(This was written in 2004. I naively deploy the term ‘banged’, unfortunately).
Diamond Dave is the lead singer of Van Halen.
At the impressionable age of six, transfixed before an ass shaking, back flipping cheese vendor who shimmied and limelight hogged out front of a grinning troupe of buffoons imploring me to ‘go ahead and Jump’, I became an acolyte.
When next I encountered the mane, the ego and the off kilter interior world of Dave, he had, unbeknownst to me, gone acrimoniously solo. Capering cartoonishly through a crazed, retina sauteeing California overrun with affectionate music industry stereotypes, squirming semi-clad babes and Steve Vai’s guitar what was shaped like a flame, Dave consolidated his early influence on a rudely developing lack of taste.
1991, smack dab in the guts of the Seattle revolution.
Recognising the familiar Van Halen swirl on the suspiciously conservative looking (and desperately titled) For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, $19.95 (!) is dubiously exchanged with GB, my audio pimp. Pedalling excitedly home, I jam that baby in my fire engine red tape deck and let the generic stadium rock bullshit of Sammy Hagar era ‘Van Halen’ seep over me in puddles of trite lyrical afterbirth, empty paeans to ‘lurve’, ‘rockin’, ‘weed’ and dumb skanks.
FUCK (naughty!) is quickly followed by the abominable Live- Right Here, Right Now album and video, criminally my first exposure to live music (outside the odd Blue Light disco).
I’m fifteen and under the impression that live music is chiefly an arena for the showcasing of man perms, out of shape middle aged surfers sporting gingham tights, pitiful geriatric shadow boxing and individual twenty four minute bass, drum and guitar solos.
One of those ‘5 tapes for Ten Bucks’ introductory offers swiftly reorients my tragic AOR listening habits: the tenner secures me Women and Children First, Diver Down, Fair Warning, Van Halen I, and Warrant’s Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich.
So, in perverse backwards fashion, the full, dayglo extent of the Diamond Dave ouevre is unveiled during a long, pyrotechnic car journey spent at Club Dave, roaming mean streets and sleazy bars full of yelping Tarzans delivering leery puns, grinning Dutchmen dispensing napalm, prom queens gone porno. Goofy, dangerous, cocky, three days awake, chemical drip in the throat, can’t remember her name RAWK.
Later still, I learned that Dave wasn’t just a distressingly flexible, prodigious pants man and consummate entertainer in possession of a modicum of self esteem. He was also an alarmingly intelligent, self aware, disciplined, philosophical individual, a seasoned traveller and adventurer; Indiana Jones with blonde tips and arseless jodhpurs. One of those maverick types with an off kilter soundbite and an undercurrent of truth for all occasions.
Who’d also banged The Go Gos. All of ’em. At once. So the story goes…
Now it’s 2004, twenty years after that first encounter.
Van Halen’s used up and discarded pseudo-Sammy barker Gary Cherone, can’t get it together with Dave and has reconvened with over the hill, overweight and over-it-in-general Hagar. ‘It’s About Time!!’ he caterwauls, inventively rhyming ‘time’ with, ah, ‘time’, a bloated Tequila salesman shambling, dazed, around a stage he’ll never fill.
Meanwhile, Dave’s on the Sopranos, the radio. Working as an EMT in Noo Yawk.
Indulging himself at a thousand clicks an hour, joie de vivre personified.
I even had the honour of working for the man last year.
The hair’s like microwaved wool, sure, and the voice is a lot like a blown speaker.
But he’s still the lead singer of Van Halen.