I love interviewing people.
I enjoy asking them about things they’ve done and why they did them or how they did them and hear their stories.
Everyone has a few great stories, and I’ve got a few myself.
I told my reunion story with Garth Brooks at Toby Keith’s Twister Benefit and I mentioned two other music stars I talked to that day.
Both Ronnie Dunn (formerly half of Brooks & Dunn and the one who sings on “My Maria”) and Sammy Hagar (the Red Rocker himself, who also did time in Van Halen in the “Van Hagar” days) and I go way back and I love them both the way you love your mischievous friends.
Ronnie Dunn spent a lot of his life in Tulsa and we both were brought up strict Southern Baptists. We both discovered we had to make a choice between what we wanted to do and what the church wanted us to do and we both chose to leave our respective churches.
But that’s where Ronnie learned to sing.
Actually, that’s where most of the famous music stars from Oklahoma learn to sing — in church. If it’s in any water at all, it must be Holy Water.
I sat in a tiny room with Ronnie and as we talked (me writing furiously, him playing with my recorder) we both watched Garth thrill the sold-out show of 61,000 with his amazing stage presence and those songs.
Neither Ronnie nor I wanted to miss Garth playing a rare Oklahoma show and his very first in Norman.
Ronnie told me he sent two songs he wrote to Sammy Hagar for Sammy’s upcoming duets album, and they did one, “Bad to Ford and Chevrolets.” Ronnie has his own record label now, named after the statue of Willie Nelson he received in Texas for his songwriting talents. (Little Will-E/Warner Bros.). His new album “Kiss You There.”
He’s such a laid back guy that his humor can surprise you and you find yourself laughing as he slyly slides a joke into an answer.
Sammy Hagar now, is all rocker. I’ve had dinner with him and the members of Van Halen when they were on tour (I have the pictures somewhere but there’s the problem of my mistake husband being in them that causes me to want to hurl when I see them).
Before I left the paper, I had a one-on-one interview with Sammy in his dressing room before a sold-out show at an outdoor venue. I walked in to happy chaos. His wife was in there with their baby in a stroller. As Sammy and I sat down, she poured me some of Sammy new (then) Cabo Wabo Tequila in a WINE GLASS and Sammy cheerfully told me to just sip it. I asked where the lemon and salt was and he was shocked. I learned all about good tequila and that it can be sipped just like wine.
It could. It was wonderful.
So I did my interview with a drink in my hand (that’s news to the paper, believe me) and we parted by me giving him one of my husband’s custom guitar picks, and he pulled one out of his guitar to give back.
This time, I walked into another scene of organized chaos, but this time Sammy and his band were singing in full voice. I stood and listened, not recognizing the song but did know his wife and his much bigger daughter, who was in the floor coloring.
Sammy saw me and the singing stopped.
“I’m debuting a song today and we’ve never played it live,” he explained. “I’m terrified.”
The song was Ronnie Dunn’s “Bad on Fords and Chevrolets” which Sammy said he de-countrified before they recorded the duet.
I assured him it sounded great and we sat on a sofa. I reminded him of the last time we met and the glass of tequila, and he laughed and said those days were over.
“I’m getting gout. Can you believe it? Gout? That’s a form of arthritis you know.”
Oh I do know. Before he starting talking about uric acid levels and dietary restrictions, I calmly told him I understood.
“I have RA, lupus, fibromyalgia and my spine looks like a toddler built it,” I wisecracked, but it worked.
We talked about his new album “Sammy Hagar and Friends” due out Sept. 13. He duets “Margaritaville” with Toby Keith, whom he befriended on Toby’s frequent trips to Cabo San Lucas and playing at Sammy club there.
It explained why Sammy was there.
We finished our interview with hugs and kisses (I got kissed on the hand when I arrived and on the cheek when I left).
The new tune is good. It’s got a great hook and is a lot of fun, a lot like Sammy.
Much later in the evening, long after Toby had left the stage and the last firework explosion echo was long gone, I was wrapping up writing my story when a man walked in with a bunch of paper cups.
They were samples of Toby Keith’s brand of Mescal, “Wild Shot.”
Thinking, echoes of old days with Sammy, I snagged a glass. It was like the most tart lemonade you’ll ever have but it was good, and a perfect way to end a memorable day.
And, it gave me some great stories to tell.