29 Years Ago: David Lee Roth Quits Van Halen
The group, featuring guitarist wonder Eddie Van Halen were then in the midst of a seven-year run of huge albums and sold-out tours. In fact, they had just scored a first-ever chart topper with ‘Jump.’ Despite this obvious setback, a retooled Van Halen would maintain its commercial momentum with the addition of Sammy Hagar, though the move sparked a war of words that lasted for decades.
“Sammy does his job; he does well,” Roth memorably told Howard Stern, in a 1997 interview. “Sammy’s a singer, but it’s the difference between a single word. Sammy is a singer, David Lee is the singer.”
Roth exited Van Halen having already released a platinum-selling four-song EP on December 31, 1984, ‘Crazy from the Heat,’ which had spawned a pair of heavy-rotation videos focusing on remakes of ‘California Girls’ and ‘Just a Gigolo/I Ain’t Got Nobody.’ A development deal with Columbia Pictures followed, though the proposed ‘Crazy from the Heat’ movie never materialized.
Roth also signed a solo recording contract with Warner Brothers, and released a pair of platinum albums between 1986-88 before beginning a long, often circuitous journey back toward his old band. Meanwhile, Hagar helped Van Halen to their first-ever No. 1 album with 1986’s ‘5150,’ before eventually departing a decade later.
By the 2000s, the two would find themselves switching out as frontmen for Van Halen. Roth recorded a pair of new songs for a 1996 greatest hits package that marked Hagar’s initial exit from the group. Roth then reportedly returned for a brief stint in 2001. Hagar, who now fronts Chickenfoot, rejoined Van Halen for a 2004 tour that ended in anger. Roth returned (seemingly for good) in 2007, and in 2012 the group released their first album in over a decade, ‘A Different Kind of Truth.’ The group is rumored to be currently working on a new record.