In a new interview with The Rock Experience With Mike Brunn, KISS‘s longtime manager Doc McGhee spoke about David Lee Roth‘s absence from the rescheduled U.S. leg of the band’s farewell tour.
Roth performed as the opening act for the February/March 2020 North American leg of “End Of The Road”, but is not making any appearances on the latest KISS run of shows which kicked off in August. McGhee explained Roth‘s non-participation in the trek by saying (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “It was just a year and a half later. He had commitments that he had to do. And we just, ‘We get it. You’ve got stuff that you have to do.’ We talked about it eight months ago. And I said, ‘Listen, don’t worry about it, David. If you’ve got things that you have to do, that you wanna do, it’s been a year and a half later, don’t worry about it.’ And he said, ‘Thanks.'”
McGhee also addressed the controversy surrounding KISS bassist/vocalist Gene Simmons‘s recent comments about Roth. In August, Simmons told Rolling Stone: “[Roth] took being a frontman way beyond anything. And then, I don’t know what happened to him … something. And you get modern-day Dave. I prefer to remember Elvis Presley in his prime. Sneering lips, back in Memphis, you know, doing all that. I don’t want to think of bloated naked Elvis on the bathroom floor.”
Doc insisted Gene‘s words were misinterpreted, explaining: “We really, really enjoyed having David out.
“The press drives me crazy, because they sensationalize every fucking thing you say or do, and they take things out of context to make it more sensational than what it is.
“In no way did Gene or anybody say — would say anything against David Lee Roth,” McGhee continued. “Actually, if you ask Paul Stanley or Gene Simmons, in the ’70s and ’80s, the best front guy in the entire world was David Lee Roth — by far, hands down. [He] blew everybody away. There wasn’t anybody that didn’t look up to David Lee Roth and go, ‘Holy fuck.’ Robert Plant, anybody — I don’t care who it was. That guy [Roth], he was the shit. So we have all the respect in the world [for him].
“I loved listening to all the VAN HALEN stuff [when David was performing it on the 2020 tour]; I really did. I had a good time with it.”
Roth was apparently irked enough at Gene‘s original Rolling Stone comments to take to his Instagram to share an image of a young boy wearing shades and extending the middle finger to the camera along with the words “Roth to Simmons:” Dave posted the image 18 times.
Simmons later clarified his original statement, telling the 95.5 KLOS radio station that his words were misconstrued.
“It doesn’t matter if somebody misunderstood what I meant; it only matters if I hurt somebody,” he said. “So I’m deeply sorry I hurt Dave‘s feelings. Obviously, that was not my intention, because privately and publicly I’ve always said nobody touched David in his prime — not [Mick] Jagger, not Robert Plant. Nobody. He changed what a modern frontman was. And then the subject went onward to other subjects, and Elvis came up.
“The point was if a truck runs you over, it doesn’t matter if the guy says, ‘I’m sorry I ran you over,’ because what’s the difference? You’ve been run over. So Dave‘s feelings were hurt. I’m profoundly sorry I hurt his feelings. That was certainly not my intention.”
Asked if he had been in contact with Roth in an effort to smooth things over, Simmons said: “I haven’t. I’ve tried to reach out. I haven’t been able… I never had Dave‘s contact info, but historically speaking, I’m the guy that put the band originally on the map — signed them to my deal, produced a 24-track demo. And with that I’m told how that’s how they got their deal with Warners. I never asked for a dime. That was out of my pocket, and I forgave them whatever they owed me contractually. I just tore up the contract and said, ‘God bless.'”
As for whether it was David that bowed out of the KISS tour or it was KISS that dismissed him from the latest run of shows, Gene said: “Neither. The tour ended because of COVID — we all went home — and then we all made different plans. We didn’t know when we were gonna go out on tour [again], and so we decided this time to go back out with [David] Garibaldi, who’s a painter.”
In a January 2020 interview with Eric Blair of “The Blairing Out With Eric Blair Show”, Paul Stanley was asked what the best part was of having Roth opening for KISS. Stanley said: “Well, Dave‘s got so many great songs. All the VAN HALEN catalog is terrific, and that’s what he’s doing. So, people get to hear all those great songs, and it was something that really appealed to us.”
Simmons has repeatedly taken credit for “discovering” VAN HALEN and flying the band to New York to record demo at Electric Lady Studios, with Gene at the production helm. But he ended up not working with the group after his KISS bandmates and manager, Bill Aucoin, expressed little interest in his demos.
In March 2020, Roth postponed the final six shows of his Las Vegas residency due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Last month, the legendary VAN HALEN singer announced that he was ending his career with his Vegas shows during the first weeks of January 2022.