David Lee Roth Reveals Singer He Copied For Van Halen

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 19: David Lee Roth of Van Halen performs at Music Midtown at Piedmont Park on September 19, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Chris McKay/Getty Images for Live Nation)

David Lee Roth, the original singer for Van Halen, is renowned for having a broad vocal range, which makes him one of the most adaptable hard rock singers. One of the deciding elements that led to the band’s immense financial success and widespread acclaim was his heartfelt performance of Van Halen’s songs. Van Halen’s concerts were a must-see because Roth was a fantastic frontman in addition to having a strong vocal.

His dynamic and exuberant stage appearance brilliantly captured the party-hard rock and roll attitude of the era. Roth typically has a particular place in the hearts of the fans owing to his unique qualities as a vocalist, despite the fact that most Van Halen fans compare him to the band’s other singer Sammy Hagar. Throughout his time with Van Halen, DLR looked up to a number of notable figures who influenced his musical taste.

Diamond Dave discussed Van Halen’s heyday in the late ’70s and early ’80s in a conversation with Michael Hann of the Guardian in 2012. When discussing the band’s signature sound, Roth said he could name several musicians who served as influences for Van Halen.

Along with using names like Eric Clapton and Bruce Springsteen, Roth would perform Van Halen songs while imitating David Bowie. The performer asserted that copying the sounds of others was the only option because it was the natural process of developing a distinctive sound. Diamond Dave, therefore, began to imitate everyone from various musical genres since he was confident that he would eventually discover his own sound.

David Lee Roth stated the following regarding his sources of inspiration:

“I can point for you and go: right there we’re imitating Eric Clapton; right there I’m imitating vocally David Bowie; right there is Bruce Springsteen. But this is how you create a signature sound. If you’re lucky to have it, there’s no way around it.

I actively imitated everything from the Nicholas Brothers tap dancing to Mick Jagger going, ‘Oooh yeah!’ But because of whatever, it never sounds like anything to you but David Lee. And when Edward plays, you might never have heard the material before, but you instantly recognize it as fast as, say, Jimi’s guitar.”

Given his comments, it appears that David Lee Roth did not view imitation as a negative thing but rather as a stimulating experience. He made an effort to deeply internalize his inspirations and saw it as a necessary step in the process of developing his own sound.