Video killed the radio star

1 08 2011

On August 1, 1981 Music Television (cable network) launched with John Lack’s announcement “Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll” followed by the famous theme song (a hard rockin’ guitar riff by Jonathan Elias and John Peterson) and equally famous scene of the Apollo 11</a> moon landing boasting astronaut (Neil Armstrong) pushing an American flag into the moon below his feet, of course for the hip theme it was an MTV flag.

It was the beginning of a new era in music.  VJ’s (video jockeys) were the answer to radio’s DJ’s (disc jockeys).  Five young, unique, fresh faces were hired to fill these shoes.  A different world than what the radio generation was used to.  The original VJ’s were; Martha Quinn – your cute and spunky punk rock girl, Alan Hunter –  the clean cut, hip blonde male, Mark Goodman – a hunky, suave, dark haired male, with the hot rockin’ blonde Nina Blackwood and J.J. Jackson, the most experienced member of the group, always smiling and probably the most talented host.

The original format offered something new and different to music fans, the music video.  A music video is basically a short film created to accompany a song mainly for the purpose of marketing.  Although music videos were actually in existence prior to the debut of MTV, they were far and few between.  Prior to MTV, these videos were considered promotional videos that artists used to generate interest among producers, record companies and on rare occasions to promote new records to fans.  These promotional videos somewhat paled in comparison to what followed after the birth of MTV and were rarely shown on television.  Videos on MTV required much more than a simple live act, they needed to be a short film that would cultivate more interest among fans.  For this, a wide range of styles in filming technique had to be exercised including animation, live action film, and basically storytelling within abstract films.  This heightened the competition in the music industry because not only did your music have to sell itself, but you’d best have a good video to back it up.  In fact, often the popularity of the video outshined the music itself but still enabled the song to be a best seller.  Because visibility was used as a promotional tool in the record industry, the network was criticized for devaluing the importance of music by replacing quality with pure visual entertainment.  Ironically, the first video to debut on MTV that early August morning was “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles.  It was their only real hit, but rather historical and revealing as the song was written about the end of an era; telling of the golden days of radio ruined by television. (included in video above.)

Since it’s premier, MTV has made an intense and long lasting impact on the music, entertainment and media industries.  Slogans such as “I want my MTV” became etched in the minds of the 80’s pop culture generation and remained throughout.  MTV has also been referenced countless times in song lyrics, movies, books, and shows on other television stations.  One of the best known music references to MTV is  Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing” as the lyrics mock how the working man struggles to survive but the “yo-yos” on MTV “ain’t workin’” and are getting “Money for nothin’ and chicks for free.” Ironically, the video for this song became one of the most popular videos shown on the channel at that time.

The moral influence of MTV on young people has been debated throughout it’s existence. Parents Television Council (an American interest group formed to inform parents of television programming that is both beneficial and harmful to children) claims the network is a bad influence on it’s targeted audience.  The American Family Association (a non-profit organization that promotes conservative Christian values) has also criticized MTV for it’s negative moral influence.  In the 80’s the parent-media watchdog group, Parents Music Resource Center, fought MTV over certain music videos that were claimed to have explicit imagery of Satanism.  On the other side of these debates, the network was also under fire for being too politically correct and censoring too much of their programming.

Against all odds, MTV prevailed and in it’s early days was a catalyst to stardom for a large number of artists in the 80’s such as; Duran Duran, Def Leppard, Madonna, Culture Club, Mötley Crüe, Cydni Lauper, Adam Ant and countless other 80’s icons. MTV also played some famous classic rock acts heavily, placing them on a new plateau of popularity by reaching a wider spectrum such as; David Bowie, Journey, Genisis, Fleetwood Mac, Heart, Van Halen, ZZ Top and many more.

