News: The Patty Smyth Van Halen Scandal


Patty Smyth is best known for being the lead singer of the 80s band Scandal. Like most that made it big on MTV, and terrestrial radio at the time, she has continued to release music over the years. She will be dropping It’s About Time on October 9th. One of the main inspirations for the album is her sister. She recently released the single “Drive” to help warm fans’ engines for the upcoming release of her album.

Check out the new Patty Smyth video “Drive” here:

She has been making the rounds promoting the album and single, and has done various interviews. For years we have heard rumors about her being asked to join Van Halen after David Lee Roth had left the band. To my knowledge, this is the first time she or any one else is officially addressing the situation. She alludes to this during one of her responses.

The following is an excerpt of an interview Rachel Brodsky conducted for Stereogum:

STEREOGUM: How about when you were asked to join Van Halen? I’ve read that your decision not to replace David Lee Roth was partially to do with the fact that you were pregnant at the time but that it was more to do with your not being interested in the party-hard LA lifestyle.

SMYTH: They were heavy drinkers. I don’t drink. I never saw myself living in LA. I was like, “I’m from New York, we don’t move to LA.”

It’s all semantics because if [Eddie] had said to me, “Let’s make a record,” then I would have said yes to that. But joining the band — to me then, “Oh god, they fight all the time, him and his brother, and I don’t want to get into a volatile situation.” And I was probably heavily hormoned out because I was eight months pregnant, so there was a state of mind that I was in of how I need to take care of myself. But I regretted turning him down. For a long time I regretted it. When you start to have regrets, I was like, “Oh man I would’ve made so much money.”

I wish I had the right kind of luck. I feel it’s just like I’m in this stream or this river and sometimes it’s just taking you where you need to go. Sometimes you’ve got to paddle and go in certain directions and other times you’re just letting it take you. And for me, like I said, my life has turned out unbelievable. That I’ve been married and with the same man for 25 years is insane.

STEREOGUM: Yeah, that is amazing.

SMYTH: Who the heck knows what would’ve happened if I joined Van Halen?

STEREOGUM: Also, I don’t know the details surrounding the tensions you experienced within Scandal, but do you think it’s fair to say that your prior negative experience in a group dynamic might have given you pause to join another — way more publicly rambunctious — group?

SMYTH: Yeah, that definitely has something to do with it. I’m sure. And also just the fact that it was like, “I’m going to have to move to LA.” I should have just had the conversation [with Eddie]. It was such a weird conversation. But if he had said to me, “Look, just come out for a few months and make a record. Have the baby, come out and let’s make a record.” That to me would’ve been more doable.

And I never said anything about it for years. I got a call from Ed and he was like, “Look, I’m not saying that I asked you to join because I don’t want Sammy Hagar to look like [he was] second choice,” and I was like, “OK.” So I never spoke about it after that. I’m like, all right I don’t need to tell people. If someone asked me, I didn’t lie but I didn’t really talk about it that much.

Other things of interest mentioned during the interview are not relying on being Mrs. John McEnroe, her kids being her biggest supporters, singing the Holly Knight penned “Warrior”, and considering herself music’s divorce queen.

To read the entire Stereogum interview go here.

If there was ever any doubt about her fitting into a hard rock situation check out this footage from back in 1987 when she appeared on Late Night With David Letterman to cover the Led Zeppelin classic “Whole Lotta Love”:

Here is an excerpt from the interview she did with Ron Hart from Spin, further touching upon the Van Halen situation:

Spin: Do you ever think about what a Patty Smyth-led Van Halen album could’ve sounded like?

Smyth: You know, I regretted it for a while, but then I didn’t. My life turned out great. I wouldn’t have written all of the songs I had been writing if I joined that band then. It all worked out. But it would have been great to do a record with Eddie. He’s such a great guy. But yeah, for a while there I would ask myself, ‘Why didn’t I do that?’ Especially during some of my lean years. Then you turn around and realize you are right where you are supposed to be.

Others things of interest during Ron’s interview include Scandal being signed, 80s music inspiring today’s hits, and some of her inspirations from over the years.

Check out the entire Spin interview here.

Article by Victor M. Ruiz of Mars Attacks Radio & Podcast, and Galaxy Of Geeks Podcast.  Connect with him on Twitter:  @vmr907