Chris Riemenschneider of The Star Tribune spoke with Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth. Highlights from the feature article appear below.

On his singing voice:

“I’ve never had any delusions about my voice. It sounds like four miles of flat road with knobby tires. Mom used to say that; in fact she said it last week. However, some people’s definition of perfect vocals might be pristine and pretty like Adam Lambert. My definition of absolutely the best vocal in the last 20 years is [sung off-key like Biz Markie]: “Girl, you got what I need! And you say he’s just a friend …”

Discussing Eddie Van Halen:

“You know what I know. Ed, God bless him, may have a fair amount of time ahead of him, but going out on the road is an unforgiving task. It kills people. It’s been a long great trip, a long great run. But this kind of music requires the kind of energy that people in their 20s bring. You know what NFL stands for: Not For Long. It’s similar in rock. I remember the days when we would stand around and say, ‘Let’s go have a cigarette.’ And that’s what we did: Four guys having one cigarette. I remember those days. They go by fast, so enjoy them while you’re in them.”

On tourmate Gene Simmons producing early Van Halen demos in the mid-1970s: 

“Van Halen was like a sea anemone. It’s born looking exactly the same way it does as it passes into the hereafter. If you listen to tracks from our club days in 1973, Van Halen, once I joined the band, sounded exactly like we did the first day together at Ed’s mom’s house as we did on the first record as we did on Jump. It took us 5½ years before Warner Bros. finally showed up. About two years before that, Gene came to the Starwood and said: ‘Let’s try to do some demos.’ We flew to Electric Ladyland and made some tapes, but nothing really came out of them. So that was that.”

What he considers his lasting legacy: 

“There was a 20-year phase where one in five males went dressed as me on Halloween. All their girlfriends went dressed as Stevie Nicks. It’s a songbook that’s more famous and more memorized than My Country Tis the Purple Mountains’ ”

Read more at the The Star Tribune.

David Lee Roth: Rocks Vegas remaining dates are: March 18th, 20th-21st, 25th, 27th-28th. The singer is scheduled to open for KISS on their End of The Road tour.

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  • robert davenport on

    I also have no delusions about his singing ….

  • Taskerofpuppets on

    An interview like this is what makes me still love DLR.

  • Rattlehead on

    Good on DLR for being a realist about his voice…personally, I loved his voice on the early Van Halen albums. I think DLR has always been more of an “entertainer” rather than a “singer”, and I think that added to the charisma of Van Halen.

    • Dana on

      I agree, Dave is more of a showman than a vocalist.

      But, as I stated before, George, and Ryan, from Lost In Vegas, said he wasn’t a “dynamic” singer, but that he has “charisma,” which is skill that cannot be taught, you either have it or you don’t.

  • Tiny Music on

    Of course DLR cannot sing like Sammy Hagar..or Gary Cherone for that matter( VH 3 is criminally underrated) but as a rock vocalist Dave was definitely pretty kick ass in his prime.
    Songs like “I’m The One”, “Take Your Whiskey Home”, “Little Guitars”, “The Full Bug”, “Drop Dead Legs”, “Big Trouble” all have some killer vocal tracks from DLR.
    I was lucky enough to catch the Eat Em’ And Smile Tour way back in the day and he was nothing short of spectacular.
    While probably going down in history as the penultimate frontman , DLR was also one of the greatest rock singers to ever hold a mic.

    • Taskerofpuppets on

      Yes, I would agree that on the Eat’m & Smile Tour he sounded great. Saw that show in Roanoke, VA, I was 14! Pretty sure he wore the thong chaps, lol!

  • robert davenport on

    weighing in again , tinymusic, roth is widely known to be a terrible singer live by basically….well everyone-
    now I will agree on the songs you mentioned he was great, overall he was the perfect singer for vanhalen and did a great job on the studio recordings – live he was a mess vocally and could never re-create what he did in the studio- I saw van halen in their prime 5 x he was not really singing anything more talk singing and doing schtick… and I also saw dave solo with vai , sheehan , bissonette , and IMO he was ok, at least he made an effort to sing actual notes on that tour, I saw 2 dates- he got away with being a marginal singer because of his amazing physical showmanship and charisma , his jump off the drum riser was incredible, he was good looking he could move , dance and he gave it everything he had and was awesome – he also had his long lions mane of hair – now that is all gone , and what voice he has left even by roth’s own low standard is pretty much gone , it’s ironic on this kiss tour he is using pre recorded backing vocal tracks… i’m sorry but dave just looks kind of kooky up there smiling like a lunatic …roth in his youth IMO is one of the top 5 greatest frontmen in the history of rock, but as a singer…..not even close to being one of the greatest singers to ever hold a mic- he might actually be close to the worst.

    • Taskerofpuppets on

      He does look out-of-touch with that perma-grin on his face. It’s like a clown’s painted face, even though he’s not a clown just the consummate showman.

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