David Lee Roth reveals origins of nostalgic Eddie Van Halen tribute song

Publish Date
Sunday, 6 December 2020, 8:57AM

David Lee Roth has passed on numerous opportunities to comment in detail on the passing of his longtime bandmate and fellow Van Halen co-founder Eddie Van Halen, out of respect for the mourning family.

Roth shared a few brief messages the day of Eddie's death, acknowledging the tragedy but has so far refused to elaborate, except for a nostalgic new song released in late-October, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow Bar and Grill," that included a humble dedication to Eddie: "Hey Ed, I'm gonna miss ya. See you on the other side..."

In a recent interview with Variety, Roth was again reluctant to go on the record with anything headline-worthy about Eddie, specifically, but he provide a glimpse at the process behind the recent single.

"I don't usually write autobiographically," the "Hot for Teacher"singer noted, "but this was a specific effort to replicate a time and a place."

Roth indicated that the lyric referring to the "smell of fresh sawdust" is a reference to the dive bars Van Halen played in its early days. He came across the smell on a recent walk and it "triggered volumes of memory."

Since the pandemic prevented a public memorial for Eddie, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow Bar and Grill," Roth says, is his version of a 'show biz' eulogy for the maestro.

"And so I thought, if that occurred for Ed — which it did not — and everybody was going to get up and tell a story, when it got to my turn I would start with, 'The smell of fresh sawdust on the floor...' And go from there."

"That's the beginning of the story, at least for me," he concluded. "Because that was everywhere we played — the smell of fresh sawdust on the floor. [Laughs] And we were famous for breaking drinking records. Still are! And solo, too!"

This article was first published on iheart.com and is republished here with permission