Classic Rock News

David Lee Roth shares mini doc on the 1983 US Festival

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Chris McKay/Getty Images for Live Nation

David Lee Roth has shared a new mini doc about the short-lived US Festival, which was the brainchild of Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak. According to the doc, Wozniak had hoped the ’80s would be “more community oriented” than the ’70s. 

The US Festival, the US standing for Unite us in Song, not United States, took place outside of California. It consisted of two multiday festivals, one during Labor Day weekend in 1982 and another during Memorial Day weekend in 1983. The latter consisted of four shows broken down by genre — new wave, rock, heavy metal and country — with Van Halen headlining the heavy metal day, which also included Mötley CrüeJudas Priest and Ozzy Osbourne.

Roth’s somewhat bizarre 24-minute documentary starts with a discussion of his creation of what he called the Jungle Studs, a group of friends he’d go on adventures with. But his traveling time was cut short when Van Halen was offered the US Festival gig by Wozniak. They at first turned it down, but changed their minds when they were offered $1 million for the gig.

At the time, the show was the biggest concert of Van Halen’s career. They wound up getting paid even more than the initial offer, since they had a clause in their contract that no band could be paid more than them. Wozniak, desperate to get David Bowie for the rock day lineup, paid $1.5 million to get him and his crew to the show.

In the end, the festival cost Woz $10 million — and there were two reported deaths. The festival never returned.

(Video includes uncensored profanity.)

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