David Lee Roth Explains What Working With Eddie Van Halen Was Really Like, Recalls First Reaction Eddie Playing Synths for ’Jump’

David Lee Roth, the legendary singer of Van Halen, recently took some time to look back on working with guitar maestro Eddie Van Halen. The vocalist recalled what it was like to be in the same band with Eddie during the latest edition of The Roth Show, his own podcast. He offered a very emotional statement, saying (transcript via Blabbermouth):

“My dear departed Ed. Boy, I miss him. I had a ball with Ed. Walt Disney once said, ‘You know what? My love affair with Mickey Mouse was better than any love affair with a woman I ever had.'”

“I’ve gotta tell ya: playing with Ed, writing songs with Ed, presenting those songs with Ed was better than any love affair I ever had. And some of those songs, I think, might last forever — or until the last syllable of time, like Shakespeare said. They became anthems. Where are they playing ‘Jump’ right now?”

Among other things, Roth remembered how Van Halen’s classic hit song “Jump” came to be — a piece that was somewhat divisive for its era due to its use of synths. In fact, it was Eddie who played the keys on it, ultimately creating a “hybrid” piece, as Roth puts it. He said:

“I remember when he played it on the keyboard downstairs. I said, ‘No.’ [Laughs] Well, we reflect the times, and the times at that time was guitars, guitars, guitars; and ‘Jump’ was one of those hybrids.”

Released in December of 1983, “Jump” was the debut single off the band’s “1984” album, released (obviously) in 1984. All four band members shared the writing credits for the piece. What made it so different, and somewhat divisive, is that Van Halen were known as a guitar-oriented band and yet it was pretty heavy on the keyboards.

Nonetheless, it’s still remembered as one of the band’s biggest pieces, as well as one of the most popular rock songs of all time. Additionally, “Jump” is often associated with sports and plenty of sports teams over the decades used the song on various occasions.

Van Halen - Jump (Official Music Video)

During 2022, the whole rock music world was baffled when Metallica’s former bassist Jason Newsted revealed that he was approached by Alex Van Halen, Van Halen drummer and Eddie’s brother, to participate in some sort of a tribute event or a tour.

Apart from them not calling Michael Anthony for the bass spot, it was a shock that anything of this kind was in the works. As for the Eddie fill-in, it would be Joe Satriani taking all the guitar duties.

Eventually, Joe Satriani spoke up on the matter, revealing that this was, in fact, true. However, it was only discussed and nothing really came out of it. Not that long ago, Joe Satriani recalled how he was invited to do this project, saying:

“I get a call out of the blue from Alex Van Halen, who I’d never met until then, and he poses the unimaginable to me, which is to go out with a Van Halen tour, playing guitar. And as I’ve told other people, I heard my voice saying, ‘Yeah, I’ll do that,’ before my brain really thought, ‘Don’t say ‘yes.'”

“That’s an impossible thing to do; you can’t replace Eddie Van Halen. Nobody can.’ But I had such a good conversation with Alex, and just getting to know him on a few phone calls. And he brought Dave into the loop, who I’d met before but I can’t really say I know the man… And we came close to doing that sort of coming out show that New York City was holding last year.”

Joe Satriani on Eddie van Halen: "He was groundbreaking in how he arranged his guitar parts"

“And that would have been frightening, ’cause it was only three weeks away. And I was still listening to the Van Halen stuff, but still working on [my latest solo] album. So it wasn’t like we were prepared. There was no bass player.”

“They hadn’t really told me who was gonna play bass. And then there was the whole controversy about who should actually be in the band. And I was on the outside; I’m just some new guy. I was the one saying, ‘Who’s playing bass, by the way?’ And, ‘Is Sammy [Hagar] gonna come by?’ And, ‘Did you talk to Mike [Anthony, bassist]?'”

“So, conversations kept going on and on. I met with Alex at one point when I went down to L.A. But I think there’s some internal stuff that needs to get worked out with the family, and then the Van Halen band family, which is kind of big.”

“Again, I feel like I’m not close to the top of that queue. And many times I’ve told Alex, ‘Are you sure? Me?’ ‘Cause I don’t perform like Eddie. I’m just a superfan. And I can certainly play the stuff. But Eddie was such an original — just the way he ran around on stage and sang and played. It’s amazing.”

Photo: Joe Bielawa (VH.DSC 0324.5 19 12 (7235703036))


  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.