David Lee Roth ‘Did Not Want to Do’ Van Halen’s Classic Single ‘Jump,’ Says Former Bassist Michael Anthony
There's no way California band Van Halen will ever forget 1984: Its multi-platinum album named after that year marked the height of the band's commercial success with flamboyant frontman "Diamond" David Lee Roth. In addition to containing the exuberant party rock hits "Hot for Teacher," "Panama" and "I'll Wait," 1984 featured Van Halen's first and only Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 single, "Jump."
The synthesizer-driven hit was a serious departure for the band that Roth initially didn't want to take. 'I remember Dave hearing 'Jump' and he did not want to do it," former bassist Michael Anthony says. "He told [guitarist] Eddie [Van Halen], 'You're a guitar hero. You're not a keyboard player. You need to play guitar.'" Roth eventually gave in, but such creative tension, as well as personality clashes, contributed to his leaving the band in 1985.
Anthony recalls that during Van Halen's stint on the 1984 Monsters of Rock tour in Europe -- the last shows Roth would perform with the group until 2007 -- "the tension level started to rise." Roth, who is as famed for his verbosity as he is for his onstage charisma, sometimes alienated audience members with his antics. "He'd do something to piss off a male fan, and then he'd say, 'Hey buddy, after the show I'm going to f--- your girl,' (laughs) and point right at them. And boy, sometimes some guys would get heated up for that … This is the guy that would do tours where he'd wear ass-less chaps, and I have to stand behind him while he's looking that way. (laughs) Some nights you want to just laugh, and other nights you want to go, 'Oh, I don't want to stand near this.'"
Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Roth didn't perform again with Van Halen until 2012.
An edited version of this story first appeared in the Nov. 1 issue of Billboard.