‘Actually the soundtrack for a movie': Van Halen’s David Lee Roth on the surprising genesis of his first solo album

David Lee Roth’s first full-length solo release after leaving Van Halen became a No. 4 smash behind the radio hits “Yankee Rose” and “Goin’ Crazy.” But did you know Eat ‘Em and Smith was actually written as the soundtrack for a major Hollywood film?

Roth, in the latest episode of his on-going web series Roth TV, goes in depth on the 1986 project, which found him collaborating for the first time with a highly respected lineup featuring guitarist Steve Vai, bassist Billy Sheehan and drummer Gregg Bissonette.

“Many folks are unaware that that record, the very first Roth/Vai/Sheehan/Bissonette record, Eat ‘Em and Smile was actually designed as the soundtrack for a movie (to be filmed for the now-defunct CBS studios) called ‘Crazy from the Heat,'” Roth says, in the newly posted video. “‘Goin’ Crazy’ on that album is actually the title song. So, it’s all starting to make some kind of symmetrical sense now, right?”

Roth says that, from the beginning, he wanted the album to stand on its own — and that turned out to be a good thing. The former Van Halen frontman was all set to be a first-time writer, director, producer and soundtrack major domo — when the $20 million project was shelved after CBS Studios was consolidated with another company.

“At this point in time, I am out of Van Halen, and that’s already a familiar story,” Roth says. “What’s unfamiliar is that I had said to Steve Vai and Billy Sheehan: Let’s write a group of songs that stand up perfectly as a record on their own — like Tommy by the Who, done much earlier.”

Roth proudly shows off a script for the defunct movie as part of his Roth TV talk: “Each one of those songs was a production number,” he says. “There was going to be a song, and a dance, and a babe … and a gunfight, and a car chase … Every song that we had there had a plan for it.”

Interest in Roth’s career away from Van Halen eventually cooled and he has since rejoined the fold, releasing the well-received A Different Kind of Truth earlier this year.

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