The announcement came on April Fool’s Day, but it was no joke. America’s biggest rock’n’roll band had lost their superstar singer. Dave Lee Roth had quit Van Halen.
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To everyone outside the band, it was shocking news. It was early 1985, and Van Halen were at the very top of their game. Two years earlier, they had headlined the US Festival in San Bernadino, California before an audience of 375,000 (and pocketed a reported $1 million for their troubles). The following year, their single Jump topped the US chart and its parent album, 1984, was well on its way to selling 10 million copies. Eddie Van Halen was the most famous guitar player in the world, yet even he wasn’t the biggest star in his own band. That was Diamond Dave. A fast-talking, high-kicking showman with a huge ego and a seemingly endless supply of comic one-liners, it was Roth’s outsized personality that made them super-famous. To fans and media alike, the band would be sunk without Dave Lee Roth.