A new article on Ultimate-Guitar entitled, ‘Top 10 Rock & Metal Singers With Widest Vocal Ranges’ lists David Lee Roth as one of the top 10 rock singers with the widest singing range. In fact, they declare Roth “the most versatile old-school hard rock singer” of all.
“Most of these vocalists have ranges of 5 octaves at least, where your average singer usually masters 2-3 at best.
“For almost half a century, David Lee Roth has been the embodiment of a larger-than-life superstar hard rock frontman and his singing has been equally praised. The fact isn’t so surprising when one realizes that, in addition to his tremendous personality, the Van Halen frontman possesses a vocal range of 5 octaves and 3 notes (ranging from E1 to A6), which makes him the most versatile old-school hard rock singer. “
If you’re too lazy to dig out your old Van Halen records and hunt for David Lee Roth’s lowest and highest sung notes, the video below features a compilation of 31 examples of why DLR is “the most versatile old-school hard rock singer.”
The video’s creator states, “Most know David Lee Roth for his zany stage presence and over-the-top performances, but seldom is it recognized that he possesses a remarkably wide vocal range too. Part of the reason for this is that his best-known work with Van Halen mostly showcases him only singing in a range of roughly B2-B4. However, upon leaving the band, Roth went on to launch a successful solo career that would showcase his highest and lowest singing to date. This initially took form on his third album, 1991’s A Little Ain’t Enough, where he began to regularly sing up to the fifth octave for the first time in his career. This trend continued with 1994’s Your Filthy Little Mouth, where he also began to show off a surprisingly strong lower second and upper first-octave range. On 1998’s DLR Band, Roth proceeded to showcase both ends of his range in almost every song, with most tracks spanning at least three octaves on average. Since then, he has continued to tirelessly sing with this same sort of excessively “rangey” style on his newest releases, despite being in his 60s now. Overall, I’d say he’s an excellent frontman, and quite a versatile singer too!”
1. 0:00 – Some easy second octave singing from “Relentless”, bottoming at E2.
2. 0:10 – An a cappella-style bass part bottoming at C#2 from “No Big ‘Ting”.
3. 0:27 – A line of resonant C2s from “Counter-Blast”, preceded by a yelped E5 and F#5.
4. 0:34 – A really cool bassy passage from “Honeybabysweetiedoll”, starting around F2 and trailing down to a few D2s, C2s and a short B1.
5. 0:48 – A rapped section down to B1 from the Urban NYC remix of “You’re Breathin’ It”. It’s surprising how well Roth pulls off this style!
6. 1:06 – Really strong sung B1s from “Let It All Hang Out”, with casual E2s in between.
7. 1:28 – A neat spoken passage from “Slam Dunk!”, reaching lots of strong Bb1s and a couple of short G#1s.
8. 1:43 – An appearance by Roth on the program I Love the ’90s, where he imitates Garth Brooks by singing “Friends in Low Places” down the octave, hitting a remarkably strong A1!
9. 1:50 – A long low passage from “If 6 Was 9”, with lots of strong dips down to Bb1s and G#1s, followed by a parlando that starts out around Eb2 and trails down to B1, before finally capping it all off with a line sung up to Eb5!
10. 2:53 – Some seriously sinister lows from “The Trouble with Never”, reaching multiple G#1s and a few short G1s. Roth sounds legitimately intimidating here!
11. 3:26 – Some beefy low singing down to G1 from “Tight”.
12. 3:40 – A parlando from “Let It All Hang Out”, starting out around some booming B1s and trailing down to multiple G#1s, as well as touching on a couple of G1s and an F#1!
13. 4:02 – Multiple A1s and a somewhat quiet but solid F#1 from “Me Wise Magic”!
14. 4:22 – Roth’s lowest note to date: an E1 from “Last Call”!
15. 4:29 – To start off the highs we have some tasteful singing up to A4 from “Tell the Truth”, one of Roth’s more emotional(!) songs.
16. 4:45 – Great jazzy singing up to some impressively supported A4s from “She’s Lookin’ Good”. This is another style that Roth’s voice suits very naturally.
17. 5:04 – Some MANIC singing up to B4 from “It’s Showtime!”. This is one song that really shows how much energy Roth can channel into a single performance!
18. 5:26 – Belted lines on C5 from “Me Wise Magic”, followed by some cleanly sung A4s.
19. 5:40 – A strong Bb4 with a D5 harmony, followed by an epic sustained C5 over an E5 in the backing vocal! From “Baby’s on Fire”.
20. 5:51 – Some really nice soulful singing on C#5 from “Night Life”, probably one of Roth’s best vocal performances.
21. 6:05 – Belting up to C5 and D5 from “Big Train”, with one short yelped F5.
22. 6:19 – Some cool singing between B4 and D5 from “Me Wise Magic”, as well as a couple of short Eb5s.
23. 6:45 – Intense belting up to Eb5 from “Indeedido”.
24. 7:08 – Entire lines on Eb5 from the swing version of “Ice Cream Man”! This version of the song easily beats Van Halen rendition, in my opinion.
25. 7:15 – Better yet, here’s an entire line belted on E5 from “Little Texas”! This is immediately followed by some singing up to C5 too, no less.
26. 7:23 – A strong sustained E5 from the ending of “Blacklight”.
27. 7:30 – Crazy F5 wails from the ending of “She’s My Machine”. Almost reminds me of Robert Plant!
28. 7:54 – Solid F#5s from the last chorus of “Slam Dunk!”.
29. 8:10 – And now the big surprise: a sung G5(!) from “Counter-Blast”, on an “ooh” vowel too! Naturally, this is immediately followed by several sung D5s too.
30. 8:24 – Roth’s highest belted note to date: a short G#5 yelp from “Weekend with the Babysitter”.
31. 8:29 – Some cool sung falsetto G#5s from “You’re No Good”. These kinds of fifth octave falsetto screams were pretty common for Roth’s early style.Embed from Getty Images