VAN HALEN frontman David Lee Roth has released his solo song titled “The Shit That Killed Elvis” via YouTube. The track, which is available in both electric and acoustic versions, was reportedly recorded in 2007 with guitarist John 5 for an album that has yet to see the light of day.
Roth mentioned “The Shit That Killed Elvis” when he discussed his unreleased John 5 album in a Rolling Stone interview back in 2013. Asked if he wanted to take those songs with John 5 to the stage, Roth said: “Absolutely. That’s what it’s aimed at. It’s autobiographic. ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow Bar And Grill’ is the opening theme song, and it’s about an Indiana kid who goes to sleep — think the Wizard Of Oz — and the characters in his life, the butcher, the baker and the newspaper guy, pop out of posters and sing him a song called ‘Giddy-Up!’ And he finds his way to all the good things in life, having discovered rock in the ’60s, and there’s a song titled ‘Alligator Pants’ — yes, I own a pair, I wore them for the last two tours. And things go horribly left-of-center wrong, of course, when you sell your soul to the devil, and one of the tunes is called ‘The Shit That Killed Elvis’. So yeah, it’s pretty stellar material.”
In 2020, Roth included five previously unreleased songs in The Roth Project, an online comic narrated by the legendary VAN HALEN singer, with music from John 5 on guitar and bass, Gregg Bissonette on drums, Brett Tuggle on keyboards, and Luis Conte on percussion. The recently released “Manda Bala” and the other four tracks — “Giddy-Up!”, “Somewhere Over The Rainbow Bar And Grill”, “Alligator Pants” and “Lo-Rez Sunset” — were recorded at Henson Recording Studios in Hollywood, California.
John 5 spoke about the recording sessions for the unreleased Roth record in an interview with the “Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz”, saying: “We had a great time. We had a blast — a lot of laughs, a lot of fun. I’m just so happy that I had that cool working vibe with Dave that we can just jump into the studio anytime and knock out some songs. And I’m very lucky ’cause not a lot of people get a chance to do that with Dave.
He added: “We were all in there together — I remember we were just all in there together. And that’s how it was. We were all just doing it together — kind of like the old days, and he wanted to do it like that. And it really was a lot of fun. We had so much fun doing it. And it’s one of my fondest memories.”
In August 2021, John 5 told AL.com that the rest of the unreleased Roth record is in the same vein as the songs that have come out, which have a singer/songwriter sound. “[Dave] wanted to do this kind of a more California sessions type of thing,” the guitarist explained. “And he’s such an artist, I was, like, ‘Whatever you want to do, I’m there for you.’ So it is that kind of vibe. But there’s a lot of multi tracks and different acoustic parts that all work together. It’s kind of orchestrated, if you will.”
John 5 got his first big break playing on Roth‘s solo album, “DLR Band”, before landing stints with Marilyn Manson and now Rob Zombie. His latest sessions with the iconic VAN HALEN frontman apparently took place a decade and a half ago, with John 5 unveiling a snippet of the album during an interview with Masters Of Shred back in May 2019.
Four years ago, Roth was asked by Meltdown of the Detroit radio station WRIF if his LP with John 5 will be made available at some point. He responded: “It will. There’s been a revision of things, and I can start making real plans and start marching into the future. And, of course, you’ll start hearing that material. This is material that we wrote variously for me solo and for VAN HALEN, and it’s quite a bank of stuff.”
Back in 2015, John 5 told Guitar Player magazine that the sessions for his unreleased Roth album were remarkably relaxed. “I would just go to his house and I’d write these songs with him, and he would say, ‘Let’s go into the studio,'” John 5 explained. “So he would go to Henson studio and record these songs. They came out… They’re so good. They’re so good. And we’ve got Gregg Bissonette playing drums on it, and I played the bass, and they’re really great songs.”
The guitarist said that Roth‘s vocals on the album sound “like nothing you’ve ever heard. It’s old VAN HALEN — sounds like ‘Could This Be Magic?’ or anything like that. It’s just that sound, that tone.”
In a 2014 interview, John 5 described the LP as “11 of the greatest songs you’ll ever hear, and it’s just me and Dave, and we had Gregg Bissonette play drums on it. And it’s unbelievable,” he said. “You know, just great, great songs.”
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