David Lee Roth gave the Brisbane Times a surprisingly open and honest interview about his past and his relationship with his parents. He also discusses sex and love and his new relationship with a Japanese girl:
What I Know About Women
David Lee Roth
Singer, in a relationship, 58
I grew up playing outdoors in Bloomington, Indiana. It’s near the Kentucky border, a corn and cattle area. I loved film and the radio. My mother [Sibyl] always encouraged me to embrace the arts. In fact, she always made sure my sisters and I would be outside if there was a hurricane – she would tell us to pretend we were on a pirate ship. When it snowed, she told us to pretend we were eskimos.
My mom was class valedictorian. She was belle of the ball. She went to big-band concerts in Chicago, where she is originally from. Her father was a general surgeon. She became an art teacher, she taught Spanish and came from an academic background. My time spent with her was being taken to every free opening of a museum, every dress rehearsal for West Side Story.
I had no interaction with my dad [Nathan] because he was a serious academic, though he would take me to the movies when I was young. I remember my parents always fighting. They fought even before they were married. Mom told me I was an accident.
My mom fell off a horse when I was in 9th or 10th grade, going over a small jump, and she was in hospital for a year. When she came out, she was a different person and that added fuel to an already smouldering antagonism in her marriage with my dad. I learnt when it’s over, it’s over.
Coming from a supremely dysfunctional family, I can see why I am the way I am. I spiritually left the family home at 12, but moved out with Dad when I was 17. That’s when my parents officially split. My two sisters, Lisa and Allison, remained with Mom. I am still close to my sisters and love them dearly.
I would sit outside a girl called Laurie’s house when I was in fourth grade and wait there for hours in the hope of being noticed. I had a big crush on her. I was attending Altadena Elementary School [near Los Angeles] at the time. I would put Brylcreem in my hair and wear desert boots and hold my skateboard. She must have been terrified, having someone stalk her like that!
My first kiss was the one by which all others will be judged, at least from a guy’s standpoint. It was with a skinny blonde girl called Janine Scott. I shovelled shit behind a stable for a wage as a kid and she was one of the rich kids. We made out behind the stables. I was 13. We were barely teenagers, but there was a lot of Shakespeare going on.
The first girl I slept with was 18 and I was 14. We were at Club Med in Tahiti. It was our first family vacation. I had sex with one of the Tahitian dishwashing girls, named Elaine. It was the first time I saw bikinis, Europeans and was exposed to an international crowd. We ended up together under a full moon on the beach. We fumbled and struggled and she could barely speak English, but she kept saying: “I like it, I like it.” I kept thinking, “You’re supposed to love it.”
I had so many options when it came to women for 20 years, being in a popular band [Roth is the singer of hard rock band Van Halen]. I slept with every pretty girl with two legs in her pants. I even slept with an amputee. Having rounded those bases, I value a woman who gives you room for flexibility and I love women who are clear thinkers.
I have had four great loves in my life, but have never been married or even come close. Those women are now all married and we’re still good friends. I won’t name anybody as they all have spouses and private lives, but the lines on my forehead are named after them.
Women love to have a good time and love a sense of humour. I love their sarcasm and ability to have a conversation, but they are like horses, you can’t generalise about them and the same goes for men. Women, like men, get better with age.
I live in Tokyo and hang out with a girl half my age and it’s no longer a legal issue [laughs]. It was not an impulsive move to come here. We are in love and my girlfriend is Japanese. As far as getting married now, I still don’t think it’s for me. I have issues, which stem from my past. I am a wanderer; I was sent to my first shrink when I was six because my parents thought I had autism. They were wrong. The Roth side of the family always settled down later in life.
In my business, “Hope” and “Faith” are strippers from Albuquerque. Who knows what the future holds for me in this department. I am quite happy in my current relationship.
Van Halen performs at the Stone Music Festival, April 20-21, at ANZ Stadium, Sydney.