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Interview:
After Radio, Roth Is Ready To Rock
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

David Lee Roth has plenty of jobs on his résumé — singer, songwriter, frontman, professional personality, raconteur, author, EMT ...

But one of the shortest items comes under the heading of Morning Radio Host.

The former Van Halen singer was the most ballyhooed of Howard Stern’s replacements at the beginning of the year, taking over his syndicated radio show in seven cities. But by April, he was gone, dismissed after just over four months on the air.

“I was disappointed; I love doing radio,” says Roth, 51, who was Van Halen’s original frontman from 1974-85 and returned briefly in 1996 to record a pair of new songs for a greatest-hits album. “I kind of, in my heart of hearts, knew that they were looking for a Stern tribute band. Just by virtue of my past, I could never be that. I’m not from radio. My passport alone will tell you that you’re setting yourself up for something wholly original in radio when you ask me to do it.

“They needed somebody with thick skin — absolutely they got the right guy for that.” In the wake of his fi ring, Roth

returned to gainful employment in the area he’s had the most success — music. He executive

produced “Strummin’ with the Devil: The Southern Side of Van Halen,” a bluegrass-styled tribute to the band on which Roth sings a pair of songs, “Jump” and “Jamie’s Cryin’.” He calls it “a detour” as well as “an interesting return. ... Before there was rock ’n’ roll, there was me and a single guitar, fl at pickin’ Doc Watson (songs).”

But Roth, who predicts that a long-rumored reunion with Van Halen is “absolutely an inevitability,” is leaving the banjos and fiddles at home on his current tour in favor of rocking. There is, not surprisingly, plenty of Van Halen music; “I’m so proud of that music,” Roth says. “I play the hell out of it for a damn good living.”

And he’s pleased that Van Halen’s current status on hiatus after a 2004 tour with his replacement, Sammy Hagar, has made Roth the sole source for the band’s music these days.

“The demand is amazing,” he says. “I guess I’m lucky enough to be one of those guys now who can point at the map and say, ‘Let’s go here’ — or, rather, my favorite expression, which is, ‘Let’s follow the sun.’ ”

David Lee Roth and Ashes of Soma perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (August 19th) at DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road north of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $35.50 pavilion, $10 lawn. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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