You can hear one minute of David Lee Roth sounding absolutely fantastic on a cover of “Mustang Sally” in the teaser video for The Roth Show below. The video was shot recently in his Pasadena home. We would love to hear the entire song some day! (The R&B song was written and first recorded by Mack Rice in 1965, named by Aretha Franklin, and gained greater popularity when Wilson Pickett covered it the following year).
Speaking of Wilson Pickett, did you know that VAN HALEN recorded their own version of a Wilson Pickett song?! In 1982, Ted Templeman and Roth planned for the band to release their own cover of Pickett’s “In the Midnight Hour” on Diver Down, but Eddie put up a vehement protest, and the song was never recorded for that album. It was reportedly played live on the Diver Down tour at least once, though no known recordings exist.
The next year, as the band began recorded 1984, Roth And Templeman again tried to get the band to record the song. This time, they succeeded. A little known fact—”In the Midnight Hour” was the very first song ever recorded in 5150 studios. This recording remains unreleased. (Eddie usually tells people that “Jump” was the first song recorded there, but that’s probably because it’s the first known song from those early sessions).
“I’d rather fail with my own shit than succeed with someone else’s,” became the guitarist’s new mantra.
So instead, the very first sessions at 5150—that we ended up actually hearing—produced the #1 song “Jump,” a song that in raw form had already been rejected for Diver Down for one simple reason—Eddie played keyboards instead of guitar. “Eddie wrote this thing in synthesizer,” Templeman told Billboard. “I really hadn’t heard it for a long time, then he laid it down one night in the studio. It just killed me. It was perfect.”
“We had intentionally stayed away from keyboards until then,” Roth told Classic Rock, “because what instruments you used indicated which neighborhood you were part of. At the time it seemed important.”
Will the band ever release their cover of “In the Midnight Hour?” We think it’s unlikely. For some reason, they don’t yet seem to be interested in releasing any recording’s that have been shelved, unfortunately. Hopefully some day they’ll consider releasing stuff like this.
Listen to David Lee Roth’s cover of “Mustang Sally”: