David Lee Roth is one of the most recognizable faces in rock and roll from the 1970s through the 1990s. He’s most famous as the lead singer for Van Halen. And after they disband in 1984, he continues on with a very successful solo career. While fans loved a lot of his solo music, they always not-so-secretly hoped for a Van Halen reunion. That happened in 2007, spawning their most successful tour ever.
In this video, we’re going to look at David Lee Roth’s career, both in and out of Van Halen. And what leads to his recent retirement announcement. Be sure to watch until the end to hear what you can expect at his final shows. And don’t forget to like this video and subscribe to the Facts Verse channel, so don’t miss our upcoming videos.
To the shock of many long-time fans, David Lee Roth recently announced that he’ll be retiring from the music business. The former Van Halen frontman drops the news in a recent interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He says he’s “throwing in the shoes” after his upcoming Vegas concerts.
In the interview, Roth said it was the first and only official word on his retirement. “You’ve got the news. Share it with the world,” he told them. He isn’t going to provide any further explanation. The five shows in his schedule at the House of Blues in December and January will be his last.
Roth didn’t provide a reason for retiring now. His announcement is exactly a year after his former bandmate Eddie Van Halen dies from cancer. In the interview, Roth says he’s contemplating Eddie’s death recently. He is feeling compelled to come to grips with how little time he leaves himself.
He says that he thinks he will be the first of the original Van Halen lineup to go. His doctors have been telling him to consider the effect his stage appearances have on his future for some time.
Though he’s retiring, David isn’t letting his fans down and plans to bring his A-game to the final shows. He says that when he’s in the audience, all he asks is that the performer gives it everything they get. That’s what he’s tried to do for the last 50 years.
Strangely, Roth seems to have predicted his own retirement 30 years early, almost to the day. In the video for his 1991 solo hit A Little Ain’t Enough, he looks into a crystal ball to see his own future.
He sees a billboard that says “Diamond Dave and THE ABSOLUTE FINAL TOUR”. A Delorean-type vehicle pulls up, and an overweight, aged Roth steps out. The date October 10, 2021, flashes across the screen while paparazzi decked out in spacesuits swarm the singer.
If Roth waits a few more days to announce he’s retiring, it lands on the date in that video. It makes you wonder why he wouldn’t have done exactly that. Did he not remember that scene in the video, or did he choose to announce it a few days early? He’s still in great shape, not the aged, overweight version of himself in the video, so maybe he figured that was different enough.
David Lee Roth’s Career Arc
David is singing solo and with an R&B group, the Red Ball Jets when he’s in his late teens. Another LA-based group called Mammoth rented the Red Ball Jets’ PA system for their shows occasionally. You’ll no doubt recognize the names of two of the members of Mammoth – Eddie and Alex Van Halen.
At that time, Eddie is singing as well as playing the lead guitar. After a couple of failed auditions, David Lee Roth joins the band as the lead singer. It was Roth that suggested the band change its name to Van Halen, and the rest is history.
The band became a regular highlight on the Sunset Strip at clubs like Whisky a Go Go and Gazzarri’s. In 1976, Gene Simmons noticed the band, thinking he might recruit Eddie Van Halen for his own band, KISS. He helps Van Halen produce a demo tape, which features many songs that end up on their first album.
Van Halen released its debut album in 1978 and immediately started getting some major attention. They toured with Journey and Montrose for the first few months, followed by several months opening for Black Sabbath. Needless to say, Van Halen stole the show every night. That first album reaches number 19 on the Billboard 200. Eventually, it certifies Diamond by the RIAA, after selling more than 12 million copies.
Over the next five years, Van Halen recorded five more albums, culminating with the album 1984. This album produced some of their most famous hits, including Jump and Panama. But by this time, there was a lot of conflict between David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen.
Roth has always been a flamboyant frontman who did everything he could to “sell” the band. He wanted to boost their popularity by playing original or even cover songs about partying, dancing, and women, while Eddie was more interested in deeper, darker tones. This conflict is most apparent in the difference between two of the classic Van Halen albums of that era. Fair Warning was “Eddie’s” album, with darker, heavier songs, while Diver Down was “Dave’s” album, which featured lighter songs and even a cover of Dancing in the Street.
Even though the conflict led to Roth parting ways with Van Halen in 1984, Alex Van Halen always credited that conflict for the band’s success. According to Alex, Dave was a performer — more vaudeville than musician. He was into disco and dance music, while the rest of the band was into Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and other rock acts. The combination ultimately ended the band’s first run with Roth, but it also added the pop vibe that made so many of their songs the huge hits they were.
After parting ways with Van Halen in 1984, David Lee Roth wanted to get a solo recording out as quickly as possible. In early 1985, Roth released Crazy from the Heat. The EP featured four cover songs that had a distinctly different vibe from the work he had done with Van Halen. His cover of the Beach Boys’ California Girls reached number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, matching the original version from 20 years earlier.
Following the EP’s release, Roth put together a new band featuring Steve Vai on guitar, Billy Sheehan on bass, and Gregg Bissonette on drums. This “supergroup” worked with Van Halen’s original producer Ted Templeman to release Roth’s debut solo album Eat ‘Em and Smile. While most of the album was a return to Roth’s hard rock roots with Van Halen, it also included some of his more eclectic tastes with a jazz cover of Frank Sinatra’s That’s Life and the bluesier 1960s hit Tobacco Road.
Over the next several years, Roth released three more solo albums, but by 1994, grunge had taken hold of the music industry, and his 1994 release Your Filthy Little Mouth failed to achieve even Gold status. The following year, Roth returned with a lounge act that mostly played in Las Vegas casinos. The act included a brass band and several exotic dancers. He released another solo album — DLR Band — in 1998, another hard-rocking album full of new material. But once again, it failed to match the success of his earlier work.
Roth had a short-lived reunion with Van Halen in 1996 when he recorded two new songs with them for their first greatest hits album. He even appeared alongside the rest of the band at the 1996 MTV Music Video Awards, but he and Eddie reportedly couldn’t get along well enough to make the reunion stick. At least not for another decade or so.
In January 2007, it was announced that David Lee Roth was rejoining Van Halen for a major tour. The tour launched in September of the same year, and at the press conference held to announce the tour, Eddie Van Halen said that he and Roth were like brothers now. They called Van Halen a “real band” and said there was a good possibility of a new album and future tours.
The promise of a new album came true in 2012 with the release of A Different Kind of Truth. The album featured several songs that had been reworked from songs the band had originally demoed in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was heralded as a return to form for Van Halen and spawned a worldwide tour, the eighth-most lucrative concert tour of the year.
In spite of having said they were like brothers, Eddie later revealed that he and Roth didn’t want to be friends. They had very different outlooks on life, and while they continued to work well together, those differences made it hard to connect.
Eddie Van Halen’s death in October 2020 put an end to the hopes of another tour with Van Halen. And now Roth’s announcement of his pending retirement means the end of his solo career as well. But fans have something to look forward to in his upcoming shows. While nothing has been announced, there’s a good chance that Alex Van Halen could join Dave on stage. And you never know, maybe Eddie’s son Wolfgang and Van Halen’s original bassist Michael Anthony could put in an appearance to get as close to the original Van Halen lineup as possible for one final show.