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    Default Did David Lee Roth Help Write Songs for Van Halen's 5150 Album

    Did David Lee Roth Help Write Songs for Van Halen

    Matthew Wilkening

    Published: May 1, 2024

    How much progress had Van Halen made on their seventh studio album before parting ways with David Lee Roth in 1985, and how much of that work made its way onto 5150, the band's first album with singer Sammy Hagar?

    Naturally, it depends who you ask. Nobody disputes that the band's original lineup had begun writing some songs for the follow-up to 1984's smash hit 1984 before personality conflicts and a dispute over Roth's 1985 covers EP Crazy From the Heat led to the singer's departure.


    The band recruited Hagar, fresh off his own platinum sales success with VOA and the hit single "I Can't Drive 55," and began working together on what became 1986's six-times platinum 5150.

    Roth countered by assembling a new band featuring Steve Vai and Billy Sheehan and releasing the platinum-selling Eat 'Em and Smile later that same year.

    He says his former bandmates got a head start on 5150 by using his work.

    "I wrote half of those melodies. Half of those vocal moves and everything were already done and on little demo tapes," Roth told Howard Stern in 1993.

    In his 1997 autobiography (also titled Crazy From the Heat) he expanded upon this claim. "It had been easier for them to put a new album together because I had worked with Edward on half of that album already," he declared.

    "They brought in a new singer, went right to all those old tapes and started with that as their go point, so it was much easier for them to reconstruct."

    In neither case did Roth specify which 5150 songs he worked on. The Van Halen Encyclopedia lists "Eat They Neighbor" as an "unfinished, unreleased original" song, one of three post-1984 tracks the book says Roth began vocal work on before leaving the band.

    It also notes that there is rumored to be an alternative version of 5150's "Summer Nights" with Roth-written lyrics, and states that Eddie Van Halen had just begun to write "Dreams" when Roth left the band.


    The new-look Van Halen lineup agree that "Summer Nights" and 5150's opening track "Good Enough" were the first songs they ever jammed on together, although Hagar says he wrote the lyrics and melodies himself.

    "When I got there, they'd been up all night writing," Hagar recalled in his 2011 autobiography Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock.

    "They had what became 'Summer Nights' and what became 'Good Enough.'

    We started playing and the engineer Donn Landee recorded everything we did. I made up the first line on the spot - 'Summer nights and my radio.'

    It just popped into my head the first time I heard that riff. The rest of the song I just scatted my way through. I did the same thing with 'Good Enough.'"


    "Sammy never heard it before," Eddie marveled in a February 1986 interview with Musician, saying that the band's first session with Hagar made him feel like he was walking on air.

    "He listened to each song a couple times, not even that, and he just came in and sang it."


    In his book Hagar also notes that Eddie and his brother, drummer Alex Van Halen "had a lot of music left over from what would have been the next Van Halen record before Roth split.

    They had a lot of semi-formed ideas when I walked in on it. I had to write all the lyrics and melodies. I worked on their jams, picked them apart, and made songs out of them."


    Hagar described "Love Walks In" as "one of the first songs that we worked on together as a band" while introducing the song in the band's concert video Live Without a Net.

    How Van Halen Wrote 'Best of Both Worlds'

    The story behind the creation of one of 5150's most innovative and enduring tracks, "Best of Both Worlds," illustrates just how inspired Hagar was by his new bandmates.

    The Van Halen Encyclopedia reports that Eddie was in a hotel room in NYC when he came up with the main riff for the song and that he called Hagar at three in the morning - it doesn't specify which time zone - to play it for him.

    In his book Hagar recounts coming up with the "Best of Both Worlds" lyrics on a drive home from the studio while listening to an instrumental demo of the song.

    "I didn't get what [Eddie] was doing [at first]. But, on the way home, I heard the rhythm of the thing, and I started singing in the car... it hit me hard, right when I was pulling in the garage.

    Bang. The chorus hit. I went in the shower, but I kept coming out to dry off and write some more lyrics on a notepad.

    The song came to me like a flood. ...I wrote the whole song while I was still taking the shower. I went in the next day and sang it.

    Everybody was blown away."
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    To answer the opening question, very little to none, with the most likely option being "none".

    Somewhere in 5150 or in Dave's basement, I will guarantee there are some tapes with DLR scatting some very draft vocal lines over some music, but that is it, and I bet at the point in time, they were very much in a "fuck Dave!" mood and didn't share any of that with Sam.
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    Quote Originally Posted by James in New York View Post
    Did David Lee Roth Help Write Songs for Van Halen

    Matthew Wilkening

    Published: May 1, 2024

    How much progress had Van Halen made on their seventh studio album before parting ways with David Lee Roth in 1985, and how much of that work made its way onto 5150, the band's first album with singer Sammy Hagar?

    Naturally, it depends who you ask. Nobody disputes that the band's original lineup had begun writing some songs for the follow-up to 1984's smash hit 1984 before personality conflicts and a dispute over Roth's 1985 covers EP Crazy From the Heat led to the singer's departure.


