The Singer David Lee Roth Imitated In Van Halen
Finding sources of inspiration is key to artists while creating an original musical style. However, the source of inspiration in itself is not enough since it needs to evolve into something unique. Artists have to synthesize it with their own style and turn it into an authentic one. While there can be numerous ways to derive inspiration, listening to others’ music is common since it introduces new ways of doing things.
It pushes musicians to think more creatively and encourages them to try new things if they are open enough to embrace them. If there is no inspiration, the creative process can turn into a torture. Like every singer in the music world, Van Halen’s iconic frontman David Lee Roth also had some artists who fuelled his creativity while he was trying to form an original singing style.
Whose Vocals Did David Lee Roth Mimic In Van Halen?
Van Halen’s original singer David Lee Roth is known for his wide vocal range, making him one of the most versatile hard rock vocalists. His soulful delivery of the Van Halen songs was one of the determining factors that brought the band enormous commercial success and international popularity. Besides his powerful voice, Roth was also a great frontman, making Van Halen’s shows a must-see.
He perfectly embodied the party-hard rock and roll spirit of that time with his charismatic and energetic stage presence. While most Van Halen fans compare Roth to the band’s other singer Sammy Hagar, he generally holds a special place in the fans’ hearts due to his distinctive characteristics as a frontman. Throughout his journey with Van Halen, DLR looked up to many prominent names who contributed to his musical style.
In 2012, Diamond Dave sat down with the Guardian’s Michael Hann for an interview and reflected on Van Halen’s golden age in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Talking about Van Halen’s iconic sound, Roth explained that he could point out many artists whom they had taken their inspirations from.
Besides the names like Eric Clapton and Bruce Springsteen, Roth would imitate David Bowie’s vocals while singing Van Halen’s pieces. According to the singer, this was the natural process of creating a signature sound, and there was no other way than imitating the others. So, Diamond Dave started to mimic everyone from different musical styles as he knew that he would eventually find his style.
Here is what David Lee Roth said about his inspirations:
“I can point for you and go: right there we’re imitating Eric Clapton; right there I’m imitating vocally David Bowie; right there is Bruce Springsteen. But this is how you create a signature sound. If you’re lucky to have it, there’s no way around it.
I actively imitated everything from the Nicholas Brothers tap dancing to Mick Jagger going, ‘Oooh yeah!’ But because of whatever, it never sounds like anything to you but David Lee. And when Edward plays, you might never have heard the material before, but you instantly recognize it as fast as, say, Jimi’s guitar.”
Considering his statements, it seems like David Lee Roth saw imitation as a stimulating experience rather than a problematic thing. He tried to get his influences in his bones and regarded it as an essential process to create an original sound in the end.