Eddie Van Halen Realized David Lee Roth Was ‘Pulling An Ozzy Osbourne,’ Billy Sheehan Recalls
Bassist Billy Sheehan recently joined an interview with the SDR Show and revealed that he didn’t tell Eddie Van Halen about David Lee Roth‘s secret plan to form a new band, even though he knew it.
Although Van Halen’s success was established by Eddie Van Halen’s unique guitar technique and David Lee Roth’s charisma and energetic stage presence for years, the two driving forces of the band started encountering personal and musical differences in the early 1980s. Ultimately, Diamond Dave decided to depart from Van Halen in 1985 and find another way to implement his vision.
Following his split from the band, DLR decided to create a new band and hired guitarist Steve Vai, bassist Billy Sheehan, and drummer Gregg Bissonette. In a recent interview, Sheehan shared the backstory of how he came to join Roth’s crew. In 1985, while they were scheduled to open for Yngwie Malmsteen, Billy called Eddie Van Halen to invite him to the show. However, the guitar icon said he was busy as he was going to meet Roth.
Then, the bassist told him he was also going to speak to the vocalist soon, as he had invited him over. Eddie told Sheehan to call him immediately after the meeting since the remaining Van Halen members suspected that he would ‘pull an Ozzy Osbourne,’ meaning that Roth was planning to leave the band to do his own thing.
Eddie’s prediction was accurate as DLR offered Sheehan to form a new band together. Billy decided not to tell the late guitarist about it since he didn’t want to jeopardize his place in Roth’s band. He knew that the singer wanted to keep it a secret, and thus, he never called Eddie back.
Billy Sheehan said the following about keeping DLR’s secret:
“I didn’t know what was going on, so I got there. We were going to open for Yngwie. We just got signed by the William Morris Agency. So, I called up Eddie Van Halen, ‘Hey Ed; we’re in town, we’re going to play. If you want to come out to the show.’ And he goes, ‘I’d love to, but I’m kind of busy.’ I go, ‘Okay, how are you doing,’ and otherwise. I say, ‘I’m going over to see Dave tomorrow.’
He goes, ‘You’re what?’ I go, ‘Dave asked me to come over to his house for a meeting.’ He goes, ‘What?’ Nobody knew that David had quit. I didn’t know that David had quit. So, he said, ‘After the meeting, call me right away because we think he is gonna pull an Ozzy Osbourne,’ meaning he was going to leave the band and get a bunch of young guns, run off, and do his thing.”
He continued by saying:
“So, I went out to have a meeting with Dave about the movie, and he goes, ‘Well, there is a movie, but that’s not why I called you. Let’s start a band; we will find a guitar player, we’ll find a drummer, and let’s go.’ So, I’m standing outside at Dave’s house in Pasadena, thinking, ‘Wow.’
Something just fell out of the skies and hit me on the head. So, I thought to myself, ‘Okay, If I call Eddie back and tell him what Dave said, Dave would probably say ‘See you’ because of sworn to secrecy.’ So, I never called Eddie back, and until a couple of years after I had left Dave, we finally had a conversation, and we laughed about it.”
You can watch the rest of the interview below.