Last November the world nearly got to see a brief, one-off reunion of the original David Lee Roth band. Originally, only three-fifths of the band—guitarist Steve Vai, bassist Billy Sheehan and drummer Gregg Bissonette—were set to perform two classics from 1986’s Eat’em and Smile, “Yankee Rose” and “Shyboy,” at Hollywood’s Lucky Strike. Then the trio realized Brett Tuggle—who didn’t join the band until Roth’s second album, Skyscraper—was in town, so he got an invite, too.
The foursome did reach out to Roth but it never expected an RSVP, which is why they lined up Steel Panther singer Ralph Saenz in his stead. But, surprise, surprise, two days before the November 25 gig, Roth agreed to the one-night-only reunion. The goal, of course, was to keep Roth’s appearance on the down low but you know what they say about the best-laid plans. Somehow word got out and, frightened that demand would exceed the Lucky Strike’s limited capacity, the fire department put an end to the show before it even began. Later, Sheehan explained on Facebook: “Place was so crowded and the line continued down to Hollywood Blvd all night. Just too many people.”
Today, Sheehan remains optimistic that the original DLR band will reunite at some point. “I hope so,” he says. “Boy, if that ever happens, I would jump on it instantly. I’d love to the whole Eat’em and Smile [album] and some of the Skyscraper too. As the years go by I do have some respect for that album, too.”
And even though the band—which fissured after 1988’s Skyscraper—never got a chance to perform again, Sheehan says “it was just a joy to hang with Dave, Steve, Brett and Gregg and just tell stories and laugh. That was worth it for me right there. It would have been nice if we could have played, too, but that was really great.”
Sheehan—who still performs regularly with Mr. Big and The Winery Dogs—is particularly reverential of Roth: “He changed my life. He’s just a wonderful and amazing man.”