John 5 Recalls How His Van Halen Impersonation Convinced David Lee Roth To Hire Him
Rob Zombie guitarist John 5 opened up about the time when he joined former Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth’s band during a conversation with The Sessions, and apparently, John 5 got the job partially thanks to his best Van Halen impression during the audition recordings.
As some of you might know, John 5 started working with former Van Halen lead vocalist David Lee Roth back in 1998 when he was selected by Roth himself to work on his fifth studio album, ‘DLR Band’ which was released on June 9, 1998. John 5 worked with Roth for five years and also contributed to his 2003 album ‘Diamond Dave.’
While Rob Zombie guitarist had a fast and productive tenure with former Van Halen frontman, the background of how he actually got to meet with David Lee Roth is even more interesting. As John 5 revealed during an interview, it all started when he was reading Roth’s autobiography which had the number of his management company in the back.
After seeing the number, John 5 wanted to give it a shot and called David Lee Roth’s management company asking if they are looking for any musicians. While the answer was no, he was actually told to send a CD which resulted in sending three demo CDs. During the recording, John 5 did his best impression of Van Halen in order to get a job from David Lee Roth as he revealed and his recordings were liked by the company.
Here is what John 5 said:
“I was reading Roth’s 1998 autobiography ‘Crazy From the Heat.’ I was at my friend’s house. And there was a number in the back of the book where you could get ahold of the management company. And I thought to myself, ‘Hmm, I think I’m going to reach out and call this number and see what’s going on,’ ’cause I knew Dave wasn’t doing much at the time, and I loved Van Halen, and I loved Dave Lee Roth.
And I said, ‘Are you guys accepting any stuff right now or anything like that?’ And they said, ‘Well, not really. But you can send a CD, and we’ll see what we’ve got.’ And I was like, ‘Oh my god!’ Just that little bit, I was shocked. I was like, ‘This is insane.’ So I go there. I record with Bob Marlette, and I do my best Van Halen. I do ‘Slam Dunk’ and I do all these songs – of course, no vocals, just my best Van Halen impersonation.
And I sent it to them, and they said, ‘We like it. Can you send three more?’ I was like, ‘God. This is the most crazy thing ever.’ So, I did three more, and they said, ‘We like these too. Can you do three more?’ And I said, ‘I’m sorry, but I don’t have any more money.’ Back then, studios cost a lot of money. Now we can just be in our house and do it. And they said, ‘OK, well, Dave wants to meet you. Go to his house.'”
After being informed that he can meet David Lee Roth in order to make music, John 5 was over the moon and went to his house in which early Van Halen photoshoots and rehearsals were made. When the two first met, Roth praised John’s guitar playing and that’s the time when the two started working together.
“Listen, David Lee Roth is not around – he’s not hanging out. It’s very hard to meet David Lee Roth. And I go to his house. And this is the house where they filmed ‘Pretty Woman.’ They did all the photoshoots for the early Van Halen here, they rehearsed in this basement – this is the house. And there’s Dave in his overalls.
And he’s like, ‘John, great to see ya. We’re gonna make a record. I really like what you’re doing.’ And I was like, ‘Oh my God.’ I couldn’t believe it. And then, later on, I had him sign the book that made it all happen. And it says, ‘David Lee Roth, 1998.’ This was after I’m a little more comfortable with him, and I said, ‘Hey, Dave. Sign this.’ So, you just have to go after things and do things and make it work.“
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