    The band recruited Hagar, fresh off his own platinum sales success with VOA and the hit single "I Can't Drive 55," and began working together on what became 1986's six-times platinum 5150.

    Roth countered by assembling a new band featuring Steve Vai and Billy Sheehan and releasing the platinum-selling Eat 'Em and Smile later that same year.

    He says his former bandmates got a head start on 5150 by using his work.

    "I wrote half of those melodies. Half of those vocal moves and everything were already done and on little demo tapes," Roth told Howard Stern in 1993.

    In his 1997 autobiography (also titled Crazy From the Heat) he expanded upon this claim. "It had been easier for them to put a new album together because I had worked with Edward on half of that album already," he declared.

    "They brought in a new singer, went right to all those old tapes and started with that as their go point, so it was much easier for them to reconstruct."

    In neither case did Roth specify which 5150 songs he worked on. The Van Halen Encyclopedia lists "Eat They Neighbor" as an "unfinished, unreleased original" song, one of three post-1984 tracks the book says Roth began vocal work on before leaving the band.

    It also notes that there is rumored to be an alternative version of 5150's "Summer Nights" with Roth-written lyrics, and states that Eddie Van Halen had just begun to write "Dreams" when Roth left the band.


    The new-look Van Halen lineup agree that "Summer Nights" and 5150's opening track "Good Enough" were the first songs they ever jammed on together, although Hagar says he wrote the lyrics and melodies himself.

    "When I got there, they'd been up all night writing," Hagar recalled in his 2011 autobiography Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock.

    "They had what became 'Summer Nights' and what became 'Good Enough.'

    We started playing and the engineer Donn Landee recorded everything we did. I made up the first line on the spot - 'Summer nights and my radio.'

    It just popped into my head the first time I heard that riff. The rest of the song I just scatted my way through. I did the same thing with 'Good Enough.'"


    "Sammy never heard it before," Eddie marveled in a February 1986 interview with Musician, saying that the band's first session with Hagar made him feel like he was walking on air.

    "He listened to each song a couple times, not even that, and he just came in and sang it."


    In his book Hagar also notes that Eddie and his brother, drummer Alex Van Halen "had a lot of music left over from what would have been the next Van Halen record before Roth split.

    They had a lot of semi-formed ideas when I walked in on it. I had to write all the lyrics and melodies. I worked on their jams, picked them apart, and made songs out of them."


    Hagar described "Love Walks In" as "one of the first songs that we worked on together as a band" while introducing the song in the band's concert video Live Without a Net.

    How Van Halen Wrote 'Best of Both Worlds'

    The story behind the creation of one of 5150's most innovative and enduring tracks, "Best of Both Worlds," illustrates just how inspired Hagar was by his new bandmates.

    The Van Halen Encyclopedia reports that Eddie was in a hotel room in NYC when he came up with the main riff for the song and that he called Hagar at three in the morning - it doesn't specify which time zone - to play it for him.

    In his book Hagar recounts coming up with the "Best of Both Worlds" lyrics on a drive home from the studio while listening to an instrumental demo of the song.

    "I didn't get what [Eddie] was doing [at first]. But, on the way home, I heard the rhythm of the thing, and I started singing in the car... it hit me hard, right when I was pulling in the garage.

    Bang. The chorus hit. I went in the shower, but I kept coming out to dry off and write some more lyrics on a notepad.

    The song came to me like a flood. ...I wrote the whole song while I was still taking the shower. I went in the next day and sang it.

    Everybody was blown away."
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    DLR is a clown if he believes Ed and Al played Sammy songs with David’s vocals on the demos. #2, Sammy would have flat out refused to listen to them.

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    Default Did David Lee Roth Help Write Songs for Van Halen's 5150 Album

    So now Dave wants to take credit for an album he had absolutely no respect for? Lol thatís kind of funny.

    And he had nothing to do with anything Sam sang. Thatís just silliness. And even Dave knows that.
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    The writer doesn't get the concept of vocal range. There are very few songs that could be an either/or Dave/Sam situation. Maybe Inside, or the verse of BOBW. That's pretty much it.
    Little Dreamer

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    Jason Becker has copies of Roth singing on the 5150 songs and they are being converted to digital.

    A dude who is helping with the conversions was on Johnyy Beane's show last year talking about them. He had them in his possession at the time. He said that he didnt know if they would ever be released or not. Maybe Roth might leak them at some stage too (that's my opinion though).

    He also said that Roth scatted some Elton John lyrics over some of the songs...
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    The only way I can see them playing rough demos to Sammy would be legally they didn’t want to rip off DLR in anyway.

    Ironically that is what DLR did with Can’t get this stuff no more.

    I’m surprised Sammy has never been asked about this. That interview was from 1993

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    In the recently released interview of Alex by Steve Rosen I believe Alex states he has tapes of DLR singing and makes some comments about how bad it sounds and that he will play them to prove the point.

