David Lee Roth 1

In their early incarnations, many now successful rock groups were able to begin building a formidable reputation by performing covers of popular songs of the era, or radio hits the musicians themselves grew up listening to. Van Halen was one of these artists who were able to take an already well known song and make it entirely their own. The band’s renditions of songs by The Kinks, Linda Ronstadt and Martha and the Vandellas went on to become classic rock staples, with the majority of listeners unaware of the fact that they were, in fact, listening to a cover song.

When founding member and iconic frontman David Lee Roth tested the waters of his solo career while still in Van Halen, he continued this tradition with formidable takes on music by The Beach Boys and Edgar Winter, among others. These recordings similarly became successful radio hits for Roth, laying the groundwork for what would become a memorable career away from Van Halen. Here is our rundown of the Top 10 David Lee Roth Classic Rock Covers.

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10) “Bad Habits” (Billy Field Cover)

 From ‘Diamond Dave’ (2003)

Bright brass melodies and Roth’s traditional lyrical delivery comprise the cut which starts out our countdown of David Lee Roth’s most exceptional cover songs. Diamond Dave’s take on the Billy Field classic “Bad Habits” closes out the vocalist’s appropriately titled 2003 studio album ‘Diamond Dave’ on a high note, and shows the energetic frontman embodying a gritty, crooner attitude.

 

 

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9) “Night Life” (Willie Nelson Cover)

From ‘Your Filthy Little Mouth’ (1994)

On this deep track from ‘Your Filthy Little Mouth,’ David Lee Roth warps the twangy, southern style of Willie Nelson’s “Night Life” and provides it with the natural melancholy mockery that only he can execute. The delicate guitar work of Terry Kilgore serves as a melodic garnishing on this slow paced jazz ballad.

 

 

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8) “Shoo Bop” (Steve Miller Band Cover)

From ‘Diamond Dave’ (2003)

Roth takes the once moderate rocking vibe of Steve Miller Band’s “Shu Ba Du Du Ma Ma Ma,” and revamps it with retro 60’s synthesizers, quiet vocal melodies and even stronger bass lines. The title was a little too wacky, even for a David Lee Roth solo album, so when it appeared on Roth’s ‘Diamond Dave’ record it was shortened to simply “Shoo Bop.”

 

 

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7) “That’s Life” (Frank Sinatra Cover)

From ‘Eat ‘Em and Smile’ (1986)

Closing out David Lee Roth’s breakaway debut solo effort ‘Eat ‘Em and Smile’ is a cover of Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life.” Similar to the style previously showcased on the four covers which appeared on his EP ‘Crazy From the Heat’ one year prior, “That’s Life” puts Roth’s defining charisma to proper use while backed by soaring brass and gospel-laced vocal harmonies.

 

 

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6) “Shine A Little More” (Electric Light Orchestra Cover)

From ‘No Holds Bar-B-Que’ (2002)

In coordination with his acclaimed ‘Song for Song: The Heavyweight Champions of Rock and Roll’ tour with longtime musical rival Sammy Hagar in 2002, David Lee Roth released the now out-of-print home video ‘No Holds Bar-B-Que.’ Alongside a compilation of down-the-rabbit-hole footage, Roth included several new recordings which never appeared on a full length studio album. One of these same recordings is an appludable cover of Electric Light Orchestra’s “Shine A Little More,” complete with shooting string arrangements.

 

 

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5) “Soul Kitchen” (The Doors Cover)

From ‘Diamond Dave’ (2003)

Slamming distortion guitar, proper synthesizers and familiar David Lee Roth antics heavily decorate this take on The Doors’ “Soul Kitchen.” With each traditional volume swell the track bursts with enhanced nostalgia, and leaves the listener wondering if Roth has taken these lyrics perhaps too close to heart throughout the years.

 

 

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4) “If Six Was Nine” (Jimi Hendrix Cover)

From ‘Diamond Dave’ (2003)

There aren’t too many rock frontman who can take a timeless, seemingly untouchable Jimi Hendrix classic anthem and make it their own, however this is exactly what David Lee Roth does during his revisiting of “When Six Was Nine.” When the song reaches the bridge, Diamond Dave drops his voice to a menacing growl ala “Me Wise Magic.”

 

 

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3) “Tobacco Road” (John D. Loudermilk Cover)

From ‘Eat ‘Em and Smile’ (1986)

The David Lee Roth solo band hit an exemplary stride when it came down to recording Roth’s first full-length studio album away from Van Halen, ‘Eat ‘Em and Smile.’ This is especially true on the album’s explosive cover of “Tobacco Road.” The song is perhaps best known for the previous renditions by The Animals and War, however the song actually dates back to the early 1960s from musician John D. Loudermilk. Steve Vai’s proficient pinch harmonics and Roth’s magnetizing vocal performance make this one of David Lee Roth’s strongest covers yet.

 

 

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2) “Just A Gigolo/I Ain’t Got Nobody” (Louis Prima Cover)

From ‘Crazy From the Heat’ (1985)

The first “episode” of Dave TV was the sole outlet where Van Halen fans could watch in awe as the then-still lead vocalist David Lee Roth began to venture off into his commercially successful solo career. Paired with an entertaining music video which featured comedic parodies of popular videos of the era, Roth’s cover of “Just A Gigolo/I Ain’t Got Nobody” remains a prime example of David Lee Roth’s solo career. Wild primal screams, jungle yells, and all of Roth’s other signature ad-libed vocal tricks become the center of attention, while layered upon the articulate instrumental work of the original.

 

 

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1) “California Girls” (The Beach Boys Cover)

From ‘Crazy From the Heat’ (1985)

Our first glimpse inside the solo career of David Lee Roth came in the form of a creative music video, in which Roth took the role of our entertaining guide as we went on a Twilight Zone-esque tour of the California coast, and the beauties which call the beaches home. This move, while risque, went on to help launch Diamond Dave’s career as a solo artist, with the single reaching #3 on the charts (the same position The Beach Boys’ own version reached). Bright vocal melodies and engaging synthesizers did a formidable job at merging the style of the original with the attitude of David Lee Roth, while setting the mood for the next two decades leading up to Roth’s long awaited return to Van Halen.