David Lee Roth’s opinion on Freddie Mercury and Queen
The singer David Lee Roth first joined Van Halen in 1974, two years after the band was formed in Pasadena, California by the brothers Alex and Eddie. His stage performance and vocals were an important part of the group’s sound that became a huge inspiration for countless groups, especially in the 80s.
Over the decades the musician who is known for always saying what is on his mind, talked about many of his peers, including the late legendary singer Freddie Mercury and the band Queen.
What is David Lee Roth’s opinion on Freddie Mercury and Queen
Queen was formed two years earlier than Van Halen, in 1970 and released their debut album in 1973, five years before the American band was able to make their first record. Even though Van Halen was formed in 1972, they were heavily influenced by groups from that also appeared in the 70s, one of them being Queen.
David Lee Roth has a huge respect for the British group and even talked in an interview with Joe Rogan in 2020 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage) about how incredible the late singer Freddie Mercury was.
Rogan and Roth were talking about movies that tell stories the stories of famous artists and David Lee Roth asked Rogan if he had seen the Queen biographical movie. Both of them hadn’t seen the film but Rogan said that someone told him it was very good.
So Roth questioned: “Had they seen Freddie live? I saw Freddie Live at the Forum (In Los Angeles), I was in the maybe 20th row, six in, when Bohemian Rhapsody had just come out.”
“I saw him in his absolute… His major, major prime there. Stagecraft is one thing. But what Freddie was and what he brought was way more than you saw on stage. His sensibilities in terms of music weren’t just three chords and an attitude.”
David Lee Roth continued:
“Don’t fall for that shit. If Keith (Richards) ever sits here and say ‘Is alright Rogan, you just need three chords and an attidude. You need to know the inversions of each one and seven modal…'”
“Ahh fuck you, Keith (laughs). Because he knows all those and the trick tunings and whatever. But Freddie brought a whole wealth of listening to different kinds of music. Wheather it was orchestral, big band, bistro, (or) something you might hear in a coffee shop in France.
“He didn’t tried to sing Black (music), he sang European non-Black (music), what we were very used to, even in Country (music). (…) That’s what I tried to grow up with. try to sound like Motown, try to sound like Wilson Pickett,” David Lee Roth said.
Van Halen covered many classic bands in the early days of their career when they were still playing in the bar circuit. One of those groups was Queen. There is an 1975 recording of them playing the track “Now I’m Here” from the band’s 1974 album “Sheer Heart Attack”. That performance happened at the Pasadena Civic at their hometown.
Queen’s guitarist Brian May is huge fan of Van Halen
Back in 2006, when Queen was touring with the Bad Company and Free singer Paul Rodgers, Brian May gave an interview to David Lee Roth’s radio show (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage). The British guitarist praised Van Halen saying: “I saw you guys a lot of times. I was a huge fan. You guys were just the pinnacle, I enjoyed.”
Brian May also asked during that conversation if Dave and Eddie Van Halen were in contact at that time. The singer revealed that the guitarist wasn’t returning his calls. So he asked Brian May to say hello to Eddie if he had the opportunity to talk to him in a near future.
“If you run into him. As I fully expect that you may, because you are a hero of ours, you always were. If you run into him, put in the good word. Tell him ‘Hey, how hard is to play Runnin’ With The Devil’?”
The band ended up starting their last reunion one year later, in 2007. Five years later, in 2012 they released their final studio album “A Different Kind Of Truth”. That formation didn’t had the classic bassist Michael Anthony. He was replaced by Eddie’s son Wolfgang Van Halen.
The group came to an end in 2020 when Eddie Van Halen died at the age of 65.
David Lee Roth said that he and Freddie are two of the singers that everyone imitates
Everyone loves a good impression of a famous artist and it isn’t different in Rock and Roll. In an interview with Forbes in 2019, David Lee Roth put himself alongside names like Freddie Mercury and Mick Jagger, as one of the frontmans that the “whole world can imitate” after a few beers.
“I’m one of a half-dozen frontmen that after two beers the whole world can imitate. Everybody has a David Lee Roth imitation. Just like you have a (Mick) Jagger imitation and now you have a Freddie (Mercury) imitation.
“Nobody imitates Steven Tyler or Robert Plant. Those are static singers that are a little bit closer to a (Frank) Sinatra. I’ve been dancing, they don’t dance. They perform and they present a little closer to what (David) Bowie did. Bowie didn’t dance either.
Neither does (Bruce) Springsteen. Springsteen is a job site foreman at a construction site (laughs). I’ll imitate. (Walks around) ‘Finish those gaskets, Armin, I’m buying lunch.’ They don’t dance,” David Lee Roth said.