Why Steve Perry Turned Down Eddie Van Halen’s Jam-Session Invite
The singer said the informal offer was made after David Lee Roth's departure from Van Halen and during a time when Perry was considering leaving Journey. "I was living in the Bay Area and not sure what I was or wasn't going to do anymore," Perry told Rolling Stone. "Eddie said that I should come down sometime and we should jam, have a play. Man, at some level within me I felt so honored because I was in awe of Eddie's natural talent. ... I wanted to badly to do that. We talked about how cool it would be musically."
Although Perry was quick to point out Van Halen never mentioned anything beyond the initial jam session, over the next few weeks his mind raced over the possibilities. While he was confident the two could make great music together, he was less comfortable with the idea of trying to fill Roth's shoes.
"I don't know that I could be the guy to go out and represent the David Lee Roth years with my voice," he explained. "It's a different kind of singing." Shortly afterward, Sammy Hagar, who Perry called "the perfect version of that guy," became Van Halen's second singer. Perry returned to a reconfigured Journey for 1986's Raised on Radio.
Perry said Van Halen's recent death made him look back fondly on the two-month stint Van Halen spent opening for Journey back in 1978. "We were blessed to be around that kind of musicality because it changed my life," he said. "People should know that not only did Van Halen truly make Journey a better band, they made a lot of bands better."