David Lee Roth’s ‘Crazy from the Heat’ EP was released on this day in 1985.
David Lee Roth’s first solo record debuted at #43 on the Billboard charts and stayed on the charts for 33 weeks, reaching #15 on the U.S. charts and #91 on the U.K. charts. It has sold over one million copies in the U.S.
Tracks: • Easy Street • California Girls • Just a Gigolo/I Ain’t Got Nobody • Coconut Grove
Roth told Record magazine: “It was dreamed up at the beach on a dull afternoon. I’d had these songs in my suitcase for years, but couldn’t figure out which ones to put on a record or when I would possibly have time to do an album.
“We were playing the Beach Boys, ‘California Girls’ came on, and one of the bodyguards said, ‘You ought to do this one, Dave.’ I said, ‘THAT’S IT!’ We packed up our shit immediately, drove through the desert … 15 hours to the airport in Puerto Vallarta, and flew directly home. Right from the airport, I went to (Warner Bros. president) Lenny Waronker and said, ‘I’ve got a great idea. In fact, I’ve got four of them.'”
Roth notes that any of the songs on Crazy from the Heat could have been recorded by the band, but Edward Van Halen’s prodigious output leaves little room for outside material. “And the fact of the matter is, yeah, I have a statement that I felt I couldn’t make enough of in Van Halen. So I had to step outside for four songs.”
Crazy from the Heat, he continues, “is an album of one guy’s taste, or lack thereof. Each song is different, but it’s the same thread winding through the chaos, the same bizarre sense of humor that says, ‘Let’s take a left turn and see how far we can go before we have to stop.'”
Roth told Circus magazine,“I recorded nothing but the four tracks that are on there. Time is valuable, man.”
Roth has made the most of his. At the end of the 1984 tour, Dave hooked up with erstwhile Van Halen producer Ted Templeman, got hold of Edgar Winter, Carl Wilson and a distinguished band of sessioneers, and rehearsed the material. The tunes he chose were old favorites. “Except for ‘Just a Gigolo,’ says Dave, “the songs (“California Girls,” “Easy Street,” “Coconut Grove”) are from right during Van Halen’s bar time. The whole thing was done in about four days. I did most of it (last fall) in New York, at the Power Station. The studio cats were having a hysterical time. They don’t often get the opportunity to play everything from the Beach Boys to Louis Prime in one session!”
Both the song and video for “California Girls” were insanely popular in 1985. In fact, this song charted higher than any other Van Halen, Roth, or Hagar song ever written(!) outside of “Jump.” The song reaching #3 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks and #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 (“Jump” reached #1 a year earlier, and “Why Can’t This Be Love” would also reach #3 a year later).
Roth’s version of the Beach Boys’ “California Girls,” features background vocals by Christopher Cross and the Beach Boys’ own Carl Wilson. The video for the song premiered on MTV on 12/31/84. It was directed by The Fabulous Picasso Brothers, Pete Angelus and David Lee Roth.
“To the other guys in Van Halen, ‘California Girls’ is just another song. To me, it has special import-it’s my favorite Beach Boys song.”
The song’s video was one of the most popular MTV videos of the year. It was filmed entirely on location at Venice Beach in Southern California. Angelus and Roth approached this video from a theatrical standpoint, wanting to present characters you could see for only 5 seconds and feel as though you knew them.
The “California Girls” (remix) on the B-side of the “California Girls” single differs in that the order of the verses and chorus has been changed. The instruments have also been mixed differently, with the guitar lines standing out more than the A-side version.
Roth’s philosophy was that most albums contain no more than four good tracks on them. He cut off the flab, so to speak, resulting in this EP containing the aforementioned quartet of good material. Reportedly, Dave titled his EP Crazy from the Heat after seeing an early 1930s Warner Bros. cartoon about two mice on a beach who were going crazy from the heat.
“Just a Gigolo/I Ain’t Got Nobody” reached #12 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and features horns arranged by Edgar Winter, who played keyboards on three of the EP’s four cuts. Edgar also teamed up with Roth as bandleader for the Blues Bustin’ Mambo Slammers for Dave’s Vegas act in 1995. The video for this song was directed by The Fabulous Picasso Brothers. It earned Dave six MTV Video Award nominations at the September 1985 awards show, though he didn’t win in any category.
The “Just a Gigolo/I Ain’t Got Nobody” (remix) B-side from the single of the same name is similar to the “California Girls” (remix) in that the order of the verse and chorus sections has changed and the instruments have been remixed.
While the media and fans speculated that this release might have been a signal that Van Halen was breaking up, Dave spent just as much time refuting such claims as he did hyping the album. He referred to the EP as something to occupy his time while the band recuperated from the recent 1984 tour. Whether he changed his mind or was merely putting up a smoke screen to hide his intentions, he did indeed leave the band a scant four months after the EP’s release.