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Thread: David Lee Roth: I structured the guitar solos on Van Halenís debut album

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    David Lee Roth: I structured the guitar solos on Van Halenís debut album

    David Lee Roth: I structured the guitar solos on Van Halenís debut album
    By Scott Munro (Classic Rock) 4 days ago Classic Rock

    Diamond Dave says the majority of Van Halenís self-titled album was structured by him: ďI wrote every word you heard, every syllable, every melodyĒ


    (Image credit: Paul Bergen/Redferns - Getty)
    David Lee Roth says he structured the majority of Van Halenís self-titled 1978 debut album.

    Diamond Dave was speaking with Missouri radio station KSHE 95 about his 2020 Las Vegas residency when he was asked if he had to ask permission from his Van Halen bandmates to play the bandís older tracks.

    Roth replies: ďNo. I wrote the songs. I wrote every word you heard, every syllable, every melody. I structured even the guitar solos on that first album.

    ďWhy do you think the solos later changed so radically? I sang the solos for Jamieís Cryin' and Runnin' With The Devil etcÖ"

    As for his upcoming Vegas dates with his backing band Horses Of God, Roth says: ďWe do not sound like Van Halen live Ė you have not heard this.

    ďVan Halen live is lead, bass, drums Ė here, we start with three or four guitars and we bring it with an unforgiving attitude.

    ďWe're not up here strumming with the devil, this is not some tribute band. I wrote those songs, structured those songs.

    ďI designed the backgrounds on the stage. I came up with the album covers. I thought of the stripes on the guitar. Iím the one who said, ĎCall it Van Halen.í And we take it with that attitude. We ain't talking about love.Ē

    Roth will hold his residency at the cityís House Of Blues in January and March next year, and along with Van Halen tracks, Roth will also sprinkle the set with some of his best-loved solo work.

    Heíll play on January 8, January 10-11, March 18, March 20-21, March 25 and March 27-28 and tickets are now on sale.

    Roth last took part in a Vegas residency back in 1995 when he hooked up with the 14-piece Blues-Bustiní Mambo Slammers.

    via Loudersound.com
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    Most of what Dave says here - not sure about the striped guitar idea - is true as we all know.

    Dave even came up with Butterball's bass solo - with the sounds and effects while he bangs on his bass. Of course Bassplayer lays claims to that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vinnie Velvet View Post
    Most of what Dave says here - not sure about the striped guitar idea - is true as we all know.

    Dave even came up with Butterball's bass solo - with the sounds and effects while he bangs on his bass. Of course Bassplayer lays claims to that.

    I believe everything Dave says here. I'll take it further and say the band should have been named: DAVID LEE ROTH and HIS BACKING BAND
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    MmmmmÖ

    I'd tend to think, in terms of the music, that on the first Van Halen album Ted Templeman had (at the very least) as much input on how the band sounded (if not more) than David Lee Roth did re: what tunes were selected to be recorded, the running order, the mix, etc. etc.

    It only stands to reason, because in 1978 Van Halen had only recently been signed to Warner Brothers and despite the buzz the band had going for it on the LA club scene Van Halen were largely untested. Back then, I tend to doubt a major record label is going to sign an unknown band and then let the lead singer who nobody has ever heard of dictate how the debut album is produced.

    Granted, that first album was the culmination of Van Halen slogging through backyard parties, high school dances and club gigs in terms of how most of the material was created...but that's not the whole story.

    Take a couple of examples off that first album:
    1) Eruption : both Ed and Templeman have stated that Ted heard Ed warming up with the Eruption solo, and it was Templeman (not Roth) who insisted that it be included on the record. Similar circumstances for Spanish Fly on Van Halen II.

    2) You Really Got Me : if memory serves, covering that tune was Ted's suggestion.

    Dave has long laid claim to being the creative force in terms of the image of the band (the t-shirt designs, the stage production design, the clothing the band wore, the tour programs, the album covers), and that claim has been uncontested. As of late, this claim has been expanded to include the actual musical content re: the solos. A more likely scenario is Dave heard things Eddie was playing and suggested certain bits to be used in a tune, or suggesting rearranging rhythm parts ("that part might be better for a bridge than a verse")...perhaps whistling a musical idea to Ed here and there. That's a far cry from Dave claiming he "wrote the songs" though.
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    I'll also add with the upcoming Vegas residency that if the setlist is comprised mostly of CVH tunes and the 'band' consists of Dave and a bunch of unknown musicians trying to replicate the tunes note-for-note...well, while the residency isn't being billed as Van Halen, for all intents and purposes...it's a tribute band, regardless of who did what re: CVH song authorship.

    If it was a setlist of 50% CVH stuff and 50% Roth solo stuff, THEN maybe that "this isn't a tribute band" blather would ring a little less hollow.

    Dave should just embrace his upcoming gigs for what they are.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vinnie Velvet View Post
    Most of what Dave says here - not sure about the striped guitar idea - is true as we all know.

