Can you help with a 30-year-old David Lee Roth quest?

An email arrived from Danielle this week

It’s 1988. I’m 13 years old. Like a lot of kids who lived in the GTA at that time, my introduction to concerts was at Canada’s Wonderland. My wonderful mother had purchased 2 sets of tickets for David Lee Roth: her and I at 4th-row centre, and my older brother with his girlfriend, sitting apart from us in the crowd. We didn’t realize at the time of purchase, but our 4th-row seats were actually front row thanks to a triangle-shaped addition to the stage that extended into the audience. The point of the triangle ended where I sat (slightly to my left).

The woman beside me (a serious fan who, I’d soon learn, saw him perform across North America whenever she could), struck up a conversation with me. She was friendly, regaling this kid she just met with stories of previous concerts. And she was genuinely excited for me as I was about to see my first David Lee Roth concert from the best seat in the house. And it was fantastic.

During the encore, Roth walks along the front of the stage as the band continues to play “Jump”. He’s quickly shaking hands with everyone. I can’t believe my luck as he approaches from my right. I’m going to shake his hand. I am going to shake his hand! Please keep shaking hands until you get to me.

And he does.

Then everything in the world slowed down. He’d taken half a step away, his grip loosening on mine as he paused, then turned back towards me directly and leaned closer.

Understand, I am a shy, somewhat introverted girl. I never would have chatted with the woman beside me if she hadn’t initiated conversation. And for that, I mainly listened. Anyone else would’ve been revelling in this extended moment with the man on the cover of an album that got constant play in her bedroom. I, on the other hand (having just expended all my confidence to extend my arm for a brief handshake), was alternating between dreamlike surrealism and the slow cold-crawling sensation of self-conscious dread. Not only hadn’t he released my hand, but he spoke. He wasn’t supposed to speak. I was not mentally prepared for speaking.

“Wanna dance?”

Again, everyone else would’ve screamed yes and clamoured upwards. I, smiling sheepishly, slowly shrugged (secretly trying to fold into myself until I blinked out of existence). I hadn’t even fully comprehended what was being suggested before dozens of hands were lifting me up onto the stage (adding to the floating sensation of what clearly must be a delusion in the form of an out of body experience).

I remember the roar of the crowd as he walked me onto (I think) a low raised platform on stage.That part is a bit foggy as I preoccupied, chanting repeatedly in my head “Don’t freeze. Be cool.” on a loop. Between the stage lights and the cavalcade of camera flashes, I mercifully could not discern the sea of screaming fans beyond a writhing black mass of shadow.

I think we danced briefly? I honestly can’t recall. I do remember when he leaned down to me and said “Are you ready?”. Ready? Ready for…are we jumping? I think we’re jumping. Please god let him mean we’re jumping because if I jump off the platform and he doesn’t, they can sweep me up with the rest of the empty, crumpled vessels from the concession stand left behind on the venue floor.

Hand in hand, on cue from the song, we jumped off the platform. And he escorted me back to my seat where I expect I floated back into my awaiting mortal self below.

My brother would later tell me as the crowds dispersed that people were discussing how my appearance on stage must’ve been practiced and pre-arranged because it looked staged. “Nope”, he corrected them, half-begrudgingly. “I know, because that was my sister”. Listen, if it HAD been staged, I would not have had my hair in a messy ponytail, nor chosen the oversized pink-and-grey striped long shorts selected for comfort over fashion. I definitely wouldn’t have been wearing a (I think) Canada’s Wonderland t-shirt with the Flintstones on it (purchased after getting soaked on White Water Canyon). I was a smaller-than-average 13 year old who people assumed was the younger sister to all my friends the same age. I would have desperately tried to look at least 12 if I had known. Lip gloss maybe.

The woman who sat beside me during the concert had a camera with her. She cautioned that she’d taken a photo of me on stage, but hadn’t realized it was the end of the film roll. Had she used up the last picture beforehand? She could’t be sure if she captured the moment or not, but exchanged phone numbers with us and generously offered to give me copies if she had it. She hoped so, because she’d never seen him pull anyone onto the stage before.

Turned out, the film roll had finished before my big moment. But we drove out to her place a week later and she gifted me 7 other photographs from that night.

The internet wouldn’t be a thing for a long time to come, so I never was able to get a copy captured by all those flashing cameras in the dark. Over the years, YouTube has offered up live bootleg footage of his April performance months earlier at Maple Leaf Gardens, but I have never found a single frame of evidence from that night.

So here’s the ask: Do you or someone you know have photographic evidence of 13-year-old Danielle’s DLR encounter?

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

19 thoughts on “Can you help with a 30-year-old David Lee Roth quest?

  • February 6, 2021 at 3:29 pm
    Permalink

    What a fantastic story and a incredible moment for this girl {period} I have similar sort of experiences thank goodness they’re multiple but I sure wish I could do something that help this girl other than present this story to Mr Roth himself but don’t go just one route go mini routes such as his Management company {comma} Van Halen management {comma} his record company {comma} his publicist {comma} his agent {comma} literally put the same message out to all of them and one way or another I’m sure he will get the message. Good luck! And I agree with that person in the story who said I’ve never seen any performance video or live to where he pulled somebody up on stage. It truly unique situation the man is both incredibly cool, creative and for sure a perfectionist and can be a dick at times but then can’t we all! I myself love the dude.

