David Lee Roth pays tribute to Eddie Van Halen with new track, featuring John 5

David Lee Roth has unveiled The Roth Project, an interactive graphic novel featuring five new solo songs.

He has also released one of those songs, a breezy acoustic guitar-led composition titled Somewhere Over the Rainbow Bar and Grill, as a standalone single. He posted the song on his social media pages with an original drawing and a written tribute to Eddie Van Halen, who died on October 6 at the age of 65.

“Hey Ed I’m gonna miss ya. See you on the other side,” Roth wrote.

You can listen to the song above.

The five new tracks feature John 5 on guitar and bass, Gregg Bissonette on drums, Brett Tuggle on keyboards, and Luis Conte on percussion. Bissonette previously played with Roth from 1985-1992, appearing on Eat ‘Em and Smile, Skyscraper and A Little Ain’t Enough, while Tuggle has assisted Roth on and off for decades.

John 5, meanwhile, played with Roth on the DLR Band record and tour in the late ‘90s before going on to find fame with Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie and as a solo artist.

Over the past few years he has hinted at the fact that he had worked with Roth on new material, going as far as to play a clip of one of the songs from his phone during an interview with Masters of Shred last year.

In that interview he recalled the circumstances of the recording. 

"So here’s what would happen,” John 5 said. “Dave would call me. He'd be like, 'Come on over. Let's write some songs, get some burritos.' And I would always hang out with Dave. For years and years and years. So I'd just go over and we'd just talk about everything and play music and write songs, you know, all the time.”

John continued, "So there was this time where we would write songs early in the morning and then he would rent out the studio at night. So we'd write, write, write and then we'd go into a studio. And we did that for a long time. And we were recording and writing and recording and writing and we had a collection of music.”

The new Roth songs were reportedly tracked at Henson Recording Studios in Hollywood. In addition to Somewhere Over the Rainbow Bar and Grill they include Giddy Up, Alligator Pants, Lo-Rez Sunset and Manda Bala.

The Roth Project, meanwhile, is a 17-chapter interactive graphic novel featuring narration and illustrations from Roth himself, with animation from Colin Smith. Roth also composed the incidental music that accompanies the story.

Viewers have the option to skip between chapters, zoom in and out of images, listen in 5.1 surround sound or stereo and to read the narrative as a standalone digital “paperback,” complete with an additional two hours of exclusive instrumental music not available in the illustrated version.

To get the full scope of the functionality, check out the tutorial above.

And you can read the full graphic novel at The Roth Project.

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.