Picture the crowds: Following David Lee Roth's departure from the rock juggernaut that was Van Halen in the mid-'80s, the band was in desperate need of a frontman with flair -- and there was a chance that could have been Journey's Steve Perry.
Acknowledging that the story will probably come as a shock to fans of both Journey and Van Halen, he explained just how close he came to being the band's new singer before Sammy Hagar was even a consideration.
"I don’t think anyone knows this, but when David Lee Roth left Van Halen, I was living in the Bay Area and not sure what I was or wasn’t going to do anymore,” Perry says, although he was still very much a part of Journey. “I don’t remember how it went down, but either I called Eddie or Eddie called me.”
"Eddie said that I should come down sometime and we should jam, have a play,” Perry continued. "Man, at some level within me I felt so honored because I was in awe of Eddie’s natural talent. He was just born with it. I wanted so badly to do that. We talked about how cool that could be musically. This was before Sammy."
Perry then explained his hesitation, owing it to insecurities about his voice representing the songs that Roth was famous for.
“The next day and in the weeks to come I thought, ‘I don’t know that I should do that. If it goes creatively to what I know it can go to … .’ Whatever I could bring to that, I know it would be something I’d really love doing. My only problem I had with it was the thought, ‘I don’t know that I could be the guy to go out and represent the David Lee Roth years with my voice. I don’t know if I want to be that guy.’ And shortly thereafter, they got Sammy and he was the perfect version of that guy.”
Perry doesn't consider the discussions he had with Eddie as an official invite; simply something that seemed like a good idea to try at the time. “I don’t know what Eddie’s intentions were when he called me. He was just saying, ‘Let’s get together and play.’ It wasn’t a promise. It was just, ‘Why not? Let’s see what this sounds like,’" admits Perry. "As I said, I think representing their legacy up to that point would have been something vocally that I don’t think I was really suited to doing. It’s a different kind of singing.”
WATCH: David Lee Roth talks Van Halen and more
Perry also touched on the infamous guacamole story fans will surely remember from the book Running with the Devil. The tale, in essence, goes something like this: Back in '78 when Van Halen was opening for Journey, Perry reportedly cried after walking in and getting hit with guac during a dressing room food fight between Eddie and Dave.
Perry's version is a little different, and chalks the crying part up to Rock & Rolll legend. "Just as I was opening the door, a container of guacamole bumped off the mirror to my left and splashed against my most prized possession,” Perry says. “It was my satin tour jacket that had ‘Journey’ on the back of it."
"I looked down on it and I looked up at them and they sheepishly laughed like, ‘Oh s***.’ I just looked at them and I closed the door and left because I was pissed. I went into the bathroom and I was just pissed," he admits. "There was no crying! I wouldn’t cry over guacamole. It becomes folklore at some point.”
Eddie Van Halen passed away at the age of 65 due to complications from throat cancer on October 6 surrounded by his wife Janie, son Wolfgang and brother Alex Van Halen.