My Favorite Music Videos, Part Twenty-Two: David Lee Roth’s ‘Just a Gigolo/I Ain’t Got Nobody’

A video that’s probably best known for poking fun at other videos makes up today’s “Favorite Music Videos” offering.

David Lee Roth gained prominence as Van Halen‘s lead singer in the mid to late 1970s. His crazy stage and video antics–as well as his great talent for not taking anything too seriously, including himself–provided a great comic persona that music video really needed in its early days. Many video artists took themselves quite seriously…it was a pleasure to watch a clown who could also sing and had a certain sex appeal.

Unfortunately, Roth’s ego and personality evidently did not sit well with the rest of the band, and he left in 1985, eventually replaced by Sammy Hagar. While many liked the new lineup, most of the band’s fans still longed for Roth’s return.

From Roth’s Wikipedia entry:

In early 1985, while still a member of Van Halen, Roth released “Crazy From the Heat”, a popular solo EPof off-beat standards. Singles for “California Girls” and “Just a Gigolo/I Ain’t Got Nobody” succeeded largely due to their innovative music videos (produced by Jerry Kramer and co-produced by Glenn Goodwin and Bobby Diebold), which featured ridiculous characters created by Roth and his Creative Chief Director, Pete Angelus, who’d previously directed Van Halen’s Roth-era videos.

On April 1, 1985, Roth and Van Halen parted ways. In his 1998 autobiography, Crazy From the Heat, Roth characterized Van Halen’s music just before his 1985 departure as “morose”. Roth wished to record an album quickly, tour, and then shoot a movie, (for which he hoped Van Halen would record the soundtrack. The film, entitled Crazy From The Heat, was budgeted at $20 million by CBS Studios; however, the project folded after the consolidation of CBS Studios.

Some of the musical artists lampooned in this video include Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, Billy Idol, Willie Nelson, and Boy George of the 1980s band Culture Club. It’s well thought out and conceived, and is amongst the funniest I’ve ever seen. Roth is particularly gifted in that he knows how to play to his audience for laughs and isn’t above using slapstick, much like the comedic performances of greats like Lucille Ball and Dick Van Dyke.

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(If the video won’t load or play click here.)

Some things you might not have known about David Lee Roth (again, from Roth’s Wikipedia entry):

In April 1993, Roth was arrested in New York City’s Washington Square Park for buying what he described as “$10 worth of Jamaican bunk reefer” from an undercover police officer. The arrest made headlines and became a late-night television punch-line. When asked by Howard Stern whether the bust was a publicity stunt, Roth said, “Howard, in New York City this small of a bust is a $35 traffic citation. It literally says ‘Buick, Chevy, Other’. Your dog poops on the sidewalk, it’s $50. If I was looking for publicity, I would have pooped on the sidewalk.”

In March 1994, Roth released Your Filthy Little Mouth, a musically-eclectic album produced by Nile Rodgers. The album failed to achieve positive critical or commercial success, proving to be Roth’s first solo effort not to achieve RIAA Gold or Platinum status shortly after its release. The support tour found Roth playing smaller venues in the U.S., and larger venues in Europe. Your Filthy Little Mouthsaw a remastered re-release in 2007.

In 1995, Roth returned with an adult lounge act, performing largely in Las Vegas casinos, with a brass band that featured Nile Rodgers, Edgar Winter, and members of the Miami Sound Machine. It also featured several exotic dancers, who in Roth’s words were “so sweet, I bet they shit sugar!”

In the late 1990s, Roth trained as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) in New York City, and worked as one for some time. He occasionally told stories about his experiences as an EMT on his 2005 radio show, which replaced Howard Stern’s legendary radio show, after the latter moved to satellite radio.

In 1997, Roth wrote a well-received, New York Times best-selling memoir, entitled Crazy From the Heat. The 359-page book was whittled down from over 1,200 pages of monologues, which were recorded and transcribed by a Princeton University graduate who followed Roth around for almost a year. The book received mostly positive critical and reader reaction, and helped to reinvent Roth’s image as a popular wit and adventurer, with a bon vivant personality.

in 2012 Roth rejoined Van Halen. The reformed band released A Different Kind of Truth, their first full-length studio album with Roth on board since 1984 and a huge commercial success.

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