Guitarist Steve Vai has a new live DVD, ‘Where the Wild Things Are,’ that highlights his 25 plus years of performing for sold-out audiences. Vai, who is known for his wild guitar licks onstage, was no match for the backstage antics he experienced on tour with Van Halen’s David Lee Roth.
“Actually, I was never really wild,” he tells Spinner. “I guess back in the ’80s when I was touring with Dave Roth, that was pretty wild. I was just a naïve kid and I’d been touring with Frank Zappa, which was tough enough but I wasn’t ready for the Dave Roth experience. We would pull into town and every night there was this tremendous party backstage because Dave really knew how to do it. There would be food and drinks and a big PA system and lights and there was usually 50 or so chosen girls from the audience that were very happy to be at the party. The techs would go out and invite somebody backstage or if somebody in the band saw a girl in the audience he’d give a cue to the tech or would go out and give them a [backstage] pass. Back then, we were playing those arenas [and] it was 80% girls in their underwear. It was crazy. I was like a bee sitting on the rim of the cup sipping the honey. I just had a taste now and then. It was really an amazing experience.”
Vai was just a wide-eyed 24-year-old when he rolled into town with Diamond Dave for the first gig, an experience that he could never have imagined. “I remember the first day on tour with Dave we got in Huntsville, Alabama or something in 1984 or 1985 [it was 1986 – VHND] and we would rent two floors of every hotel because one floor was all for us and the other floor was just a buffer floor so nobody would stay there. When we got there a few days early I was sitting in the executive lounge of the hotel and I see this smoke coming out from underneath this sink and there are two girls dressed like maids who had been sitting there for two days waiting for us to get the floor.
“That night when we came back to the hotel the entire floor was like a circus. I’ll never forget — I came out of my room and looked down the hall and saw one of the notorious techs and he’s walking down the hall naked with one of these girls I saw under the sink and she was naked. That was my introduction to day one with David Lee Roth on tour!”