Van Halen Reunion isn’t Rocket Surgery

David Lee Roth is campaigning to rejoin Van Halen as its lead singer, saying putting the band back together isn’t exactly “rocket surgery.”

Now that he’s lost his radio job, David Lee Roth is seeking gainful employment in another capacity — as lead singer of Van Halen. Again.

“I see it absolutely as an inevitability,” says Roth, who was deposed by CBS Radio in late April as one of Howard Stern’s replacements. “There’s contact between the two camps, and they have legitimate management; Irv Azoff is part of their loop now. “To me, it’s not rocket surgery. It’s very simple to put together. And as far as hurt feelings and water under the dam, like what’s-her-name says to what’s-her-name at the end of the movie ‘Chicago’ — ‘So what? It’s showbiz!’ So I definitely see it happening.” Despite that claim, Roth — who was Van Halen’s singer from 1974-1985 — acknowledges that he hasn’t seen Edward Van Halen “in a couple of years.” The last time Roth recorded with Van Halen was for the group’s “Best Of Van Halen Volume 1” album in 1996, though there have been periodic rumors ever since.

Roth isn’t sitting around while he waits for the call, however. He joins the John Jorgensen bluegrass band for two songs — “Jump” and “Jamie’s Cryin’ ” — on “Strummin’ With the Devil: The Southern Side of Van Halen,” a bluegrass-styled tribute to Van Halen. Roth calls it “a detour” as well as “an interesting return … Before there was rock ‘n’ roll, there was me and a single guitar, flat pickin’ Doc Watson (songs).” Roth plans to make a number of TV appearances on behalf of the album, which comes out June 6.

Roth is also planning to tour later this summer to play Van Halen hits — “I’m so proud of that music,” he says — favorites from his solo album and covers. He’ll leave the banjos and fiddles at home, though. “I like to bring out the brass section now and the keyboard players and the singers and so forth,” Roth explains. “It’s probably a little closer to the Rolling Stones’ revue than to the early three-piece power trio. But the demand is amazing; I guess I’m lucky enough to be one of those guys now who can point at the map and say ‘Let’s go here’ — or, rather, my favorite expression, which is ‘Let’s follow the sun.’ “

Given that Van Halen has been around far longer minus Roth than with him, I’m not sure this is in the cards. Still, the band’s best music was during that brief period when the original gang was together.

And I’ve just got to buy the Van Halen bluegrass tribute album.

Hat tip: Victorino Matus

Gone Hollywood

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. So you agree with Roth that it is not Rocket surgery but more akin to brain surgery or rocket science? In other words, it would be hard to do. As opposed to rocket surgery which should be easy given a) its hard for an inanimate object to die on the operating table and b) the diagrams should give you a much better idea of what goes where and why in contrast to the brain which we are still trying to figure out.