It’s the end of an era! David Letterman ended his incredible 33-year career in late night on Wednesday, after nearly 20,000 guests! During 1985 through 1995, Eddie Van Halen, David Lee Roth, or the entire band were on the show a total of five times. We’ve assembled all of these classic appearances below for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!
1/1/85: David Lee Roth’s Hilarious Interview
5/16/85: Eddie sits in with band and performs “(Oh) Pretty Woman,” “Jump,” “You Really Got Me,” and “Sunshine of Your Love.”
6/27/85: Valerie Bertinelli interviewed. Ed sits in with band and performs “Panama,” “Crossroads,” “(Oh) Pretty Woman,” and “Sunshine of Your Love.”
4/23/91: David Lee Roth sings “Tell the Truth” and teaches Letterman how to win a free beer in any country
8/10/95: Van Halen performs “Not Enough” from Balance
David Lee Roth was David Letterman’s first guest of 1985, and while the two self-deprecating Hoosiers sparred comically, Roth denied he would soon leave Van Halen. “I’ve got strong tribal instincts, and we’ll be going to the studio sometime in the next month to start arguing again.” He claimed Van Halen would release a new album in 1985, and he gagged about why Van Halen had never done anything like Crazy from the Heat. When in doubt, blame the drummer: “In Van Halen we kept trying to have a concept, but Alex kept forgetting the concept.”
Roth described how Van Halen’s security team had drawn up a grid to help them identify troublemakers, dividing the floor of the concert hall into regions, so bouncers on headsets could quickly point out someone who needed attention: “Aerosmith shirt, hunting knife, sector C-5.”
Roth describes how he subverted this system for his own lascivious reasons, distributing backstage passes to the security staff, each marked with their initials, then from the stage calling out, “Blonde, pink top, sector A-4,” pointing out the girls he wanted to see after the show. Whatever crew member’s name Dave saw flapping around on his favorite girl’s neck backstage at the end of the night would get a hundred-dollar bonus at breakfast the next morning. As far as intimacy went, it was a little like the invention of the drive-through window at McDonald’s, but the morale of tour staff remained high.
David Letterman confronted Roth on this practice, expressing his disbelief at the apparent callousness toward sex. “Well, this is the eighties, Dave,” Roth said drolly. “We want to interact with the audience as closely as possible, because music is a sharing experience. I feel that we can use technology to bring ourselves closer to each other.”
Thanks for all the memories, Mr. Letterman!