David Lee Roth has announced he will be retiring from music.
The former lead singer of rock band Van Halen, 66, revealed the news in a Las Vegas Review-Journal article Friday, saying he is “throwing in the shoes” and stepping back from his prolific music career.
“This is the first, and only, official announcement,” Roth said over the phone in a conversation the outlet described as “more a spoken-word performance than interview.” “You’ve got the news. Share it with the world.”
Roth added he is “not going to explain the statement” and that his five upcoming shows at House of Blues Las Vegas will be his last.
Though Roth did not provide the reason for his retirement, his sudden announcement comes almost a year after Van Halen co-founder and guitarist Eddie Van Halen died from cancer at age 65.
Roth told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he’d been contemplating “the departure of my beloved classmate recently” and said he is “encouraged and compelled to really come to grips with how short time is, and my time is probably even shorter.”
“I thought I might have been the first, frankly,” he said. “And my doctors, my handlers, compelled me to really address that every time I go onstage, I endanger that future.”
But though Roth says his retirement is imminent, he still plans to bring his A-game to his final performances.
“I know that when I am in the audience, whether you come out with a ukulele or a marching band, all I ask you give me everything you’ve got to give,” he said. “That’s what I did for the last 50 years.”
With Roth as the lead singer, Van Halen released its self-titled debut album in 1978. But strains between Roth and the band erupted after their 1984 world tour, and Roth left. The group then recruited Sammy Hagar as lead singer — some critics called the new formulation “Van Hagar” — and the band went on to score its first No. 1 album with “5150.” More studio albums followed, including “OU812,” “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge” and “Balance.”
Roth would eventually return in 2007 and team up with the Van Halen brothers and Eddie’s son Wolfgang Van Halen for a tour, the album “A Different Kind of Truth” and the 2015 live album “Tokyo Dome Live in Concert.”
Van Halen is among the top 20 best-selling artists of all time, and the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. The band was nominated for three Grammy Awards and won once in 1995, for best hard rock performance with vocal for “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.”
Contributing: Patrick Ryan