Guitarist John 5’s David Lee Roth story began where Roth’s book ended. Literally.
During a recent interview with The Sessions, the former DLR Band guitarist recently recalled how he landed the job as Roth’s guitarist in 1998 . He said it all started when he was reading Roth’s 1998 autobiography ‘Crazy From The Heat’.
“I was reading [‘Crazy From The Heat’]. I was at my friend’s house. And there was a number in the back of the book where you could get ahold of the management company,” said John. “And I thought to myself, ‘Hmm, I think I’m going to reach out and call this number and see what’s going on.’ ‘Cause I knew Dave wasn’t doing much at the time, and I loved Van Halen, and I loved David Lee Roth. And I said, ‘Are you guys accepting any [music] right now or anything like that?’ And they said, ‘Well, not really. But you can send a CD, and we’ll see what we’ve got.’ And I was, like, ‘Oh my God!’ Just that little bit, I was shocked. I was, like, ‘This is insane.’ So I go there. I record with [producer] Bob Marlette. And I do my best Van Halen — I do ‘Slam Dunk’ and I do all these songs. Of course, no vocals — just my best Van Halen impersonation. And I sent it to them, and they said, ‘We like it. Can you send three more?’ I was, like, ‘God. This is the most crazy thing ever.’ So, I did three more, and they said, ‘We like these too. Can you do three more?’ And I said, ‘I’m sorry, but I don’t have any more money.’ Back then, studios costed a lot of money. Now we can just be in our house and do it. And they said, ‘Okay, well, Dave wants to meet you. Go to his house.'”
“Listen, David Lee Roth is not around; he’s not hanging out. It’s very hard to meet David Lee Roth,” John continued. “And I go to his house. And this is the house where they filmed “Pretty Woman” they did all the photo shoots for the early Van Halen, they rehearsed in this basement. And this is the house. And there’s Dave in his overalls. And he’s, like, ‘John, great to see ya. We’re gonna make a record. I really like what you’re doing.’ And I was, like, ‘Oh my God.’ I couldn’t believe it.
“And then, later on, I had him sign [a copy of the ‘Crazy From The Heat’] book that made it all happen. And it says, ‘David Lee Roth, 1998.’ This was after I’m a little more comfortable with him, and I said, ‘Hey, Dave. Sign this.’ So, you just have to go after things and do things and make it work.”
John (aka John Lowery) appeared on 1998’s ‘DLR Band’ album, which was recorded and mixed in just ten days. John actually performed double duty on the record, playing both lead guitar and bass guitar (credited as B’ourbon Bob) on seven tracks (“Slam Dunk”, “Blacklight”, “Counter-Blast”, “Little Texas”, “Wa Wa Zat!!”, “Relentless” and “Weekend With The Baby Sitter”.
In 2003, while still lead guitarist for Marilyn Manson, John was invited back by Roth to write and record “Thug Pop”, the single non-cover song for Roth’s 2003 album ‘Diamond Dave’. He’s since gone on to work with Rob Zombie while also launching a solo career in 2004.
John’s pairing with Roth didn’t end with the song “Thug Pop”, however. Last November, Roth launched The Roth Project, an online comic narrated by Roth, with music from John on guitar and bass, It also includes five songs Roth co-wrote with John and recorded several years ago at Henson Recording Studios in Hollywood, California: “Giddy Up”, “Somewhere Over The Rainbow Bar & Grill”, “Alligator Pants”, “Lo-Rez Sunset” and “Manda Bala”. In October of 2020 following the passing of Eddie Van halen, Roth released “Somewhere Over The Rainbow Bar & Grill” as a tribute to his former bandmate.
John’s latest sessions with Roth apparently took place at least six years ago. In 2019, Roth was asked by Meltdown of the Detroit radio station WRIF if his LP with John will be made available at some point. He responded: “It will. There’s been a revision of things, and I can start making real plans and start marching into the future. And, of course, you’ll start hearing that material. This is material that we wrote variously for me solo and for Van Halen, and it’s quite a bank of stuff.”
John 5 Talks David Lee Roth Collaboration (from “That Metal Show” 2015):