When preparing for their now-highly delayed concert tour with Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx was pondering who else would make a good choice to add to the bill. That’s when Sixx decided to extend an invitation to one of his band’s biggest precursors: original Van Halen singer David Lee Roth.
According to Sixx, Roth’s response was succinct and incredibly on brand for ‘Diamond Dave’: “I don’t open for bands that I influenced.”
Roth is a lot of things: highly charismatic, a natural entertainer, the first and last frontman for what would be one of the biggest hard rock and heavy metal bands of all time. The man has earned the ability to say no. But Roth also has a tendency to be a bit, shall we say, disagreeable. Some will point to ego, some will point to the fact that he knows how to keep a spotlight on himself, but either way, Roth hasn’t built his reputation on being humble.
For what it’s worth, Mötley Crüe have never been shy about the acts that informed their sound and style, but to hear them tell it, you’d sooner find names like Black Sabbath and Queen before you’d hear Van Halen. The Roth era of Van Halen briefly overlapped with the initial success of the Crüe, and once Roth left after 1984, Mötley Crüe picked up the baton with 1985’s Theatre of Pain. Roth, however, hasn’t been known to be gracious to the band’s that followed in his wake.
“Hair bands were the imitations of Van Halen,” Roth said in a new interview with radio station 96.3 KKLZ back in 2019. “Yeah, it is true, and spandex was what they came up with as something visual. I started off in leather, with the same haircut that Bono and Springsteen and the guys in Metallica had. A famous haircut – if I had that same haircut today, it’d have its own Instagram.” Roth also claimed that “I’m probably on your station 14 times a day,” which probably isn’t wrong, but it goes a long way to illustrate Roth’s noted lack of modesty.
It seems like it’s all worked out best for everyone – Poison joined the Mötley Crüe/Def Leppard tour, as did Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. Meanwhile, David Lee Roth can go back to fighting with Gene Simmons. Everybody’s happy.