David Lee Roth Proclaims Love for Dance Music, Compares Van Halen to ‘West Side Story’
After being a rock star for a few decades, it's easy to become jaded about making awards show appearances and answering softball questions during red carpet interviews. But during his brief exchange with an E! Network host at the Billboard Music Awards on May 17, David Lee Roth proved he can have his own distinctive brand of fun whenever and wherever he wants.
Referred to as a legend by his interviewer, the Van Halen singer — on hand for the band's set at the awards show — took the opportunity to deliver a few free-form thoughts on what's made the group so successful for so long.
"What's the recipe that occurred? What's the recipe that compelled that for you?" Roth mused. "I think it's because Van Halen — first off, you can dance to this kind of rock. It's hard rock, but there's no secret — 'Panama' and 'Jump' are 126 beats a minute, and they've been remixed endlessly. Katy Perry just remixed 'Jump' and put it in her song 'California Gurls.' 'Jump' was remixed for a Sapporo ad. It continues! Like Broadway tunes. It's remixed, it's revitalized, it's re-orchestrated, and it takes on new life, like West Side Story. And if you listen to the lyrics, you can tell someone played me West Side Story way back when I was a little kid. Careful what you show your kids! It's for life, loco."
That's a lot to take in, but Roth wasn't finished. Asked how he felt about performing at the show, he pointed out that even though he's known as a rock frontman, he felt like being at the Billboard Music Awards gave him an opportunity to play for a crowd with whom he might actually have more in common.
"I only listen to dance music. Always have," Roth said. "I'm a product of the integrated bus system, and I went to schools that were 95 percent black and Spanish-speaking. I speak fluent Spanish. I own a 1951 Mercury low rider as my usual go-to-7-11 car, with a DeSoto grill, okay? I subscribe to Beatport exclusively on the internet for all my top 10 house, club mix, new disco, new dance — and so forth. I love playing rock 'n' roll, but I never listen to it. To be able to play this rock 'n' roll to this crew? This is the dance gang."
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