In it’s early years on air, MTV featured very few black artists in rotation.  Many black artist’s videos were rejected because they didn’t fit the rock dominated format at the time. During the uproar of black artists and other supporters of the fight to break the color barrier on MTV, Michael Jackson was among those artists denied airplay on the network.  In an effort to pressure the network to re-think the format, the president of CBS records made a strong statement by threatening to remove the network’s ability to play any videos by artists under the CBS label.  MTV claims they chose to add Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” video without being pressured, while CBS claims otherwise.  Regardless, “Billie Jean” seemed to be the video that broke the color barrier but is also claimed to be the video that brought the network out of struggle and into major popularity.  Jackson’s videos from the multi-platinum “Thriller” album (including “Billie Jean”) were credited for the mega success of MTV, thus causing the network to change the format to add R&B music.  This change also helped other black artists such as Prince and Whitney Houston enter the music revolution.

MTV is credited for turning music videos into both an art form and a marketing machine that became beneficial to artists.  Over time, MTV added several genres to the format and somewhat even created those genres such as alternative rock. Today, however, the general public seems to be disappointed with the ironic lack of music videos played on MTV.  While the original MTV network still broadcasts 24 hours a day, the actual showing of videos has (over time) dwindled to a maximum of only 3 hours per day.  The rest of the air time focuses on a completely different format, currently a large amount of reality shows and news programs about entertainment and politics.  However, today the network owns several sister channels that do broadcast more music videos though all pale in comparison to the original days of Music Television.  And to this, I say … I WANT MY MTV!!!

To see more of the early days of MTV, click here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LATTM7DkvWo
because TOO MUCH IS NEVER ENOUGH!!!

ABOUT THE ARTISTS MENTIONED IN THIS BLOG:

The Buggles:
An English New Wave band with only 2 studio albums and one hit single, “Video Killed the Radio Star”.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Buggles

Dire Straits:
British rock band active between 1977-1995 known for hits including “Sultans of Swing”, “Money for Nothing”, “Walk of Life” and “So Far Away”.  This band boasts one of the greatest yet most underrated guitar players in rock history, Mark Knopfler.  They’ve had 6 studio albums, all of which are very good.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dire_straits

Duran Duran:
An iconic 80’s new wave band from England who dominated the early days of MTV and were widely known as the “pretty boys of rock”.  They are still very popular today and have released 13 studio albums so far during their career with numerous top 40 hits.  In my opinion, this band represents the epitome of MTV in the 80’s.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duran_duran

Def Leppard:
Though their sound is mild by comparison today, Def Leppard was considered a British hard rock band when they crashed the scene on MTV and won the popularity contest with hits like “Photograph”, “Bringing on the Heartbreak”, “Pour Some Sugar on Me”, and “Hysteria”.  Like Duran Duran, this band also has the gift of longevity and is still popular despite their rough history which includes the death of 2 guitar players and a crippling auto accident leaving their drummer with one arm.  They have 11 studio albums and also numerous top 40 hits.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Def_Leppard

Madonna:
Perhaps no star from MTV’s golden era knows more about longevity than Madonna.  This All-American 52 year old sex goddess still holds the throne of top rock diva for many reasons.  While her image is ever changing with the times, her music has been and remains hip, happening and chart topping.  She has a remarkable legacy not only in music but in film and entertainment in general.  She also has 11 studio albums and countless top 40 hits.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madonna_%28entertainer%29

Culture Club:
The band Culture Club had one of the most controversial front men in music history, Boy George.  Another British new wave band to parade onto MTV and steal the hearts of many viewers, Culture Club had several popular dance hits including “Do Your Really Want to Hurt Me?”, “Time Clock of the Heart”, “Karma Chameleon”, and “Miss Me Blind”.  Though the band is no longer together, the music still remains popular and is featured in many films and documentaries based in the decade of decadence known as the 80’s.  In more recent years, Boy George has made the news in a negative light and has even dealt with criminal charges and remains recluse.  But, in their better days, the band 5 studio albums – 3 of which were big sellers.