    Dave even came up with Butterball's bass solo - with the sounds and effects while he bangs on his bass. Of course Bassplayer lays claims to that.
    Claiming the guitar idea for stripes on the guitar is not new, He has claimed this before but said he stole it from someone else.

    The Van Halen song process seems to be pretty clear, Ed would jam with Alex coming up with the music and then Dave would write the vocal melody and lyrics. I think logically and even legally a rock song has 3 main parts.

    1) The music
    2) The vocal melody
    3) The lyrics


    Personally I think usually 2) is the most important bit in a song.

    I also think you have to give a bit of weight to which is created first.

    In the case of Van Halen it seems that Ed wrote most of the music and then refined it jamming with Alex before Dave did the rest. As I may have posted here a hundred times, it was ridiculous after the split for the brothers to claim that his contribution was just the lyrics and he's entitled to push back.

    I'm a bit meh about the guitar solo claims as that's just feedback in a band that you would always get, it's not writing. I think a court and I would give Roth at least 50% ownership of these songs, maybe a little more.
    Last edited by Seshmeister; 11-27-2019 at 07:22 AM.
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    I'll give Dave the lyrics and some of the melody... but not all of it.

    The one thing that makes CVH compositions so unique and also a challenge to replicate is the melodic elements of Ed's rhythm structures of odd power chords and fills. Combine that with Alex's complex percussion elements and then finish it off with Bassplayer's™ simple glue that holds all that chaos together and you get a Van Halen song...


    Roth's 40's/50's jazz and 60's R&B influences lends more to jazz/blues scat styling within his attempts at vocal melodies far, far more than traditional rock melodies. This is apparent in some of their bigger hits... Hot For Teacher, Panama, I'm the One, Girls Gone Bad, Everybody Wants Some.

    The oddity with a lot of their songs is this scat element in the verse melodies then they's shift to a traditional pop melody and harmonies in their choruses.

    As far as guitar solo's... no fucking way. That's all Edward playing off Alex and Bassplayer™ and Roth is totally full of shit and way out over his skis...
    Last edited by ZahZoo; 11-27-2019 at 08:23 AM.
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    Dave never said he structured the guitar solos as to imply he wrote the solos. Dave did structure probably a majority of the music in regards to melodies while Ed is a innovative riff master. That is why Van Halen sounds so much different than Van Hagar. Sam said the same thing about writing the music, Dave and him both had the chore of putting ideas into a cohesive creation and not just about sporadic ideas. On ADKOT, the producer talked in length about Dave constructing the songs as with the track "As If". This is why unlike Prince, Ed's famous vault of songs is just a collection of sounds and not complete compositions, even in a demo context... if you want to see Ed composing by himself, listen to Van Halen III
    Last edited by Jetstream; 11-27-2019 at 04:22 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jetstream View Post
    Dave never said he structured the guitar solos as to imply he wrote the solos. Dave did structure probably a majority of the music in regards to melodies while Ed is a innovative riff master. That is why Van Halen sounds so much different than Van Hagar. Sam said the same thing about writing the music, Dave and him both had the chore of putting ideas into a cohesive creation and not just about sporadic ideas. On ADKOT, the producer talked in length about Dave constructing the songs as with the track "As If". This is why unlike Prince, Ed's famous vault of songs is just a collection of sounds and not complete compositions, even in a demo context... if you want to see Ed composing by himself, listen to Van Halen III
    Yeah, but Dave having input on how the music was structured isn't the same as Dave actually coming up with the music to be structured in the first place, which is sort of what Roth has inferred as of late...like, almost along the lines of him being the primary creative musical force within Van Halen. Were that the case, much like you pointed out with the difference in sound re: Van Halen after Roth left the band, one would have expected more of Roth's solo output to have reached the same heights as CVH more often than it did if Dave were as big a creative musical force in Van Halen as he now claims he was.

    I'm not selling short Roth's contributions in CVH short, mind you - anyone would readily agree there was a huge difference in Van Halen once Dave left - but Roth is skirting a bullshit line these days with his inferences (doesn't come right out and say it, mind you) that his contributions to CVH were more important than Ed's.

    With both Roth and Eddie, they were only as good as the musicians around them and whomever was producing them at the time. When both Roth and Eddie were left totally to their own devices, neither came up with much that I'd deem stellar, and considering the entire context of their careers...Roth and EVH were never as good apart as they were together. Having said that, I have far more use for Roth's solo career than most of what Ed did after Dave left Van Halen.

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    Here's how it went...

    1977:

    Diamond Dave: "Hey Ed, let's throw in that fancy solo after the 2nd chorus... like everyone else does, man..."

    EVH: "What the fuck, Dave I'm just noodlin here"

    Ted Templeman: "Guys, let's go with the solo here but play it over the bridge rhythm instead."

    EVH: "Whatever, man..."

    2019:

    Diamond Dave: "I am Van Halen now... I even wrote all the fucking guitar solos!"

    EVH: "What the fuck, Dave?"

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    Quote Originally Posted by ZahZoo View Post
    Here's how it went...

    1977:

    Diamond Dave: "Hey Ed, let's throw in that fancy solo after the 2nd chorus... like everyone else does, man..."

