David Lee Roth Will Not Go Quietly

There is a not insignificant population for whom David Lee Roth is the ur-rock star, the embodiment of everything splendorous and stupid about that term, as responsible as anyone for establishing, defining, and cementing the debauched libertine, hotel room-trashing, groupie-defiling caricature that is cliché and passé and lionized. Roth is a little less famous for having parleyed that caricature into a life that’s rich and weird and singular and driven by very particular and exotic enthusiasms ranging from mountain climbing to martial arts to tending to gunshot victims in the Bronx. But this is something he’s actively trying to change. He owes this movable feast to leaving — quitting, getting kicked out of: pick your version of the legend — what was, at the time of his messy exit, the biggest, most over-the-top band in the world. If not for that, he might not be someone who, at 57, would train to be a master swordsman or to speak fluent Japanese.

I wonder who I might have been had I stayed in the band, he says. Not as interesting, not as involved. I probably would have followed the more traditional, long, slow climb to the middle. Enjoying my accomplishments, living off my residuals. I wouldn’t have half the stories to tell.

And if not for the fact that Roth rejoined Van Halen in 2007, thus ending rock’s most enduring will-they-or-won’t-they soap opera, he wouldn’t be in the position to try to channel that experience into a sprawling one-man video series and podcast that aspires to do nothing less than tell the history of modern culture through the eyes of someone who has been everywhere, done everything, met everyone, and hired a couple of midgets to be his security detail along the way. He’s going to use the internet to save us from the internet. He does not harbour any illusion that his life is easily replicated — celebrities, they aren’t just like us — but he would like to, as humbly as one can do such a thing, offer it as an example of what a life can be — via redwolf.newsvine.com

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