The Book


 

I did what I did with Van Halen in good faith and I left on good faith and I asked for no quarter. I asked for no settlement, nothing. And I guess that’s precisely what I got. I should have led with my fist instead of my heart, but that would have put me right down in the bottom of the barrel with the kind of thinking that I’m railing against now.

I’m very proud of what was that band and what was that show and what it did mean to people. It disgusts me that it has turned into the complete opposite. That it now represents everything that I spoke against, that we supposedly represented the converse of. I don’t want to have to remember that the team turned into that. Makes me question what the team was while I was a member.

Was it all bullshit? If nothing else, it confirms in my mind that from my standpoint—yours truly, David Lee—not a fraction. If nothing else, this kind of morbid, wounded animal anger aimed my way has caused me to look deep into that bathroom mirror and come back to you with "my shit was legit." It was for real. And perhaps the test is time. Because here I am, a decade and a half later, haven’t changed much. I look a little different, but not much. My sense of humor is about the same.

When I left Van Halen, it was not something that I was delighted to do. I was not celebrating. I was not relieved. It was one of the scariest moments in my life. I perceived that Van Halen was heading towards catastrophe. So do you ride that plane all the way into the sand? I said no, we’d already been through a year’s worth of the Hatfields and the McCoys with the bottle of moonshine in between—and I’m not a prince. I am not Mr. Not Guilty at all, but the chemistry between us was becoming morbid, it was becoming threatening and nonproductive. You can hear it in the music, it started turning melancholy right after I left. That’s great, there’s plenty of room for melancholy music, but it’s not my personal constitution.

Ed and I hugged each other and cried at my father’s house. I said, "Ed, your brother is up to two six-packs a day. Maybe if we get ourselves square, down the line we can reconvene, and I would love nothing more than that." I don’t think he understood. We went our own ways.

Some six months later, perhaps less, somebody deposited a stack of magazines as long as your forearm on my desk, full of all the new Van Halen interviews. It had been easier for them to put a new album together because I had worked with Edward on half of that album already. Brought in a new singer, went right to all those old tapes and started with that as their go point, so it was much easier for them to reconstruct. It was going to take me a considerable while longer. So that first stack of magazines landed in front of me, and it was a Van Halen hatred campaign that was peddled belligerently and strongly as it is to this day. This had been a spectacular group, spectacular writing unit and a sensational show, and if you got anywheres near any element of it, it changed your life.

And here we currently reside thirteen years later, same mudslinging, same kind of thinking from their camp. So I guess the most critical decision I have to make is, do I really describe some of their carryings on, on the road’? Or do I continue to be the quiet guy? Do I continue to be the nice guy? Ninety-nine percent of all the hijinks and carrying on was my contribution, but everybody had a proclivity. Everybody had a little side-bar to their story.

It’s unfortunate that this feuding has to continue all the way up until the present, because what Van Halen meant to a lot of people and myself in particular, was very positive. What it meant in the early days—read:

The time period that I was involved in the band—is hanging in there like an Indian summer. It’s still all over the radio, still in the magazines, people still ask questions about the breakup.

I guess the best I can say is: Don’t believe every syllable of everything that you read by everybody who wrote it. Go out and buy those records and see if you can hear the truth in the music. That’s my recommendation. Some of those records you may have to buy twice—just in case you want your best pal to listen in too so you can discuss it some more. Dolemite, motherfucker!

Copyright 1997 David Lee Roth Crazy From The Heat.

The above section is a small, condensed version of DLR's account of the events of the 1985 breakup of Van Halen. Containing 359 pages of text and many pictures, Crazy From The Heat is a must-have for every DLR and VH fan. Read all about the early days and every detail about the greatest rock and roll swindle of our lifetime: The VH reunion of 1996.