antiMUSIC is pleased to welcome aboard with Chuck DiMaria, who will be giving us his 2 cents every week on a variety of music topics.
As always the views expressed by the writer do not neccessarily reflect the views of antiMUSIC or the iconoclast entertainment group
David Lee Roth is never going to front Van Halen again.
It took me almost twenty years to finally figure that one out. (Not bad, given the density of my skull.) But the reality has finally and inexorably set it.
It's over, baby. The fat lady sang, took her bow and is currently dining at Spago.
I'll bring those of you who weren't there pre-1984 up to date:
Once upon a time, there was a real badass walking the face of the planet. His name was Roth and he fronted a band out of Pasadena called Van Halen.
It was a glorious time to own a radio.
Unmistakable guitar riffs, unmistakable background vocals and the unmistakable scream of David Lee Roth.
But, as all good things do, it ended. And it was a pretty messy divorce. Accusations, innuendo, you name it. Some blamed Eddie, some Dave and some even blamed Val. (I doubt it was her fault, though. I'm clinging to my hopes that she's still a nice Italian girl.)
Roth went on to score some hits after that,
but never quite managed to take it to original VH level. The brothers
Van Halen did pretty nicely for themselves, though. Picked up Hagar
and hit the ground running.
Years went by and we (the fans) were often teased with the rumor of a VH reunion. But you can only cry wolf so many times.
And now, after losing Sammy, getting Gary, losing Gary, almost getting Dave then finally getting Sammy again, Van Halen is back on tour.
I always thought Gary Cherone was a stellar talent. I was talking to him once right after he got the job. I told him congratulations, but he just shrugged his shoulders and said, "We'll see what happens. I think he was just trying to keep things in perspective.
And to Gary's credit, he's the one lead singer that Eddie never said an ill word about. Not one. That tells you something there.
I've watched this man tear up a soccer stadium full of screaming fans and it was a shame he didn't get a fair shot at this. Most people only knew him from More Than Words. Too bad, because the man rocks.
So Sammy is back with Mike, Alex and Eddie while Dave is currently doing his own thing, be it as an EMT, an extra on The Sopranos or fronting the Boston Pops. (He tends to keep busy – I doubt he'll ever sweat the rent.) And Gary's got Tribe of Judah now.
But what do we have?
You know, it wasn't that I was hoping for a reunion because of the sense of nostalgia. It wasn't like I was hoping to see a bunch of chicks with blue eye shadow and tube tops on heading towards the show. (Well, maybe a little…)
All I really wanted was to see those four guys back on stage again. It was an amazing show. In their heyday, back in the late 70's and very early 80's, the guys were just hungry for it. You could see it in everything they did.
Watching them on stage was a true experience. Hard to believe this was just a cover band out of Pasadena only a few years before. Now they were setting the world on fire.
It was inspiring. Made you want to start a rock band. At least it did for me. I can trace it back to one live video for a song called So This Is Love. The video ended and I knew that was what I wanted to do.
I had never seen a bunch of guys having that much fun on stage before in my life. Damn few since then, too.
I'm sure a lot of the people who frequent this site aren't only fans of music, but also musicians themselves. They know what I'm talking about. You only get that kind of magic once in a great while onstage. You can take some of the best players out there, put them in a room together and get absolute garbage out of them.
But every once in a while, you get a bunch of players where the whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts. It's what every band dreams of.
They had it. They definitely had it.
Of course, they had a lot of success with Sammy in the band, no doubt about it. It wasn't the same. Neither worse nor better, just different. But it wasn't Van Halen.
Same thing with Dave's post-Van Halen bands: All great players, but no "me wise magic". Hell, he even had Steve Vai and Billy Sheehan playing with him at one point, but it just wasn't the same.
Neither worse nor better, just different. But it wasn't Van Halen.
You take it personally when something happens
to your favorite band or favorite player. Maybe it's because we need
That was something Rikki Rocket told me once. We were having a smoke in a cigar bar in Woodland Hills – A little place called Sierra Cigar. My buddy Al ran the joint.
Rikki is still one of the most approachable, down-to-Earth guys you'd ever want to meet. "We need rock stars, Chuck," he said, "we need heroes."
Maybe Rikki was right. When you're looking up at those guys on stage, you're really not thinking to yourself, "Wow, did you see the way he justified that chord progression with the diminished minor at the end? Outstanding!" Not likely.
What you're probably thinking is, "Wow, I wanna be just like this guy." And that's a hero.
They walked and talked and did whatever the hell they wanted. What's not to admire?
So I wasn't really all that interested in seeing David Lee Roth with the Boston Pops over the weekend. I doubt it could compete with the Fair Warning World Tour.
They set a pretty high standard.
When you're trying to get a record deal – a bunch of guys with nothing more than their instruments, their drive and their dreams – you've got your whole life to write that first album.
Try doing it while your bouncing around in a tour bus for 10 months and you'll see the problem. It's a different world when you break on through to the other side. That's the funny thing about being hungry; you do whatever you gotta do to get to that feast. Then you eat your fill and – surprise - you're no longer hungry.
Enter the dreaded sophomore jinx. Some fall prey to it, some slide right by it. But eventually it will catch up to you.
The trick is to stay hungry, but that's no small feat. How do you stay hungry when you've got it all?
Maybe Steven Tyler was right. Maybe you do gotta lose to know how to win.
I think that's why I'm not really interested in a VH reunion anymore; they'll never be that hungry again. The standard is set way too high, and no matter what, it probably won't even come close.
Neither worse nor better, just different.
But it won't be Van Halen.
That's my two cents, now gimme my change.
Chuck DiMaria is Los Angeles based musician and antiMUSIC columnist. Check out his website ChuckDiMaria.com for more of his writings, MP3s and more (be sure to read about his adventures in online dating!!)
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