Insane Behind-The Scenes-Stories About David Lee Roth's Career
David Lee Roth is a legend. He's one of the greatest lead singers of all time, for one of the greatest rock bands of all time: Van Halen. Diamond Dave led VH from its initial success in 1978 through the coked-out, Spandex days of the 1980s, fronting the band 11 years and running with the devil every single day. A consummate rock star, Dave's over-the-top persona and insane stage antics often overshadowed the genius of the band's music, which more or less conjured the entire genre of hair metal from thin air. David Lee Roth and Van Halen had quite a run together, as these crazy David Lee Roth stories attest.
Though you may know Diamond Dave most as the inspiration for Dr. Rockzo, or as a man who would certainly win the gold in skiing the powdery slopes of Blow Town, he's also the New York Times best-selling author of Crazy From the Heat (his autobiography). And, in case you forgot, he had a successful solo career for a few years after leaving Van Halen, during which he indulged his Diamond Dave tendencies to the extreme, living as a bonafide fornication machine always ready to party. Even in his 60s, he's the life of the party: "I used to jog but the ice cubes kept coming out of my glass."
The list of crazy stories and wild facts about David Lee Roth is almost never-ending. He joined Van Halen, then known as Mammoth, at 20, in 1974; developed a deep rivalry with Sammy Hagar, who replaced him in the band in 1985; and found a late-life new career in new media, as a podcast host. David Lee Roth has been entertaining audiences for decades, and this list is here so you can revel in the lewdness of the craziest moments from Diamond Dave's life.
- Photo: Anirudh Koul / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0
He Created An 'Incentive Program' To Encourage Van Halen's Road Crew To Pick The Best Groupies For Him
Anyone who's ever listened to even 30 seconds of vintage Van Halen knows Diamond Dave had an appetite for lust bordering on the obscene. The man was hot for teacher, had a highly organized system for selecting groupies, and penned the lyrics to "Dirty Movies."
When it came time to have his mic stand polished by adoring fans, Dave liked to have a wide selection of women from which to choose. He created "Diamond Dave's Bonus Program" to incentivize members of the Van Halen road crew he roped into corralling his nightly cabal of willing disciples. Each member of the crew was given five backstage passes to distribute during every show. Whomever handed out the pass to someone he slept with was awarded $100.
The program was so popular, it increased crew efficiency, cutting the time it took to tear down at the end of the night in half.
He Had A Highly Organized, Color-Coded System For Finding Hook-Ups
MTV VJ Mark Goodman got to know David Lee Roth well in the 1980s, when Van Halen was one of the most popular groups in the country and had a strong relationship with the music network. According to Goodman, Diamond Dave developed a highly organized system for hook-ups.
As Goodman explained:
When Dave was touring, both with Van Halen and solo, he had the barriers in front of the stage painted different colors on the side that faced him: red, blue, and green, to denote the different areas of the audience. He’d look for hot girls in the crowd, and between songs, go to his assistant Eddie on the side of the stage, and say, "Green, right, fourteen rows back, three seats in." The assistant would go out into the audience and stick a pass on her (breasts). So after the show, there’d be twenty-five girls in the dressing room who all thought they’d been singled out to be with Dave that night. In fact, a number of them would be. The others would end up with other band members — or, if necessary, the crew.
It's unclear whether this system tied into Diamond Dave's Bonus Program.
- Video: YouTube
He Played A Bad Guy In An Inexplicable Japanese Short Film That Showed Up Online In 2013
In 2013, a short film called Tokyo Story appeared on David Lee Roth's YouTube channel. It was described at first as a trailer (the description was later changed), and was written by Roth and co-directed by award-winning Japanese filmmaker Kentaro Hagiwara.
Roth plays a hitman in the short, which all takes place in a common area at a bath house. Tokyo Story is obviously indebted to classic nihilistic yakuza and samurai films from the '60s and '70s, though is tonally more similar to the original Zatoichi series or the work of Takashi Miike, in its brazen satire and weirdness.
Around the time the clip was released, Roth had been spotted frequently around Tokyo, and admitted to having a relationship with a Japanese woman half his age. He was also training in various martial arts, including kendo.
- Photo: Carl Lender / Flckr / CC BY 2.0
He Claims He Once Got It On With 5 Women At One Time
Diamond Dave says really awesome stuff. Which you would probably assume, if you've ever paid attention to the lyrics he wrote for Van Halen. Much like Matt Bellamy of Muse, Roth has an expert ability to live on the line between self-satire and true, absurd indulgence.
In one of his most outlandish claims, he asserted, "My personal record is five [ladies] at once."
He Had A Chameleon-Like Ability To Go Incognito, Which Came In Handy
MTV VJ Mark Goodman recalled consuming powder with Diamond Dave in the bathroom of a club on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles at about four in the morning when the cops stormed in looking for people to bust.
To Goodman's amazement, Roth reacted with such speed and calm, his identity went completely undetected by police, despite being one of the biggest rock stars in the world at the time.
Dave immediately sprang into action. He tied his hair back and tucked in his shirt. He had a big vial that he dropped out the bathroom window. I threw my vial out and we casually strolled out into the club. The LAPD came in... They were really over the top. There was a lot of shouting and pushing... as we tried to get out of the club without being noticed. That wasn't happening: They had all of us go out on the street. They lined us up on Melrose and were looking at us, literally shining flashlights in our faces. This was a rare moment where I saw Dave not trying to be David Lee Roth; he just wanted to blend. But nobody recognized him — the cops didn’t, anyway. They made us disperse... I looked the other way for a second, and Dave had already taken off.
- Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
One Debaucherous Weekend Included Champagne Showers And A Food Fight With Roth's Security Team
In 1984, MTV hosted a contest called "The Lost Weekend," the winner of which would be given the rock-star treatment with Van Halen for a weekend. Kurt Jeffries, who was 20 at the time, won the prize, and was allowed to bring one person along with him. He chose best friend and fellow VH superfan Tom Winnick, and the two were off to Detroit, where the band greeted them with open arms. “They treated us like one of the guys, and really paid attention to us,” Jeffries said.
Jeffries and Winnick spent April 5 and 6, 1984, in Motor City with Van Halen. Before meeting the band, they were given free alcohol and mountains of VH collectibles. A few hours later, they were brought to the arena VH was playing that night, and met the band in their warm-up room. After hanging with Van Halen, they watched the show from the sound and light booth. Before VH's set was over, Jeffries was brought onstage, where Diamond Dave introduced him to the 12,000 some-odd fans in attendance and showered him in champagne. Jeffries recalled:
It was just a huge party, we were just hanging out and drinking malt-liquor and Jack Daniel’s. Throughout the weekend, Eddie kept telling me that if I drank too much Jack Daniel’s, I would start growing giant patches of hair on my chest, like Dave.
Jeffries was tight-lipped on details of racy debauchery, but suffice to say, there were groupies everywhere, and he confirmed the road crew lived up to its reputation for excess. He admitted to ending up in a shower at one point and not remembering exact details of a lot of things that happened.
Jeffries woke up the next morning in the bathtub with “the worst hangover of my entire life,” but the fun didn't stop there. The second night ended when Jeffries got into a food fight with Dave and his security guards. Jefferies said it was “the best time of my life.”