It came as an email 15 years ago when I was working at WKRN. And the subject line caught my eye immediately.
Subject: Joe, want to interview David Lee Roth?
I must have read that 100 times. David Lee Roth? Van Halen? One, if not the, greatest rock & roll frontman of all time? Absolutely.
I immediately called up my good friend Greg Morris, who is the biggest DLR fan on the planet. Since I was going to be the cameraman and reporter, why not bring my buddy who can fulfill a life long dream of meeting his hero.
“When and where?” That was all Greg said and that is all I needed to hear. I responded back to the email and said we can be there on Thursday at 1. The publicist replied, see you then. Then he added that Roth was in town to promote a bluegrass Van Halen album he was doing. (And for those that heard it, it is down there in Chris Gaines territory of awfulness.)
We head over to the Vanderbilt Loews Plaza where David and his team were waiting in their suite on the 10th floor. We go up get off and walk to the door and before I knocked, I looked at Greg and said, “What in the hell are we doing here? We just giggled as if we were two teenage girls seeing Justin Beiber.
Knock, knock, knock. And what happened next, no one would have believed if Greg wasn’t with me.
The door FLIES open and there stands, David Lee Roth. He looked more like a guy you see at the bar you visit twice a year who is always there. Stood what seemed like 5’10 or so, and much different, obviously, from the guy who stood at Municipal Auditorium just 21 years earlier and was the King of the rock & roll world.
“COME ON IN!!!” And he was louder than those three exclamation points I just put there. “How you guys doing?” “Hot as hell outside today!” “Man, I love Nashville. Had some great times here.” ‘You two are some big ole boys, damn!” “So what else is going on?”
That was all :45 seconds into stepping into the room. His publicist came over to greet us but David Lee Roth made sure he knew who we were.
“THIS IS JOE AND GREG AND THEIR HERE TO INTERVIEW ME!”
And then he walked over to where we were going to do said interview and he sits down and I will never forget what happened next.
“You boys want a water?” We both replied no thank you. He then gets up, animated and says, “Good. I hate water. Let me tell you why. You see I have a boat. And when water gets into a boat, it makes things rust. And when a boat rusts, IT SINKS!”
He shouted, whispered, and sounded like Jack Nicholson when he was the Joker in the Batman movie, all at once as he said that. I honestly do not remember anything after except for Greg taking a picture with him and us leaving.
A week later he was on the Tonight show playing JUMP to bluegrass and it was one of the worst things I have ever heard.
But, I have used that “I hate water” line almost every day since then because it was so random and he was so passionate about what he was saying, it will echo in my brain forever.
Enjoy the song and if you can make it through half of this clip, you’re an amazing person with a gentle soul.