singing Zep tunes."
It doesn't hurt that pulling drum duty is Jason Bonham, son of iconic Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, while the bass lines are anchored by founding Van Halen member Michael Anthony. The note-perfect guitar riffs are supplied by Vic Johnson, longtime member of Hagar's house band, The Wabos.
For the next few hours, the foursome rips through a classic-rock mix of Zeppelin (Ramble On, When the Levee Breaks), Hagar-era Van Halen (Why Can't This Be Love, Best of Both Worlds), Chickenfoot (Big Foot) and Wabos (Mas Tequila).
There's a lot of good-natured banter back and forth, much of it focused on who will take which solos when and how Bonham should telegraph the wrap-up for each tune with a drum flourish.
Read the entire story at: http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/music/2014/07/14/sammy-hagar-summer-band-rehearsal-led-zeppelin-rules/12570987/
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