David Lee Roth Biography

10 October 1953, Bloomington, Indiana, USA. Roth, the former lead vocalist with US hard rockers Van Halen, first expressed his desire to go solo during a period of band inactivity during 1985. He subsequently recorded a mini-album, Crazy From The Heat, featuring a varied selection of material that was a departure from the straight metal approach of Van Halen. The album was favourably reviewed and after much speculation, he finally broke ranks in the autumn of 1985. Roth soon found himself in the US Top 3 with an unlikely cover version of the Beach Boys’ ‘California Girls’ (complete with a suitably tacky video), and an even stranger version of ‘I Ain’t Got Nobody’. This bizarre change must have baffled and bemused his fans, but he soon assembled an impressive array of musicians, notably guitar virtuoso Steve Vai (b. 6 June 1960, Long Island, New York, USA), bass player Billy Sheehan (ex-Talas) and drummer Greg Bissonette to record Eat ‘Em And Smile. This featured an amazing selection of blistering rockers and offbeat, big production numbers. It proved that Roth was still a great showman; the album was technically superb and infused with an irreverent sense of ‘Yankee’ humour.

Skyscraper, released two years later, built on this foundation, but focused more on an elaborately produced hard rock direction. Billy Sheehan departed shortly after its release to be replaced by Matt Bissonette. Brett Tuggle on keyboards was also recruited to expand the line-up to a five-piece and add an extra dimension to their sound. Steve Vai left in 1989 to pursue a solo career, but was only temporarily missed as Jason Becker stepped in, a new six-string whizz kid of the Yngwie Malmsteen school of guitar improvisation. A Little Ain’t Enough emerged in 1991 and, although technically faultless, it tended to duplicate ideas from Roth’s previous two albums. Your Filthy Little Mouth saw him relocate to New York. This time, amid the histrionics about girls and cars, were odes to the Los Angeles riots, and the unutterably horrible pseudo-reggae of ‘No Big ’Ting’. In 1996, following Sammy Hagar’s departure (sacking) from Van Halen, Lee Roth was falsely rumoured to be rejoining the band he had left 10 years earlier. Two years later, Roth published his wonderfully salacious autobiography and formed the hard-rocking DLR Band.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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