Steve Perry’s Concern About David Lee Roth And Van Halen
David Lee Roth is one of the most distinctive personalities in the rock music scene with his wild and energetic stage shows, charismatic appearance, and positive vibe. On top of that, he is also a talented singer who lent his vocals to many Van Halen classics. Although Roth was enjoying remarkable success with Van Halen, he decided to leave in 1985 due to creative differences.
As Diamond Dave was a unique person who was hard to replace, Van Halen looked for the right person to fill his shoes. Apart from handling Roth’s duties in the band, this person had to be someone fans would also love. So, Eddie Van Halen invited Scandal’s Patty Smyth and Daryl Hall to replace Roth, but they declined. He then approached Sammy Hagar, who he agreed to join the band. As it turns out, Eddie also contacted Journey’s Steve Perry, but the artist had concerns about David Lee Roth.
Why Did Steve Perry Have Doubts About David Lee Roth?
Journey’s Steve Perry was a fan of Van Halen. In fact, they even played on the same stage in 1978 when Van Halen was touring in support of Montrose and Journey. In a 2020 interview with Rolling Stone, Perry revealed that he and Eddie Van Halen had late-night talks on the phone. In one of these calls, Eddie told him he should come sometime and jam with them. Perry felt so honored about this opportunity and was eager to do that.
However, he had some doubts. The singer thought this might lead to him joining Van Halen, and he didn’t know what to do in that situation. According to Perry, he had concerns about going on the stage with Van Halen and representing the Roth era with his voice. He wasn’t sure he wanted to be the next Roth, but Hagar came and filled in for Diamond Dave perfectly. Perry then elaborated on his remarks, saying Roth had a different singing style, and he believed this didn’t suit him.
Speaking to Rolling Stone in 2020, Steve Perry said the following about joining Van Halen:
“I don’t think anyone knows this, but when David Lee Roth left Van Halen, 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 I called Eddie, or Eddie called me. We both had what you could call ‘late-night behaviors’ on the phone in those days. All I know is we both ended up on the phone that night having some fun talking trash.
Eddie said that I should come down sometime, and we should jam and play. Man, I felt so honored at some level within me 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. The next day and in the coming weeks, 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 love doing.”
Perry then continued:
“My only problem 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 after, they got Sammy, and he was the perfect version of that guy.
As I said, representing their legacy up to that point would have been something vocally that I don’t think I was suited to doing. It’s a different kind of singing. David had something vocally that I would say was in kinship with Louis Prima. Later, he did ‘Just A Gigolo’ and sounded more like Louis Prima. He was a real character.“
According to Steve Perry, David Lee Roth had a unique singing talent that resembled Louis Prima’s style. Moreover, the singer believed he couldn’t fill Roth’s shoes because he wasn’t suited to do what Diamond Dave had done with Van Halen. Ultimately, Sammy Hagar replaced DLR and ended up winning Van Halen fans’ hearts.