Stereogum spoke with former Scandal front woman, Patty Smyth, about being approached, in the 80s to join Van Halen, after original singer, David Lee Roth, departed the group . Highlights from the interview appear below (via

Smyth recounted, “They were heavy drinkers. I don’t drink. I never saw myself living in L.A. I was, like, ‘I’m from New York. We don’t move to L.A.’

“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.’ And 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.'”

When asked if she thinks her prior negative experience in a group dynamic might have given her pause to join another way more publicly rambunctious band, she said,”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 L.A.’ 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.

And 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, ‘Okay.’ 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.”

Photo credit: Melanie Dunea 

41 Responses

  1. It must be me, but I could never see this being a successful combination. With all do respect to Ms. Smyrh, how do you go from David Lee Roth to her, unless Van Halen changed their entire dynamic, including their sound?

    1. Well, IMO, they kinda did change their sound when Hagar joined the band, so……

    2. I didn’t like the way VH changed when Hagar joined cuz the band lost its harder edged music. Maybe that has more to do with EVH building his home studio, 5150, and having more time to experiment with different sounds??? Regardless, the DLR era is my absolute favorite…easy.

    3. Eddie changed Van Halen, not Sammy. It started with Diver Down, and 1984, way before Hagar was even in the picture. I’m not knocking those albums because I love em, but the change in the VH sound from the first 4 albums was all Eddie’s doing. Hagar’s previous albums before 5150 were rock solid, no ballads, no keyboards (well, very few) so if anybody changed anybody, IMO VH changed Hagar, Hagar didn’t change VH.

  2. I’m probably in the minority here, but I always liked Patty Smyth. However, I wouldn’t have liked her in Van Halen, same goes for Daryl Hall. I love Hall & Oates, but I just couldn’t ever imagine Daryl in Van Halen either. The Red Rocker and Van Halen, now that’s what I call the “Best Of Both Worlds!” 😉

    1. Did not recall Daryl Hall as a replacement – love Daryl and his soulful voice but him in Van Halen would have been a train wreck.

      I might be in the minority, but I liked the Gary Cherone era….the few seconds it lasted.

  3. Agree Dana – love Patty when in Scandal and as a solo artist – amazing voice. But in Van Halen? That makes as much sense as David Lee Roth’s answer to any question.

    1. i never thought i’d see “genesraccoonwig” and “scandal” in the same comment.

    2. I am a man of mystery Elliot – and an old geezer who loves a lot of different music.

      Scandal was a decent band due mostly to Patty’s vocals – they had a number of catchy songs.
      Jon Bon Jovi was in one of their early cheesy videos for “Love Has Got a Line on You”

    1. genesraccoonwig, thanks, point well taken. i meant.. how do you break it to the unknowing kiss fans who believe the hair on gene israel.

  4. I’m with you Dana. I remember hearing about this back in the day and thinking …. “I don’t know if this is the stupidest rock ‘n’ roll move I’ve ever heard, but it’s definitely in the top ten!” Sometimes it makes you wonder who is really calling the shots in Van Halen. Is it the brothers, management? Who?!
    As far as I remember when Aerosmith went through that weird period when Tyler was on that tv show and they were actually auditioning to replace him…don’t recall anyone saying “why don’t we ask Katy Perry? Oh, wait…we don’t want fans thinking she’s Joe’s daughter!”

    1. LOL!! A job on TV, as a judge on a singing talent show, is one thing, but singing for one the most famous 80’s hard rock bands? Yeesh.

      That would be like Judas Priest replacing Rob Halford with Bette Midler, well not quite, but you get where I am going…

    2. I was only joking, of course! The Rose in Judas Priest? You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’! 😉

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