How Sammy Hagar Inspired Tommy Shaw to Quit Styx
It was June 1983 and Hagar was on the bill for the annual Texxas Jam, a two day festival that saw the same lineup of acts perform on back-to-back nights in Dallas and Houston. Styx, who had just released their Kilroy Was Here album, served as headliner. Hagar performed right before them.
“Styx was promoting the Mr. Roboto tour and they had Mr. Roboto. He was out there with them, a little cartoon character,” the Red Rocker recalled during a recent appearance on the Literally! With Rob Lowe podcast.
Unbeknownst to Hagar at the time, Kilroy Was Here had already driven a wedge between the members of Styx. Shaw was not a fan of the rock opera and instead wanted to focus on hard-hitting tunes. Then he watched as Hagar delivered a virtuoso rock god performance during night one of the Texxas Jam.
“I had these cars on stage, I had a Trans Am and it blew up and I jumped off it. And I went up this balcony, up the stairs. I ran around the lights. I had all this production," Hagar recalled. “We went out and just killed it.”
Things got even wilder when Ted Nugent, who appeared earlier on the bill, joined Hagar for his encore.
“I came back with Ted Nugent, played ‘Whole Lotta Love.’ And he jumped off of a double stack of Marshalls. I mean, I'm talking about damn near thirty feet," Hagar remembered. “I lit a guitar on fire, smashed it. We had blow up amplifiers, fake ones. Threw my guitar into the amplifier, it blew up.”
According to Hagar, his ferocious performance dwarfed Styx’s, whose futuristic rock opera – which, he claimed, included Dennis DeYoung saying “Hi kids, I want to introduce you to Mr. Roboto” – seemed much tamer by comparison.
“I mean, ‘Mr. Roboto’ was exit music,” Hagar noted. “That show was over.”
After watching Hagar’s emphatic set, Shaw sought out the Red Rocker the following night.
“[Shaw] comes into my dressing room and said, ‘Dude, I just want to tell you, you just did me the biggest favor in the world,’” Hagar recalled. “He said, ‘I just quit the band. This is my last show with this band.’ He said, ‘I just want to do what you do.’”
READ MORE: Top 10 Tommy Shaw Styx Songs
Shaw ended up finishing the tour with Styx, which concluded that October. He then departed to pursue a solo career before later joining Nugent in Damn Yankees. Shaw returned to Styx 1995 and has remained with the group ever since.
“So Tommy, I helped him out,” Hagar declared, looking back at how everything transpired. “I helped a brother out.”
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Gallery Credit: Matthew Wilkening