During a recent conversation on Music Matters Podcast, the bassist of the hard rock band Mr. Big, Billy Sheehan, revealed the story of how he ended up becoming the guitarist of David Lee Roth’s band after he left Van Halen in 1985.
Billy Sheehan is one of the most famous bassists of the rock world and he’s known for his amazing work with Talas, Mr. Big, David Lee Roth, and many more. His ‘lead bass’ playing style led Billy Sheehan to rank Number 1 on the ‘Best Rock Bass Player‘ readers’ poll of Guitar Player magazine five times.
In his recent appearance in Music Matters Podcast, Sheehan talked about how he got involved in the band that David Lee Roth formed after he left Van Halen. He said that one day, he got a call from Dave, who wanted to speak to him about a movie that he was making.
Coincidentally, Sheehan was soon going to Los Angeles to start a tour with Yngwie Malmsteen, and as he had a day-off, he decided to visit Dave so that they can talk in person. Back then no one knew what was going on with Van Halen, including Sheehan and thus, his meeting with Dave led to a lot of surprises for him.
So, when he met with Dave who told him that he quit Van Halen, Sheehan was very surprised. Then Dave went on to ask him whether Sheehan would be interested in forming a band with him so that they can make music and tour together.
Initially, Sheehan thought that there is no band for him except Talas and that the only reason why he would leave his band would be to join Van Halen, as the band’s fame was at its peak during those years. However, on second thought, he realized that David Lee Roth was ‘close enough‘ and agreed to perform alongside him.
As you probably know, Sheehan ended up performing in Dave’s band alongside guitarist Steve Vai and drummer Gregg Bissonette from 1985 until 1988. It seems like he didn’t regret his decision but the disclosure of the story of how he ended up in David Lee Roth’s band was for sure very interesting for rock and metal fans.
Here’s what Billy Sheehan said during the podcast:
“Nobody knew anything about what was going on with Van Halen. We got a call, and it was that Dave wanted to speak with me about being in his movie. And so I just happened to be going off to LA to start the tour with Yngwie [Malmsteen], I had a day off, so they drove me out to Dave’s house.
And sure enough, he said, ‘There is a movie, but that’s a cover story because I didn’t want anyone to know.’ He said, ‘I quit Van Halen.’ I went, ‘Wow, holy shit!’ Then he said, ‘How about if you and I put a band together? We’ll find a guitar player, we’ll find a drummer, and we’ll go out?’
I didn’t say this to him but in my mind, I was like, ‘There’s no band… I wouldn’t leave Talas for any other band, except Van Halen.’ And I said, ‘Close enough!'”
Click here for the source and you can check out the Music Matters Podcast episode that Billy Sheehan joined below.