How John 5 Landed His Guitarist Gig With David Lee Roth
Talent will only get you so far, and if there's a case to be made for initiative taking you that extra step, John 5 could certainly be an example of that. Though the guitarist's career has included a number of high profile stints, one of the earliest came with David Lee Roth and he detailed how a little initiative put him on the path to landing that gig during an interview with The Sessions' Artist Series (as seen below).
John 5 revealed (as transcribed by Blabbermouth), "I was reading [Roth's 1997 autobiography 'Crazy From the Heat']. I was at my friend's house. And there was a number in the back of the book where you could get ahold of the management company. And I thought to myself, 'Hmm, I think I'm going to reach out and call this number and see what's going on.' 'Cause I knew Dave wasn't doing much at the time, and I loved Van Halen, and I loved Dave Lee Roth."
"I said, 'Are you guys accepting any [music] right now or anything like that?' And they said, 'Well, not really. But you can send a CD, and we'll see what we've got.' And I was, like, 'Oh my God!' Just that little bit, I was shocked. I was, like, 'This is insane.' So I go there. I record with [producer] Bob Marlette. And I do my best Van Halen — I do 'Slam Dunk' and I do all these songs. Of course, no vocals — just my best Van Halen impersonation. And I sent it to them, and they said, 'We like it. Can you send three more?'"
John 5 says he thought at the time, "This is the most crazy thing ever," but he went ahead and sent what was requested only to be asked for three more recordings. When he admitted he didn't have the money to go back in and record more, he was told by Roth's management that the singer wanted to meet him.
"Listen, David Lee Roth is not around; he's not hanging out. It's very hard to meet David Lee Roth. And I go to his house. And this is the house where they filmed 'Pretty Woman,' they did all the photo shoots for the early Van Halen, they rehearsed in this basement. And this is the house. And there's Dave in his overalls," recalls the guitarist. "And he's, like, 'John, great to see ya. We're gonna make a record. I really like what you're doing.' And I was, like, 'Oh my God.' I couldn't believe it."
John 5 says he later after he was more comfortable, he had Roth sign a copy of his book. "So, you just have to go after things and do things and make it work," says the guitarist.
John 5 appeared on the 1998 DLR Band album and remained a part of Roth's band until 2003. These days the guitarist is a member of Rob Zombie's band in addition to releasing his own solo material.