Sammy Hagar recalls exposing his genitals onstage while supporting Kiss in 1977: "I pulled my pants down, shook it at them and then smashed my guitar to bits"

Sammy Hagar and Kiss' Gene Simmons
(Image credit: Bryan Steffy/Getty Images for Keep Memory Alive, John Ricard/FilmMagic))

Sammy Hagar has reflected on an on-stage meltdown in 1977 which saw him expose his genitals to an angry Kiss crowd.

Playing at a sold-out Madison Square Garden in New York on February 18, 1977 after being invited to open for Kiss on 10 dates of their Rock And Roll Over tour, the Red Rocker found himself losing his temper after being booed by an audience who apparently didn't know who he was.

During a recent discussion on the That Rocks! channel, the musician explains how he now views it as a "beautiful" moment, and elaborates on why it happened.

"It was beautiful in its own way because it gave me drive", Hagar says. "It made me angry, and I said that fucking shit is never going to happen again."

As the musician explains, his booking on the bill hadn't been promoted, so no one at the show knew he'd even be playing, resulting in a very confused and disgruntled crowd of Kiss fans.

"They didn't really know I was going to be on the show," he explains. "So when the guy came out to announce it, I'm standing on the side of the stage, I'm pumped and the guy goes, 'Ladies and gentleman please welcome Sammy Hagar!' And the fucking place started booing! They didn't even know who the fuck I was.

"I tried to give it up, I fucking worked them hard with the two rock songs," he adds, explaining how he tried to impress the audience. "And then I went to the ballad - in those days you did two heavies and then you did your ballad, which was usually your hit - and oh, man they went off."

Speaking of the moment where he eventually exposed his private parts, Hagar says: "I just stopped the song and said, 'I'm so glad they flew in a special audience from Los Angeles for me. Then I pulled my pants down, fucking shook it at them and then smashed my guitar to bits and walked off the stage saying, 'Fuck you.'

"That was a '61 Strat. I believe that thing would be worth half a million bucks probably, but I smashed it to pieces, that's how pissed off I got."

After leaving the stage, Hagar was met by the stunned reactions of headliners Kiss and legendary promoter Bill Graham. He continues: "[Graham has] got his hands in his face, he didn't know what to say, he was speechless. And Paul Stanley's going 'Sammy! Oh, my God, you can't fucking do that, man.' They were freaking out, the Kiss guys, and I said, Fuck it. 

"I told my manager I'm not doing one more show ever with those guys again. And I never have. I've went to see them because we're friends, but I wouldn't ever try to open for them again."

Hagar then proposes that the pair of bands redo the night at the same venue, albeit with no genital-waving tantrums this time.

"Honestly, right now I would, that would be the coolest thing in the world," he concludes. "But only for that one reason, let's go to Madison Square Garden and I'll open for you. Let's have another crack at this!".

In his autobiography, Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock, Hagar previously described the meltdown as "the worst experience I ever had onstage". 

"It ruined me in New York" he stated. "They didn’t even know who I was. They hated me before they heard me.”

Hagar left the tour after the first night, but now looks back on the moment and laughs. "It’s funny now, but at the time, when you’re faced with that kind of rejection, it can be heartbreaking", he said in the book.

Listen to the interview below:

Liz Scarlett

Liz works on keeping the Louder sites up to date with the latest news from the world of rock and metal. Prior to joining Louder as a full time staff writer, she completed a Diploma with the National Council for the Training of Journalists and received a First Class Honours Degree in Popular Music Journalism. She enjoys writing about anything from neo-glam rock to stoner, doom and progressive metal, and loves celebrating women in music.