Ken Dashow

Ken Dashow

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David Lee Roth Bassist Has Unreleased Tour Footage From 'Eat 'Em And Smile'

Photo: Michael Ochs Archives

We may not have seen the last of David Lee Roth performing live, even if the longtime Van Halen frontman never emerges from his retirement.

Roth's former bassist Billy Sheehan revealed in a recent interview with We Go to 11, that he may be the only person in the world in possession of professionally shot live concert footage from the tour in support of Roth's debut solo album, Eat 'Em and Smile, from 1986.

Sheehan said it's possible Roth doesn't even know the footage exists, or at least has no idea where it is.

"I think I'm the only guy with it," said the Mr. Big/Talas/Winery Dogs/Sons of Apollo bassist of the footage. "They shot it pro. It's Dave's tour and Dave's business, so I can't do anything with it, unfortunately. At some point, maybe I'll try and get in touch with Dave, 'Do you wanna put this out?' ... I forgot how I got it. As far as I know, nobody else has it. I just reviewed it the other day and backed it up again to another three drives to make sure I didn't lose it."

Roth's Eat 'Em and Smile album included Roth classics like "Yankee Rose" and the Sheehan-penned "Shyboy," plus Roth's bawdy cover treatments of "Tobacco Road" and "That's Life."

The singer's band at the time included Sheehan on bass, Steve Vai on guitar, Gregg Bissonette on drums and Brett Tuggle on keys as a touring member.

The group played more than 100 shows from 1986 - 1987 in support of Roth's first post-Van Halen studio album. While there is quite a bit of fan-filmed footage online, Roth has never released any live footage himself.

"I'm not sure if it could be out someday — if Dave would be interested in doing it, but I've got it," Sheehan added. "It's here for him. If he wants it, I'll be happy to put it on my Dropbox and send it over to him. ... The audio is good; it's not great. But it's better than most of the hand-held camera [bootleg] things."

Vai, Bissonette and Sheehan plotted a one-off reunion show at a small venue in Los Angeles in 2015 to celebrate the anniversary of Eat 'Em and Smile. Unfortunately, the room got so packed that the gig was shut down by the fire marshal. While Roth was not advertised as taking part in the gig, Vai later revealed that the singer did, in fact, show up and planned to perform that night.

Roth officially retired from performing last winter after cancelling his Las Vegas farewell residency due to coronavirus concerns. He hinted this spring, however, that "there's always a tomorrow for a singer..." and that a comeback down the road is possible.

Last month, Roth dropped two previously unreleased singles from his collaboration with John 5 from last decade: "Pointing at the Moon" and the Van Halen reminiscence "Nothing Could Have Stopped Us Back Then Anyway."

Roth unveiled an official music video for the latter, which you can watch via the player below.


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