Was Van Halen’s ‘Live: Right Here, Right Now’ Released Because of David Lee Roth?
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Following the release of 1991’s ‘For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge,’ Van Halen embarked on a world tour that capped a phenomenally successful decade for what was already one of the biggest rock bands on the planet. Not a bad time to release a live album, in other words, and in 1993, they did just that, with ‘Live: Right Here, Right Now.’ According to a new report, however, that double-disc collection might never have seen the light of day if not for David Lee Roth.
In fact, sources at the Van Halen News Desk suggest that the whole thing was a scheme cooked up to ward off a threatened lawsuit from the band’s former singer, who was trying to get their shared label, Warner Bros. Records, to put out a best-of compilation bringing his solo hits together with some of the most popular tracks he’d recorded with Van Halen.
This idea obviously wasn’t popular with the group — or its manager at the time, Ed Leffler, who went to the label and argued that releasing a Roth-focused hits package would curb the momentum they’d built up since he departed the lineup in 1985. Asked if then-current singer Sammy Hagar would consent to re-recording the hits they’d originally made with Roth, Leffler said it would only happen in the context of a live album, thus planting the seeds for what eventually became ‘Live: Right Here, Right Now.’
Of course, the final product ended up being quite a bit heavier on the Hagar era (particularly ‘Carnal Knowledge’) than the Warners execs involved in that meeting probably would have guessed. Ultimately, only a handful of songs from the Roth years appeared: ‘Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love,’ ‘Panama,’ ‘Jump,’ and the group’s Roth-fronted cover of the Kinks’ ‘You Really Got Me’ made the cut, with the latter mashed into a medley with ‘Cabo Wabo.’ Not that it really affected sales any; as VHND’s report notes, ‘Right Here, Right Now’ sold more than 2.5 million copies in the U.S. alone.
Ironically, just a few years later, that hits compilation Roth reportedly wanted ended up coming out anyway — with a pair of new cuts featuring Roth himself. The dissension that ultimately drove Hagar from Van Halen was already roiling during the lead-up to ‘Right Here, Right Now,’ too; to read more about the group’s behind-the-scenes struggles to get it finished, read the full-length report here.