David Lee Roth first came to prominence as the lead singer of Van Halen. Famously, he and Eddie Van Halen did not get along but the band’s early success was definitely due to the combination of Eddie’s technical virtuosity and Roth’s unabashed stage presence. For better or worse, Roth earned the right to be known as Diamond Dave. When Roth left Van Halen (for the first time) and embarked on his solo career, he made up for what he may have lacked in range with pure theatrical showmanship. Nowhere was that more evident than in Roth’s first solo hit, a cover of the Beach Boys’s California Girls.
Even before the video begins, we know what’s in store for us:
Assuming the opening quote hasn’t scared you off, the video proper begins somewhere in California, with a campy Twilight Zone-style narrator introducing us to a tour group of strange-looking tourists and Jane Leeves. (Nine years after this video, Leeves would be better known for playing Daphne Moon on Frasier.)
Fortunately, the world’s best tour guide is there to show them what California’s all about!
But first, Diamond Dave makes them all walk through a cemetery for some reason.
Of course, Diamond Dave loves the East Coast Girls. The Yo Mamma graffiti is a nice touch.
And Diamond Dave loves the Southern Girls, with the way they talk and hang their Confederate flags.
He also likes the Midwest Girls and, apparently, corn.
And don’t forget Northern Girls, with the way they kiss in the snow.
But you know what Dave really likes?
Jane Leeves is amazed!
The bodybuilder here is played by Kay Baxter, who was Dave’s personal trainer at the time.
The screenshot below is not only the epitome of Diamond Dave but also a good example of why he and Van Halen have always had such an uneasy working relationship. Eddie Van Halen could probably perform a technically perfect version of California Girls (or any other Beach Boys song) but he could never pull off an orange suit and a bowtie.
The video’s most famous (and most often parodied) moment comes when Dave dances down a runway of bikini-clad models, who are all standing still and posed like mannequins. It may be ridiculous put it’s also the epitome of David Lee Roth.
California Girls was one of Roth’s biggest solo hits and, much like him, it epitomizes an era. Roth would later rejoin and leave Van Halen several more times before finally joining again in 2007. When last checked, Roth was still a member and he probably still loves California girls.