In an era of flavour-of-the-month fame, David Lee Roth, front man for aging rock band Van Halen, is not exactly the freshest selection in the celebrity display case.
Fresh or not, fame is fame, and a Canadian said to be David Kuntz is now getting his share, thanks to a resemblance to Mr. Roth and a willingness to milk it after a brush with the Ontario Provincial Police.
The would-be rocker's extended 15 minutes began on May 23 near Brantford, when an OPP officer saw a car moving erratically. He pulled it over, found the driver in the midst of an allergic reaction and called paramedics to rush him to hospital. The man gave his name as David Lee Roth.
Hours later, the flamboyantly dressed man breezed into a Brantford bar with a few women in hospital scrubs on his arm. He introduced himself as David, and between sips of orange juice mixed with ginger ale and cranberry juice, climbed onstage with a local band and belted out a few bars of Ice Cream Man, an early Van Halen tune.
Meanwhile, that same evening, the real Mr. Roth was onstage with Van Halen at New York's Madison Square Garden, but that wasn't enough to stop early word of the rocker's unlikely Brantford sojourn from spreading to news websites around North America.
Inevitably, the star known as Diamond Dave was revealed as more of a Discount Dave, when acquaintances viewed the accompanying news photos and fingered him this week as David Kuntz, sometimes known as David Angel, a Cambridge, Ont., man with a musical background and a tumultuous past.
One of those who recognized him was an officer from the very OPP station where the life-saving officer works.
"The guy that sits at the desk beside me went to school with him," Constable Larry Plummer, spokesman for the Brant OPP, said yesterday, though he added he cannot be certain of the man's identity unless police track him down for a follow-up chat.
An officer might try to do that today, though it's not a particularly high priority.
"Other than having a [Highway Traffic Act]violation of failing to identify himself, we have nothing else," Constable Plummer said. "He didn't gain anything [from impersonating Mr. Roth]and nobody else is complaining; he's just a smooth guy that just likes to pose as somebody."
As himself, Mr. Kuntz has led a less-than-smooth life since he left home in Cambridge in the early 1980s at age 18.
"We've lost contact with him," his father, also named David Kuntz, said yesterday, adding that the last he heard, his son was living near Chilliwack, B.C. "I don't know what he's doing."
In July of 1988, the younger Mr. Kuntz, who had a band called Madjesty, found himself at the apex of a deadly love triangle, when one of the two women he had been seeing killed the other in a jealous rage. Kimberly Blinkhorn, 28, slashed and stabbed 21-year-old Rowena Parsons 70 times, and was found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity.
"This is something I have to deal with every day," Mr. Kuntz, who at the time called himself David Angel, told The Globe and Mail after the trial in September, 1989.
Frank Crytes, a Welland, Ont., musician, was in the rental car Mr. Kuntz was driving when police pulled them over, but did not hear him identify himself as Mr. Roth. The two had just been introduced through a mutual friend and had spent a couple of days recording, and "to me, he didn't look like David Lee Roth. He was kind of eccentric and a little over the top, but he was a great guy."
Mr. Crytes said he gave his entire library of recordings to "Dave" to take to industry contacts, and hopes they are in good hands, wherever they are.
"I'm really waiting for the end of the story, just like everyone else."