Wolfgang Recalls Massive Prank on David Lee Roth at Last-Ever Van Halen Show
Practical jokes are a touring staple. At its most basic level, it eases some tension and provides entertainment, laughs and invites curious looks from fans wondering what's going on. At Van Halen's last-ever show, the band's tour manager pulled off a great prank on David Lee Roth, who evidently hates beach balls, at least in concert crowds.
Typically, these stunts are reserved for the final night of a tour, which is exactly what went down on Oct. 4, 2015 at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, as Wolfgang Van Halen recalled in a new interview with SPIN.
"Throughout the whole tour, Dave had an issue whenever someone in the audience had a beach ball. Outdoor theater, summer concert, Southern California party rock, Van Halen — it's not out of the ordinary," began Wolfgang, who was playing bass in the band at the time.
"But every time he saw them, it would really upset him for some reason," he continued, "And he would stop singing and then stand at the front of the stage and say, 'Throw the beach ball up here, throw the beach ball up here, throw the beach ball up here' eight times until it eventually got up, and he would stamp it out. Then he'd throw it off the stage. I guess he just really didn't want that out there."
The idea of intentionally upsetting David Lee Roth may seem alarming, but when your the tour manager for Van Halen, there's obviously some wiggle room to get away with certain things, even pranking a wildman like 'Diamond Dave.'
Wolfgang, who will release his debut solo album next year, elaborated, "Before the very last show, the tour manager came up to my dad and me and whispered, 'Hey, you've got a funny little surprise for all of you guys at the end of the show.' We're, like, 'What?' And he goes, 'At the very end of 'Jump', when you're doing the ride out, we're going to release 50 beach balls from the top of the audience. And we'll just see what happens.'"
"But even if he gets pissed off, what was he gonna do? It's the last fucking show," Wolfgang mused before revealing exactly what transpired.
"And sure enough, we get to 'Jump', and there was just a cavalcade, an avalanche of beach balls, and Dave was just, like, short-circuiting. He didn't understand how to handle it. But we all laughed it off. And it was just a really fun, almost like a fun practical joke," he said of the event.
Now five years removed from what ultimately was Van Halen's final performance, Wolfgang has fond memories of the night and a heightened sense of perspective. "As time went further and further by, the more I thought about it, like, 'Wow, if that is the last show, what an amazing way to cap it off.'"
The death of guitarist Eddie Van Halen earlier this year signaled the end of Van Halen, who had, in prior years, been exploring the idea of a "kitchen sink" tour which would have reunited several of the band's members — singers David Lee Roth, Sammy Hagar and Gary Cherone as well as bassist Michael Anthony, for one last run.
Meanwhile, Wolfgang released a touching video for his first solo song under the Mammoth WVH moniker, "Distance," following his father's passing. Watch that here.
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