Paul Gilbert: “All the David Lee Roth-era Van Halen records were monuments of excellence to me”

The Mr. Big guitarist waxes lyrical on his love of Van Halen II, in particular.

[L-R] Paul Gilbert and David Lee Roth

Credit: Getty Images

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Every guitarist has a favourite Van Halen era, and for Paul Gilbert, that was the David Lee Roth era. In fact, he believes each of the band’s albums released in that time period are “monuments of excellence”.

In a new interview with Classic Rock History, in which the Mr. Big guitarist charts 10 albums that changed his life, he specifically explains the impact Van Halen’s second album, 1979’s Van Halen II, has had on him.

“All the David Lee Roth-era Van Halen records were monuments of excellence to me,” he says. “But Van Halen II hit me at just the right age. For years, I used the stretchy tapping part in Spanish Fly as my left-hand warm-up.”

He continues: “But there were so many musical elements to savour. The tight rhythm parts in Outta Love Again and Beautiful Girls, the boogie riffing in Bottoms Up, the super mean bends and spur-of-the-moment fills in D.O.A., the back and forth high stabs and chunky low notes to pull clarity out of complex chords in Light Up the Sky, the tasteful tapping and beautiful rhythm guitar in You’re No Good, and the inventive tapping in Dance the Night Away and Women in Love.

“I still have my original vinyl copy that I bought the day the album came out. That piece of plastic is important to me.”

In more Van Halen news, Wolfgang Van Halen recently claimed that David Lee Roth is the one responsible for stopping the band’s final album, A Different Kind of Truth, from appearing on streaming services.

“I hate to say it, because people will think I’m making stuff up, but it’s, like, man, I’d love to have the record back up there, but he doesn’t like it and he’s not working with us to get it back up there. So I hope people who like it have a physical version of it,” he said.


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