David Lee Roth: “Van Halen Transcends Music”

The following David Lee Roth quotes were taken from a 1997 interview that Roth did with Frank Meyer from the now-defunct POPsmear magazine. Photographs by Robert Yager.

“This band has been at each others throats since before the beginning. Once upon a time, no even before that. And out of this conflict comes marvelous, competitive, flame throwing, hallelujah, dump truck size, Bubba’s hot barbecue, Watusi couple number two to the dance floor please. When classic Van Halen is together it’s like one person. When I say ‘I’ in this respect, I mean my whole cadre that I am part of. I’m the tear boss, and I’m a fuckin’ lifer.”

“When I was in classic Van Halen, I was in charge of propaganda. Beautiful thing, all the photos, the rumors, the stage shows, the T-shirts, and on and on.”

“I am a team player. Spiritually, critically, I am. I love the responsibility that is labeled onto me because of that, and I love to be able to depend on it, ya know. For me it’s not the Dave Roth show.”

“In America, we believe big time in publicizing the shit out of ‘we ain’t talkin’.’ First we make goddamn sure that everybody knows we ain’t saying anything.”

“There’s only one David Lee. I’m the fun in Van Halen, always will be. My belligerent enthusiasm is as optimistic as ever. I’m an optimist. When I go fishin’, I take a Nikon and a frying pan.”

“It is purely magical to be part of a dynasty. Van Halen, to many people, is equal to what Mick and Keith may be to some people. Page and Plant. Lennon and McCartney. There comes a point in your career if you make it past the requisite three to six years, which if you think about it, Beatles, six years and gone. Hendrix, six and a half, gone. And on and on. There comes a point, if you’re lucky, where you enter a pantheon of heroes where you’re known for what you’ve done, not what you’re doing now, or what you’re going to do in the future. If Beethoven were cryogenically brought back into the market place tomorrow, what would we all want to hear, ‘da-da-da-da’ (Beethoven’s 5th)! When the Three Tenors get together and they surf every wild vocal wave operatically throughout history that you could imagine and then some, what’s the encore? ‘O Solo Mio!’ Ha Ha! When you go to the Stones, what do you want to hear? Play me ‘Brown Sugar’ and I’ll go get a T-shirt. That’s Van Halen. And that is part and parcel of when what you do as an entity transcends just music.”

  • Mitch Garrett

    I remember Dave did list Aerosmith in his “eight awesome bands” schtick way back when… can’t really remember the others any more (beyond VH, of course), but he noted that every year or two those bands would put out new albums, “… and there is much rejoicing. And in between, we have stuff like Quiet Riot.”

  • GDO’G55

    i hope they really do make a new album om only 15 and im dying to hear some new Van Halen with Diamond Dave

  • =VH=OZ MAN

    ENUFF SAID!!! Diamond Dave just said what Van Halen is all about, something Sammy never did, could and is still trying to gather. Why? Because like King Eddie said, he was always a solo artist! David Lee Roth is as much of Van Halen as King Edward Van Halen. Enuff Said!!

  • Foot (winning)

    Would be cool if Dave did some solo material with VH like Sammy did back in the day. Can you imagine hearing Van Halen playing Damn Good, Tobacco Road, or Living in Paradise? I doubt it would happen, but that would be neat on tour.

  • Roth_Leaps_83

    I’d probably break down and sob like a baby if VH actually performed “Damn Good”……with Dave and Ed sitting on stools at the front of the stage……slideshow of old Van Halen photos playing beind them on the big screen……tear-jerker moment, people.

    “Who’s that standing there in the corner — not me! Ahhhh, the crazy things we used to do”

  • Matt L.

    Keep in mind the “sheep dog” story was in September. 8 mo. would put us in may. 6-8 weeks to record a fast album, songs picked, lyrics written. Mr. shanks tweeted in january for the starting line. Average recording is basic track, drums, bass, guitar, then vocals. overdubs then mixing. Depending on how quickly the record co. can crank out discs, it could be in our ears and stereos by 6/1. Of course,”hearing from us” could simply be a new picture on the web site as a tease. T-minus 40 days and counting….

  • Kayser Sozay

    Hell Leaps I’d probably break down and die if VH actually put out some new music.

  • Phil

    Roth rules. After another album and tour with VH, he can replace Charlie Sheen (who?). Dave Roth doesn’t do push-ups, he pushes the world down.

  • jeremy

    I never get bored reading interviews with DLR, and I’ve been reading them since the 1970s. DLR is the Vaudeville side of Van Halen and Eddie is the musician-virtuosu side. Together it is magic. Too bad they don’t like eachother.

  • Panama Red

    Oh wow man, the thought of VH doing some Dave solo tunes is very cool. They played some Sammy solo tunes when Hagar was in the band so why not?
    I agree about “Damn Good” that would be very memorable and if someone asked me if I was crying I would have to say – No, I just have something in both of my eyes 🙂
    It would be even More meaningful if Mike was there too or if they did the slide show thing like Roth_Leaps_83 said, then I would just go ahead and admit to crying in front of everyone, I wouldn’t care. LOL!!
    Like Foot mentioned, hearing VH play Dave’s version of Tobacco Road would be very cool too.
    Also, how cool would it be to hear Ed and Dave together playing – Sensible Shoes, Yankee Rose, and Shyboy. It seems only fair after VH playing – There’s Only One Way To Rock, I Can’t Drive 55, Heavy Metal and Rock Candy – all songs I love too.
    Wow, we’ve never heard Eddie play Dave solo stuff, that would be VERY cool.
    One of my all time DLR solo songs is Black Sand but they probably wouldn’t opt to play that one, they’d probably stick with the more high octane songs, which would be cool enough.
    But “Damn Good” they need to do that one, that would be amazing. I’m listening to it right now for the second time in a row…outstanding. I had to put it on after it was mentioned here.

