Billy Sheehan on How David Lee Roth Treated Musicians He Hired
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    Default Billy Sheehan on How David Lee Roth Treated Musicians He Hired

    Billy Sheehan Speaks on How Van Halen's David Lee Roth Treated Musicians He Hired in Solo Band, Explains Why He Left Talas

    The bassist also looks back on opening for Van Halen.


    During an appearance on Breaking Absolutes, Billy Sheehan talked about his early-day band Talas, Van Halen, performing in David Lee Roth's solo group, and more.

    You can check out Billy's "Advanced Bass" book on Amazon.

    The first big band that you were in that had a lot of recognition and some success was Talas:

    "Yeah, we're based out of Buffalo, New York, went through many incarnations, the last one was actually the version eight or nine of Talas.

    "In 1980, one version of the band opened up for Van Halen for about 30 shows, and it was quite a turning point for us to be exposed to that and be on the same stage with a huge band like Van Halen.

    "It was huge, I loved that band so much, I loved all of them - Eddie [Van Halen, guitar], Al [Van Halen, drums], Mike [Anthony, bass], and Dave [Lee Roth, vocals].

    "We went through many changes after that, we thought would be a shoo-in to get a deal and get signed, but it didn't happen, and we kept trying and pushing, it was a frustrating difficult time, faced with uncertainty.

    "Then they changed the drinking age in the club from 18 to 21 so the whole business dropped in half.

    "Everybody was worried that we could be going back to our day jobs. I never actually had a day job but in fact, we may have to go to Plan B.

    "Luckily, we were revitalized, we reconstructed Talas again for the final time, did a tour with Yngwie.

    "And then on that the same week, we got three phone calls - one was from the William Morris Agency, a booking agency, saying, 'Hey, we would love to put Talas on with Yngwie for his first US tour.' OK!

    "The next one was Gold Mountain Records, Danny Goldberg, he later went on to manage Nirvana, he wanted to sign the band, so OK, we got our record deal.

    "And the third call was from David Lee Roth's office saying, 'Dave's doing a movie and he wants you to be in it.'

    'What? What in the world is that about?'

    "So we were going out to L.A. to start the tour, so I arranged to have a meeting and I found out yeah, there is a movie but unknown to anyone at that time, he'd quit Van Halen and wanted to start a band.

    "He said, 'You and me, let's go find a guitar player and drummer and do it!' And bang, that was the end of Talas.

    "I always said to people there's only one band I'd leave Talas for, that'd be Van Halen, but I love Michael and I don't want to see him go.

    But man, I love Van Halen. When Dave called, I said, 'Close enough,' and I was gone."

    There had been supergroups before but that was the first time that I remember in my mind connecting the idea that this band had been put together to be like a virtuoso at every instrument.

    But it was more than that, of course, because then you guys had such amazing commercial success, by the way, not that commercial success is the only thing but every musician wants to be able to pay their mortgage.

    "This is true. Dave was very, very smart and I love him dearly. It was his bat and ball, it was his game, it was his thing.

    He did it right, he treated us very well, and we had a great time on that tour.

    "And mostly ideas of anything that you see that is cool or clever or interesting, were Dave's ideas. That's just the way he is, quite a talent in many respects.

    "And I love his voice too but I'm forever grateful to him for giving me the break he did and doing that band with him and working with Steve Vai, Gregg Bissonette, and Brett Tuggle also.

    Just dear, dear friends of mine and wonderful supremely talented people.

    "We did it with a tongue-in-cheek comedy too, we didn't want to just go: 'Hey, watch this stuff.'

    "As a matter of fact, the solos we did in the show, the first couple shows I'd go out and do my bass solo, Steve would do his solo later in the set, and we'd end the show.

    "About two or three shows in, Dave called me and Steve and he goes, 'You know, the solo thing, it's not working for me.'

    'Oh, what does that mean? ' He goes, 'It should be like a giant tractor pull, like, you guys battle it out!

    "So, Steve, you go start, Bill, you run up behind him, grab his guitar and mute it, push him aside, and you play, and Steve, you push...'

    And he orchestrated the whole battle thing, it was Dave's idea completely. We did it and people went crazy!

    "Like I said before about a bass solo, you want it to be musical but also in a live show, you want some entertainment.

    "You're there not see somebody staring at his shoes, playing his amazing augmented diminished cemented chords, and everything.

    "So when we did that, it was supremely entertaining and funny and fun. And Steve and I had a blast doing it. And it worked, so thanks to Dave, he created quite an entity with that."
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    Seems like the only musicians that have worked with DLR that have a problem with him were in Van Halen.

    I've come to think that VH as a band was a bad match personality wise for a long run, but man, the fireworks sure made some great music.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave's Dreidel View Post
    Seems like the only musicians that have worked with DLR that have a problem with him were in Van Halen.

    I've come to think that VH as a band was a bad match personality wise for a long run, but man, the fireworks sure made some great music.
    Insecurity.

    The brothers were always insecure. Maybe it was their upbringing. Drugs and alcohol excarbate insecurity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave's Dreidel View Post
    Seems like the only musicians that have worked with DLR that have a problem with him were in Van Halen.

    I've come to think that VH as a band was a bad match personality wise for a long run, but man, the fireworks sure made some great music.
    Vai talks glowingly about his time with Dave as well. Not one cross word.

