David Lee Roth Recalls His Part in Designing Eddie Van Halen’s Frankenstrat
Did you know former Van Halen singer David Lee Roth helped Eddie Van Halen place the strips of adhesive tape that formed the signature striped design on the guitarist's unmistakable "Frankenstrat"?
That's what Roth shared in a recent audio clip he said he issued in response to some Van Halen fans pointing out apparent similarities between the Frankenstrat's motif and one of Roth's paintings, Big Wave. The vocalist first exhibited the painting on social media last week.
Hear Roth's explanation toward the bottom of this post.
In a Dec. 3 video titled "SEPARATED AT BIRTH?" the singer said, "We've been getting a lot of cards and letters — digitally, so to speak — in regards to there are similarities between my work and the stripes on Eddie's guitar. And that's because it's my work."
Roth continued, "[Former Van Halen drummer] Alex Van Halen and I speak on the phone frequently now and laugh like pirates. And we were laughing not long ago on the phone about — and Alex was there — when I walked in with three rolls of tape. One roll of gray duct tape, one roll of black, not very sticky and the fuckin' thing kept coming off electrician's tape, and one roll of blue RTape like we used for pin-striping."
Dating the design's creation to the "mid-'70s, '75–'76," Roth claimed he "said to Ed [to use] an expanding linear pattern because the white plain guitar is eerily, eerily reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix. … We laid it down and — kaboom — within like four minutes, I laid it out, including the little squiggle. What that's from is the tape, the non-sticky, shiny black electrician's tape that's designed to be put on and taken off very quickly."
However, EVH biographer Chris Gill spoke out against Roth's recollection, saying it's a "revisionist fabrication" with "key factual errors," according to Guitar World.
Refuting Roth's timeline, Gill said the Frankenstrat didn't appear until 1977. A '61 Fender Stratocaster owned by the guitarist was reportedly painted white in January '77 but was "taken apart very soon afterward," per the author, "its neck, serial number plate and vibrato tailpiece bridge showing up in February '77 on the unfinished Frankenstein body."
But Roth seemed to admit in his spiel that his memory may not be note for note. "This isn't a science lesson," Roth relayed. "This is my memory."
In October, Roth announced he would retire after his scheduled solo Las Vegas residency in January 2022. Some fans subsequently speculated that the singer had actually predicted his retirement 30 years ago and was now leaving the door open for an eventual return.
Last month, fellow Van Halen vocalist alum Sammy Hagar said there was no bad blood between him and Roth. Last week, Wolfgang Van Halen, another former Van Halen member and the son of late Van Halen guitarist Eddie, said Roth is always "one of the best."
Wolf, after replacing bassist Michael Anthony in Van Halen in 2006, performed alongside his father, his uncle Alex and Roth in Van Halen until Eddie's death last year; Van Halen then quietly disbanded. Wolf released his debut album as Mammoth WVH in June. He used the Frankenstrat to record some parts on the record.