  • freddiegirl

    I’d love to hear VH do Damn Good and anything of of EEAS really. Could you imagine Ladies Night in Buffalo with Ed’s guitar? Big, stomping, awesome groove!

  • Sparks on the Horizon!!

    Just as they have jammed on partial covers in the middle of their own songs, they could do something cool like slip a bit of “She’s My Machine” in the middle of “Panama” or something like that. I could also hear them doing “I Made up My Mind” off of Diamond Dave. This is a band so rich in talent and history that they really should pull out the kind of surprises we’re all talking about here and really mix things up from show to show. I’ve noticed they don’t deviate much from their set list from tour beginning to tour end. But, yeah, I’d love to see VH tip his hat to solo DLR.

  • TMH

    Fonso, I love that movie… Lemmy makes a cameo too.
    what other VH references in movies?
    ” get out of my Van Halen t-shirt before you jinx the band and they break up ! “

  • hikerman


  • Dooley

    “Damn Good” IS damn good…nah, check that. I’d say GREAT!!

    Much better than “Yankee Rose”, “Just a Giggolo” or anything from “Strummin’ With the Devil”…

    As a fan, with Roth, I gotta be selective. I’m the same with Hagar. yeah, I’m a proud Red-Head. But it comes with the knowledge I gotta wade thru the cheese and sap sometimes. And the knowledge that he wrote “I’ve Done Everything For You”…that piece of bubblegum that was such a big hit for that rock n roll titan Rick Springfield.

  • Rack of What?

    Glory Days….well, they’ll pass you by, glory days……

    Hurry up and get an album out boys, some of the people on this website need some new music to listen to. Sounds like some of their catalogs consist of ten albums, period..

    Aerosmith sucks
    Sammy sucks

    Did somebody say Aerosmith had TWO good albums? Two?? And, did somebody say Tyler on Idol is not helping? Think again. He’s on national tv every week. He’s already mentioned many times that nobody’s doing rock n roll anymore. Aerosmiths’ albums are increasing in sales. How is any of that negative? Or, are you guys just way too partisan toward Roth and Eddie to accept greatness in anybody else? Tyler is great. Sammy is great. Period.

  • jeff adams

    Yankee Rose would be a cool song to throw in. I always loved Romeo Delight live “I forgot the fuck’in words man” classic Dave.

  • Dooley

    If you’re a singer, it’s always good to remember the lyrics.

    Unless you’re Dave.

  • 51504VH

    Cool pictures of Dave and Ed. I agree that “Good Times” should totally be played in concert. It was a great song and of course about the Mighty Van Halen. It would be soo awesome to have classic pictures of Van Halen being showed on the big screens while they are performing the song.

    Can’t wait for the new Van Halen album!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • jeff adams

    Ditto Dooley, unless your Dave.

  • LegalBevo

    One, I love Dave’s description of his era of Van Halen: “classic Van Halen.” No attempt to knock or belittle the Sammy era by calling it “Van Hagar” or whatever, just a simple and accurate title. It reminds me of Coca Cola, which eventually returned to and embraced its “Classic” formula. (That said, I liked Sammy-era but despised “New Coke”).
    Two: Does anyone know what Dave’s IQ is? I have to imagine given his incredibly descriptive style that it is very, very high.

  • phillster

    Dave once said in an interview that “Good Times” was about ANY relationship you can look back fondly on;it wasn`t just about him &=VH=.
    Sammy`s “Little White lies” though,was an intentional jab directed at the =VH= bros.

  • Scott

    One of my favorite Dave quotes discribing Sammy in Van Halen was a really hot beautiful girl with rotten teeth.


    LegalBevo: “Does anyone know what Dave’s IQ is? I have to imagine given his incredibly descriptive style that it is very, very high.”

    It probably depends on how very very high Dave is at any given moment…

    Dave reads a LOT and it shows. In his book he said he loves to read – he’ll read the back of a cereal box. Which is strange for a kid who couldn’t sit still. He also said he has always loved history. Regardless of education and schooling, if someone likes to read, they can usually express themselves well.


    Panama Red:

    Yes Black Sand is awesome – surely one of the best Dave solo songs and great guitar work on that one. If anyone hasn’t heard it yet, YouTube it.



    You might want to check out “David Lee Roth – Australian Interview (1988)” on YouTube. Another example of Dave expressing himself well and he talks a little about reading. Read an interview with Dave in Circus Magazine and then another one in Playboy and it sounds like totally different guys – depends on his audience.

  • littledrearmer

    Brad Pitt as DLR in the Motley Crew film with Ashton Kutcher.

    This is a quote from the writer:
    “He told me who he’d love to see in the film. Here’s who he sees: Brad Pitt as David Lee Roth, Jared Leto as Vince Neil, Jack Black or Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Ozzy Osbourne … Justin Timberlake as their first manager, Sam Rockwell as Mick Mars, Ashton Kutcher or Russell Brand as Tommy Lee. He’s got it all thought out. That would be amazing.”

  • Anthony

    What show was that pic from and what song I don’t remember seeing Ed play that guitar when I last saw them.

  • http://www.none.com bytebull

    “We ain’t talkin” … that’s pro. Keeps everyone speculating and “TALKING” about Van Halen. If they said, “we are in the studio making a new album” there are no rumors and everyone speculating and asking questions. Everyone would just be whining “WHEN???”.

    They are pro’s when it comes to this.