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Roth says Van Halen reunion ‘inevitable’

Former frontman is one of many who are filling Howard Stern’s radio shoes
STERN REPLACEMENTS
Singer David Lee Roth poses for a photograph at a gala following the Tony Awards in this file photo from June 6, 2004, in New York. Infinity Broadcasting, finally revealing its plans to replace Howard Stern, announced a new morning drive time lineup Tuesday, Oct. 25,2005, of assorted hosts for its 27 soon-to-be former Stern radio stations. Rather than turning to a single replacement, Infinity offered a variety of names for different markets. The biggest belonged to ex-Van Halen front man Roth. Roth, who appeared Tuesday morning on Stern's nationally syndicated show to announced the move, will start in January on WXRK-FM in New York, WBCN-FM in Boston, WYSP-FM in Philadelphia, WRKZ-FM in Pittsburgh, WNCX-FM in Cleveland, WPBZ-FM in West Palm Beach, Fla., and KLLI-FM in Dallas.(AP Photo/Diane Bondareff)Diane Bondareff / AP
/ Source: Billboard

Reuniting the original Van Halen lineup is just a matter of time, according to former vocalist David Lee Roth.

“I talked to the drummer [Alex Van Halen] about a week ago,” the band’s former lead singer told the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. “And I think, eventually, the inevitable will happen.”

“It definitely won’t be rockers with walkers,” he added, seemingly indicating that a reunion is in the near, as opposed to distant, future. “Getting onstage and singing ‘Dance the Night Away’ — let me tell you how difficult that isn’t going to be.”

The comments came in a Q&A about Roth’s new career: morning radio host. Once one of rock’s notorious bad boys, the 51-year-old performer debuted Tuesday in the 6 a.m.-10 a.m. slot on more than a half dozen stations that formerly broadcast Howard Stern, who will debut on Sirius Satellite Radio next Monday.

Along with Alex and Eddie Van Halen (guitar) and Michael Anthony (bass), Roth is a founding member of Van Halen, who recorded and performed with the band from the mid 1970s until his exit in 1985. When his replacement, Sammy Hagar, left Van Halen in 1996, Roth recorded a pair of new songs with his former bandmates for a career retrospective, but tensions kept the reunion from progressing any further.

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After Van Halen parted ways with former Extreme frontman Gary Cherone after a dismally received 1998 album, Roth once again tested the waters with his old crew, but the project’s momentum sagged when Eddie Van Halen was diagnosed with cancer.

Roth, whose solo career started off promisingly with hit remakes of “Just a Gigolo” and “California Girls,” has seen his star fade substantially from his glory days. In recent years he has recorded and toured sporadically, including a summer 2002 co-headlining jaunt with Hagar; he has also worked as an emergency medical technician in New York, gaining his certification in 2004.

But for now, Roth’s concentration is on his radio career, based at “92.3 Free FM” WFNY New York, formerly known as WXRK and “K-Rock.”

“Where do you start on a gig like this?” he asked on the air, before answering his own question with a post-New Year’s discussion of what to eat when you have a hangover. For Roth, it’s “a two-cheeseburger happy meal super-sized with a Coke.”

In his first hour, Roth also reminisced about listening to radio for the first time as a child in the early ’60s. He briefly sang along to a soul song and made suggestions about what should be done with the space at Ground Zero in New York’s lower Manhattan.

Roth didn’t wrangle any rock royalty guests to help him through his first syndicated show, though he did take one jab at an old bandmate. When WFNY had difficulty putting callers on the air, Roth quipped, “Who’s manning the phones, Eddie Van Halen?”

But despite that and plenty of public feuding with his old band, some of it aired in his 1997 autobiography, “Crazy From the Heat,” Roth holds his career with Van Halen in an honorable place.

“When people bring up Van Halen, I talk about it with pride and with no apprehension at all,” he told the Tribune Review. “I play those songs all the time.”