    When everybody around you always seems to be the problem...9.99999/10 itís not them..... itís you, with the problem.

    I feel as though this certainly applies to Ed and Al. Everybody around them was the problem.

    I think they would have been a bad match for just about anybody who had an opinion, unfortunately.

    For as much as we love and adore him, and I believe in my heart that Eddie was, at his core, a very sweet, kind man. There were issues there. Demons, even aside from alcoholism.

    Issues that probably should have been addressed professionally early in his life but they werenít.


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    Different dynamics when you're hired guns as Vai and Sheehan where as compared to founding and equal members like Ed, Al, and Mike (at least Mike was in the early years)....

    So comparing the two and suggesting it's all Ed and/or Al's fault is a foolish endeavor in my opinion. We've beat this horse to death and by now I would think we could agree that all of the original members of the band Van Halen share in its dysfunction over the years. To a far lesser extent, Mike, perhaps....But none of them are without some level of fault.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave's Dreidel View Post
    Seems like the only musicians that have worked with DLR that have a problem with him were in Van Halen.

    I've come to think that VH as a band was a bad match personality wise for a long run, but man, the fireworks sure made some great music.
    A chip on the shoulder, a social inferiority complex, alcohol and drug abuse…particularly cocaine….is it really any wonder?




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    Quote Originally Posted by chain View Post
    Different dynamics when you're hired guns as Vai and Sheehan where as compared to founding and equal members like Ed, Al, and Mike (at least Mike was in the early years)....

    So comparing the two and suggesting it's all Ed and/or Al's fault is a foolish endeavor in my opinion. We've beat this horse to death and by now I would think we could agree that all of the original members of the band Van Halen share in its dysfunction over the years. To a far lesser extent, Mike, perhaps....But none of them are without some level of fault.
    Good post
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    Quote Originally Posted by chain View Post
    Different dynamics when you're hired guns as Vai and Sheehan where as compared to founding and equal members like Ed, Al, and Mike (at least Mike was in the early years)....

    So comparing the two and suggesting it's all Ed and/or Al's fault is a foolish endeavor in my opinion. We've beat this horse to death and by now I would think we could agree that all of the original members of the band Van Halen share in its dysfunction over the years. To a far lesser extent, Mike, perhaps....But none of them are without some level of fault.
    So right.
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    Quote Originally Posted by chain View Post
    Different dynamics when you're hired guns as Vai and Sheehan where as compared to founding and equal members like Ed, Al, and Mike (at least Mike was in the early years)....

    So comparing the two and suggesting it's all Ed and/or Al's fault is a foolish endeavor in my opinion. We've beat this horse to death and by now I would think we could agree that all of the original members of the band Van Halen share in its dysfunction over the years. To a far lesser extent, Mike, perhaps....But none of them are without some level of fault.
    Logic would dictate that hired guns would be treated worse.


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    Talas or DLR.......he choose wisely.
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    David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen were basically polar opposites when it came to their personalities. The entertainer and the musician. They sure did bring out the best in each other, though.

    The Oddest Couple - EVH and DLR.jpg
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    Quote Originally Posted by MF5150 View Post
    Logic would dictate that hired guns would be treated worse.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Not so sure...the hired guns are grateful to be taken on by a star at his prime such as DLR...remember; the brothers were somewhat on their way and only let DLR in for financial/equipment reasons and then even the first few go arounds prior the first album wanted to get rid of him.

    Dave used to be the hired gun...then he became the one who hired; that is the difference in my opinion.
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    I've no doubt that David Lee Roth is the kind of guy that can get on your nerves in no time flat if you are the type of person that doesn't have a similar personality, but I also am pretty sure that if you are on the "in" with Dave, then you've got nothing to worry about. I also believe that when Dave was in Van Halen, that their success was his number one priority.
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    BILLY SHEEHAN SAYS VAN HALEN WAS SPECTACULAR EVEN ON THEIR WORST NIGHT

    By Eray Erel -AUGUST 7, 2021


    In a new interview with BBC Radio, Sons of Apollo bassist Billy Sheehan has recalled his tenure with David Lee Roth band and touched on how Van Halen was like at their worst night.

    The talented bassist Billy has appeared three years with David Lee Roth band from 1985 to 1988. Throughout his tenure with him, the artist has accumulated good memories.

    However, in his recent appearance, Billy has mentioned what Van Halen was like even on their worst night. He also singled out the band’s 1978 self-titled debut, I’m The One.

    “I love that song so much, and I think it’s got some of the best Dave’s screams at the end of it too, just brilliant,” he said.

    “My band Talas opened for Van Halen in 1980 on the ‘Women and Children First’ tour, and I tell people – on their worst night they were only spectacular, it was just so good.”

    Billy Pointed Out Van Halen Members And Praised Them

    Continuing his words, the bassist said that the late guitarist Eddie Van Halen was on fire, while David, Alex, and Michael were mind-blowing.


    “Eddie was on fire, Dave was, you know, was the king of the world, and Alex and Michael were just mind-blowing,” he reveals.

    “Every night was a spectacle – we were driving around in our little mobile home going gig to gig, and when we get done with our show, we would always go out in the audience and watch.

    “I don’t think there’s a single night we didn’t watch them – what an incredible effect this had on me and my music.”
    Beauty is life when life unveils
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    -Kahil Gibran

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