Billy Sheehan, the bassist of the Los Angeles-based hard rock band Mr. Big, has unveiled the first thing the late legend Eddie Van Halen told him at the backstage when Sheehan’s band, Talas, opened for Van Halen in the 80s.
During his latest conversation on the Music Matters Podcast, the veteran rocker, Billy Sheehan, has revealed how David Lee Roth, whom Sheehan played for between 1985 and 1988, found him. The great bass guitarist recalled the first date of the tour Talas opened for Van Halen, on October 3, 1980.
He said that the members of his own band were in the dressing room, hadn’t get a soundcheck yet, while Van Halen guys were already sound-checked and gone. Suddenly, the door opened and the legendary guitarist and co-founder of the band, Eddie Van Halen appeared, Billy said.
Eddie, who was in his 20s then, first asked who was Billy Sheehan. The bassist mentioned that Eddie probably had heard about him from the drummer Denny Carmassi, who Sheehan played with for Michael Schenker in 1979.
Billy described Eddie as a very kind man while revealing that they became acquaintances and hung out. He said Eddie Van Halen initiated for him to get in touch with himself and then things happen after that.
Here’s what Billy Sheehan said as recalling the first time he met Eddie Van Halen:
“I remember the first date of that tour, on October 3, 1980. We were in the dressing room, we didn’t really get a soundcheck but we were able to get a line-check to go and make sure everything worked.
Sometimes you don’t even get that. You just start and you go in there and it can be… it’s called a ‘throw-and-go’ – just toss it up and hope that everything works. But they were kind enough because you can do a line check quick, just make sure everything’s coming through the P.A., and then we went out.
And they were already sound-checked and gone. Well, I’m in the dressing room, and it’s kind of an l-shaped room, and I’m facing the guys in my band, the hallway to come in is to my right, and they can’t see who’s coming in.
And the door opened, and I looked over, and it was Eddie Van Halen! And I never met him!”
“He was in his early 20s, probably – 1980, I don’t know. And the first thing he said is, ‘Which one of you guys is Billy Sheehan?‘ ‘Me!’ – I’m saying, ‘That’s me!’
I think they may have heard about me from Denny Carmassi, who I played with Michael Schenker in ’79 – we worked on Michael Schenker’s first solo record. Denny was in Montrose – then he went on to playing hard later on. A great guy and an awesome drummer. So Denny may have told him.
But we became acquaintances and hung out, and they were very kind to us at the end of that tour. Ed initiated for me to get in touch with him and then things happen after that. I didn’t really talk too much with Dave initially, but we did have a couple of moments where we talked.”
Check out the full conversation below.