"Diamond" David Lee Roth. Rock 'n' Roll frontman. Kung Fu sage. Living, breathing action figure. As the quarterback for legendary bad boy rock band Van Halen in their heyday, a successful solo artist, music video pioneer, best selling author, and world traveler, "Diamond" David Lee Roth has led the life that most folks only dream of and has gone places most people will never go, even in their wildest dreams.
"I've been places with my face you wouldn't go to with a pistol," says the Master Blaster himself. And he's right.
Roth's unique combination of classic pop stagecraft, burlesque humor and startling wit has made him one of the most famous -- and infamous -- names in Rock 'n' Roll. Since his 1977 debut, Roth has become one of the most beloved characters in popular music to grace the stage and screen.
Born in Indiana farm country, Roth spent his early childhood shuttling between the great outdoors and living with his famous uncle, Manny Roth, in New York's Greenwich village during the early '60s. Living over the Café Wha? nightclub, Dave's musical education began with the likes of Bob Dylan, Peter Paul and Mary, Richard Pryor and Lenny Bruce.
"I missed Jimi Hendrix one summer because Manny fired him for being late," laughs Dave. "Between my Huck Finn existence running barefoot thru the great outdoors and having the best seat in the house for arguably the most important decade in the history of pop music, I had a formidable education."
This education in life fueled his lyrics and Dave made one helluva formidable student. By the time he hit his mid-20s, Dave was a world-class frontman with platinum albums under his black belt from his work with his high school buddies, Van Halen. With an arsenal of massive hits ("Jump," "Panama," "Hot For Teacher," "Runnin' With The Devil," "Dance The Night Away," and many more), Van Halen took over the world and knocked Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith out of the top-band-in-the-world spot by the late-'70s.
Counting himself as a "unique House blend of the Scarecrow from Wizard of Oz, Bruce Lee, and the Rolling Stones," Dave soon became one of the most imitated vocalists since Elvis in both his look and sound. His subsequent solo career also yielded a truckload of hits, including "Yankee Rose," "Goin' Crazy," "Just a Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody," "California Girls," "A Little Ain't Enough," and so on, as he veered from the arena hard rock he was known for to smoky blues, Las Vegas show tunes and dance floor rhythms, touring 22 countries in the process.
Now an accomplished outdoorsman and climber, Roth has led many trips into the Himalayas, New Guinea, the Amazon, and the South Pacific. A devout practitioner of classic martial arts since the age of 12, Roth also travels and teaches at seminars around the world in between projects.
His music has become a staple of FM radio, TV commercials, movie soundtracks and sporting events everywhere; his blonde-maned, steel-chested image has become the definition of what a hard rock frontman strives to look like; and his sunny, beaming personality has become almost as legendary as his whiskey-soaked, bluesy wail. As an ambassador for hedonists everywhere who has rocked arena around the world, Roth is not only still rockin' hard, but sidestepping into other arenas, thrusting his talent into areas most rock stars have no business meddling with, and carrying on his "belligerently enthusiastic, lead-with-you're-face approach." For instance, who woulda thought that the self-proclaimed Toastmaster of the Immoral Majority himself would author a best-selling autobiography, 1997's Crazy From the Heat?
Yes, after six top-selling, multi-platinum albums with the Van Halen brothers, a eight-album-strong solo career that has found him in cahoots with music legends such as Nile Rogers, Steve Vai, Travis Tritt, Carl Wilson and Edger Winter, and enough lavish world tours to make even Donald Trump green with envy, where does a genuine Rock God go next? What is left to conquer after conquering the world? The silver screen, baby...
Hot on the heels of his recent stint as a guest DJ at radio stations across the country and as a frequent guest on the Howard Stern Show, the Diamond One is turning to acting and starting to flex his thespian chops. His MTV Dave-TV spots back in the day paved the way for his recent VH-1 special (David Lee Roth - VH1 Classic 4th of July Christmas Special) and commentator role (The Greatest: 50 Greatest Funny Moments In Music, The Greatest: 40 Greatest Celebrity Feuds, I Love The 70s: 1970, etc.), which in turn lead to Dave getting the thespian bug. Last year, he appeared on HBO's smash hit The Sopranos as a poker-playing guest of Tony Soprano, and has more gigs in the pipeline.
"Mom says I'm going to look like Lee Marvin in 10 years whether I'm in movies or not," Dave laughs. "So I might as well get after it!"
Dave is also turning his attention to the written page with a follow-up to his best selling autobiography Crazy From the Heat. In the tome, Roth unchained his life story and career in full gory detail with the same wise-ass, carnal force and hedonistic abandon that has flavored his music through his platinum selling career. His next book, The Tao of Dave: Rock 'n' Roll Philosophy with David Lee Roth, will find the self-proclaimed toastmaster of the immoral majority dispensing knowledge, wisdom, action packed anecdotes and knock-you-on-your-ass chili recipes amidst a collection of personal artwork and photos in what is sure to be the most off-the-hook philosophy book ever written.
Music? Books? Acting? To say he's lead a colorful life in an understatement. Yet for Diamond Dave, the adventure is hardly over, and the party has just begun.
"I simply have to be creative all the time," admits Dave. "I have to create new things. I never have writers block. You wanna figure out something to shoot? This is not an issue. You want some lyrics? This is not a problem. All of the ideas are constant. If nothing else, I am aware of what's going on around me. I always feel like I'm missing something unless I stay completely applied."
So is it really Dave's world and we all just live in it?
"I know the world doesn"t revolve around Dave," he laughs, "but I like to think it does."