The ’70s Sci-Fi Concept Album Sammy Hagar Was Forced to Abandon
If Sammy Hagar had his way, his first concept album would have come out more than 40 years ago, instead of in the form of 2019's Space Between.
"When I left Montrose [in 1975], my first band that I started was called Sammy Wilde and the Dustcloud, and it was kind of like a David Bowie and the Spiders from Mars kind of concept," he tells UCR. "I wanted to do a theatrical show, and write this science-fiction story that I was going to continue with -- not just one record, I was going to go right on down that road and build shows and tours around it. I had costumes in mind, I was going to fly through the audience and all this crazy shit and have UFOs. I even originally wanted to perform in planetariums, but you couldn't make enough money with 60 people in the audience."
After being forced from Montrose, Hagar was able to bring this grand vision to life onstage at least once. "I started a band and played in San Bernardino at the old Swing," he told Inland Empire earlier this year. "And there was only about 500 people there, and the place held about 5,000 or 6,000, I think. And it was my first solo experience, and I called myself Sammy Wilde and the Dustcloud, and I did a frigging show there. ... And it just wasn’t successful. So I dropped the Sammy Wilde and went with Sammy Hagar. So I’ve wanted to do this concept album thing my whole life."
He knows why Sammy Wilde and the Dustcloud didn't take off. "I didn't have the money to do it, I didn't have the backing, I didn't have a record company that was buying into it," he explains to UCR.
"When I finally got my first record deal, they said, 'No, no, you're going to make a Sammy Hagar record.' And at that time I was called Sam Hagar, if you remember right from the first Montrose record. And the record company, Capitol Records, called me Sammy Hagar [and put out] Nine on a Ten Scale, my first album, that bombed. So I just kept putting a sci-fi song on each album, to be finished up as a concept someday -- which I guess could have ended up with "Love Walks In" from Van Halen. That's about the last sci-fi song I wrote."
According to a 1977 interview with the Van Nuys Valley News, even after the release of Nine on a Ten Scale, Hagar hadn't fully given up on the idea. "I believe I know answers to where we come from, where we are going and the reasons we are here," he said. "I get glimpses of images of the future in dreams and so on. That's what I plan to do with my concept album."
In the same interview, Hagar said he planned to release a live album by Sammy Wilde and the Dustcloud after completing one more studio record. "Sammy Wilde will be one of those characters who understands the mind and space and responds to prediction so that he avoids the minor hassles of the day," he said. "Eventually, he will be joined onstage by a spaceship which will take him away."
Now that it's 2019 in earth years, and Hagar has finally completed his first concept album, could a Sammy Wilde and the Dustcloud return be in the future?
"Now that I'm rich enough, maybe I should revisit this because I could finance myself," Hagar jokes. "That would be funny. But no, I like what I'm doing here. I like Space Between. It seems like every time I listen to it, I like it more, and I hear more magic that just happens to get caught while you're recording that I didn't even know about at the time."
Listen to Sammy Hagar's 'Silver Lights'