Rock of Ages
Sometimes your past comes back to haunt you… in a good way. Recently the film version of the Broadway musical Rock of Ages came out in theaters. I’m honored to have a song on the soundtrack, right alongside some of the biggest musical anthems of the 80’s. The song, “Just Like Paradise,” is one I wrote with David Lee Roth in 1987. I came into the DLR band in 1986 shortly after Dave left Van Halen and released the album Eat Em And Smile, which featured a line-up of blazing talent — Steve Vai on guitar, Billy Sheehan on bass and Gregg Bissonette on drums. Needless to say, I was thrilled to be asked to play keyboards and sing the high vocal harmony parts. The years with Dave and that group of musicians were without a doubt some of the most musically satisfying, crazy and just plain fun days of my musical career. Dave really knew how to put on a big rock-and-roll show, and was actually a really smart guy — something I hadn’t realized until I got to work with him. Yeah, he could be tough with sometimes, but in his defense, he was a good leader and very open to collaborating on songs.
I would bring in demo tapes of song ideas I’d written in my home studio, one of which was the track that ended up becoming “Just Like Paradise.” At that time, the Mac computer had only been out a few years but there was already some pretty amazing music software available for it. I had seen MOTU’s “Performer” program and was blown away by it, so I bought the a copy and started recording MIDI tracks with it. I also had a Fostex 8-track tape machine that Rick Springfield had given me, so once I had the keyboard and drum machine parts together I would record them to the Fostex and leave some tracks open for guitar and vocals. I came up with “Just Like Paradise” fairly quickly and took it over to Steve Vai’s studio where he graciously laid some guitar parts down. I brought it home and created a quick mix on a cassette tape which I later gave to Dave. He loved it, and came up with the lyrics in a couple of days. Not long after, it ended up as the first single on his solo album Skyscraper (which also included 2 other songs that I co-wrote with Dave) and was a top 10 hit that year.
Fast forward to a few years ago, when I first heard the song was going to be included in an off-Broadway musical called Rock of Ages. I was flattered but didn’t think much more of it until the play really started gaining popularity and moved to Broadway. I finally had a chance to catch it last year when I was in New York during a tour with Lindsey Buckingham. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but enjoyed it very much. It’s a simple story, but a really fun production and the cast is just great. I was surprised at how many great songs they managed to work in, and very pleased have a spot among them in the live show and now the film. It is truly a great gift to have my song come full circle like that again.
I haven’t actually seen the movie yet as I’ve been rehearsing with Stevie Nicks and just got back on the road for her summer tour, but I know that the music will guarantee it’s a good time…