Rocker Sammy Hagar, left, with his friend, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher.

Rocker Sammy Hagar, left, with his friend, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher. (Courtesy Chris Epting)

Famed rocker Sammy Hagar has been on the road talking about his new, rip-roaring rock 'n' roll memoir, "Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock." He's had a lot of onstage and backstage encounters in his career, but the most bizarre encounter of all may have involved aliens.

The book is a wild and crazy romp that covers all the chapters of "the Red Rocker's" life. There's his time in the hard rock band Montrose; his workmanlike solo career, which culminated in his arena-ready road rage anthem "I Can't Drive 55"; and, of course, his epic run as the front man for Van Halen.

And, as you may have heard lately, there's the section in his book that recounts some strange dreams about UFOs that he had as a youngster.

The 63-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee thinks he may have been "manipulated" in some way by a force not of this Earth, if not abducted by aliens. The story touched off a firestorm of interest, and as luck would have it, I got to chat with Hagar the day after the news broke when he came to town for a book signing at Barnes & Noble at Bella Terra.

He signed a few copies in the green room before heading upstairs to meet about 450 fans, but then took some time to speak with me.

"I believe in God, I believe in aliens — and I believe in Elvis," he said, chuckling, before getting somewhat more serious on the topic. "We're not the only ones, trust me, and those people that think we are, they're the crazy ones — don't call me crazy," Hagar said, grinning, while talking about his belief that the universe is simply too vast not to contain other life forms.

"I also believe God made all of this around us, but that he didn't make just us," he said.

For all of his good-natured craziness and life-of-the-party persona, Hagar is thoughtful when talking about how his childhood dreams may be based in reality. He doesn't make any claims of having seen UFOs or aliens themselves, but he seems to think he was part of something more cerebral or technology-based instead.

As for the specific incident Hagar recounted from his dreams, he said, "They were 14 miles away from me, and we were connected in some kind of way, and either they were downloading or uploading, I don't know. ... It was something that existed between us: me and whatever was communicating with me from out there."

Interestingly, while I was hanging out with Hagar, the singer had a special guest, whom he embraced like a long-lost pal: Rep. Dana Rohrabacher. Seems the two met in 1984 during a Hagar gig at the Forum in Los Angeles and they hit it off famously.

After some more hugs, high fives and additional greetings, Rohrabacher joined the discussion with Hagar and me.

"This guy's a true pal," Hagar said of Rohrabacher. "He works for the right things, he works hard and he cares about people. Plus, he surfs here in one of the coolest cities in the world."

Rohrabacher was equally effusive about his rocker pal.

"Sammy is an incredible American," he said. "He's great with the troops, he loves his country as much as anyone I know and he's a proud American. He rocks."

I didn't get a chance to ask the congressman his thoughts on ETs — after all, there was a big crowd upstairs, and in another moment, it was time for all of us to head up. But next election cycle, maybe he can talk Sammy into playing a charity gig here in town for the Huntington Beach 3/1 Marines Foundation.

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Student competition is back

Last year, I started the first annual In The Pipeline student journalism competition, and it's time again for entries. If you're a Huntington Beach or Fountain Valley high school student, e-mail me a story about a person, place or thing in your city that you'd like us to know about — reveal something special in 500 words or less using interviews, photography or whatever it takes to bring your story to life. Deadline is April 30 and the winner will be featured in this column, receive a signed copy of one of my books and appear with me on PBS SoCal during an edition of "Real Orange."

I'm trying to arrange another surprise as well — details on that later. Good luck! Any questions, write to chris@chrisepting.com (which is where the entries get sent to as well).

CHRIS EPTING is the author of 18 books, including the new "Hello, It's Me: Dispatches from a Pop Culture Junkie." You can write him at chris@chrisepting.com.