The Story of David Lee Roth’s Debut Solo EP, ‘Crazy From the Heat’
For much of the northern hemisphere, Jan. 28, 1985, was a typically bone-chilling, mid-winter day, but maybe not so much if they dared venture outdoors to snap up a copy of Crazy From the Heat — the debut solo EP from Van Halen singer David Lee Roth, whose very persona seemed to radiate summer heat.
Ever since Van Halen arrived onto the scene way back in 1978 and proceeded to redefine the rules of rock, Roth had likewise established himself as the prototypical, flamboyant frontman — so full of larger-than-life charisma that he could even stand toe-to-toe with the revolutionary guitar work of his band mate, Eddie Van Halen.
Fast forward a few years, and longtime Van Halen fans likely had some inkling of the increasingly testy relationship between Dave and Eddie. Still, that couldn't have prepared them for how far afield the singer would go with this solo debut, which was populared with no small amount of very un-VH-like moments. It must have seemed -- even after the daring pop-rock experiments sprinkled across Van Halen’s game-changing 1984 album -- that Roth had truly gone Crazy From the Heat.
But the project reflected David Lee Roth's always-eclectic musical influences, if not his audience’s. For instance, check out the EP-opening "Easy Street": Originally penned by Dan Hartman for the Edgar Winter Group’s ‘70s glam crossover album Shock Treatment, it set things in motion with a cabaret-style performance by Roth which, to be fair, actually rocked a little harder than the original.
Watch David Lee Roth Perform 'Just a Gigolo'
Next up was a medley of golden oldies, "Just a Gigolo" and "I Ain’t Got Nobody," based on a 1956 arrangement by entertainment legend Louis Prima, which Roth replicated with astonishingly faithful precision on record — then thoroughly updated for the ‘80s via the magic of music video mega-production, as fans would soon see to the point of exhaustion on MTV.
Even bigger, on video and radio airwaves, was "California Girls," which found Roth promoting the West Coast lifestyle (or at least the most cliched perception of it) with a similarly over-the-top video and sonic performance -- complete with celebrity backing vocals by Beach Boy Carl Wilson, as well as Christopher Cross.
And by the time Crazy From the Heat’s technicolor tsunami receded on the mellow waves of the Lovin’ Spoonful’s "Coconut Grove," the only thing certain was that old-school, big-time entertainment had been revived — whether it suited stalwart Van Halen fans or not.
Along the way, Roth simultaneously garnered new fans simply looking for a good time, and that exercise undoubtedly served the singer well when his partnership with the rest of Van Halen became impossible to mend. Crazy or not, David Lee Roth was bound for a solo career.
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