David Lee Roth’s Confession About Alex Van Halen
There is always one member in a band, if not a few, that brings out everyone’s crazy side and establishes the spirit of an act. The troublemaker usually carries the band to the headlines and encourages some kind of commerciality, whether good or bad. Even though the musician often slays on stage and contributes to the band’s reputation, his backstage antics occasionally involve the police or other authorities trying to sort out the situation.
The troublemaker in Van Halen and the band member who formed the aura and spirit of the band were none other than drummer Alex Van Halen. Although David Lee Roth previously mentioned the frenzy Alex had brought to Van Halen over the years they performed together as a unit, Roth admitted that he was also the band’s soul.
In the biography that Ian Christe wrote called ‘Everybody Wants Some: The Van Halen Saga,’ released in 2007, there were confessions from David Lee Roth about Alex Van Halen’s troublesome nature that created several problems for Van Halen over the years.
Although his bandmates usually joined his antics, there were instances where David Lee Roth and their management team felt the need to take control of the situation. Roth gave some examples in the aforementioned memoir of incidents involving Alex doing stuff that caused a stir.
Alex was obsessed with massive displays and making huge scenes in their shows. One night, in particular, Alex wanted to re-create one of his famous pyro displays in a motel parking lot. The drummer had found a pile of black rubber tires and was ecstatic with the idea of filling the sky with black smoke, so he tried to light the rubber on fire with a pack of matches. However, a policeman was waiting nearby with his gun drawn. Eventually, the officer asked him what he was doing, halting his plans.
There was also a time when Alex accidentally lit his hair on fire onstage. After the incident, the band concluded that Alex would no longer douse his drumsticks and entire drum set with burning lighter fluid and would leave the pyrotechnics to the professionals that knew how to properly use them without harming anyone.
The frenzy Alex brought everywhere he went had reached an astonishing level, as damage reports were piling up due to his actions. Christe wrote about those mentioned by Van Halen’s management in his book. There were reports of broken lamps, shattered hotel room mirrors, and unhinged bathroom doors. As if that weren’t enough, there were cases where toilet seats were found in parking lots, and multiple room service cars were destroyed in several states.
Diamond Dave, however, admired what Alex had brought to the band. Even though he was the troublemaker and had bit out more than he could chew most of the time, Roth explained Alex’s role, saying, “Drummers are people who make their living beating things with sticks. Alex has got to be the main spirit of Van Halen—we named the band after him.”
While all this was going on, David Lee Roth was the anchor that kept everything together for Van Halen with his entrepreneurial skills that pushed the band to new levels that the Van Halen brothers could have only dreamed of. However, with Roth’s networking skills and unique showmanship, the band reached new lengths until Eddie Van Hallen’s passing, which resulted in their separation.