Van Halen last toured in 2015, and since then further shows were discussed but then abandoned, with speculation circulating about the guitarist’s health. Last year, singer Roth said the band was “finished” and that he had “inherited” its legacy, starting with his new Las Vegas residency. At the time, he wouldn’t discuss Eddie’s situation, saying his colleague had “his own story to tell.” He also said he himself had “paid a price” for the band’s inactivity lately.
“Ed’s not doing well, and singing and dancing is a perishable skill,” Roth told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in a new interview. “If you have the capacity, it’s something that has to be used routinely, if not for the thrill of it and the magic of creating with other incandescent spirits.”
Looking back, Roth once again took credit for the band’s early success. “When I was music director for Van Halen, the first seven years — when I left, that’s when the music changed as well as the vocal — I bullied, harassed, threatened and insulted till I got my way, and we sold 14 million records,” he noted. “I’m sorry. I officially apologize. But what we also officially bolted into place, inexorably and until the last syllable of time, is a universal sound. Even on that first tour, 40 summers ago, we opened for Black Sabbath in England and two weeks later, quite successfully, opened for Journey at the height of Steve Perry. That’s a billion-dollar sound each way. There is no other band that you can think of, right now, that could successfully do that, can you?”
Elsewhere in the interview, Roth argued that even his ‘80s fashion influenced a wide range of other bands. “I rent the haircut out now,” he said. “That haircut has its own Instagram. … Haircuts are important. I had one of the most important haircuts ever in the history of my end of the sport. Lest we practice selective amnesia, Bono, you had that haircut too. Bruce, you had that haircut too. Hold on, the Metallica guys get pissed, and they can get real physical, but you guys had it too.”
Roth’s latest Vegas residency runs until intermittently until March 28. In between those shows, he’ll open for Kiss on the latest leg of their farewell tour, with a second run of support slots later in the year.