Mötley Crüe:
Reminiscent of the glory days of Alice Cooper, the New York Dolls or Kiss this band brought back the theatrics of flashy rock music and they added a sound heavier than most on the market at this time.  Mötley Crüe were the true pioneers of what is labeled today as “hair metal” or “glam rock”, but in the 80’s this was considered a rather hard core sound and scene.  They were one of many up and coming metal bands from the Sunset Strip of L.A., California.  Still widely known and popular, they’ve sold nearly 100 million albums worldwide.  If any metal band has a colorful past it’s these guys.  They’re notorious for  bad behavior, bad reputations and just all around bad-ass-ness! Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%B6tley_Cr%C3%BCe

Cyndi Lauper:
Though she wasn’t quite Madonna’s nemesis and the two artists were very different, the uniqueness and charm of Cyndi Lauper made her tough competition … especially since she happens to be incredibly talented as well.  This American icon quickly rose to fame with her aptly titled debut album “She’s So Unusual” that including chart topping hits like “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and “Time after Time”.  She has always been a stand out artist among her peers and still tours for sold out audiences today.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyndi_Lauper

Adam Ant:
This British pretty boy’s career originally began with Adam and the Ants and later he went solo as Adam Ant.  A real heart throb for all the ladies during the 80’s, he seemed to bring a steamy sexuality to the small screen with his well known hit videos for “Goody Two Shoes” and “Strip”.  He was once voted the sexiest man in America by the MTV viewing audience.  Unfortunately, similar to Boy George, his almost come-back was shattered with criminal charges for bad behavior that landed him in a psychiatric hospital.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Ant

David Bowie:
It would be impossible to sum up this brilliant artist in a few sentences and I’m not even going to try! Bowie is best known for his work in the 70’s, but his hit making career spans from the late 60’s to current works.  He has released 24 studio albums, all of which are a must have for any avid music fan.  During MTV’s high point, Bowie released the album “Let’s Dance” which included popular videos for “Modern Love”, “China Girl”, and the title track “Let’s Dance”.  To learn more (and I suggest you do) click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Bowie

Journey:
Journey boasted one of the most iconic lead vocalists ever to grace rock music, Steve Perry.  Though this All-American rock band debuted in the mid-70’s, the 80’s was their time to shine.  Their catalog of music is a catalog of top 40 hits and I struggle to think of a song they recorded in the 80’s that wasn’t a chart topper … I don’t think it exists.  While they didn’t share the theatrics and style of video making that many of their competitors did during the 80’s, they won audiences over with classic simple videos that displayed their talent lyrically, musically and vocally.  This band is always imitated and never duplicated.  In 1998 Perry left the band with no rumors of a reunion since and, though Journey still tours with numerous replacement singers, without Perry things have never been the same.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journey_%28band%29

Genisis:
Genisis formed in the late 60’s with Peter Gabriel as their lead singer.  And, much like Bowie, it would be hard to sum this band up in a few sentences.  But, in the 80’s they became famous with  Phil Collins as their lead singer as well as drummer.  Though they were considered progressive rock in their earlier days, during the 80’s I think they would be best described as controversial in some ways with their political lyrics and thought provoking music.  However, they were also know for some meaningful love songs.  Collins brought them into the mainstream and to the peak of their popularity, but left the band for an equally popular solo career in the mid 80’s which kept him as a familiar face on MTV.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genisis_%28band%29

Fleetwood Mac:
Like Genisis or Bowie, attempting to summarize the history of Fleetwood Mac is nearly impossible.  This was, however more of a 70’s band than 80’s though MTV did help keep their career in tact with a few hits like “Little Lies” and “Big Love”.  The band seemed to have a revolving door with members and their romances which included Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham who seemed to be more popular in the days of MTV with their solo works.  But, never the less, Fleetwood Mac is historically one of the best known bands in rock history with top selling albums and singles decade after decade and are touring today with all of the original band members… well, the 2nd wave original band members anyway.  Yeah, there’s no way to sum this history up so just learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fleetwood_Mac

