Steve Perry revealed that a pre-Sammy Hagar team-up between him and Eddie Van Halen nearly happened. Perry became close with Van Halen when they and Montrose opened for Journey in 1978 during Van Halen’s first national tour. Perry recalled, “I don’t think anyone knows this, but when David Lee Roth left Van Halen (in 1985) I was living in the Bay Area and not sure what I was or wasn’t going to do anymore. I don’t remember how it went down, but either I called Eddie or Eddie called me. Back in those days, we were both having what you could call ‘late-night behaviors’ on the phone. All I know is we both ended up on the phone that night having some fun talking trash.”
He went on to remember, “Eddie said that I should come down sometime and we should jam, have a play. Man, at some level within me I felt so honored because I was in awe of Eddie’s natural talent. He was just born with it. I wanted so badly to do that. We talked about how cool that could be musically. This was before Sammy.”
Perry recalled, “The next day and in the weeks to come I thought, ‘I don’t know that I should do that. If it goes creatively to what I know it can go to. . .’ Whatever I could bring to that, I know it would be something I’d really love doing. My only problem I had with it was the thought, “I don’t know that I could be the guy to go out and represent the David Lee Roth years with my voice. I don’t know if I want to be that guy.” And shortly thereafter, they got Sammy and he was the perfect version of that guy.”
Perry is ultimately happy with the way things turned out for him and Van Halen: “I don’t know what Eddie’s intentions were when he called me. He was just saying, ‘Let’s get together and play.’ It wasn’t a promise. It was just, ‘Why not? Let’s see what this sounds like.’ As I said, I think representing their legacy up to that point would have been something vocally that I don’t think I was really suited to doing. It’s a different kind of singing.”
JUST OUR OPINION
- Great story — and although we have zero doubt of the accuracy of Steve Perry’s account — no one should read into this as being anything more than an invite to a jam session.
- With the upcoming deep dive Alex and Wolfgang Van Halen are planning through Eddie’s 5150 home studio vaults, it’s a safe bet that the tapes will reveal a veritable “who’s who” of rock and metal that passed through the studio doors and laid down tracks with the Van Halen brothers. If Steve Perry claims he passed — he just might be the only rock giant that didn’t.
CHECK IT OUT: Eddie Van Halen in his 5150 studio circa 1997: