Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To


People goof on David Lee Roth like it’s his fault he didn’t die in a car crash in 1982. Hipsters would be wearing tee-shirts with his face (and torso) on it today if he had, but Diamond Dave got old and weird; told all his jokes twice; lost his voice, hair.

But he had a voice: listen to this isolated track from Runnin’ With The Devil, especially when he screams at 1:20. Go listen. I’ll wait.

I remember having a disagreement with my 8th grade music teacher, Mrs. Ising. She said that the human throat could not produce two notes at the same time, and she was a tall lady who had perfect pitch (and enjoyed telling you about it) so I probably lost the argument. I did not know about the Tuvan throat singers at the time, or any number of non-Western traditions wherein people harmonize with themselves, but I did have every Van Halen record ever made–and two prized bootleg cassettes of their unreleased early demos–so I knew that David Lee Roth could hit both a head note and its overtone at the same time.

Now, I didn’t know those terms at the time. I did know that Dave looked like this:


And I figured that counted for something.

Oh, don’t do what you’re about to do.

I hereby call upon the Rock Nerds to critical reexamine David Lee Roth.

No one needs that.

And Rick Rubin needs to produce an album for him.

Please, God, no.

Call Pitchfork. This should be a longread. What is Jonathan Safran Foer doing?

Congratulating himself.

What about Jonathan Lethem?

Congratulating Jonathan Safran Foer.

What about Jonathan Marquand?

You made him up.

He’ll work cheap.

Are we really doing Thoughts on Van Halen?

It’s come to this.


  1. So are you changing the name to VHOTD? Never liked VH much as a band as they weren’t dark enough for my tastes, but I love David Lee Roth. He was a true showman which is so lacking in today’s entertainment landscape. DLR was the person who made the band palatable to a wide array of people and actually talked to the A&R people and club owners. Apparently the Van Halen brothers used to get mad at Dave for not correcting people when they would refer to him a Van. Music fans know the Rolling Stones are more from Keith Richards, but Mick is who gets the girls to come to the show. Sorry Al & Ed, but DLR was absolutely crucial to your success as a band. I know you know that, but the truth is hard to swallow. Without David Lee Roth, Van Halen would most likely still be a bar band from the Valley.(though what bar band they were):

    They actually play Trampled Underfoot better than Zeppelin ever did onstage on Disk 2. The versions of Sweet Emotion & Superstition on Disk 3 are also remarkable(with Eddie doing his best imitation of a Clavinet by utilizing his Strat/PAF/Charvel thing into a Marshall stack). As per his biography, DLR generally made up much of the lyrics as he went along and you can hear it on the songs. He doesn’t get enough credit by the brothers Van Halen or Michael Anthony, but David Lee Roth is a crooner extraordinaire. Sound quality is no worse than a 3rd generation copy Dead Show recorded by a Norelco in 1971. As a music fan, I found these illuminating.

  2. Luther Von Baconson

    December 2, 2016 at 8:03 pm


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