David Lee Roth: From Rocker to EMT ... and Back

Van Halen's frontman grapples with the new zeitgeist

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 21, 2013 7:27 AM CDT

(Newser) – Remember David Lee Roth? The wild Van Halen lead singer had quite a bumpy ride once the band broke up and his solo career ran its course in the 1980s, writes Steve Kandell in BuzzFeed. Starting over, Roth worked as an EMT on ambulance calls in New York City. "The altitude drop is when somebody realizes who you are and they take you to task,” he says. "Now you're the guy who gets to do garbage five days in a row instead of one. … That will test you." Why the tough times? "Two words: Kurt Cobain," says Roth, of America's shift to a gloomy zeitgeist. "I went from playing to 12,000 people to 1,200."

But the determined bon vivant left ambulance work for other adventures—like studying Japanese swordplay, hosting a radio show, and posting video monologues on everything from tattoos to pop-video semiotics to an influential sumo wrestler. At 57, he's also back with Van Halen, now a humbler band that practices year-round and refuses to promote itself. Which makes the band members' wild past stand out all the more: "We lived our lives like roughnecks," Roth says. "Roustabouts, circus carnies. I wonder if it's still a dream to live the way we lived. I wonder if I even see that in people's eyes." Click for the full article.

Van Halen members Eddie Van Halen, right, and David Lee Roth perform at Cafe Wha? in New York, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012.   (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)
Van Halen member David Lee Roth performs at Cafe Wha? in New York, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012.   (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)
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