Friday, February 14, 2014

Sammy Hagar was Van Halen’s second choice to replace David Lee Roth

When David Lee Roth abruptly left Van Halen on April Fool’s Day 1985, the band went on to hire Sammy Hagar, but the former Montrose singer wasn’t the group’s first choice.

Van Halen originally offered the gig to Scandal lead singer Patty Smyth.

"Eddie asked me to join Van Halen," Smyth tells The News Journal. "When Valerie [Bertinelli] wrote her book, she downplayed the whole thing, which I don't understand. They had asked me not to talk about it in interviews at the time, because they didn't want Sammy Hagar to feel like he was the second choice. It was a long time ago; I never bring it up, but people do ask me about it and there's no reason to deny it."

"Eddie was dead serious. He wanted me to join the band, and we talked about it repeatedly. I had several problems with it," Smyth said. "I had just gotten pregnant with my daughter; I didn't want to move to California, plus those guys were partying very hard at that time."

Journalist Roger Hillis provided antiMusic with an additional quote not included in the original story, as follows: "The very last time we talked about it was after a David Letterman taping in New York; we were sitting around a table with Paul Schaeffer, Danny Kortchmar and Valerie. Eddie said he needed a 'yes' or a 'no' from me so he could move on and find someone else if I wasn't interested. When I said 'no,' Eddie called Sammy."

The Letterman taping was June 27, 1985; Eddie connected with Hagar through their mutual auto mechanic soon after and the two broke the news he was joining Van Halen when the pair performed together at Farm Aid 1 in Champaign, Illinois on September 22, 1985.

Van Halen’s first album with Hagar, “5150”, was released March 24, 1986 – almost a year to the day of Roth’s departure.

As for Smyth, Scandal broke up thereafter, and she went on to launch a solo career.

"In retrospect, I would have loved to have played with Eddie and the guys," she said. "I haven't always made all of the right decisions from a career perspective, but things worked out in the end. If I had done that, I never would have written 'Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough.' "

Interestingly, Smyth wasn’t the only female singer Van Halen tried to hire during the band’s career: following Hagar’s departure in 1996, Canadian rocker Sass Jordan jammed with the band at Eddie’s home studio for about a month before she advised them against adding a female voice to the lineup. Van Halen auditioned and then offered the job to singer Mitch Malloy, who passed, paving the way for Extreme vocalist Gary Cherone to join the group as their third frontman.

See also:

Van Halen working on new album
VIDEO: David Lee Roth releases new promo for The Roth Show
Van Halen top the hennemusic Hot 10
PHOTOS: Eddie Van Halen makes NAMM appearance
Search Van Halen at hennemusic