Heart:
This great band went through 2 major phases of popularity, or you could say it didn’t end.  In the 70’s they were a pleasant surprise or alternative to mainstream rock music because they were a sister power duo with the phenomenal lead vocals of Ann Wilson and the sultry lead guitar of Nancy Wilson.  In the 80’s they gained popularity on MTV with power ballads and videos showcasing their sex appeal such as “What about Love”, “These Dreams”, “Alone”, and “Nothing at All”.  But, most people will remember their iconic hits from the 70’s like “Barracuda”, “Magic Man”, and “Crazy on You”.  However, nobody was complaining about being able to see this vixens in video! They’re still popular and still touring… and their still kicking ass, take it from me cause I just saw them live a couple of months ago and was left feeling satisfied yet longing for more! Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heart_%28band%29

Van Halen:
I have to laugh because probably the main reason I can’t sum up this band in just a few sentences is because they are unequivically one of my all time favorite bands.  My opinions would be biased here and perhaps unfair to the reader… but here goes…
Van Halen has had 3 lead singers over the last 3 decades, but in my opinion only one that matters … the iconic and unmatched David Lee Roth (who recently reunited with the band and they are touring and doing a fantastic job!).  So, I have to warn you that I will  only be referring to the David Lee Roth era (even thought he Sammy Hagar era was very popular as well).  Van Halen burst into rock music fame in the late 70’s with their multi platinum self titled album that included the unforgettable hits “Running with the Devil” and “You Really Got Me”.   Now, I could comb over their entire history in fine detail here, but I’ll just cover the 80’s MTV era of popularity for Van Halen which is the height of their career.
“1984” was the album of the 80’s.  Everybody who’s anybody had that album! While this album brought the band ultimate success with chart topping hits such as “Hot for Teacher”, “Panama”, “I’ll Wait” and “Jump” it also brought the demise of the David Lee Roth era as egos began to outshine the talent and caused band members, namely David and namesake/lead guitarist Eddie Van Halen to butt heads until David left to persue a solo career which also brought him much fame in the 80’s/MTV era. Anyway, you can learn more from me personally (lol) or click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_Halen

ZZ Top:
Was well known for their classic videos of the 80’s, even though they were a very popular 70’s band.  ZZ Top videos told a story, and because they were so downright cool the songs behind them became wildly popular such as “Legs”, “Sharp Dressed Man” and “Gimmie All Your Lovin”.  This Texas Based Southern Rock band has a bluesy rock sound backed by legendary musicians Billy Gibbens, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard.  Though MTV may have given this band commercial success, ZZ Top had been a success for many years before and has remained a success to this day.  Unfortunately, time has not been kind to the band and even though they still have music in their hearts Billy Gibbens’ health issues has crippled touring and any new projects.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zz_top

Michael Jackson:
In all seriousness, I’m sure I haven’t had to define who any of these artists are in this blog but at the very least I know I don’t have to explain Michael Jackson.  He is, after all, “The King of Pop” and one of the most well known artists in the history of music… ever… only to compete with Elvis Presley or the Beatles, but in all seriousness… probably more known.  I have to say I feel it would be a waste of my time to try to summarize his career or life at all in this blog or anywhere else.  There are countless movies, documentaries, news articles and so fourth about him and he is particularly in the current news as the world mourns the anniversary of this death one year ago this week.  I doubt I even need to offer you a link to learn more about him, but here it is anyway: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Jackson

Prince:
In my opinion, no truer an artist (musically) by definition than this man.  He can and will do anything… anything… and do it amazingly well.  He writes, composes, plays every instrument, acts, and just downright shines at everything he even attempts! He spews sex appeal, emotion and passion in all of his works.  He’s controversial, political, and phenomenal at all times.  His career began in the 70’s and was an underground success that overtook the 80’s with steamy videos and unforgettable movies of his own as well as his work with other artists (song writing, record producing…etc…).  A real genius in my opinion and yet another artist I couldn’t possibly summarize.  Prince manipulates multiple genres of music including rock and R&B (an incredible feat).  Some of his more notable MTV era hits are “1999”, “Little Red Corvette”, “Purple Rain” and “When Doves Cry”.  But, really, summarizing Prince just does him and you a real injustice so please, learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_%28musician%29

