In part one, local artist Kent Stanton talked about growing up in Pensacola, getting to sing backup for Harry Chapin, The Unemployed, and the events that led to a teenage Stanton hanging out with Van Halen. In Part II, Stanton details how he gave David Lee Roth the shirt worn in one of the greatest rock videos of all time and how Phil Collen and Rick Allen of Def Leppard ended up playing a fun and intimate jam session in a small cafe’ after their concert at the Pensacola Civic Center.

– Michael L. Smith

(Photo taken by Jen Knight)

***Kent Stanton Interview Part II***

KS: He (David Lee Roth) wasn’t like “Who are the F*ck are you?” He took down my number. He said he’d maybe get an album cover done. Nothing ever came of that, but basically, he showed me attention. He was a really nice guy. I met Eddie (Van Halen)…I met all of them except for Alex because he was too drunk most of the weekend. There was a point where I was in the lobby and I was talking to this girl I had a crush on and I was “You won’t believe where we are! We’re at Van Halen’s hotel and she was like “Bullsh*t!” My friend that was with me, his name was Andy and I’m talking to her on the phone and I’m trying to tell her “I’m at Van Halen’s hotel. They’re all here.” “Bullsh*t! Bullsh*t!” and Eddie walks by with Valerie (Bertinelli. Married to Eddie Van Halen from 1981-2007) and I was like, “Eddie! Eddie, my friend doesn’t believe that I’m with you guys. Can you say hi to her?” So he’s like “Hello. This is Eddie…it’s really Eddie. She thinks I’m Andy. Alright…ok…goodbye.” Basically, she was going, “Andy, you’re full of sh*t. This ain’t Eddie.” And what was funny was she saw the pictures when I got back in town, she’s like “Oh my God! I talked to Eddie Van Halen!” “Yeah, you told him to f*ck off.” But that weekend and the next time they came around and I got to go to the hotel, which was much more of a party and that was…

TCAS: You were 15!

KS: By this time I was 16…and they were at the top of the Hilton in Mobile and they were in full swing. And I mostly hung out with Michael Anthony (Van Halen bassist.) He was real nice and he let me throw a TV out the window. I mean, it was just insane. They were all just really nice people. And the third time they came back…this was the 1984 tour… I think, I’m pretty sure it was the 1984 album, so it was 1983. I had done this airbrushed shirt. And you’ve seen it before and might not have even known it. But I did this shirt, it was in color and I was holding it up in the front row. You’ve seen arena rock right? Like, you know the feeling, the vibe, it’s nothing like…it’s just like (Suddenly, Kent erupts into a growl of elation that was stamped on most of the 80’s hard rock movement) so that environment and David is in the middle of some song and… this is probably my most memorable show moment, as far as sticking, I remember it like it was yesterday. And I’m holding up the shirt and I remember he came by (Kent stands up from the table and struts into a perfect David Lee Roth impersonation) “Woooh! Wooh! Wooh! Wait a minute.” He stops the band “Hold it! Hold it!” “Throw it up here!” I threw it to him and he’s like (Kent channels the California-cocked voice of the lead singer) “Yo! Check this sh*t out! And everybody’s like (Kent fires into a roar) and people were high-fiving me and beating the sh*t out of me all (night) “Wow! Oh my God!”
So they started the song and all of a sudden he’s like “Woooh!Wooh! Wooh! Wooh! Wait a minute!” and stopped the song again…”I gotta change my clothes.” So he took off what he was wearing and put my shirt on finished out until the next drum solo and then, at the end of that show, I was walking around the coliseum and I ran into Mr. Bertinelli and he remembered me because he was like, “that kid who drove all of the way from Pensacola to see these guys.” He couldn’t believe that. He was so nice. He said, “Man, are you coming to the hotel?” “I really want to, sir.” He told me where they were staying and then the couple I went with, they got into a major fight and they wanted to leave. So I didn’t get to go. We went back to Pensacola and I was kind of bummed. But I started getting letters and things from people. Like a friend of mine said, “Man, he was that same shirt in Birmingham.” And “He’s wearing the same shirt in Atlanta.” It was part of the act. And I remember reading in Hit Parader (popular music magazine that shifted its primary focus to heavy metal in the 1980s.)

TCAS: I remember reading Hit Parader.

KS: The interview in Hit Parader…and she was like “I’m sitting in this café.” In the article, “And I see this dude walking in wearing the David Lee Roth shirt, with his hair up and a hat on and I thought…wait…Oh my God, That’s David Lee Roth.” And what she said was David Lee Roth “I love to wear this shirt because most people don’t recognize me thinking I’d be wearing this shirt. So I was aware that he kept it and he ended up wearing it in “Panama.”

TCAS: (I start singing the chorus of the monster Van Halen Hit) “Panama!”

