Raised in a poor household by a single mother of four, Sammy Hagar spent his childhood summers picking fruit and vegetables so he could afford to buy clothes for school.
"My mom was always half on welfare or food stamps and would get in line during Thanksgiving or Christmas when people were giving away free turkeys," says Hagar, whose alcoholic father abandoned his family. "I grew up like that, and remembered how it made a big difference in our life."
This summer, during his North American Four Decades of Rock tour, Hagar is giving about $2,500 to local food banks in each city he visits. The Red Rocker has partnered with food banks during past tours and has seen firsthand the positive impact they have on those in need.
"Food banks in your local community are the biggest bang for your buck in my search for the simplest and most reliable way to help others," says Hagar, who donates proceeds from his Beach Bar & Grill restaurants to various charities through the Hagar Family Foundation. "You see the clientele lined up and they need it. You don't see people taking advantage of something."
Hagar is also bringing awareness to food banks in the markets he visits by featuring information about them on video screens during live performances of Van Halen's 1992 hit "Right Now."
"I redid the [music video] to bring it up to date and I'm putting [in] food bank information from each local food bank," he says. "We're sending people down with cameras and taking footage of people collecting food."
Additionally, for his upcoming concert at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in St. Louis on Aug. 31, Hagar gave away more than 10,000 lawn seats in exchange for fans donating to local charities the St. Louis Area Foodbank, Ranken Jordan Pediatric Specialty Hospital, the Backstoppers or Cardinals Care.
"You could pay $4 for those tickets or $4,000. You picked where you wanted the money to go out of the four charities," he says. "We thought it would take a couple weeks to sell out, but the 10,000 seats sold out in about 20 minutes."
Hagar is touring in support of new album "Sammy Hagar & Friends," due Sept. 24 on Frontiers Records. The set features guest performances by Taj Mahal, Toby Keith, Kid Rock, Michael Anthony, Neal Schon, Ronnie Dunn and others.