David Lee Roth
Say what you want about Eddie Van Halen's groundbreaking guitar playing, Diamond Dave was (and now is again) the heart and soul of Van Halen (the band). After he left, both suffered, but for a minute there it seemed as if he might surpass his former bandmates. In Van Halen, Roth's big mouth, leering, mock carnal presence and over-the-top macho posturing crossed with a Broadway show tune sensibility to give the band the sexiness and outsized sense of fun that completely disappeared when Van Halen carried on with Sammy Hagar. Roth started his solo career while still in Van Halen, cutting the covers EP Crazy From the Heat (1985), which featured the hit singles "California Girls" and "Just a Gigolo." On Roth's first two post-Van Halen records he had a heavy-hitting core band, featuring budding guitar hero Steve Vai, superbassist Billy Sheehan (later of Mr. Big fame), and Maynard Ferguson alumni, drummer Greg Bissonette. Eat 'Em and Smile (1986) and Skyscraper (1988) were both multiplatinum hits, featuring plenty of heavy guitar bluster and Roth's patented "Ethel Merman of Hard Rock" persona. His subsequent records were not really as popular; his star went into something of a descent, culminating with a bust for buying weed in N.Y.C.'s Washington Square Park. There was also the embarrassing announcement that he was rejoining Van Halen, which proved not to be the case. However stalled his career may seem, he can take pride in knowing that he has never worked with (Hagar's replacement) Gary Cherone.