Watch David Lee Roth’s ‘Eat ‘Em and Smile’ Backing Band Reunite for First Time in 33 Years

The musicians who played with David Lee Roth on his 1986 solo debut Eat ‘Em and Smile—guitarist Steve Vai, bassist Billy Sheehan, drummer Greg Bissonette and keyboardist Brett Tuggle—reunited for the first time in 33 years at the "Ultimate NAMM Night” jam on January 26 for a two-song set. 

The performance, which saw the members joined by former Yngwie Malmsteen and current Sons of Apollo singer Jeff Scott Soto, included run-throughs of Queen’s “Tie Your Mother Down” and “Shy Boy,” the latter of which was written by Sheehan for his early Eighties outfit Talas and recorded by the David Lee Roth band for Eat ‘Em and Smile.

You can check out fan-filmed footage of “Shy Boy” above.

Back in 2015, a similar reunion, with Steel Panther’s Ralph Saenz singing, was scheduled to take place at Lucky Strike Live in Hollywood for the 30th anniversary of Eat ‘Em and Smile. It was ultimately shut down at the last minute by the L.A. fire marshal when the venue overcrowded after word got out that David Lee Roth was planning to take the stage with the band.

In an interview with Guitar World not long after, Vai said: “The Lucky Strike thing was almost like rock star interruptus. People say the fire marshal stopped us minutes before we went on, but it was seconds. I was standing behind the curtain with a hot guitar in my hands and I was ready to start. I did everything I could to get us to play, but we just couldn’t. Afterward I thought we’ve got to do something together, because there’s just too much cool energy here.”

Regarding an eventual reunion of the full band, Sheehan said in the same interview: “It’s all up to Dave. This is his game. If he wants to do it, I’m so into it. Ideally, it would be great to record a song or two and then go out and do a bunch of shows: Europe, USA, maybe South America, Japan. It would be great, to get everybody together again, to do it all again, just for the hell of it.”

Added Vai: “I think that would be really nice to honor the legacy of the Eat ’Em and Smile album and band. There doesn’t have to be any big commitment. It would just be about getting out there and bringing it home, the way we used to do it, while we still have the juice, which we do.”

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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.