David Lee Roth is “throwing in the shoes.”
That’s how the on-and-off Van Halen frontman put it, anyway, in a phone call with the Las Vegas Review-Journal announcing his retirement on Friday. During the conversation — which the Review-Journal‘s writer, John Katsilometes, actually described as “more a spoken-word performance than interview” — Roth stated that five upcoming shows at Mandalay Bay’s House of Blues venue will be his final performances.
“I am throwing in the shoes. I’m retiring,” Roth said. “This is the first, and only, official announcement… I’m not going to explain the statement. The explanation is in a safe. These are my last five shows.”
Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty David Lee Roth arrives for the 2021 MTV Video Music Awards
Roth did, however, make some semblance of an explanation, hinting that health concerns have prompted him to call it quits. The singer said he’d been thinking about “the departure of my beloved classmate recently” — a reference to his bandmate Eddie Van Halen, who died of throat cancer last year — and added, “I am encouraged and compelled to really come to grips with how short time is, and my time is probably even shorter. I thought I might have been the first, frankly… ‘Hey Ed, objects in the rear-view mirror are probably me.’ And my doctors, my handlers, compelled me to really address that every time I go onstage, I endanger that future.”
Roth, who turns 67 this month, was part of Van Halen’s original lineup, performing with the band from the days of their early gigs at Los Angeles clubs. He sang lead vocals on the rock group’s first six albums before departing in 1985, though he would briefly reunite with Van Halen in 1996 and rejoin the band full-time in 2007. He also had a successful solo career, releasing seven albums between 1986 and 2003.
Fin Costello/Redferns The original Van Halen lineup
In his monologue to the Review-Journal (Katsilometes wrote that the singer “ended the call without taking a single question”), Roth added that his backing band at the House of Blues would be “the final iteration of the original Van Halen.”
“We are bringing it in classic VH style. Alex [Van Halen] and I are the only version, that was his message,” the singer said. “There is no other variation. There is no torch being passed. There is no other side to this coin. This is classic, in-your-face Van Halen.” He added that he and Alex Van Halen “speak to each other constantly, two or three times a day. We laugh like pirates.”
“I’ve given you all I’ve got to give,” he concluded. “It’s been an amazing, great run, no regrets, nothing to say about anybody. I’ll miss you all. Stay frosty.”
Roth’s final shows are scheduled for Dec. 31, Jan. 1, Jan. 5, and Jan. 7-8. Tickets are on sale now.