Whitney Houston:
Actress, model and notable performer, Whitney Houston had a million dollar act the moment she danced onto the small screen with her first hit “How Will I Know”.  America fell in love with this knock out vocalist who had all the elements missing from the 80’s female R&B scene.  Once MTV got a hold of her, there was no turning back on one of the most notable careers any female artist could ever hope for.  She seemed to be a hit making machine and as her career grew she also dominated the big screen.  Recognized as one of the best known divas in music history, Whitney became a multi-millionaire almost overnight with hit after hit, but behind the scenes she led a very troubled life that would end up crippling her career and today she struggles to make a comeback.  However, she still has the talent so I suspect that once she gets her act together she can have a very strong return to the industry.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitney_Houston

Who do you remember most from the MTV era? Did you love it or hate it? What are your thoughts on this topic? What do you think of MTV today?

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David Lee, are you talking to me?

11 01 2011

I will try to make a very long story short here, but I’m afraid I will have to begin this story in 1978 for you to grasp the depth of the miraculousness of it all.  So, here goes …

At the tender age of 6 I became a rocker.  I was a tom boy and not overly interested in girly things, but steadily forced into dresses and pig tails by my mom.  I was interested in finding myself at a very early age and uninterested in popularity or any of that mess.  I wanted to be tough, even though I was tiny.

I was raised in a very strict, Italian, Catholic home.  I had a stay-at-home mother and hard working father.  Anyway, I’m supposed to make this short so I’ll cut the details and get to one of the main household rules I liked to break … That was touching the parents’ stereo.  It was one of those old school big chests that had a record player and an ever-so-modern 8 track player.  Though children were not allowed to touch it, whenever the parents were away my two older siblings paid me no mind as they were teenagers doing their own thing so I would sneak to that amazing chest and put the giant headphones on, turning the knobs until I discovered something I thought sounded cool.  And then it happened … I was forever changed … by this sound:  It was like nothing I’d ever heard before.  It was raw, tough, heavy and completely different than what anyone I knew anywhere was listening to.  It rocked! I was instantly changed forever … and forever after I was a rocker chick! Full throttle ahead I began saving my allowance until I could purchase my first Van Halen record.  In other words, loose change from my grandfather to buy candy on a daily basis was saved as I fasted from my candy fix for about one year until my parents finally agreed to take me to the Sound Shop in the mall to buy Van Halen I.  Low and behold, Van Halen II had already been released and I didn’t even realize that I would have to decide between two albums.

By this time I was 7, and had not seen the band but only listened to them on the radio whenever I could.  When I laid my eyes on the lifesize, cardboard display of David Lee Roth splitting in spandex pants seductively over the Van Halen section I lost it … I really lost it … I jumped up and grabbed hold of it and had to have it, even if it cost my every last dime … literally.  My parents had to peel me off of it, begging the clerks to sell it to them to no avail.  I was in tantrum mode, but still left with Van Halen I in my possession.

Flash forward to 1984, to a 6th grade girl wearing holy jeans and Van Halen T-shirts to school daily and singing praises of their latest album.  A girl who had “I love David Lee Roth”  and  sketches of the Van Halen symbol sketched on every book cover.  A girl in love … with an untouchable rock icon.  Yes, that girl was me, of course.  Scrawny, late blooming, overlooked rocker chick Susan. I guess I really didn’t even notice that I was the ugly duckling, because I was still in that frame of mind that I wanted to be tough and completely un-girly! My world revolved around Van Halen mostly and other rock bands that were coming out at the time …  Bands that Van Halen opened the door for with their unique rock style. (Later, these would be known as hair bands)

It wasn’t until high school that I realized I was still late to blooming and unwanted.  Yeah, when all my guy friends I used to rock out with in Junior High no longer wanted to be seen with me because they were busy with the girly girls who had boobs and such.   Van Halen had crumbled after their biggest selling album, 1984, and my life seemed to be painfully crumbling too… I was holding on to dreams … dreams that I believed would never come true.  Dreams of being desirable to guys, and still dreaming even deeper of being desirable to rock stars.  But still, my life long dream was to someday be able to meet David Lee Roth … perhaps even cling to him the way I did that cardboard cut out of him at the record store so many years before…

