Single Stories: David Lee Roth, “California Girls”
33 years ago today, David Lee Roth released his cover of a Beach Boys classic, one which took him into the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time as a solo artist.
Produced by Ted Templeman, whoâd already proven that he could work studio magic with Roth while he was a member of Van Halen, âCalifornia Girlsâ was one of four covers that appeared on Rothâs first solo endeavor, the CRAZY FROM THE HEAT EP. Although it was recorded and released when he was still officially a member of Van Halen, that situation changed not terribly long after it hit stores.
As it was released during the height of MTVâs early success, âCalifornia Girlsâ came with an accompanying music video, of course, one in which Roth played a character that he called âDiamond Dave.â It had moments where it knowingly and willfully channeled The Twilight Zone, and it was also legitimately funny, so viewers requested it regularly. That it also featured numerous bikini girls was almost certainly incidental, but one of the women who wasnât clad in a bikini â letâs clarify that: she plays a tourist â was Jane Leeves, later to spend numerous seasons playing Daphne Moon on NBCâs Frasier.
Itâs worth noting that the song does actually feature a real Beach Boy in the mix, courtesy of Carl Wilson, but also singing background vocals is Christopher Cross. As Cross told Popdose in 2011, there was a tendency by many producers in search of a Beach Boys sound to try and get Brian Wilson, âso people thought, âWell, if we canât get Brian, then weâll get Carl and Christopher.â And sometimes, as in the case of David and Ted Templeman, I think what happened wasâ¦they really wanted a stamp of approval and validation on doing âCalifornia Girls,â touching something like that, and truth be told, I think they knew I was close to Carl, and they thought, âWell, if we get Christopher, then we can get Carl!â And they didnât care about me, âcause they got a real Beach Boy!â
Whether it was because of the real Beach Boy or not, Rothâs âCalifornia Girlsâ cover climbed all the way to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and served to establish
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