Over the weekend, former Van Halen vocalist David Lee Roth posted a video in which he claimed he came up with the idea of painting guitar stripes on Eddie Van Halen’s guitars. It’s a claim he’s made before, but the new wave of publicity has prompted a Van Halen biographer to decry the claim as baseless.
- READ MORE: David Lee Roth says he came up with the stripes on EVH’s guitars to distance them from Hendrix’s Strat
In response to Roth’s original video, Chris Gill – co-author of Eruption: Conversations with Eddie Van Halen, and an expert on Eddie’s guitars – said to Guitar World that the claim is “a complete revisionist fabrication.”
He cited three errors: firstly, the year this purportedly took place. Roth stated that he orchestrated the guitar-painting in 1975 or 1976, but Gill states that “Van Halen’s Frankenstein guitar did not appear until February 1977,” a claim he says he can verify with “accurately dated photographic evidence.”
Roth also claims that his idea to paint the guitar was to distance the white Stratocaster from that of Jimi Hendrix’s. But according to Gill, the first Frankenstrat bore an unfinished, rather than white body. According to Gill, and in contrast to how Roth describes the process, this body was painted black, and had white paint sprayed over the body with strips of tape applied.
Finally, Gill contests the materials that Roth describes using. In his video, Roth stated that he “walked in with three rolls of tape – one roll of grey duct tape, one roll of black (not very sticky, the fucking thing kept coming off) electrician’s tape, and one roll of blue art tape.” The blue tape Roth describes, 3M ScotchBlue painters’ tape, was invented in 1988 – over a decade after the birth of the first Frankenstrat, and three years after Roth had left Van Halen.
“There is no way Ed could have used 3M blue tape, neither in the summer of 1977 when he first painted the black and white stripe motif nor in March of 1979 when he added the red coats of paint to the Frankenstein finish,” Gill stated. “In fact, Ed used torn strips of gaffer tape when applying the red coat – a piece of that gaffer tape still remains on the guitar.”