BILOXI -- Sammy Hagar will be bringing his career full circle when he performs with his band, The Circle, tonight at IP Casino Resort.
The Circle -- bassist Michael Anthony, guitarist Vic Johnson and drummer Jason Bonham -- showcase the Red Rocker's 40-plus years as a singer/songwriter, playing hits from his '70s hard rock band Montrose to his solo work, such as "I Can't Drive 55." and even a cover or two from Bonham's father John Bonham's band, Led Zeppelin.
The Circle also concentrates on Hagar's body of work with Van Halen.
After wrapping up a tour for the "1984" album in '85, Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth left the band (or was fired, depending on who is telling the story).
Hagar came on board as the band's new lead singer with the release of "5150" in 1986.
The "Van Hagar" era was the band's most successful with four No. 1 albums and numerous hits such as "Dreams," "Right Now" and "Why Can't This Be Love."
Eventually the brothers Van Halen (guitar virtuoso Eddie and drummer Alex) parted ways with Hagar and Roth returned to the fold.
Anthony is one of the founding members of Van Halen. His thumping bass lines and background vocals are part of the band's signature sound.
Hagar and Anthony developed a close friendship during his tenure in Van Halen, and they have been frequent musical collaborators, including their band Chickenfoot with guitarist Joe Satriani and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith.
In an interview with the Sun Herald, Anthony, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, along with Hagar,
in 2007, talked about the importance of keeping the "Van Hagar" legacy alive.
"This is the only way you are going to get to hear these songs," Anthony said. "Of course, Van Halen isn't playing any of the Hagar-era stuff. We've been in the studio rehearsing. We've worked up some additional Van Halen songs such as 'Mine All Mine.' We are going to change the set up a little bit on the next leg of the tour. Playing that stuff is great. I like playing all of it but obviously I like playing the Sammy stuff with Sammy. We're having a great time."
Hagar, who turned 68 on Oct. 13, likes to tour in small increments these days, going out for a few shows at a time as opposed to the hundreds of dates he once played.
"On one hand, it's cool because when you're out on the road, it doesn't take long before you miss home," Anthony said. "But then on the other hand, when you do it like this, the guys really start getting fired up and everything is running smooth and then you're on a break again. It kind of breaks it up. I'd actually rather go out and tour, but Sammy wanted to try it this way this year, so that's what we are doing."
The Circle released their debut album, "At Your Service," in March. "At Your Service" is a live recording of the band doing what they do best: playing the hits of Hagar, Van Halen, Montrose and Zeppelin.
"Having Jason in the band is phenomenal," Anthony said. "Jason actually came to the studio to do a little bit of an audition for Chickenfoot. He was really nervous and trying to play all of the parts like Chad. But now he's playing with us and it's just incredible. I've been fortunate enough to play with Eddie Van Halen and a bunch of people. Jason keeps it fresh and that's great as a musician."