VAN HALEN’s Frontman DAVID LEE ROTH: ‘I Thought I Killed Myself In The Himalayas.’

In a Vogue interview David Lee Roth, the eternal will-be Van Halen‘s frontman, talked about his travel experience and his accidents.

“As soon as I made Van Halen money, in the late ’70s, I couldn’t wait to get to the great outdoors. Even before that—I remember watching John Bald, whose name is famous in Joshua Tree for doing the first rock climbs in the early ’70s. We’d never seen anything like this, and we headed up to Yosemite and out to Joshua Tree to climb. I slept in the back of a friend’s Chevy pickup truck with my girlfriend for six and a half weeks. When Van Halen would come off the road in the last airport, I’d head straight for the international terminal and somewhere that you could barely spell, or some place that seemed like a typo. And having experienced a lot of stuff that doesn’t work over the years, I decided that someday I was going to invent this stuff myself.

I’ve also made every mistake possible: I’ve gone out with the wrong gear. I landed myself in the infirmary in the Amazon; I thought I killed myself in the Himalayas. I thought I killed everybody else but not myself in the South Pacific. I walked around for almost two years without my back molar and the one next to it because I cracked them in half when I had dengue fever. I’ve broken everything twice, just to make sure, and I’ve had seven surgeries, all of them structural. The first three times you go, there’s a whole pit crew in there: four generations including your grandparents, your mom, the wife, the kids, the boyfriend of the daughter, and everybody else.

Fourth time you go in, you get dropped off. I was there for my seventh and there’s a little kid in there with cancer with no hair—and he’s the only one who’s not weeping. And I said to him, ‘How many for you?’ And he says, ‘Three.’ And I went [erupts into mock snickering] and held up seven fingers. I could see him doing the math. And I said, ‘C’mon—I’ll walk in with you.’ I’ve learned that the only resort against adversity is your friends, and nobody does anything good alone—well, maybe Prince. Laugh to Win.”