See Van Halen Frontman David Lee Roth Now at 68
The rock and roll legend just retired from performing live.
At 68, David Lee Roth has long been a rock and roll icon. He came to fame as the lead singer of Van Halen, fronting the band from 1974 to 1985, in 1996, and again from 2007 to 2020, when they finally broke up for good after the death of lead guitarist and namesake Eddie Van Halen. In addition to his instantly recognizable vocals on songs hits like "Jump!" and "Hot for Teacher," Roth is known for his flamboyant stage persona, which defined that early, breakout moment for the band. In the years since taking Van Halen to the top, the musician has grown up a little bit, but he's still making art and doing things his own way. Read on to find out what he's been up to.
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He launched a solo career.
After leaving Van Halen for the first time and seeing his spot occupied by new lead vocalist Sammy Hagar, Roth embarked on a career as a solo artist. Between 1985 and 2003, he released six solo studio albums. He's toured both alone and with other audiences and has mounted some successful residencies. He was scheduled to five "farewell" shows in Las Vegas in late 2021 and early 2022, but, as reported by Billboard, the entire run was canceled at the last minute with no specific reason given.
He was kicked off of Kiss' farewell tour.
In 2019, Roth was booked as the opening act on the farewell tour of hard rock band Kiss. The tour kicked off as planned but saw most dates postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While Roth was initially meant to be back along for the ride when the rescheduled dates rolled around, he was completely dropped from the Kiss tour in 2021.
Fans didn't have to wonder why for long. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Kiss bassist Gene Simmons didn't hold back his opinion on Roth and the trajectory of his career. "It bears noting that during Dave's heyday, nobody did what he did. He was the ultimate frontman. Not [Robert] Plant, not Rod Stewart, nobody," the rocker said. "He took being a frontman way beyond anything. And then, I don't know what happened to him … something. And you get modern-day Dave. I prefer to remember Elvis Presley in his prime. Sneering lips, back in Memphis, you know, doing all that. I don't want to think of bloated naked Elvis on the bathroom."
Simmons later apologized to Roth, but their collaboration was already dead in the water.
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He's (probably) retired from live music.
Ahead of those residency dates that were eventually canceled, Roth told the Las Vegas Review Journal that he was stepping away from the spotlight. "I am throwing in the shoes. I'm retiring. This is the first, and only, official announcement … You've got the news. Share it with the world." Asked for details, the star continued, "I'm not going to explain the statement. The explanation is in the statement. These are my last five shows … I've given you all I've got to give. It's been an amazing, great run, no regrets, nothing to say about anybody. I'll miss you all. Stay frosty." It remains to be seen whether Roth will find himself on stage again, but scrapping those final five shows seems to have marked the early beginning of his retirement.
He's a visual artist.
Though his music career is supposedly over, Roth is still expressing himself in other ways. The Roth Project takes visitors through an interactive audio and visual comic book by the rocker. He's also a painter and has a separate site for that artwork. "Art has been a constant in my life," he told The New York Times in 2020. "My hand has always been in wardrobe, background sets, stage sets, album covers, video direction. This is part of it. And there's craft involved, so there's a little bit more heft to some of the statements."
He's trained as an EMT.
Another surprising element of Roth's life is that he's a certified EMT in New York state and has gone out on hundreds of calls. He told Joe Rogan in a 2019 interview that he started his education in that field around the time that he turned 50. "Until I became an EMT and put on that uniform, I wasn't somebody," he said.