David Lee Roth Blames Grunge For the Downslide of His Career

Van Halen frontman says Kurt Cobain was the reason for his audience diminishing in the '90s.

Ultimate Guitar

Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth probably went through the most successful stage of his career in the '80s, releasing platinum records and filling arenas around the world. But then, after parting ways with the band, the grunge came, and according to the singer, it struck him hard.

In a recent Buzzfeed interview, Roth discussed the decline of his career during the '90s, heavily blaming the grunge movement for turning fans the other way.

"Two words: Kurt Cobain. I went from playing to 12,000 people to 1,200. From arenas to casinos and state fairs and the local House Of Blues," the singer said. "That will cause you to reflect a lot more clearly on your values. Fun wasn't seen as fun anymore."

The frontman also reached several other interesting topics such as his views on marriage or the way his career would have turned out if he'd stayed in Van Halen.

"I wonder who I might have been had I stayed in the band," he said. "Not as interesting, not as involved. I probably would have followed the more traditional, long, slow climb to the middle. Enjoying my accomplishments, living off my residuals. I wouldn't have half the stories to tell.

"I've lived alone my whole adult life. I've had girlfriends, I've had love affairs. Never longer than a year and a half. I'm the drunk who won the lottery, I'm going to be very difficult to convince of a lot of traditional things. I put off getting married when I found out, oh, you don't really have to."

Van Halen are currently preparing for the Stone Music Festival performance on April 20 in Sydney, Australia. The band is also set to take on Japan with a string of five concert dates during June and July.

