Bassist Billy Sheehan: I Was Asked to Join Van Halen Three Times [Update]
Veteran session bassist Billy Sheehan has revealed that legendary rockers Van Halen asked him to be their bass player three times in the past. The admission arrived as Sheehan traverses North America on tour with one of his current acts, prog-metal supergroup Sons of Apollo.
Sitting down with "The Metal Voice" host Jimmy Kay for a brief interview before Sons of Apollo's performance in Montreal on Monday (Feb. 3), the musician was asked about rumors regarding his possible inclusion in Van Halen. Watch the resulting video down toward the bottom of this post.
Sheehan recalled being offered the bassist position "three times through the years. And I consider it a 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 want to see Michael in the band. I'm not even sure why they asked me in the band. Because I think Michael's an awesome player and a great singer. Who knows what the situation was?"
As Van Halen fans are aware, Anthony, the group's longtime bassist, was replaced by founding guitarist Eddie Van Halen's son, Wolfgang, in 2007. At that time, the band was reuniting with lead vocalist David Lee Roth.
"The last time that it went down, I went up to Eddie's studio when I lived in L.A. a few years back," Sheehan explained. "[I] jammed with him and [drummer] Alex [Van Halen] for a while. We thought about doing something then, but it didn't happen."
The Sons of Apollo member also recalled similar discussions around the time of "the tour after the Women and Children First tour; I think it was Fair Warning. We talked about it then, and I spoke with [Roth] about it also. Mostly [I] spoke with Eddie, but I spoke with Dave about it too. … And then at the end of 1984, I remember Ed took me on stage to show me the stage setup, and we talked about it then."
Last year, it was reported that Van Halen's current hiatus is a result of health setbacks. Around the same time, former lead singer Sammy Hagar said he'd be thrilled to perform "one last show" with Van Halen.
Update: Billy Sheehan has clarified that while he spoke with Eddie Van Halen three times about the bassist position in the band, an official offer to join never came through. See his full comments below:
Billy Sheehan Appears on "The Metal Voice" - Feb. 3, 2020
See Billy Sheehan in the Top 66 Hard Rock + Metal Bassists of All Time