Patty Smyth Turned Down Van Halen Over Drinking + Location
While Van Halen fans have debated the merits of David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar over the years, there was a point in the band's history where they considered Scandal vocalist Patty Smyth before eventually making the move to bring Hagar into the band. In a new interview with Stereogum, Smyth, who went on to have some solo success post-Scandal, explained why she ultimately opted not to pursue the vacancy.
Scandal broke on the scene in 1982 with the single "Goodbye to You," had some success with the follow-up "Love's Got a Line on You," but became MTV and radio favorites in 1984 with the No. 7 charting single "The Warrior," but they would split a year later, lining up with the timing of when things started to fall apart with David Lee Roth for Van Halen.
Reflecting on her decision to ultimately not pursue the Van Halen vacancy, Smyth recalls, "They were heavy drinkers. I don’t drink. I never saw myself living in LA. I was like, 'I’m from New York, we don’t move to LA.'" However, she admitted, "It’s all semantics because if [Eddie] had said to me, 'Let’s make a record,' then I would have said yes to that. But joining the band — to me then, 'Oh god, they fight all the time, him and his brother, and I don’t want to get into a volatile situation.'"
Smyth also reveals she was pregnant at the time, adding, "I was probably heavily hormoned out because I was eight months pregnant, so there was a state of mind that I was in of how I need to take care of myself. But I regretted turning him down. For a long time I regretted it. When you start to have regrets, I was like, 'Oh man I would’ve made so much money.'"
She continues, "I wish I had the right kind of luck. I feel it’s just like I’m in this stream or this river and sometimes it’s just taking you where you need to go. Sometimes you’ve got to paddle and go in certain directions and other times you’re just letting it take you. And for me, like I said, my life has turned out unbelievable. That I’ve been married and with the same man for 25 years is insane. Who the heck knows what would’ve happened if I joined Van Halen?"
When asked if the tensions with Scandal might have factored in, she adds, "Yeah, that definitely has something to do with it. I’m sure. And also just the fact that it was like, 'I’m going to have to move to LA.' I should have just had the conversation [with Eddie]. It was such a weird conversation. But if he had said to me, 'Look, just come out for a few months and make a record. Have the baby, come out and let’s make a record.' That to me would’ve been more doable."
Smyth reveals, "I never said anything about it for years. I got a call from Ed and he was like, 'Look, I’m not saying that I asked you to join because I don’t want Sammy Hagar to look like [he was] second choice,' and I was like, 'OK.' So I never spoke about it after that. I’m like, all right I don’t need to tell people. If someone asked me, I didn’t lie but I didn’t really talk about it that much."
Van Halen had a very successful run with Hagar in the vocalist spot, issuing four albums over the next decade and scoring such hits as "Why Can't This Be Love," "Black and Blue," "Finish What Ya Started," "Poundcake," "Right Now" and "Don't Tell Me (What Love Can Do)."
Smyth, meanwhile, enjoyed her biggest solo successes with "Never Enough," "No Mistakes" and her duet with Don Henley, "Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough."
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