    So per what Brad and a few others said...they started a few things but for DLR to claim he laid the foundations and made things easier or half done seems ridiculous to me.
    It's 5150 time!

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    Default Did David Lee Roth Help Write Songs for Van Halen's 5150 Album

    No one has ever argued at all that Dave wasnít involved with some of the VERY preliminary versions of the 5150 album.

    But to think that Sam would take anything from Daveís vocals is ridiculous. They have nothing in common as musicians or singers. If he listened to them, it was purely to hear what was going on musically. Sam doesnít respect Dave as a singer. It is what it is. And he certainly didnít respect him in 1985 when the band was trashing him all day long as per Van Halen norm for ousted members. The last thing they would ask Sam to do is emulate anything Dave was doing. And he never would anyway.

    If Dave wants to say that he sang over early versions of some of the songs, yeah OK, we know that. Bfd.

    And by the way, my comment that Sam doesnít respect Dave as a singer doesnít mean that I agree with him. I donít. Itís just a fact thatís what Sam thinks. But Dave in his prime on those early albums was special.
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    the way I always understood it was that Ed had the riffs for what would eventually become Summer Nights and Good Enough and a couple of parts of dreams. when they met with Sam he sang to the riffs of Summer Nights and good Enough, Sam scatted lyrics just to establish the melody and some of the things he sang ended up working out. I also thought they said they jammed a blues tune which was the little piece of music Ed played in his solo section that was edited out of LWAN.....I could be wrong, does anyone else remember that?

    if Dave did sing on the stuff I think it would be along the lines of what Sam did, scat some lyrics to establish a melody. if there was a similarities I'm positive they were not intentional on Sam's part.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brett View Post
    So now Dave wants to take credit for an album he had absolutely no respect for? Lol that’s kind of funny.

    And he had nothing to do with anything Sam sang. That’s just silliness. And even Dave knows that.
    To be fair, I think DLR said that a long time ago.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bad to the Bone View Post
    the way I always understood it was that Ed had the riffs for what would eventually become Summer Nights and Good Enough and a couple of parts of dreams. when they met with Sam he sang to the riffs of Summer Nights and good Enough, Sam scatted lyrics just to establish the melody and some of the things he sang ended up working out. I also thought they said they jammed a blues tune which was the little piece of music Ed played in his solo section that was edited out of LWAN.....I could be wrong, does anyone else remember that?

    if Dave did sing on the stuff I think it would be along the lines of what Sam did, scat some lyrics to establish a melody. if there was a similarities I'm positive they were not intentional on Sam's part.
    Yep!

    We had an argument when I 1st joined here, back to 2004. Differently from the text, we talked about the 'Eat Thy Neighbor' title. Not 'they'.

    And there's this interview here with MA and he said they were also working on what later became Sucker in a 03 Piece when Dave left the band. Here:

    https://www.vhlinks.com/vbforums/thr...iew-Circa-1995
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    Default Did David Lee Roth Help Write Songs for Van Halen's 5150 Album

    Quote Originally Posted by Bad to the Bone View Post
    the way I always understood it was that Ed had the riffs for what would eventually become Summer Nights and Good Enough and a couple of parts of dreams. when they met with Sam he sang to the riffs of Summer Nights and good Enough, Sam scatted lyrics just to establish the melody and some of the things he sang ended up working out. I also thought they said they jammed a blues tune which was the little piece of music Ed played in his solo section that was edited out of LWAN.....I could be wrong, does anyone else remember that?

    if Dave did sing on the stuff I think it would be along the lines of what Sam did, scat some lyrics to establish a melody. if there was a similarities I'm positive they were not intentional on Sam's part.
    Iím sure the stuff that Sam sang over when he first auditioned was probably songs that the band had worked out pretty much completely. And those are probably the same ones that Dave had done a little bit of work on. Based on what the band played with Sam that first day, I would say Dave did work on Summer Nights and Good Enough for sure.

    I wouldnít be surprised if they did also let Sam hear those songs as demos recorded with whatever ideas Dave had, just to let him hear them in context of a recording.

    It had been rumored for a long time that Eat Thy Neighbor was Summer Nights. But I doubt weíll ever know the truth there.
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    FWIW, Dave has also said he never really listened to any of Hagar's VH albums -- and you can believe that or not, but he's also said he doesn't listen back to his own albums once they are done. And in the Stern interview, Howard is actually talking about OU812, and Dave says "is that the first one they did after the split up? I wrote half of those melodies."

    He wasn't being all Diamond Dave in this interview either, he was laid back normal Dave (they called him after his pot bust and mostly talked about that). And he genuinely doesn't even know the album name at that point and probably hadn't listened to it in almost a decade. So it's likely he gave 5150 a listen when it came out, the songs he recognized that he had worked on felt very familiar to him, and so he felt a connection to them like he was a part of the creation, even if Sammy went in a completely new direction. So his comment was more 'they probably copped my melodies' but Dave is Dave.

 

 

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