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Sammy Hagar likes the "challenge" of opening for Aerosmith

of the Oakland Press

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Sammy Hagar estimates that, save for some stadium dates with Kenny Chesney, he hasn’t opened for anyone since about 1979. But he was amenable to the invitation to support Aerosmith on its “Cocked, Locked and Ready to Rock” tour.

“I’m just totally doing what I want to do, when I want to do it,” says Hagar, 62, who’s fronted the bands Montrose, Van Halen and Chickenfoot in addition to a prolific solo career and sidelines as a restaurateur and tequila maker. “For me, anything that’s kind of a challenge or sounds like fun or makes for a great event, that’s what I like to do. I’ve worked myself into a really good position here. Most people my age are either done or having to work, and I’m neither.

“So when Aerosmith asked me to do this tour, I said yeah. It’s totally cool.”

Hagar’s association with Aerosmith, in fact goes back to the early ’70s — and to Detroit’s Cobo Arena, where his band at the time, Montrose, opened a show for the “brand new, fresh rock stars” from Boston.

“We’d never heard of them, and the show was sold out, so we were going, ‘Yeah, we’ll show them,’” Hagar recalls. “So we go out and get a huge encore and play (the Beatles’) ‘Helter Skelter’ for our encore. Then we’re standing on the side of the stage and here comes Aerosmith and they open with ‘Helter Skelter!’ After the show, I said, ‘Are you guys crazy?’ They didn’t even know; they just came running out of the limos and onto the stage.

“But I’ve known them ever since, and we get along great.”

Besides touring, Hagar is busy with working on the second album by the all-star Chickenfoot and writing his autobiography, “Red,” which he hopes to publish in 2011. He’s also been opening a chain of Sammy’s Beach Bar and Grille restaurants in airports, which donate profits to charity via his Hagar Family Foundation.

Sammy Hagar & the Wabos perform with Aerosmith at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 31, at the Palace, Lapeer Road at I-75, Auburn Hills. Tickets are $49.50-125. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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