Van Halen Pulled Beach Ball Prank on David Lee Roth at Final Show
Wolfgang shared the story in a new SPIN interview, noting one of Roth's stage quirks: He was consistently agitated by the beach balls that bounced around audiences during their 2015 shows.
"Throughout the whole tour, [he] had an issue whenever someone in the audience had a beach ball," Wolfgang said. "Outdoor theater, summer concert, Southern California party rock, Van Halen — it’s not out of the ordinary. But every time he saw them, it would really upset him for some reason. 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 Van Halen crew played on Roth's beach ball hatred on Oct. 4, 2015 at the Hollywood Bowl, in what turned out to be their final appearance together.
"Before the very last show, the tour manager came up to [his dad Eddie Van Halen] and me and whispered, 'Hey, you've got a funny little surprise for all of you guys at the end of the show,'" Wolfgang recalled. "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.'"
Wolfgang wasn't too worried about Roth's reaction.
"[E]ven if he gets pissed off, what was he gonna do? It's the last fucking show," Van Halen said. "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. And yeah, that was a really fun memory of that show. 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.'"
In a recent UCR interview, Wolfgang said his late father never gave him composing advice. “I didn't really start writing on my own until after [Van Halen’s] Different Kind of Truth tour," he said. "No, he let me fly, he wanted to see what I can do, rather than try to paint the journey.”
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