    EVH: "What the fuck, Dave I'm just noodlin here"

    Ted Templeman: "Guys, let's go with the solo here but play it over the bridge rhythm instead."

    EVH: "Whatever, man..."

    2019:

    Diamond Dave: "I am Van Halen now... I even wrote all the fucking guitar solos!"

    EVH: "What the fuck, Dave?"

    I hate to give any credibility to anything Sammy Hagar ever said, but he also said EVH was not capable of composing a song He was a riff master and not much else.

    Although that is hard to believe.

    Albums 1-5 I can see that being true, but EVH clearly wrote 1984 as far as the music, because that is the only album from the 6 pack where they were not in the studio together.

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    Not really news here. The facts are - quite literally - on the record. Van HALEN songs were structured differently than Van Hagar songs. Even if you didn't like the Hagar material, you at least can listen to it enough to hear a coherent structure of the songs. This was absolutely NOT the case on VDIII, which indicates that Cherone wrote lyrics and nothing else. Probably also the reason why the second Van Danniels record was never finished. The only way to make a record where the songs don't have a definite beginning, middle, or end, is to take the Grateful Dead approach and just play an extended jam for an hour at a time and put that out as a record. But of course, this is why only 4 or 5 Dead songs ever got any radio airplay, so the approach doesn't work that well in commercial terms.
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    Oh come on guys... Van Halen songs are not structured any different than most rock songs... there are 3-4 variations every band used and there's no difference between CVH and Van Hagar other than Sammy used far more simplistic pop melodies than Roth.

    It all goes like this...

    Intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge (solo) verse, chorus, outro

    Most of the variations occur after the 2nd chorus in the bridge... solos can be played over the bridge, verse or chorus rhythm structure... some songs may have what's known as a breakdown... like Panama... which the primary rhythm drops out and drum, guitar, bass and/or vocal solos are added. Some songs may include a pre-chorus either vocally or a mini-guitar solo or riff is added... a limited few may add a 4th verse or drop the 3rd... That's it...

    The most unique thing here is Ed's rhythm guitar which combines a lot of chord and lead fills which come off as little mini-solos peppered in rather than just chunking along with the same 3-4 chords throughout the verse and/or chorus structures.

    Roth would vary his melodies within those complex rhythm structures where Sammy would just blast his simple melodies straight thru... making for a more boring melody structure lacking tension... and Ed got lazy in that era opting for more simplistic rhythm guitar on a lot of compositions. If you listen to III it's almost like Ed had all that complexity bottled up and let it out all over the place... which is why that album is a compositional mess...

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    Quote Originally Posted by ZahZoo View Post
    Oh come on guys... Van Halen songs are not structured any different than most rock songs... there are 3-4 variations every band used and there's no difference between CVH and Van Hagar other than Sammy used far more simplistic pop melodies than Roth.

    It all goes like this...

    Intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge (solo) verse, chorus, outro

    Most of the variations occur after the 2nd chorus in the bridge... solos can be played over the bridge, verse or chorus rhythm structure... some songs may have what's known as a breakdown... like Panama... which the primary rhythm drops out and drum, guitar, bass and/or vocal solos are added. Some songs may include a pre-chorus either vocally or a mini-guitar solo or riff is added... a limited few may add a 4th verse or drop the 3rd... That's it...

    The most unique thing here is Ed's rhythm guitar which combines a lot of chord and lead fills which come off as little mini-solos peppered in rather than just chunking along with the same 3-4 chords throughout the verse and/or chorus structures.

    Roth would vary his melodies within those complex rhythm structures where Sammy would just blast his simple melodies straight thru... making for a more boring melody structure lacking tension... and Ed got lazy in that era opting for more simplistic rhythm guitar on a lot of compositions. If you listen to III it's almost like Ed had all that complexity bottled up and let it out all over the place... which is why that album is a compositional mess...

    Yep.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jetstream View Post
    Dave never said he structured the guitar solos as to imply he wrote the solos. Dave did structure probably a majority of the music in regards to melodies while Ed is a innovative riff master. That is why Van Halen sounds so much different than Van Hagar. Sam said the same thing about writing the music, Dave and him both had the chore of putting ideas into a cohesive creation and not just about sporadic ideas. On ADKOT, the producer talked in length about Dave constructing the songs as with the track "As If". This is why unlike Prince, Ed's famous vault of songs is just a collection of sounds and not complete compositions, even in a demo context... if you want to see Ed composing by himself, listen to Van Halen III
    Thatís pretty much it, if you ask me!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terry View Post

    A more likely scenario is Dave heard things Eddie was playing and suggested certain bits to be used in a tune, or suggesting rearranging rhythm parts ("that part might be better for a bridge than a verse")...perhaps whistling a musical idea to Ed here and there. That's a far cry from Dave claiming he "wrote the songs" though.

    Yes, I think you are on to something here. I believe Roth was also trying to justify some authenticity to promote his Vegas residency.
    Last edited by Funkmonkey; 07-28-2020 at 02:16 PM.
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