DAVID LEE ROTH Reveals The 'Smart Smut' Joke That Got Him Fired From His Initial Las Vegas Residency

DAVID LEE ROTH Reveals The 'Smart Smut' Joke That Got Him Fired From His Initial Las Vegas Residency

During a recent appearance on the "PodKats!" podcast hosted by John "Kats" Katsilometes of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, VAN HALEN frontman David Lee Roth — who kicked off a nine-show residency in Las Vegas earlier this month — discussed his ill-fated 1995 residency in Sin City.

"Las Vegas was nowhere near as colorful and modern, sexy, young [then]," Roth said. "It was family-oriented and [a] circus-kind of an approach. Not adult at all. I think I was ahead of myself a little bit of time. In fact, I got fired for making the joke that my girls dancing — I had a couple of Mambo girls, and a couple of the Mambo girls were dancing, and I said, 'Look at them, ladies and gentlemen — so hot, Michael Jackson would quit the Boy Scouts.' They literally fired me for that one. I was out in front with a guitar case in one hand and a shopping cart with my costumes and a top hat in the other. I would get memos about the F-bomb or the F-word on stage — material that today gets you hired for 'Saturday Night Live' in terms of content. It's smart smut. What I deal with is sometimes blue, but it's smart blue. Sexy smart, scary smart."

Roth also revealed the origin of his "Diamond Dave" moniker. "Everything I heard at the Youth Club dance was Motown, which I can still sing every single syllable of," he said. "If you ask me, 'Who is your voice closest to?', I'll tell you right off, without the blink of an eye, Wilson Pickett. [sings 'Mustang Sally'] I sounded like that when I was 12 years old, much to the rabbi's shagrin. I practiced that assidiously when I was 12, and I danced — oh yeah, you bet I danced, because dancing's what you can do when you have no money and no room to spend it in. You've got no backyard; you've got no patio; so you set up speakers [and] you push the furniture to the side of the wall. Singing and dancing are the first instruments you reach for when you are broke, or as a state of mind. Broke is what most of Altadena was at my age, so we sung and danced like crazy... If all you can afford is a pair of jeans, you learn how to empty a full can of spray starch, get that razor crease, drop 'em low — I'm doing a Lil Wayne here — but you can customize 'em, even if you're in lockdown at Folsom. Get 'em four sizes too big; tighten 'em up with a three-size-small belt; just button the top of you razor-creazed, prison-issue blue denims at the top; [and] leave the rest unbuttoned. That is kind of how I was dressing when I would go over to the VAN HALEN side of high school. Pasadena High School looked like 'Ridgemont High'. Think of Jeff Spicoli, and everybody from 'Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure'. I say [that] with respect — Pendletons tied around the waist; hair parted in the middle; boxer shorts; desert boots; every sentence starts with 'Dude,' 'Bro,' 'Whoa.' I would show up at the Pasadena High School dance wearing suspenders, two-tone Cuban heels... I would show up, and the Van Halens would look and say, 'Look, he sparkles like a diamond. It's Diamond Dave.'"

On a more serious note, Roth shared a memory of getting a phone call from the late David Bowie, which he used as an analogy to explain how he's by and large the same "Diamond Dave" he's always been. "I knew David Bowie," Roth said. "We shared strong drink on more than several occasions. [In the] early '90s — '91 maybe — I was in a studio in New York. [A] phone call came through... 'David, I'm kind of in a quandry, and I'm being serious. I'm going to tell you something, and tell me what you think... I bought furniture.' His life in music was never the same from that point. It changed his life. It was significant. If you ask me why that was such a quandry for him, because he was very serious [and] concerned — he was cutting the anchor chain. I have yet to buy furniture. I'm not being funny — it's symbolic. He had never put down an anchor — not romantically, not spiritually, not morally or musically, anywhere. Very few people can live like that. There are only three kinds of people — those who stay home; those who leave home; and those who go to sea. David had put out to sea as a very young man. When he finally came to shore in New York City and got married, everything he knew ended. I never bought furniture. That's what you see on stage. I'm not looking for a place to park. I'm [still] driving around."

Listen to the entire interview at this location.

Roth's Las Vegas residency kicked off on January 8 with a 15-song set that included 10 VAN HALEN classics and five songs from his solo career. Backing the 65-year-old singer at the House Of Blues at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino were lead guitarist Al Estrada from the VAN HALEN tribute band ERUPTION, rhythm guitarist Frankie Lindri, bassist Ryan Wheeler, keyboardist Danny Wagner and drummer Mike Mussleman.

Roth will play six more Vegas shows in March, in addition to performing as the opening act for the upcoming North American legs of KISS's "End Of The Road" farewell tour starting on February 1 in Manchester, New Hampshire.

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