KS: I’d already seen the video, but he wears that shirt…

TCAS: What part? (I’m replaying the video that I have memorized since childhood when I would watch the scrambled MTV signal)

KS: The part after the solo where he jumps around playing with the swords…

TCAS: Yeah…(Instantly locking on to the target, replaying each frame of the video for the song that has been my ringtone ever since I’ve had a cellphone to use a ringtone)

KS: There’s a part where he flips over Michael Anthony…
(Target is confirmed and synchronized. What some call an epiphany, while others have coined the “Poop-a-brick” moment, I realize that the artist I’ve watched perform for all of these years had his work prominently displayed in one of my favorite songs of all time. One of the songs that made me want to play guitar. The song that is my karaoke standard and the video that showed millions of kids what excessive rock n’ roll glory could be.)

KS: (calmly replies and confirms) That’s my shirt.
(I explode)

KS: You know how he walks into to the camera?

TCAS: He’s all parading, with his belly right there…

KS: We had a family gathering and “Panama” came on…and my Dad saw these “Van Halen guys” he had heard so much about…on “the MTV” playing for packed coliseums. I think he then started to realize that Van Halen was somewhat famous and he seemed real proud. I love Van Halen. Unfortunately, when they split, I just never really cared for either one of them. (Roth went onto a solo career while Eddie Van Halen and the rest of the band pressed on with Sammy Hagar and Gary Cherone (Extreme). In 2006 the band has reunited with Roth, but parted ways with bassist Michael Anthony.)

TCAS: Was it tough for you to see Hagar? Van Hagar.

KS: I was mostly heartbroken. I wasn’t mad or anything, just heartbroken because I really loved those guys. They all walked up to the table and worked in a way that never worked again. And most people don’t realize that David Lee Roth is a phenomenal guitar player; flat blues pickin’. I had and old bootleg tape of him doing a song and I still haven’t been able to find it. They played it on a radio show. It sounds like two guitars. You know “Take Your Whiskey Home.” That’s him playing the beginning part. That’s him playing “Women and Children First.” That’s both of them. He’s a really, really good guitar player and a he’s a really good singer. I was really hoping he would take that, but unfortunately he tried to repeat, unsuccessfully…

TCAS: The “Diamond Dave” thing.

KS: I still love him. But I just never really…

TCAS: That’s like Robert Plant (lead singer of Led Zeppelin.) He is a great guitarist too, but yet Jimmy Page is your band mate. Come on!

KS: So, probably the most memorable show is when David Lee Roth took the shirt out of my hand, stopped the whole band and just…he had a 15 year old, an insecure 15 year old in that moment.

TCAS: I’m going to go home and watch “Panama” again.

KS: And I wish I could find it. My mom actually made…Hit Parader had a whole page picture of him wearing that shirt and he was singing and you could barely see the name on it…and she (Kent’s mother) had blown it up and mounted it for me. I lost it a long time ago

TCAS: We’re going to track it down. We’re going to track it down. That’s my goal. We’re going to track it down. What about Def Leppard? (Throughout the years, I’ve heard stories of how the band stopped into town and ended up performing a late night jam with Kent at Van Gogh’s Coffeehouse which is currently End of the Line Café on Wright Street)

KS: I’d love to hear what you’ve heard. Because…

TCAS: Whew! I’ve heard…

KS: It’s relatively simple. Straightforward. I know that versions of things that I’ve done when I’ve heard…I’ve enjoyed throughout the years hearing other people’s versions. The best story I’ve ever heard, but not true, but everybody believed it because somebody told them that was that we opened up for TSOL (early influential punk band that formed in 1979 in Long Beach, California) and stole their set-list. Because we used to play all TSOL, like the Joe Wood (former frontman) days. I still have people come up to me like “I remember that!” Like they’d actually seen it (breaking boisterously into a crazy-country tone) “I remember that time you opened up for TSOL, stole their set-list and played everything before they had a chance…” I’m like, “It never happened.”

TCAS: Like people saying they went to Woodstock, “I went to Woodstock. I was there!”

KS: The best is when somebody tells you a rumor…”Michael, man! Remember that time when you ran out of the door naked and you were screaming, you know! Remember that!”

TCAS: Anything you want to set the record straight on? Like “Hey! This did not happen.”

KS: No. But the Def Leppard thing was pretty straightforward. They were in town the day before. What was cool about Def Leppard is that I’ve admired them, but Van Halen…I knew they (Def Leppard) but I was never a fan. But I was definitely aware of them. So anyway, Def Leppard is in town and I remember I put a sign on our little chalkboard out front and it said “Def Leppard Eats For Free” as a joke.

TCAS: At Van Goghs?

KS: It was End of the Line (Cafe’) by now and I remember Jahna (Jacobson) was there the day that this happened.

