Nick LePierre

Nick

Most everybody I know, including myself, prefers Sammy Hagar-era Van Halen, a.k.a. Van Hagar, to the earlier days when David Lee Roth goofed around and spoiled the best American rock band. “Jump” was from the David Lee Roth era, if you’ve missed that video on the VH1. Roth was kinda acrobatic, I’ll give him that.

Of course, recent changes in the Van Halen lineup leave Sammy Hagar without a frontman role too, but his presence in the rock world is as strong as ever. Let’s face it, America: Rock still rolls with Sammy Hagar.

If you have been to a Hagar concert (I have), then you have definitely seen Nick’s handiwork, unless you got, like, really cheap seats or were stuck behind a speaker column. His right hand, extending from stage left and clutching Sammy’s axe, is unmistakable, with its gold watch and “Three Lock Box” tattoo. It could be said, and it has been, by a guy next to me in 1989, that Nick keeps the skids greased for Sammy’s powerful rocket sled of stage pyrotechnics.

Catching up with Nick between bouts of chauffeuring Sammy to contract negotiations, I bought him a slaw dog, and he was kind enough to roll his window down all the way for this interview.

••

So tell me, how did you get your job?

Look, I only have a couple minutes, man. It’s like this: Me and Sammy go way back. The tattoo on my wrist, the one EVERYBODY talks about in Yorba Yorba, is the inspiration for his solo career. When Eddie Van Halen dumped him like a sack of Michael Jackson eight tracks, I was there for him, helped him pick up the pieces and glue them back together like a lamp you break when your old man’s out of town. Basically, Sammy Hagar has no career without me. But I don’t wanna sound conceited, so make sure you emphasize that we are good friends who never fight.

Being a guitar tech ain’t easy, especially when nobody really gives you the attention I deserve. The Humbucker pick-ups get dirty, especially from Sammy’s special way of playing, and need cleaning — I clean ’em. The strap is sweaty after most shows, like after Sammy plays without his shirt. Some documentary I seen on the hotel cable showed these English guys talking about an amp that went up to 11. Yeah, well, we got one of those but I don’t need to get on TV for it, right?

What kinda relish is this anyway? Got a light?

••

Just as Nick asked for a light, two very “talented” blondes approached the limousine.

••

Nick : Hey babes, gotta light? [to me] What’s your name — Jimmy? Get the ladies some slaw dogs, but no relish. Thanks.

Babe 1 : Are you in a band?

Nick : You could say I manage a band.

Jerry : That’s right! He’s Sammy Hagar’s guitar technician [laughs]. Here you go, ladies.

Babe 2 : Cool. Thanks! We gotta go.

Nick : Aw, man, why’d you blow it for me like that? You and I know that without me, Sammy is one of those fancy electric sandwich presses without an electric socket, but most people don’t understand that. You have to build up to it.

••

Nick then cussed me out, but I didn’t transcribe that for one obvious reason: I don’t speak Canadian. Fortunately, the car phone rang and distracted him. I took the opportunity to purchase a beverage of placation: Root Beer.

••

Nick : [Gulps, belches] Lissen, Jimmy. Sammy’s going to lunch with these bigwigs, then I’m supposed to pick him up at the Airedale. Get in the back and wear Sammy’s wig, we’ll pick up some chicks. Help yourself to the bar, too — just don’t drink Hagar’s own CABO WABO tequila, ‘cuz I need it for the tar and bugs, you know.

••

Afterward, Nick drove to a fancy hotel on some famous beach, but not before stopping to pick up strings (natch!) and a six pack of Corona. No limes needed!! You might think I had many more questions for Nick. Here I am, beachside with Hagar’s guitar tech, surrounded by the sunlight, bikinis, surfers — damn straight good times! I have an interview opportunity few could dream of but… I got nervous.

••

Who are some your musical influences?

Guitarists?

What music are you listening to lately?

Dude, I’m Hagar’s tech… I’m his life’s blood. Are you stupid?

I know how to interview! When I get this written you’ll get canned. Sammy doesn’t need you. How about that?!

••

A calm settled over the tiki hut. Waves gently crashed on the beach. Both of us were quiet until we finished our Coronas. My head was spinning.

••

Why don’t you ask me about my nickname or something?!

Sorry. So you are French and the other guys in Van Halen are…

Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy…

••

I think I passed out. I definitely threw up.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Recently on Ink 19...

  • Southern Accents 55
    Southern Accents 55

    A woofin’ good time with cuts from Hank Williams, Muddy Waters, Delta Moon and more from KMRD 96.9, Madrid, New Mexico!

  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
    Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

    Absurdism with a healthy dose of air conditioning.

  • Mixtape 172 :: My Old Bassist
    Mixtape 172 :: My Old Bassist

    Like pre-teens throwing every liquid into the kitchen blender and daring each other to drink the results, Woody and Jeremy fuse all manner of sounds legitimate and profane into some murky concoction that tastes surprisingly good.

  • Demons/Demons 2
    Demons/Demons 2

    Synapse Films reissues Lamberto Bava’s epic ’80s gore-filled movies Demons and Demons 2 in beautiful new editions.

  • Sylvie Courvoisier and Mary Halvorson
    Sylvie Courvoisier and Mary Halvorson

    Searching for the Disappearing Hour (Pyroclastic Records). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • Payal Kapadia
    Payal Kapadia

    Earlier this year, director Payal Kapadia was awarded the Oeil d’or (Golden Eye) for best documentary at the 74th Cannes Film Festival for her debut feature, A Night of Knowing Nothing. Lily and Generoso interviewed Kapadia about her poignant film, which employs a hybrid-fiction technique to provide a personal view of the student protests that engulfed Indian colleges and universities during the previous decade.

  • Roger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella
    Roger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella

    A classic children’s tale re-imagined by America’s greatest composers.

  • Taraka
    Taraka

    Welcome to Paradise Lost (Rage Peace). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • AFI Fest 2021
    AFI Fest 2021

    The 2021 edition of the American Film Institute’s Festival, was a total success. After mounting a small virtual festival in 2020, AFI Fest came roaring back this year with a slate of 115 films representing over fifty countries. Lily and Generoso rank their favorite features from this year’s festival which include new offerings from Céline Sciamma, Miguel Gomes, and Jacques Audiard.

  • Comet Of Any Substance
    Comet Of Any Substance

    Full Of Seeds, Bursting With Its Own Corrections (COAS). Review by Carl F. Gauze.

From the Archives