David Lee Roth explores the things that ripped Van Halen apart, and the shared camaraderie that reunited them — asserting that the group was never the same without him. “There is no Van Halen,” he says, “without Roth.”
Initially, the flamboyant singer says he departed for a solo career in 1985 because of internal strife with Van Halen siblings Alex and Eddie, though their issues had nothing to do with music. After all, the group was coming off its first No. 1 single in “Jump.”
“I left the band, back when, because my bad habits were somewhat less than the brothers bad habits,” Roth says in the video below. “There are many bad habits that you can have and, no, I am not guilty free. But my bad habits were basically Jack Daniels, and I slept with every pretty girl with two legs in her pants for approximately 20 years. … I was just lucky that my bad habits were balanced by a life in martial arts and desire to get on the dance floor. You’ve got to keep your stuff sexy and tight. When the bad habits finally cleaned themselves up, we arrived together — and very happily.”
After the split with Roth, Van Halen continued forward with two separate replacements — first Sammy Hagar (who helped the group to its first charttopping album before departing in 1996), and then Gary Cherone (who only lasted for one album, 1998′s Van Halen III).
Roth eventually returned, and the group rebounded with the well-received comeback project A Different Kind of Truth.
He says the reunion has finally made things right again: “There is no Van Halen without Roth. I am the guy who does the melodies, and the lyrics and the vocals. You cannot replace an Eddie Van Halen. There is no second best to that.”
The difference this time, Roth adds, is perspective. As Roth and the Van Halen brothers have matured, they’ve come to understand one another more fully. “I think I bring a sense of humor to Van Halen,” Roth says. “The Van Halens have really no sense of humor — and that’s what creates a real good balance. … It’s a combination. We’re not the same at all. It’s only then that you have the spark. When a band gets along, and everybody’s happy — what is that? Jimmy Buffet? The Grateful Dead? Do I look like a hippie?”
Ultimately, Roth asserts, they’re at peace with Van Halen’s tangled history: “There’s no laughter in heaven — it’s only when you are in hell,” he says. “Things go wrong, things go worse, and then you just have to laugh. And that’s what we do in Van Halen.”
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