Flashback Video: 'Yankee Rose' by David Lee Roth
Ever since the dawn of MTV and Friday Night Videos, the music video has significantly impacted musical tastes and pop culture. It might not be as extreme as when the Buggles declared that "Video Killed the Radio Star", but there is no arguing that the music video certainly could make or break a song's popularity. So this regular Flashback Video feature will serve to remember some of the music videos from the great '80s decade that made an impact on me in one way or another.
This issue we will cover "Yankee Rose" by David Lee Roth. This was the first single from Roth's first full-length solo album, Eat 'Em and Smile, released in June of 1986. This was a few months after his former band Van Halen had released their first album with his replacement Sammy Hagar on lead vocals. Even though it was billed as David Lee Roth solo, Dave had put together an impressive band that could rival even Van Halen with Steve Vai on lead guitar, Billy Sheehan on bass and Greg Bissonnette on drums. I remember "Yankee Rose" as one of my favorite songs (and music videos) of the summer of 1986 when it would peak at #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 in August. Many people don't realize that this song is actually about the Statue of Liberty.
Like his previous popular videos "California Girls" and "Just a Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody", the music video for "Yankee Rose" was once again conceived and directed by Pete Angelus and Roth himself. Pete Angelus had previously worked closely with Van Halen on everything from graphic design, to live show design to music videos. He became Roth's solo manager and collaborator on fun, unique music videos like this one. Roth and Angelus had a falling out after managing his solo career for six years, but while together they created some awesome videos.
The skit at the beginning of the "Yankee Rose" video is what makes it truly special and memorable to me. "And so the adventure begins..!" The first 1 minute and 40 seconds of the music video features a convenience store clerk observing various customers including an unhappy newlywed couple, a woman buying breathe mints, a woman needing a laxative ("Not in my store you don't!"), a sleazy guy with two hot blondes in bikinis (the man is played by Pete Angelus himself), and finally David Lee Roth in tribal warpaint and feathers (as he appeared on the album cover). Roth delivers the iconic line, "Give me a bottle of anything... and a glazed donut... to go!"
Next it cuts to Dave jumping high into the air and doing his trademark toe touch splits in slow-motion before dropping to the stage with the rest of the video just a fun stage performance featuring Stevie Vai's amazing guitar work along with Roth's showmanship. For your viewing pleasure, here is the complete music video for "Yankee Rose" by David Lee Roth...
I watched that video countless times that summer and every time I hear the song or see the video, it transports me back to the summer of 1986 in an instant. Many songs take me back to times in my life like that, but "Yankee Rose" is one that surely does the trick. That prologue skit in the convenience store has absolutely nothing to do with the song and really absolutely nothing to do with anything, but I can recite the entire thing word for word to this day.
Hope you enjoyed another trip back to the '80s thanks to Flashback Video!