David Lee Roth Will Not Go Quietly

The image I have burned in my mind, when I think of David Lee Roth, is of him leaping into the air and doing the splits 15 feet above the stage. It’s hard not to conjure these images of Roth when his name appears, back in the 80’s, back when he was the face and voice (and hairy chest) of Van Halen. But what has he been up to lately?

In David Lee Roth Will Not Go Quietly, writer Steve Kandell shadows Roth around his life off-camera and offstage.

I remember hearing many years ago that Roth, very quietly, began working as an EMT – riding around in ambulances in NY and helping to save lives. There wasn’t a ton of PR around it, and it wasn’t part of some stunt to sell records. It was just something he did, a job he took on and applied himself to.

For years [Roth] went on ambulance calls all over New York City, and found that a life in the music business was good preparation for rushing to the aid of grievously injured people in the less picturesque corners of the city. “My skills were serious,” he says. “Verbal judo, staying calm in the face of hyper-accelerated emotion. Same bizarre hours. Same keening velocity.”

After so many years of only seeing or knowing about the larger than life image, it was interesting to read about Roth’s personal life – the lack of furniture in his house, his lower back problems, his love of Japanese katana swords and laido.

In a way, Roth and Michael Jordan are in similar situations – older and further away from the things that brought them fame, but still full of the energy and drive that defined their successes.

Though he’s back with VH now (minus Michael Anthony and plus Wolfgang Van Halen), it’s Roth the person that seems more interesting now.

Kandell does a nice job making you feel like you’re behind the scenes, listening in on a private conversation. And maybe it’s me not reading enough articles online, but it seemed apt to have, in an article covering David Lee Roth, at least one or two animated .gifs as decoration.

[via Longform]

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