Well guess who’s back in circulation? It’s David Lee Roth’s favorite flag girl. Over three decades later she’s returned to let her flag unfurl one more time.
Just recently Iowa sports writer Sam Paxton shared a story with the Van Halen News Desk regarding long lost photos and video of David Lee Roth showing up during halftime of an Iowa-Iowa State football game in September of 1986. You can read all about it in detail HERE but, long-story short, on that sunny Saturday afternoon Roth surprised the crowd of over 67,000 at Kinnick Stadium when he burst onto the field at halftime. He joined the Iowa State marching band for their rendition of Roth’s hit 1986 single “Yankee Rose”.
It was during his appearance that Roth did an impromptu “Bump & Grind” with an Iowa State flag girl. The moment was captured on video which you can see below:
Shortly after Paxton’s story went viral people began wondering who that flag girl was and what became of her after her brush with fame (and DLR). Thanks to a member of the David Lee Roth internet fan forum the Roth Army fans got to find out. Her name is Laura Phelps (at the time freshman Laura Uhl). Thanks to the efforts of the Roth Army along Van Halen historian Greg Renoff we were able to get the story sraight from Phelps exclusively for the Van Halen News Desk:
“Goin’ Crazy At Kinnick With David Lee Roth”
by Laura Phelps
I was a fairly sheltered middle child of 5 kids, growing up on a farm in northwest Iowa. My graduating class was only 27, and as a senior, I was the captain of the high school color guard of around 16 girls. I was a little nervous and excited heading to Iowa State in the fall of 1986. There were roughly 25,000 students attending at the time. I moved to Ames a week early to try out for the Iowa State Band color guard. I was excited to be selected, and practices began right away.
The band prepared a new show for every home game. This meant 3-4 songs with accompanying choreography/placement on the field for every band member. I don’t recall Iowa State Football’s fall schedule, but it seems that the Iowa State vs. University of Iowa rivalry game, an away game in Iowa City, was scheduled maybe 3 weeks into the fall semester. The songs for that game were presented, and we began practicing ‘Yankee Rose’, with the knowledge that David Lee Roth was scheduled for concerts in central Iowa during rivalry game weekend. Kinda cool.
Being a freshman from a fairly sheltered background, I had never been to a concert, and honestly could not afford to go. But 1984 was one of my favorite albums, and songs like ‘Jump’, ‘Panama’, and ‘Hot for Teacher’ were blasted repeatedly from cars, dorm windows, and Greek houses as the concert and game weekend approached. I told my parents to watch the game on TV, as they might see me at halftime. I also told my older brother, who attended University of Northern Iowa, to watch for me at halftime.
The band took several charter buses to Cedar Rapids the Friday before the rivalry game. We were to play at halftime of the Linn-Mar High School football game Friday night. Linn-Mar is among the top large metro schools in Iowa, and the substantial crowd of home and visiting fans loved the Yankee Rose performance. The Iowa State Band members were farmed out to Linn-Mar band host families for the night, and we reconvened the next morning to dress, rehearse, march to Kinnick Stadium for the college game.
Right before we marched to the stadium, our drum majors told us DLR might make an appearance on the field during our halftime show, and he ‘might do something crazy’. If that happened, we were told to just keep performing—on with the show.
I never saw it coming. We had over 200 band members on the field, so in my logical mind, the chances of DLR noticing or approaching me were remote at best. As I was twirling my flag to Yankee Rose, I heard the crowd noise swell, and felt something grinding into me from behind. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flash of blond hair that wasn’t mine, and quickly realized, ‘Oh my God, his ‘might do something crazy’ was flashing his big smile at the sold out crowd and grinding into me!’ I could feel the blood rush from my face as I realized the noise swell was thousands of fans watching this unfold. They were pointing, laughing, and squealing with delight at DLR’s antics, including that girl he was grinding into. ME.
Meanwhile, my brother at UNI was watching the game in his dorm den with his buddies. He started pointing and laughing at the TV in the den, ‘Hey, that’s my sister!’ My parents were watching and recording the game. I wondered if they had seen me too?
As a somewhat nerdy rule-follower, I just kept going with the performance, as instructed. In retrospect, I missed a great opportunity to turn around and really play it up. As we marched off the field, I was met on the sidelines by 3 or 4 reporters from local newspapers and also Sports Illustrated. I was bombarded with questions, like my name, how it felt, what I thought of DLR’s moves, etc. I was dating my now husband at the time, a discus thrower for Iowa State. He was a little disgusted that I made it into Sports Illustrated by a chance encounter with David Lee Roth, when every athlete everywhere was trying to get any sort of mention in any edition.
I became an instant celebrity on campus, not only with the 200+ band members and directors, but on my dorm floor, in my classes…everywhere. So many said, ’Hey, aren’t you that girl…’ and then wanted a play-by-play of what happened at halftime. Girls were jealous, guys were intrigued, and Iowa State and Iowa fans throughout the state were talking about ‘that crazy halftime show’.
My parents kept the VCR tape of the halftime show, but when I went to show our kids, the old VCR player ruined the tape. I could not find the Sports Illustrated edition I was sent with my quote, so I really had no proof of what happened. So getting tagged in the ‘Holy Grail’ video of the halftime show last week, and also seeing the local paper picture and Sports Illustrated write-up was quite a walk down memory lane. It was also validation to my kids, now 25, 23, and 21, that yes, that actually happened. Wow, Mom…
Today Laura is a certified public accountant living in Kingsley, Iowa. Below is Laura with husband Scott and children Colton, Kiana and Nick.