    Reply
    • February 6, 2021 at 10:27 pm
      Permalink

      If I did have a photo, I would FedEx it to Danielle with as much speed and enthusiasm as I could muster. What a wonderful story!

      Reply
  • February 6, 2021 at 6:20 pm
    Permalink

    What a great story! I’m going to mention this on the air tomorrow morning on SiriusXm Hair Nation and post it on our socials. Hopefully we can help track down this footage! – Tommy London

    Reply
  • February 6, 2021 at 6:21 pm
    Permalink

    I saw that tour in Miami. He did that every show. Great experience. Good luck finding a picture. Back then we actually watched the concert, instead of taking pictures/recording, which was prohibited.
    Thanks for sharing your story.

    Reply
  • February 6, 2021 at 6:46 pm
    Permalink

    I believe this show was David Lee Roth and Cinderella. I’m certain I was at the show and sitting around the 3rd row close to centre stage. I do recall a girl being picked from very close to us and then seeing her at the side of the stage.

    Reply
    • February 7, 2021 at 9:32 am
      Permalink

      Perhaps it was Poison, not Cinderella. Basically the same, though, aren’t they?

      Reply
  • February 6, 2021 at 7:44 pm
    Permalink

    I’m not even going to get involved with this because I hate David Lee Roth. Sorry, but as an Elvis Costello fan, I officially lost all respect for Diamond Dave when he dissed Elvis by saying that “music journalists only like Elvis Costello because they look like him.”

    Reply
  • February 6, 2021 at 10:15 pm
    Permalink

    Close, but apparently not the right cigar. He didn’t do the handshakes/crowd interaction this time, so it was unique. https://youtu.be/ageQteFZB30 According to Setlist.fm it was August 3rd at the now-known-as Kingswood Music Theatre, I didn’t get any hits for that venue and date.

    Reply
  • February 7, 2021 at 8:54 am
    Permalink

    I hope you find what you’re looking for cause i know that had to be a great time for you at 13,and i never knew of a time that David Lee Roth ever had anyone from the audience on stage with him
    I hope you find the proof,hell i hope you find that whole concert so you can relive a great time in your childhood,good luck to ya and congrats for being on stage with him.

    Reply
  • February 7, 2021 at 11:31 am
    Permalink

    What a wonderful story I hope you find that picture. I remember seeing Van Halen in Dallas in 81 and this chick stuck her tongue out at Roth. So he stops the song and says Don’t stick that thing out out unless you’re ready to use it. she says something back and he’s like Give that girl a back stage pass!!!!. I think that’s the I first wanted to be a Rockstar lol

    Reply
  • February 7, 2021 at 11:42 am
    Permalink

    I really hope you find your picture. That was a wonderful story I went to see Van Halen when they came to Dallas in 1981. And I’ll never forget David Lee Roth stopped in the middle of a song because this woman stuck her tongue out at him. He told her Don’t stick that thing out unless you’re ready to use it. She said something then he replied Well alright give that girl a back stage pass!!!! and they did lol. I was only 10 but that might have been when I realized I wanted to be in a Band

    Reply
  • February 7, 2021 at 4:08 pm
    Permalink

    The Story was way to long and as if she expounded on what was doing as if she was writing a script for Hollywood. I saw am episode of Frasier where he is reading a book and it took the author 3 pages to explain what he meant and how he felt. Frasier just skip forward till he got past a of the mush.

    Reply
  • February 7, 2021 at 6:48 pm
    Permalink

    I think this a great story and if it was me I’d be searching for that lost footage like crazy as well! It’s amazing to me that she was able to find footage from the show but not any with the biggest song of the night, “Jump”. I talked about this article on SiriusXM Hair Nation this weekend and hopefully someone has something from it. Would love to help her out. Keep you posted!

    Reply
  • February 7, 2021 at 9:13 pm
    Permalink

    I just wanted to pop in and say thanks for posting my rambling attempt to recall details of that night (I’d have edited my email if I’d known! Still fairly shy all these years later, I just typed out the thoughts as they surfaced and hit “send” without a second glance, afraid I’d chicken out otherwise). I’m glad there are folks who’ve enjoyed it regardless (and a thank you especially to folks who have made some kind remarks & wished me luck).

    To clarify: yes, the concert itself WAS the Aug 3, 1988 Skyscraper tour performance at Kingswood Music Theatre (with Poison as the opening band) in Vaughan, Ontario (at Canada’s Wonderland).

    Reply
  • February 8, 2021 at 7:53 am
    Permalink

    Cool story. I was at a Sharon Jones and the DapKings show and Sharon pulled me up to dance with her. The writer nailed the feeling. Surreal and over in a heartbeat.

    Reply
  • February 8, 2021 at 4:32 pm
    Permalink

    That is so cool!!! I really wish I did know something!! But unfortunately I only saw Van Halen in Rapid City, SD. Van Halen is my favorite band!! Sent w a lotta love!! ❤️🤟🎸😎

    Reply
  • February 8, 2021 at 5:07 pm
    Permalink

    Hoping for luck is fine, but you might try contacting DLR’s management and see if there were any professionals shooting that tour in Canada. Would likely be a different group of people than in the States. Maybe they’re still around, but 30 years ago is a long time even for a pro to keep archives of non-money shots.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.