I graduated in 1990 and still hadn’t blossomed.  Still fought for the attention of guys unsuccessfully and still prayed for Van Halen to reunite with David Lee Roth.  It seemed that none of my dreams would ever come true, but that summer things changed dramatically.  After an 18 year battle with a complicated illness (that’s a whole other blog I’ll write someday) I got the medical attention I needed and was on the path to healing.  With that healing came my late puberty.  With my late puberty came the swan from the ugly duckling … and with that swanlike existence came all the attention from the opposite sex I could’ve ever wanted.

It was a brand new world to me.  I didn’t know how to handle it.  Fortunately, early in my days of glory I settled down with a great guy for many years.  He too was a swan from ugly duckling, so we made a perfect match. But, sadly, all good things must come to an end and we broke up because he needed to “find himself” and I was left alone in a sea of sharks, who all wanted to take a bite of me the moment I was cast back out to sea.  And bite they did.  They shredded me up.  One bad relationship begot another, or so it seemed, and heartache relentlessly plagued me for years.  I had come to the realization that if it wasn’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.  And once again, I found myself dreaming of what would never be … my rock stars whom were always my secret lovers and best friends for all of my years, who never let me down … even though the days of hair band glory were long forgotten.

And then came the millennium.  Which really pleased me because the 90’s were a gloomy and dark time for me, so I had a lot of hope that the new century would bless me … and so it did … in ways I never believed it would.

Hair bands were coming back into popularity for some strange reason, and I was on top of my game.  I wasn’t the ugly duckling who wasn’t old enough to go to their concerts, I was the perfect age at the perfect time to see everyone I ever loved live and usually in perfect settings such as small venues because they weren’t top dollar bands any more as far as the industry was concerned, but to me they were some of the most awesome musicians ever.  But, that wasn’t the most amazing part … you see the most amazing part was time and time again these rock icons who were monumentous in my life history were choosing me to go backstage and party with them.  Little ol’ Susan among tons of busty, Playboy bunny types surrounding me … they would point me out and invite me over and over.  I was never happier in all of my years.  So many times I would go home and wish that I could travel back in time to tell that crying teenage girl or that broken hearted young lady; “Someday, Susan, your dreams will come true…”

And then it happened … headline news … David Lee Roth was coming to my area.  I was frantic just reading it.  After this long spell of meeting rockers, would he be on my list? The ultimate rocker? The love of my life? Would I truly get to meet him? I was doubtful. He was like a King, like a God, the greatest front man of all time … a total legend.  Nah, I wouldn’t get to meet him because he would be surrounded by an entourage and be totally untouchable … but still, I had to go see him as I had only waited my whole life to be in his presence … seriously, my whole life!!!!

The day of the show, my best friend (of over 20 years!), Melanie, and I booked a room to stay overnight at the casino Dave was to perform at.  We spent the day laying out at the pool as she consistently tried to calm me, knowing that I was extremely and overly excited about the pending show.  Many drinks and hours of relaxation to no avail, I was still anxious in a childlike state reminiscent of that day I went to the Sound Shop 25 years prior! Moments before we left to the show, I went into the bathroom privately and kneeled on the floor and literally I prayed to God to watch over me because I knew that my life has sent me in a direction in which I would meet such celebrities and I would need a guardian angel to keep me in check if I had the opportunity to meet David Lee Roth!!!  Melanie was truly concerned for my well being as she was well aware of my immeasurable infatuation with Dave.

