BILLY SHEEHAN: 'I Would Never Have Declined An Offer To Play' With EDDIE VAN HALEN

February 11, 2020

Billy Sheehan has once again insisted that he was never officially asked to join VAN HALEN.

The bassist, whose early band TALAS opened for VAN HALEN in 1980, made the clarification just days after an interview he gave to The Metal Voice quoted him as saying he was "offered" the position in VAN HALEN on three separate occasions.

Speaking to Greg Schmitt of Connecticut's 88.1FM WESU's weekly syndicated radio show "Noize In The Attic", Sheehan said that he was irked by the media coverage of his The Metal Voice comments. "It bothered me very much, because Guitar World [posted the article with the headline] 'Billy Sheehan Declines The Offer…' That's complete, utter, total bullshit. I never said that; I never implied that. And it's just clickbait bullshit. It's very, very disheartening. [Editor's note: Sheehan appears to be referring to the article headlined "Mr Big's Billy Sheehan Explains Why He Declined To Be Van Halen's Bassist".]

"I spoke with Ed [Van Halen] three different times about joining the band — so three different times," Billy continued. "Twice back in the day in the '80s, and then again in the '90s, I believe, we talked. I went up to the house and jammed with Ed and Al [Alex Van Halen]. And I love that band, I love all those guys, and for years, I never said anything about it, because I felt bad.

"I think, in a way, it might have just been a negotiating thing for them with [original VAN HALEN bassist] Michael [Anthony], by saying, 'Well, we've got this other bass player. You'd better…' I don't know. But I love all the VAN HALEN people. I love Michael, I love Ed, Al, Dave [Lee Roth], Wolfie [Van Halen], Sammy [Hagar], everybody. And it just bothers me that the press would just run with it and make something completely up — that I declined.

"Yeah, we talked about it, and there was an offer, but they never gave me some official piece-of-paper offer," Sheehan explained. "And then, as time went on, they changed their mind and said no, and then they asked me again later, changed their mind, said no, and asked me again later, changed their mind and said no. And I'm not the only one. Jeff Berlin and Tim Bogert said they were both approached by Eddie at one point or another. A lot of other singers, a lot of other people had been in and out…

"Now, at this late stage of the game, it's okay to mention it or talk about it, but it really is bothersome that Guitar World would say I 'declined'… I would never have declined an offer to play with Ed. I love Dave and I'm so thankful that I played with him. Well, DaveandEd — I'm lucky to even know them at all.

"And then, of course, there's a couple of web sites where they're known for… their comments are the most hateful, vile, evil, just terrorist threats. And, of course, they had a field day with it."

Asked how he first got to know the members of VAN HALEN, Sheehan said: "TALAS opened up for VAN HALEN in 1980, did about 30 shows with them. And it was great — we got to see them every night. That was the bonus. We would have taken that as pay, 'cause they were in their prime. They were on fire and they were amazing. On their worst night, they were only spectacular. Just great. And then, yeah, I got to meet them all, and from that point on, we stayed in touch. Any experience, any proximity I've had to anyone in VAN HALEN I consider it an honor and I'm grateful for it. I love all those guys and I wish them all the best."

In The Metal Voice interview, Sheehan was asked the question, "Were you ever offered the position as bassist for VAN HALEN?" He responded: "Three times through the years. And I considered it a great, great honor. However, I'm torn, because I love Michael Anthony, and I think he's the best bass player for VAN HALEN. And as much as I would have loved to do that, I wanna see Michael in the band. And I'm not even sure why they asked me in the band, 'cause I think Michael is an awesome player and a great singer. Who knows what the situation was? But it was just a great honor to be associated with them in any capacity."

Sheehan played on Roth's first two solo albums, "Eat 'Em And Smile" (1986) and "Skyscraper" (1988),before leaving the band.

Anthony, Hagar, Alex and Eddie Van Halen last teamed up in 2004 for a U.S. summer tour. In exchange for taking part in the tour, Anthony reportedly had to agree to take a pay cut and sign away his rights to the band name and logo.

In 2007, the Van Halen brothers, Wolfgang and Roth announced they would be hitting the road for a reunion tour. Anthony later told Music Radar that he "found out about that tour like everybody else did — in the press."

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