David Lee Roth Says ‘I’m Not A Howard Stern Duplication’ And Reveals The Reason His Show Was A Failure

During a recent conversation on The Joe Rogan Experience, Van Halen’s former frontman David Lee Roth talked about the time he was hired to replace Howard Stern’s radio show after its departure from terrestrial to Sirius Satellite Radio and said that although they told him to be himself, they didn’t allow him to.

As you may recall, back in 2006 Diamond Dave was asked to host ‘The David Lee Roth Show‘ which would replace Howard Stern’s show. Although the plan seemed solid, it didn’t work as they expected it to and Dave said that this was because CBS Radio was trying to prevent him from being himself but instead expected him to be a Howard Stern duplicate.

Roth had already shared his experience working as a radio show host in some of his sketches and had expressed the sadness and frustration that he felt because of the restricting and negative comments he received from CBS Radio and the listeners. The main problem with his show was that while people expected it to be a ‘classic rock themed‘ one, it was a more different one.

Roth played ethnic and non-commercial rock tracks and didn’t hesitate to explore other genres such as reggae. He would often have some music in the background and initiate unconventional debates and invite interviewees such as Queen’s Brian May but non-rockstars too, such as the baseball player Johnny Damon.

For instance, he said that when he played Bob Marley for the first time, CBS Radio told him ‘You can’t play this. You have a rock and roll audience’ and even though Roth protested this stance by saying that this is what rock and rollers listen to during vacations, they would advise him to play Nickelback and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Here’s what David Lee Roth said during the interview:

“You can’t win if they expect you to be the same thing. My ratings were going up, everything was zooming, man. We were booming. And what they wanted was a repeat of what Howard was doing, and I just refused to do that. I was untenable. I was playing black music in the background. I was bringing in guests that had nothing to do with rock and roll.

What they said was ‘be yourself,’ but I think what they expected was a duplication of a hero, and I’m not a duplication… They expected that I was going to duplicate what would have come before because it seems to be a tradition.

When you put me in charge, it’s a lot closer to what we’re doing here. You know the term ‘waba-sabi’ — it means that which is a little roughed up at the edges. We were changing the audience. I would play Bob Marley, and they would say, ‘You can’t play this. You have a rock and roll audience.’

And I’d go, ‘This is what rock and rollers listen to on vacation.’ And they’d go – serious quote – they would say, ‘No, no. We want you to play Nickelback.’ It was Nickelback and Lynyrd Skynyrd. And I said, ‘I have news for you: when Lynyrd Skynyrd goes to the Bahamas on vacation, they listen to Bob.’ Bob Marley is the sound of vacation to rock and rollers.”

He went on to say:

“I was playing background music throughout my talking. Like right now, I would be having music congruent in the background to what we would be discussing… And I’d have an intro from a Wilson Pickett tune, or I’d loop a musical intro from Kool & The Gang, or I’d loop the musical intro from some ‘Arabian Nights’ something or other.

And, ‘No, no, no, no. This is classic rock. We wanna stay in classic rock mode. We want to stay with classic rock-type guests on your program.'”

You can listen to the whole interview below.