And so, there we were, third row from David Lee Roth … singing his heart out and twisting my heart with his every scream, his every acrobatic move, his every breath … tears streaming down my cheeks as I thought I would never be so blessed as to be so near to this man I had longed to see for 25 long years!!!  Well, I guess Dave could see my beaming adoration because he pointed at me and motioned for me to approach the stage.  I was frozen and people around me had to thrust me toward him for me to realize that YES… Dave was, in fact, motioning to ME! I thought my heart would beat out my chest.  I stood at the edge of the stage as he sang a couple of songs to me, gazing into my adoring eyes.  Time stood still, I was a six year old, a sexually confused teen and an adoring woman all at once!  Dave fed into it, of course, and couldn’t resist teasing me from the stage.

As the show came to a close, he grabbed my face forcefully in his hand … squeezing my cheeks and I thought this was the peek of my existence.  Then, he pointed at me and suddenly security grabbed me and began pulling me away! I was dazed and confused as if I was on some strange drug.  I grabbed Melanie, my last source of reality, and we were yanked behind the stage.

“Dave would like to see you, alone!” The security guard said.
I was speechless.
“She can’t go alone,” Melanie heroically said. (Thank Goodness!)

Moments later … there he was … across the room … smiling … DAVID F***ING LEE ROTH!!!!!!

And I just stood there … frozen … crying … spastic!

He motioned for me to come to him.  I pointed at myself, confused, and asked “ME?”
“Yes, you!” He laughed.

Slowly I walked to him, Melanie in tow.

“So, did you enjoy the show?” He asked.
I burst into tears.
“She loved it,” Melanie laughed.  “Trust me!”
“Can I… Can I hug you?” I muttered as I gazed at my dream come true.
“Absolutely!” He smiled.
I threw my arms around him and the tears began to flow. “I’ve waited my whole life for this moment!” I exclaimed.
He ate it up.  He loved it!

So, we ended up on the illustrious tour bus of David Lee Roth! Inside was all black leather and dim lighting as if we were in a lounge.  I was seating on a leather horse shoe shaped couch when Dave slid up very close beside me and wrapped his larger than life arms around me and began to whisper in my ear about how adorable I was in a voice I had only previously known through music.  A raspy, sexy, melodious, rock God voice much like the spoken part of “Panama” …. (skip to 2:50 on the video below to see what I mean)

Needless to say, his constant praises of me were making me very dizzy and fumbling foolishly over my words as Melanie consistently reminded him that he was fucking with my head and that he had no idea of the effects this entire event was having on me.  It’s very VERY good that she was there with me the whole time.  He persisted to whisper sweet nothings in my ear as Melanie quizzed him about his musical career and such and I was persistently fumbling.  Finally after a few glasses of Merlot and sharing a smoke with him, I gathered my composure and was able to somewhat loosen up … though he remained consistent with the sweet nothings.

Otherwise,  he spoke in rhythm and rhyme with great flamboyance! He was fun, gracious and very entertaining.  One of the funniest parts was;  when we first got on the bus he shook his rear end, squeezed into leather pants, in my face and said “How do you like my ass?” Hysterical, right? But anyway, as I said before … it was indeed very good that my best friend was there as my guardian because I have no idea what could have happened to me in my dazed state of hysteria without her protection!

And after all was said and done, I looked back and thought … once again … of the little girl in the record store clinging to a cardboard Dave, and to the lonely teen who kissed his posters goodnight.  It still makes me smile that the one thing I wanted so badly for all of my years … the one thing I never dreamed possible actually did happen … TO ME!!!

David Lee Roth is an American rock vocalist, songwriter and author among other notable careers.  Though he is best known as the original lead singer for Van Halen, he also has a popular career as a solo artist.  Roth exited Van Halen after their highest grossing album, 1984, topped the charts.  Conflict within the band’s egos led them to go separate ways.  Roth’s solo career offered several platinum and gold albums while Van Halen had continued success with a different sound and a new lead vocalist.  Without Van Halen, the band and brand he helped bring to superstardom, his solo career eventually stalled, and he went on to explore other career alternatives. Sometimes referred to as Diamond Dave, he rejoined Van Halen in 2007 (much to the joy of the band’s fanbase) for a North American tour that became the highest grossing tour in the band’s history. David Lee Roth is referred to in many (rock) media outlets as the greatest heavy metal singer of all time.  His powerful and unique vocals changed the face of rock music much in the same way as his famous band mate, Eddie Van Halen’s guitar playing also changed rock music.

