Here’s a very unique story from VHND reader, Doug Lyle.
This past Sunday, Sept 5th, I was at the 145th annual Scottish Gathering & Games in Pleasanton, California. What does this story have to do with David Lee Roth and Van Halen? Stay tuned and I’ll tell you.
For those that don’t know, the annual Scottish Gathering & Games include pipe band competitions and performances, Highland Dancing competitions, athletics (Heavy Events), Scottish food and drink, vendors of Scottish mementos, and audience members dressed in kilts and traditional clothing. I was there with my dad, wife, and my 20 month old son. We were there to see some of the Heavy Events and also to show off my son’s new kilt that my mom had made. After walking around for a while we decided to go see some of the Sheepdog trials and also take a look at the Clydesdale horses.
As I walked by the Sheepdog trial area I see four guys sitting in those little fold up chairs. The place is mostly empty because the Sheepdog trials start at 1pm but it’s only around noon. As we walk by the four guys I notice a voice. Surprisingly, this voice sounds familiar. It’s a voice that, as soon as I heard it, instantly brought back countless great memories: Parties. High School. Girls. The best Rock ‘n’ Roll I’ve ever heard. It’s a voice that makes me smile inside when I hear it. It sounds just like the voice of David Lee Roth.
I thought, “That’s strange, one of those guys over there sounds exactly like David Lee Roth.” But then I realized that no one sounds just like Dave! Only Dave.
So I turn and look at to see what the guy looks like. Sure enough, he looks like Dave, too. He has a dark goatee and is wearing a hat, sunglasses, cargo pants, a San Francisco Caledonian Club tee shirt, and what look like wool socks. I find this interesting because it’s ninety something degrees out. Sitting next to the chairs is a dog so I assume these guys are competing in the Sheepdog trials. This guy that looks like Dave is clearly in great shape as I can see the veins in his neck and arms. He must have like zero body fat. I usually wouldn’t remember so many details but I’m checking this guy out pretty closely to see if it really is the one and only Diamond Dave.
As we walk away I tell my wife that I think I just saw David Lee Roth. She saw him too but says there’s no way he would be here at the Scottish games, let alone a Sheep herding competition! I’m always saying how people I see look like certain celebrities and she assumes it’s just me doing that again. We walk away and move on to see the Clydesdale horses and other events. It’s killing me because I know it’s him.
A couple of hours go by and I’m still thinking about the guy that looks like Dave. We’re just about to leave and I’m thinking I can’t leave until I know for sure. Suddenly it hits me….they had a board with all the names of all the dogs and their owners. I decided to run back and take a look. I had my doubts because even if it was Dave he’d probably use an alias. As I look on the whiteboard I instantly see something down at the bottom that catches my eye…. “Dave Roth.” My heart stopped. It can’t be!
I look over and he’s still in the same chair. I go over and stand in front of the Dodge truck that they four guys are sitting next to. In my mind I’m thinking this can’t be real. I’m getting nervous because I have to do something.
While I’m standing there I can hear the guy talking with the other three guys about the dogs and their owners who are competing. “Call your Dog” he says. “You need to call your dog.” Right after he says that the person in the ring calls their dog. Wow, this guys knows his sheepdog stuff. While he’s talking I’m even more convinced that it really is DLR. I take my camera out.. maybe I’ll sneak a picture of him. I don’t want to sneak a picture….he’d probably see me anyway. I keep turning to look at him. By now he must be aware that I’m just on the other side of the truck, only 6 feet away. I’m thinking that this just can’t really be happening. If it were Dave wouldn’t he be surrounded by a ton of fans?
I’ve now lingered for a few minutes so I decide I have to find out for sure if it is him. I turn to my left and I walk a couple steps towards the men in the chairs. I say, “Excuse me is your name Dave?” The man replies, “Yes it is.” “Holy crap!” I’m thinking! I then ask him, “Is it David Lee Roth?” and he says, “Well, yes it is.” I couldn’t believe it! How was he not being mobbed by a thousand people? How could it be that I’m the only one that recognizes him?
I asked him a couple more questions. He asks where I’m from. I tell him I’m from Morgan Hill, about 45 minutes south of Pleasanton. I also tell him I knew it was him from his voice and he says, “Ah yes, the rusty pipes.” I tell him how I grew up listening to him and Van Halen and that it killed me living so many years with false hopes of him getting back with Van Halen. I then asked him if he was still with VH and if they were doing anything more. He gave me a knowing smile and said, “You’ll be hearing from us in the next 7-8 months”. He seemed very sincere… almost like it was a promise.
I said something about how much it meant to me that they toured a couple years ago and that Van Halen was the soundtrack to my youth. He seemed to genuinely appreciate what I was telling him and he said something like, “It’s nice of you to say that… I appreciate hearing things like that.”
I said that I didn’t want to take too much of his time but asked him if he would mind taking a picture with me. Dave asked the guy sitting next to him to take the picture. Dave stood up and I stood next to him. I got my camera back and thanked Dave for the picture. He asked me to double check that the picture came out okay. I turned the camera back on and looked at the picture. I told Dave that it looked great although it looked like a mug shot of me. I shook his hand and thanked him and walked away.
As I walked away I was giddy. I couldn’t believe it! I just met THE David Lee Roth! And he was very nice to me. I was amazed at how good he looked. I thought he would have been a little taller though. I’m 5’11″ and he looks a little shorter than me. I wanted to scream and tell everybody. How could all these people not know he was there????
I left the event with a huge smile on my face. As we drove home I could not think of anything but what had just happened. I tell my dad that DLR is the equivalent to Paul McCartney of my generation. That may be a stretch to some, but not to me. My wife tried talking to me in the car but I had to tell her that I just couldn’t focus on anything else as I was still in a blur from what had just happened.
It’s weird meeting someone as big and famous as Dave. I wanted to respect his privacy so I only talked to him for a short while. There were so many more things I could have said and asked. What was his personal favorite song? How did he get in to Sheepdog herding? I also wish I could have told him a little more about what it meant to me having VH get back together with Dave.
When I think of my past, the soundtrack playing is Van Halen. I can remember a ninth grade canoe trip that my math teacher Mr. Myers took me and three other students on. For some reason he was letting the ninth grade students drive his old beat up Buick station wagon. I vividly remember cruising down the back roads near the American River near Sacramento with Van Halen Diver Down blaring on the cassette player. The only interruption was the occasional command to slow down from Mr. Myers. When I was in high school my best friend and I wore out his cassette of 1984. I’m very thankful that I had the luck to meet David Lee Roth. Dave getting back with Van Halen was like a link to my past had just been reestablished. That’s a pretty cool feeling.
I can’t help but wonder if maybe I’ll see him again next year with Van Halen on tour. Thank you, Dave!