138 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    Hummalah zummalah boobalah bibbily hummalah zummalah bibbily bop!
    I read that in the voice of Bill Cosby
    So if there's anything we've proved here, it's that Diamond Dave blames Kurt Cobain for his downslide and Bill Cosby could have a legitimate case against Dave for stealing his Bippity Bops.
    God and to think Kurt had the audacity to destroy brilliant lyrics such as these, what a waste.
    Mr Brownst0ne
    this man is the cliche of the arsehowl rockstar frontman. dude can sing though.
    I don't see why y'all are disliking this and crap because he speaks with humility. The 90's came crashing down with Grunge and hair metal was down the drain. That's what the guy is saying; at least he established that he failed. He didn't imply that he was better than Cobain or even if he thought Cobain was better than him. He just said another man was the reason why his popularity went down the drain and became outcast.
    It's just the same old story of popular culture being replaced by the new underground culture becoming popular, each one a reaction to the last popular culture.
    No, no he can't. Even back then Dave was not a great singer. Great showman maybe, but not a great singer. He's much worse now as a singer, and as a showman. His "soft shoe" crap absolutely sucks.
    This. He was a great performer, but as far as quality of his actually singing voice, it's not very good.
    A lot of singers make up for lack of skill with charisma. DLR gave Van Halen songs a great sense of humor. It would be hard to listen to Jump if it was sung by a good singer, imo
    And I thank Kurt Cobain every day for this.
    Kurt died for hair/metal's sins.
    Burt Cocaine was the OG-emo and a pussy.
    Yeah, I feel really sorry for him, but if you kill yourself before you raise your kid then you are a pussy. I know he was miserable, but he left Courtney Love to raise his daughter and that is just messed up no matter how much you don't want to live anymore. He was probably convinced that his daughter was better off without him, but still. If you have children you have the responsibility to raise them as best you can before checking out.
    It was an assisted suicide at best, murder at worst. Dead men can't pull triggers. He probably OD'd, then either had someone blow his head off after he was out cold, or they found him dead from the H-bomb, and decided to blow his head off to make it more sensationalized than a mere drug overdose. Again, dead men don't pull triggers.
    nirvana sucks ass though, they ruined fun and partying in the 80s, then the 90s were a depressing set of years, and to this day, i still hate what people say about hair metal, because it gets your heart running and your mind thinking that you could actually have fun with life
    You guys all fail to remember, without NIRVANA, RAP would have taken over! even if you don't like "grunge", it's still rock and roll, and it kept rap from destroying music and popular culture for 1 more decade at least.
    I'd rather listen to rap over hair metal any day. Oh, wait, I forgot. "RAP SUCKS AND ISNT MUSIC!!!", right?
    I could say either three things about you: 1) You're an old man stuck in the 80's. You really need to get your head out of your ass - Hair metal would never last, it was overbloated, and an anticulture would rise up against it anyhow, no matter if you liked it or not. Also, ironically, while grunge had the outsider/loser look, hair metal stars were the latter. They were mediocore, and unoriginal musicians, they were constantly ****ed up on cocaine, speed, and heroin (which, probably unintentionally, or unaware of, is part of what you define as "fun"), and became bitter, and loathesome people when that fame based on a relatively short fad faded away, and blamed it on everything but their own failed characters, consequences of their lifestyle, and the lacking skill of evolution in hair metal. 2) You're a young metalhead, who doesn't understand exactly what hair metal essentially was. What you might seem to not realize, is that hair metal was the equivalent of the pop-music we have today. It was popular, it sold a lot, almost all of it was about partying, having fun, drinking, heartbreak, drugs, being in love, etc. - but just like pop-music today, that kind of music can only last to a certain extent before people resent it, and a counter-culture would be born. Hair metal wasn't meant to be good musically, or really last the test of time - It was a reflection of the life of those who experienced prosperity under Reagan - It was the music of the lucky part of the middle class that would be torn apart by Reagans policies. And just like pop-music again, it hardly had any relevance, nor reflected anything of what happening in society at that time. Todays equivalent of those days "metalheads", are today the douchebags who live of their parents money, dress in expensive ridicoulus clothing, and think that Nickelback, Psy, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, One Direction and LMFAO is the shit, because it "gets your heart running and your mind thinking that you can actually have fun with life...", completely oblivious to the reality of society - we're economically screwed, people are under pressure, educational system is ****ed up, and life is actually hard. Grunge came to birth, because it reflected the reality of society and life for many American teenagers, who werent born with a silver spoon in their mouthes. Furthermore, if you want to argue that hair metal isn't like pop because It had a lasting influence on people! think again! If you want to acclaim to fast ripping soloes, and instrumental technicality to the metal scene of today, you're incorrect the vast majority were influenced by thrash-metal, which was also a counter-culture to glam (Metallica, which was the first real prominent thrash-metal band hated Motley Crue, and the hair metal scene to such a degree, that they frequently had brief mockings in their shows against hair-metal which they described as posers of metal, a fitting title in my opinion. Furthermore, if you want to blame grunge as being responsible for emo-rock and stuff simular like that, you're also incorrect while emo shamlessly ripps, and fakes the self-loathing of grunge, and it's takes it's mellow, sad lyrics, and makes them overly melodramatic, and overblown, the sound and visual style of emo mainly stems from hair metal. Grunge's true legacy lies in the indie, and garage-rock scene of the 00's, while Hair metal never had any true legacy what so ever. 3) You're a troll As the third option, you're aware of everything I said before, and simply came to start a flame war. Contratulations in that case, you won the internet, now toddle off, and let the grown-ups talk... TL;DR: Stop whining.
    >the sound and visual style of emo mainly stems from hair metal Not sure you've ever heard or seen any emo bands.
    Believe me, I've not only heard, but also seen plenty of emo bands (I used to date a girl that was into that stuff, and, unfortunatly, dragged me with to concerts) - Most emo bands have a sound that leans more up of metal than grunge, and the visual style lies closest to goth and hair metal (two genres that despite being pretty far away musically, have common elements visually, which are then weirdly cross-mixed in emo) - And if you count lyrics as a part of the sound, then I already mentioned that part in my comment. Emo lyrically ripped off elements of grunge lyric, and made it overly melodramatic, and overblown. My final point is that emo owes more to hair metal than grunge, and that the argument "Grunge gave birth to emo" is a statement of ignornace, and deliberate misintepretation of grunge's influence.
    >Most emo bands have a sound that leans more up of metal than grunge, and the visual style lies closest to goth and hair metal Believe me, man. You couldn't be farther from what emo is. This is what emo sounds like.
    Texas Is The Reason.... that the president's dead... You gotta suck suck Jackie suck!
    Well, at least, he has his "Little Elvis" insured.
    Whats the point? Not like he could have had it replaced if it were damaged. Bionic artificial cock replacements? lol
    Well, he could cry in his new Lamborghini at least.
    it's David Lee Roth for Christ Sake, have you ever seen the video of "I can't drive 55", Granted EVEN THOUGH that's Sammy Hagar, I'm pretty sure many of you would agree, Sammy is at a bit of a lesser stature than David Lee Roth...so, He could cry in his Lamborghini ANYWAYS, then his Ferrari the next day, then his McLaren F1 the NEXT day, then his Ford GT40, his 1967 Corvette 427 the next day, then his 55 Chevy Bel Air Hot Rod the next day (obviously which WAS painted like "Frankenstrat" when he was WITH Van Halen, but afterwards, he had to have that shit repainted...)
    don't shit talk Hagar. I understand he didn't have the stage theatrics like Roth. But go to Cabo and you'll understand. We're at dinner. all you hear is a man screaming and a bunch of comotion running all over the place. then you realize Sammy has taken the mic and is playing with the house band, and it sounds good. the best part... after every song sammy says thanks to the crowd and then looks at the band doing mini fist pumps and just saying "yesss". like they just recorded the dark side of the moon. respect
    Man who sang phrases like "snappy little mammy" blames better lyricists for killing career.
    Better lyrics? One Nirvana hit has the word 'yeah' repeated over and over and over (very deep stuff there). And Teen Spirit is absolute word salad. Please don't get me wrong, though. I was right there listening to Nirvana at the time and I still do, even now, but I just can't get on-board with the notion of Kurt being a voice for my generation nor a great lyricist.