Soon after Van Halen’s debut, Roth became well-known for his flamboyant showmanship. The 1983 Rolling Stone Record Guide Vol 2. described Roth as “the most obnoxious singer in human history, an achievement notable in the face of long tradition and heavy competition.” Although often noted more for physical than for technical vocal prowess, Roth’s bluesy baritone voice and distinctive screams coupled with his humorous and campy lyrics were integral to Van Halen’s sound. Roth is able to take his voice into a multi-pitched wheeze/rasp, almost like a train whistle.

From 1979-1984, Van Halen released five more albums: Van Halen II, Women and Children First, Fair Warning, Diver Down and 1984, each to increasing popular success and critical acclaim. In 1983, Van Halen was paid $1.5 million to play one set at the US Festival making them one of the two highest paid bands in modern history.

On April 1, 1985, Roth and Van Halen parted ways. In late 1985, Roth assembled a backing band with veteran Van Halen producer Ted Templeman handling the production. Roth released his debut full-length solo album, Eat ‘Em and Smile in July, 1986. The album saw Roth return to hard rock music and met with huge commercial and critical success. In January 1988, Roth released Skyscraper, a more experimental offering than the first solo album. Roth then went on a headlining arena tour with the Los Angeles hairband Poison opening for him.  The tour was a huge success and met with positive reviews in many places. In January 1991, Roth released A Little Ain’t Enough, a more mainstream hard rock album. Musical tastes had changed dramatically by the end of 1991 and the accompanying tour promoting this album did not do as well financially as planned. In March 1994, Roth released Your Filthy Little Mouth, an eclectic, lyrically intricate album.  It did not sell well, considered by many to be a commercial failure, failing to achieve gold status. Roth’s career was in decline yet he still managed to support the album with a World Tour lasting over 10 months that took him and his band through North America, Japan, Europe and back through North America again.

Nevertheless, many loyal fans remained, and the Roth/Van Halen split entered pop culture. For example, in the hit 1994 film Airheads, fans loyal to Roth were regarded as cool, whereas a character loyal to Van Halen was suspected as an undercover police officer. Similarly, in 2001, the title character of the film Joe Dirt declared he was a Van Halen fan, not a “Van Hagar” fan.  In June 1996, Roth reunited with Van Halen for a brief time and to great public fanfare. He recorded two new songs for Van Halen’s Best of Vol. 1 album, “Can’t Get This Stuff No More” and “Me Wise Magic.” After an infamous appearance on September 5, 1996, at the MTV Music Awards during which Roth and Eddie Van Halen reportedly threatened each other ultimately resulting in Van Halen choosing their third and least popular vocalist.

In 1997, Roth wrote a well-received memoir, entitled Crazy From the Heat. In 2001, rumors swirled that Roth and the members of Van Halen had recorded several new songs together and were in the process of attempting yet another reunion. Roth later confirmed this, but nothing became of the music. In 2003, Roth released Diamond Dave, an album of (mostly) classic rock cover songs.  It was during the promotional tour for this album that I had the pleasure of seeing him live and meeting him at long last.

On Feb. 2, 2007 The Official Van Halen Web Site released information that David Lee Roth had rejoined the band bringing much joy to long time fans.  In March 2007 five members of Van Halen, the four original members and Sammy Hagar (2nd vocalist) were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  On August 13, 2007, 6 months after the initial reunion tour was postponed, it was finally confirmed by Van Halen with Roth at a press conference that they would schedule it starting in September 2007. At that conference, Eddie Van Halen stated that he and Roth were “like brothers” now. Calling Van Halen a “real band”, both Edward and Roth spoke of the possibility of further worldwide touring and a new album in mind for the future.On June 5, 2008, Van Halen announced the 2007-2008 tour with Roth grossed more than $93 million, a record for the band. Van Halen played to nearly one million people during 74 arena shows throughout the United States and Canada.