TCAS: Jacobson?

KS: Yeah. Her and Dale (Halstead) were sitting there having coffee or whatever. But this guy…I knew Rick Allen’s name, Joe Elliot’s name, but that’s about it. I see this guy walking in with a backpack…young looking guy actually…but anyway this guy comes in and he’s like (breaks into a British accent) “You got coffee?” I knew exactly who he was.

TCAS: Did you play it cool?

KS: Yeah. Because I learned from previous experiences, especially with Van Halen and many, many others. There’s nothing people appreciate more is if you just let them be. I’ll tell you my Black Crowes story…

TCAS: Chris Robinson?

KS: No. It’s not with him it’s with another one, again…

TCAS: I’m game.

KS: That’s a whole other story. He comes in ordering coffee. I knew exactly who he was, I didn’t know his name, but I was like, “So, you like Pensacola so far?” “He’s like “Yeah! I’m loving it. I got the day off…seems like a really cool town.” I could just tell that he seemed like a guy who was into stuff, you know, like backpacking. He wanted to see the town. I was like “You should check out Subterranean (Books).” I basically told him Subterranean was a great place to go and he started asking about “What’s this place?” and I said, “Well, we actually…I told him how we acquired it and I told him about the house we lived in across the street. You know, a bunch of punk rockers, that we live there for next to nothing and we sat down and talked for a long time. And he was really interested in the fact that (imitating “The Visitor’s” accent) “All of you were pretty much given this place? You have shows?” I was telling him about kids that would jump off the train and stay with us for a week and then get on the train and leave and he thought that was “Ah!” So, it just went really well. And I said, “Man, it was really nice talking to you.” He still didn’t even mention Def Leppard. I left it at that and he’s like, “Yeah, I enjoyed talking to you. This place is amazing.” So, he left and everybody’s like “Who was that?” I said, “That was the dude from Def Leppard.” And then what was funny…and Jahna wrote a little piece about this in the paper because like I said, I didn’t know his name, but Jahna said “Was that Phil Collen?” I didn’t know his name and I said, “No, that’s the guy from Def Leppard.” And she put that in the paper. I was thinking Phil Collins, but they said Phil Collen, they knew who he was. I said “Yes, that was him.” And some other guys in there, who had been watching were like, “Why didn’t you get tickets?” (Stanton’s reply) “I’ll tell you exactly why I didn’t get tickets. Because I guarantee you he’s going to be back tomorrow.” I just knew it.

TCAS: You had the feeling.

KS: Well…and what happened? Sure enough the next day he came in and we had more of the same conversation. And at this point, we were sitting on the couch just talking again, just about all kinds of stuff. Again, not really about the band….and somebody called him and he was like…it was somebody in California, I could gather from the conversation, but he’s like, “Yeah! I’m sitting with the mate I told you about. Yeah, I’m sitting in that same place I told you about yesterday.” He hung out for awhile and right before he left, I was kinda like, “Listen, I really hate to ask you this, but is there any way I can get some tickets for the show?” And he’s like, “Why didn’t you ask me…F*ck yeah!” And I had told him…this was a Thursday night…and we had Flat Broke Folk/Open mic night, I said “Where going to have open mic night tonight, you should stop by.” He’s like “I might do that.” He set me up with tickets and backstage passes and I took Paul Williams from Subterranean (Books) and we watched the show. Backstage, a common misconception is…it’s not really that crazy. You’ve been backstage. It can be, but it’s not like you see in the movies. This particular backstage was like many of them. They take you down a hallway, it was all girls and me and Paul, and they shuffle us into this thing…it was basically…a bathroom. (We both start laughing) It was big! Showers! It had shower stalls. A man comes in and (breaking out the British accent) “’ello, ‘ello. Let’s get this over with…we’re gone.” But Paul and I were standing there and Phil Collen brought Rick (drummer) over (and) he’s like, “Rick, this is the guy I was telling you about.” And I knew very well of Rick and his whole history (In 1984, Allen survived a car accident that severed his arm. Surgeons reattached his arm but had to amputate it because of infection. Through determination, hard work and support, Allen fought back and continued as drummer for the group.) He (Allen) was like, “Man, we heard about your place, that’s awesome. We’re just vegan hippies. That’s right up our alley. You still having that open mic?” By this time, it was 12 o’clock. I said, “Oh, it’s closed. I’ll open up if you want to hang out. And they’re like…”I think we would!” They said they had to be in Tampa, but the buses wouldn’t be leaving for awhile and that they were going to come over. So I was like, “Oh f*ck. Yes!” So we said our goodbyes.

Find out the story behind this photo (taken by Jen Knight) of Andee Grr, Kent Stanton, Phil Collen and Rick Allen (far right) jamming inside of the End of Line Cafe’ in Pensacola, Florida in Part III…