Van Halen’s Cover of “Dancing In the Street” Spelled The End
We learned earlier today that guitarist Eddie Van Halen passed away at the age of 65 from a long battle with cancer. Today Rock N’ Roll True Stories takes a look at the song from 1982’s Diver Down that spelled the end of frontman David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen’s relationship
In may of 1982 van halen released their cover version of dancing in the street which would chart on the top 40. And help propel their 5th album Diver Down to peak at number 3 on the billboard charts and sell over 3 million copies. Now the track was originally written by 60’s icon Marvin Gaye and one of the most noticable attributes of the cover song that Van Halen did was the memorable synthesizer riff written by guitarist Eddie Van Halen. Now even though the song was a success it would start the unraveling of Van Halen that came to a full head 3 years later.Even prior to the recording of the song, tensions were rising between frontman David Lee Roth and guitarist Eddie Van Halen. David Lee Roth wanted to stay in the gutter and do what they do best, which was rock out, while the band’s guitarist wanted the band’s sound to evolve. Van Halen had written this synth riff for an original song, not a cover, but in order to come to a medium even if it wasn’t a happy one the synth riff would be used for a cover. Now Van Halen would tell guitar world in 2016 I didn’t want to be half way there with someone else’s stuff. Diver Down was a turning point for me because half of it was cover tunes. I was working on a great song with this mini moog riff that ended up being used on dancing in the street and it was going to be a completely different song. I envisioned it being more like a peter gabriel song instead of what it turned out to be, but when producer Ted Templeman heard it, he decided it would be great for Dancing in the street. Just to prove how much of a divide there was in the Van Halen camp, the bandmates couldn’t even agree on how the song happened or how long it took to record with frontman David Lee Roth recalling it sounds more than 4 people are playing when in actuality there’s almost zero overdubs and that’s why it takes us such a short amount of time to record it. But Eddie Van Halen disagreed saying it almost takes us as much time to make a cover song sound original as it does writing a song. I spent a lot of time arranging and playing the synthesizer on dancing in the street. Now not only was dancing in the street a compromise the whole album Diver Down was as well. Following the huge success of the group’s 1981 record Fair Warning, the band wanted to slow down and take a break to smell the roses and it was originally envisioned that a standalone single would be released as a stop gap between records and this resulted in the cover tune Pretty Woman which was a huge success and so much of a success that the band’s label wanted another album right away resulting in Diver Down and in order to support the album the band had to hit the road once again. Now with no time to relax the tensions in the group only escalated and by the end of the cycle for diver down Eddie Van Halen was done with compromising his future image of the band and Van Halen wasn’t just at odd with singer David Lee Roth, but the group’s longtime producer Ted templeman. Eddie though found an ally in engineer Don Lande and Eddie would recall this time in the band’s history saying The bottom line is that i wanted more control i was always butting heads with Ted Templeman about what makes a good record. My philosophy has always been that i would rather bomb my own music than make it with other people’s music. And Ted felt that if you re-do a proven hit you’re already half way there. Now Van Halen and Lande agreed on the vision of building there own studio as a message that they could create their own original works instead of doing cover tunes and that studio would be named 5150 and it would be the studio where the band’s subsequent records would be recorded and Eddie Van Halen would remember “I certainly didn’t know how to build a studio. It was all Don’s magic we had grown really close and you know we had a common vision. Everybody was afraid Don and I were taking control, well yes that’s exactly what we did and the results proved that we weren’t idiots. When you’re making a record you never know if the public is going to accept it, but we lucked out and we succeeded at exactly what my goal was. I didn’t want to do things the way Ted wanted us to do them and i am not knocking Diver Down. It’s a good record but it wasn’t the record i wanted to do at the time. Now it would be the band’s follow up record 1984 that confirmed Eddie’s gut instinct saying it was me showing Ted how you really make a Van Halen record and the first song recorded at the new 5150 studios was Jump!, which Eddie forced on the band and was supported by Lande. And it was that synth heavy approach that dominated the 1984 LP and Jump gave the band it’s only number 1 hit only further confirming the guitarist’s intuition saying “once ted heard the song he was full hog in. When I first played Jump for the band nobody wanted anything to have to do with it. Dave said i was a guitar hero and that i shouldn’t be playing keyboards. My response was if i want to play tuba or bavarian cheese whistle i’ll do it. Now as soon as Ted was on board with Jump and said that it was a stone cold hit everyone started to like it more. But Ted only really cared about Jump he didnt care so much about the rest of the record. He just wanted that one hit. Now with David Lee Roth feeling like his influences diminishing on the band’s sound he turned his attention to the band’s videos. His vision for Jump was to have him on screen seen in a wide variety of rockstar moments, which producer Robert Lombard was against as it worked against the intimacy of the performance scenes. Now Lombard was soon fired telling Ultimate Classic Rock in an interview you don’t go behind Dave’s back, here’s your cheque never want to see you again.That video though would end up winning the best performance video at the first VMA’s with Eddie Van Halen seeming to exert greater control over the band singer David Lee Roth would pursue a solo career along with the Crazy From The Heat EP he came up with a movie script with the same title, which saw him star in the leading role. Now this all happened while he was still technically in Van Halen.David Lee Roth from day one felt like he was an outsider telling an interviewer Since my very first days in the band 11 years ago I’ve always had the feeling that one day I would wake up in a cold hotel, all the rooms would be empty and i would be stuck by a phone with a busy signal. He’d go on to say from the 1st day nothing has changed. Now by March of 1985 Roth and Eddie reconvened but it was clear that there wasn’t going to be any improvement in the relationship. The guitarist later said that the conversation ended in an attempt to discuss Roth’s movie. I can’t work with you guys anymore Van Halen quoted Roth as having said. .I wanna do my movie, maybe when i am done we’ll get back together and it would be months later that Eddie reported that the band as you know it is over. Dave left to be a movie star he even had the balls to ask If I’d write the score for him. I’m looking for a new singer. It’s weird that it’s over, 12 years of my life putting up with that BS.So that does it for today’s video guys thanks for watching be sure to hit the like button and subscribe and as always let me know which stories you’d like to see me cover on future episodes of my channel. Take care.