Happy Birthday, Diamond Dave: Night Flight looks back at David Lee Roth’s 1985 interview

By on October 10, 2015

The highly anticipated book Van Halen Rising officially hits the shelves this week and the band have just wrapped up their three-month long North American tour with two blistering performances at the Hollywood Bowl. Since the legendary front man turns 61 today — born on October 10, 1954, in Bloomington, Indiana — we decided to raid the Night Flight video vaults by checking out this September 1985 interview with Lisa Robinson. One of the very first post-Van Halen TV interviews David granted, if not the very first.

Pee Wee Herman and David Lee Roth

This was recorded during that brief moment in 1985, where the enigmatic lead singer had left his previous band and was making a reported $10 million comedy for CBS Theatrical Films. The original screenplay — titled Crazy from the Heat — was written by Roth, Pete Angelus, and Jerry Perzigian, and introduces Diamond Dave onscreen telling a tall tale:

CAMERA SLOWLY PANS the living area and Bernie’s swimming pool, which can be seen through the glass patio doors. The place is a madhouse — “guests” everywhere, having the time of their lives.


…so there I am in the Amazon jungle when I remember my secretary’s always wanted a pair of authentic alligator shoes. Well, shit, there we were right in the heart of alligator city. And not ten minutes later, this huge maneater crosses the trail, and everybody just flips. ‘Cept me. So I throw down my pack and track this monster along the riverbank for three, maybe four hours. And then he stops to rest in the sun, and I’m on him like Tarzan. We wrestled for more than thirty minutes. It was me or him. Finally, I flip him over — and y’know what I found? He didn’t have on one damn shoe.

The movie was ultimately scrapped and David rushed into the studio to record the Eat ‘Em And Smile album.

Several hours prior to taping the interview, David and Lisa attended a bash (thrown by former Studio 54 owner Steve Rubell) and playfully gossip about the celebrity laden guest list like a couple of editors from The National Enquirer.

Stevie Nicks, David Lee Roth, and Bonnie Raitt

Madonna;David Lee Roth

Several minutes later, Roth reveals that Van Halen were playing in Huntsville, Alabama (November 29, 1982 on the Diver Down Tour) when he first heard Louis Prima’s medley of “Just A Gigolo/(I Ain’t Got Nobody)” while hanging out in a dive bar. One can’t help but wonder, if Roth would’ve ever recorded the song, much less made a music video had he known about the Village People’s 1978 promo film for the same song.

The PMRC hearings, Van Halen’s demise, Dave’s hard partying years and the surprise success of his Crazy From The Heat EP are also discussed at length.

Several months later in June 1986, Roth would officially launch his solo career with the release of his first full-length album with guitarist Steve Vai and bassist Billy Sheehan.


About Curt Gooch

Curt Gooch has coauthored three books, the latest of which has been optioned for a feature film titled Spinning Gold. Additionally, He works in the clip licensing industry where his knowledge of rare rock and roll footage has rescued over 500 hours of never-before-seen vintage pop culture elements. Curt has appeared on camera on VH1 as well as licensed footage to over 100 different shows/networks.