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12 Years Ago: David Lee Roth Detains a Knife-Wielding Intruder at His House

Jesse Grant/Stringer, Getty Images

Okay, so we all know there were raw emotions and sides taken in Van Halen’s David Lee Roth vs. Sammy Hagar soap opera, but this was ridiculous. In the wee hours of April 26, 2003, Roth was awakened to the sound of snapping branches in his Pasadena estate and, being a man of extreme caution as well as refined taste, grabbed hold of his trusty shotgun before going out to investigate.

Well, well, well, imagine Dave’s surprise when he allegedly found himself face-to-face with a flesh-and-blood trespasser who had not only succeeded in climbing the estate’s 10-foot-high outer wall, but had done so while in possession of a knife.

According to Roth, he calmly maintained the intruder at bay until the authorities could arrive, later stating, rather cryptically, that “Anyone found bearing arms here at night… will be found here in the morning.”

Later, in the clear and far-less-romanticized light of morning, it was revealed that Dave’s home invader was actually none other than his next-door neighbor, Charles Cooley, who was heard breaking windows in his own home when other neighbors called the police.

But by the time the officers arrived on scene, Cooley’s house was empty and it wasn’t until they heard two men arguing nearby that they converged on Roth’s property, finding the singer on his second-floor balcony overlooking Cooley, who was lying prone on the grass and was later booked in possession of both the aforementioned knife and a stash of methamphetamines.

As for Diamond Dave, he would he would soon follow this odd but still welcome bit of publicity with the release just a few months later of his sixth solo album before rejoining Van Halen – the coincidentally named covers album, Diamond Dave.

Needless to say, both the LP and Dave’s fabled encounter with his intruder were a long way from his classic Eat ‘Em and Smile track, “Elephant Gun.”

See David Lee Roth and Other Rockers in the Top 100 Albums of the ’80s

Van Halen Albums — Ranked Worst to Best

Next: Top 10 David Lee Roth Songs

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