Tale of Van Halen rock star in area takes bizarre jump
By Graham Rockingham
It’s a story that circulated around the world: Rock star David Lee Roth saved by two OPP officers after suffering a severe allergic reaction to nuts while driving on a country road near Brantford.
This newspaper even had a followup to the original wire service story about how the Van Halen singer, dressed in flashy rock-star duds, strutted into a Brantford bar with two nurses after spending the evening in Brantford General Hospital.
The only problem, the story isn’t true.
The two officers and a lot of other people in the Brantford area appear to be victims of a charming imposter.
“The story is completely false,” David Lee Roth’s personal publicist Elaine Schock said yesterday from her Los Angeles office. “I don’t even understand where that came from. David doesn’t drive himself. He has a driver. And he doesn’t dress flashy unless he’s onstage.”
This, of course, came as a bit of a shock to the two OPP officers who entered the name “David Lee Roth” into their report of the May 23 incident and later described his flashy dress to CTV news.
The officers weren’t the only ones fooled. Club patrons, hospital employees, hair stylists, music producers and performers all thought they had spent some quality time with Diamond Dave.
“I’m actually trying to figure out what’s going on here, myself,” said Constable Larry Plummer, media relations officer for Brant OPP.
“I’ve been researching … I’m finding it hard to believe. The first thing we’re going to have to do is identify who this person might be.”
Later in the day, Plummer confirmed it couldn’t have been Roth whom the two young officers saved.
“On May 23, the day this was supposed to have happened, Roth was performing at Madison Square Garden with Van Halen,” he said.
Plummer said the officers never asked for identification when they stopped the Mystery Dave’s rented car for erratic driving near Oakland, a hamlet south of Brantford.
“They were too concerned with helping a man who was in medical distress,” Plummer added.
After being treated in hospital, Mystery Dave took two nurses to the nearby Liquid Lounge, where he got up and performed with a local band. He even had his picture taken with at least one of them.
Liquid Lounge owner Cheri Welsh was drawn in by the flashy scarves and alligator shoes.
“I can’t understand his motives,” she said yesterday. “It’s not like he was getting free drinks or anything. He was putting money on the table. He offered to buy me one.”
Even Phatstick — the St. Catharines band that jammed out Van Halen’s Ice Cream Man with him at the bar — was impressed.
“We weren’t totally convinced at first because so many people come to shows saying they are someone famous or related to a star,” said drummer Joe Lavergne. “But in Dave’s case, he did pretty well.”
The Mystery Dave also went to the U Are Beautiful salon in Cambridge several times over a two-week period for tanning treatments, hair cuts and dye jobs.
“He always paid in cash,” said Lesley, who asked that her last name not be used. “He even bought gift certificates.”
Lesley said the salon gave him one free treatment when he said he was going on MuchMusic. He gave them a private concert in the salon. Lesley said they were initially suspicious because of a gap in the man’s teeth, but he explained he always wore a cap when he went onstage.
“He had answers for everything,” Lesley said.
And Dean Hajas, a local songwriter and recording engineer, said he’s still certain the man who stayed at his house for three weeks is the real David Lee Roth. Hajas said he met Roth while working in Los Angeles in 1993.
“He just phoned me out of the blue and asked if he could come over and do some work,” Hajas said. “He’s got some of my music … I talked to him on his cellphone yesterday and he said his publicist would be issuing a press release (today) to clear this mess up.”
The real Roth’s publicist admits the bizarre story has helped her keep her client’s name in the news.
“And it’s not like it’s bad press, it’s just odd press,” Schock said, adding: “He doesn’t stay in places like this. Dave is a Four Seasons kind of a guy.”