David Lee Roth’s brush with art

In the calm of a late summer night, the artist is at work. Sumi-e, the art of Japanese ink painting, is both beauty and discipline.

David Lee Roth, artist.

CBS News

“You are a night owl – do you usually paint and draw at night?” asked correspondent Tracy Smith.

“Yes, at night,” replied the artist. “There is no magic in it. It is a simple lack of visual stimulation.”

“Sagaru”, an example of Japanese sumi-e painting by David Lee Roth.

David Lee Roth

He creates intricate pencil and brush images, all done freehand in ink, following a centuries-old formula.

“Outta Space” by David Lee Roth.

David Lee Roth

And while you may not be familiar with the technique of sumi-e, there’s a good chance you’ve already met the artist in another lifetime.

For rock music lovers, David Lee Roth does not need to be introduced. As the lead singer of Hall of Fame supergroup Van Halen, he was “Diamond Dave” on stage – a human cyclone of insane energy.

But the heart of the band was co-founder Eddie Van Halen, who died of cancer earlier this month at age 65, and arguably one of the greatest guitarists who ever lived.

David Lee Roth last performed with Van Halen in 2015, and shortly after Eddie’s death posted this tweet: “What a great long journey that has been.”

These days, at home in California during the pandemic, Roth’s art is a bit more nuanced. But it was not easy; in fact, he spent two years in Tokyo trying to master this technique.

Roth said, “I spent the first six months painting bamboo because it was spring / summer. And I said, ‘When are we going to paint something else? “And he looked out the window and said, ‘When the weather changes.’ And he wasn’t kidding. So for about four months, we painted a little house covered in snow.”

“Brutal City”.

David Lee Roth

Smith said, “It’s fascinating – you took two years out of your life and went to Tokyo to study Japanese painting and drawing?”

“Do you have a look that’s a little ‘This is unusual’?” Unexpected “?”


“Is this unexpected good or eccentric for you? I’m curious.”

“I think of both a bit,” Smith said. “I think it takes a remarkable patience and discipline that most people, let alone a rock star who could do a lot of other things, would take the time to do.”

Roth said, “If you were a rock star and had the money to do – let’s just add that – to do anything, and most of all, I always wanted a giant boat. you use your rock celebrity for? “

“I do not know.”

“I have always used my fame as a passport to travel, and let’s go get in. “

“Art and struggle”.

David Lee Roth

And here’s something else he got into: In 2004, Roth became a certified emergency medical technician in New York City. He was 48, but he said answering life-and-death emergency calls in the Bronx was the thing in life that made him feel, well, like a rock star.

“I wasn’t someone until I wore that 511 uniform and made my first calls,” Roth said. “I’m not going to make you joke. I knew I was going through this humiliating experience,” Oh, the white rock star thinks what, is this an easy gig? “”

“But you still wanted to do it?”

“Oh, that’s awesome. You bet.”

He also learned that in times of crisis it helps to have a little humor. “It’s your only weapon; it’s your only life jacket you can give to someone who thinks they’re going to die,” Roth said. “No one calls 911 just to wish you a happy Hanukkah.”

These days, it seems his time as a paramedic is behind him. But Roth is still very successful. Before COVID, he had toured as a successful solo.

David Lee Roth performs on stage.

CBS News

But now, he said, it’s going to take a little longer.

“So you’re going to space a bit,” Smith asked.

“I’m in my, what, 45th grade, something like that?” Roth said. “It’s great to see me, but not every year. Like a family! ”

And for now, there is only his solitary art. But just because his medium at the moment is pen and ink, doesn’t mean David Lee Roth will ever lose his voice.


David Lee Roth

He asked, “Who has the most impact on history? The government? Or the historian?”

“The one telling the story, right?” Smith said.

“Hello! It’s Yiddish for” Yo! “”

“So, is your visual art storytelling?”

“My visual art is complaining,” he says. “It’s graphic therapy. I say through my graphic art everything a lot of people say on the television when you think nobody is actually listening.”

“Social distance”.

David Lee Roth

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Story produced by John D’Amelio. Publisher: Ed Givnish.

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