Mitch Malloy on His Brief Van Halen Tenure: ‘It All Kind of Imploded’
He wasn’t in the band long enough to record anything more than a couple of jam sessions, but vocalist Mitch Malloy’s time in Van Halen is still one of the more interesting footnotes in the group’s history — and one Malloy sounds like he’s still trying to figure out.
Malloy, who auditioned for Van Halen (you can hear him singing ‘Panama’ with the band here) after Sammy Hagar‘s departure, started the ’90s as a hotly touted solo artist. By the middle of the decade, his prospects had cooled considerably — but apparently not enough for him to put up with the sort of shenanigans that go with the VH territory.
As Malloy told it in a recent interview with Classic Rock Magazine, he had the lead singer gig locked up; he recalled a phone call from then-VH manager Ray Danniels, who he said told him, “I think you’re the next singer in Van Halen — I can’t imagine anyone better for the job. But if you don’t get the job then I want to manage you and when people become tired of artists wearing their pajamas and looking at the floor, then you’re going to be a huge star.”
And what happened next? “I don’t know,” he admitted. “I only know that Eddie [Van Halen] told me I was in the band. Then the whole MTV presentation with David Lee Roth happened, which I didn’t know about. I got upset and called them and it all kind of imploded. My manager sent them a letter saying that I’d ‘respectfully passed’ on the gig, which they couldn’t believe.” It was all, as he put it, “Really sad, I mean…I was actually in Van Halen — even if it was just for that moment. I’d had the kiss on the cheeks, the hugs, the congratulations [from the band]…that had all seemed pretty official to me.”
Malloy maintained a friendship with Eddie Van Halen, who bankrolled his 2000 album ‘Shine’; as he told CRM, “Ed was like my big brother back then and he really loved those songs.” But don’t go expecting him to show up in a rehearsal studio if Roth leaves again — at this point, Malloy and the Van Halens are no longer in contact.