Legendary rock and roll guitarist Eddie Van Halen apparently approached former Journey lead singer Steve Perry about singing in his band Van Halen after David Lee Roth famously parted ways with the band in 1985. Perry made the comments in a recent interview with Rolling Stone magazine while paying tribute to the iconic rock star.
In the interview, Perry says Van Halen invited him to play shortly after Roth left the band. “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,” explained Perry. “Eddie said that I should come down sometime and we should jam, have a play,” said Perry. “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 [Hagar].”
However, Perry went on to explain that he was not sure that he could perform the pre-1985 Van Halen material that had Roth’s vocals. “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,” recalled Perry. “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 explains while he can’t be exactly sure what Van Halen’s goal was with invitation him to “jam”, singing Roth’s style of vocals was his primary hesitation about the potential gig. “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,” said Perry. “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.”
Eddie Van Halen is largely known as the greatest guitarist of all time and the key creative force behind the incredibly successful career of the 1980s mega rock band Van Halen. He passed away earlier this month from cancer.