5 People Who Almost Became Van Halen’s Lead Singer

By Brian Ives 

Most music fans familiar with Van Halen have their favorite era of the band: for some, it’s original (and current) singer David Lee Roth. For others, it was the guy who replaced him, Sammy Hagar. There may even be a fan or two who prefer the brief era when former Extreme singer Gary Cherone fronted the band (but that’s unlikely).

But earlier today (December 8) a little known singer named Mitch Malloy released a demo to YouTube that he claims features the Van Halen brothers and Michael Anthony backing him up, after they’d invited him to join the band. He’s just one of a handful of singers who almost joined the band.

Here’s a list of some of the men and women who almost took up the mic for VH.

Patty Smyth of Scandal – The singer most famous for “Goodbye To You,” “The Warrior” and the Don Henley duet “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough” was originally invited by Ed Van Halen to replace David Lee Roth. As she said in an interview last year, “Eddie asked me to join Van Halen. They had asked me not to talk about it in interviews at the time, because they didn’t want Sammy Hagar to feel like he was the second choice. It was a long time ago; I never bring it up, but people do ask me about it and there’s no reason to deny it.” Part of her reasoning for not joining was because she had just gotten pregnant, she didn’t want to move to California and the Van Halen guys were partying too hard for her tastes.

Sass Jordan – Blues rock singer Sass Jordan was apparently jamming with the Van Halen brothers at their studio for a while after Sammy Hagar left the band but before they hired Gary Cherone, although Ed Van Halen has denied this. In a 1998 interview with Wall of Sound  (via VHLinks) she said, “I went over [to their studio], and the two of them were playing me new stuff that they were working on. We hung out for about a month. Ed would leave me in the studio and say, ‘Can you just sing something over this particular piece of music? I’m going to listen to you. You sing whatever you want, and I’ll be back.’ And I’d say, ‘I can’t sing by myself!’ I can’t say if any of it ended up on the record because I don’t remember well enough. Anyway, I didn’t come up with anything brilliant, because I have to be sitting there writing with the person to do it well. A couple of weeks later I was talking to their manager Ray Danniels and I said, ‘I swear to God, I think they were thinking of having a female singer in the band.’ And he said, ‘Of course they were! Why the hell else do you think you were up there?'”

Mitch Malloy – A little-known singer who has gone on to work as an engineer for Taylor Swift and Kenny Loggins has just released a demo recording of what he says is him sintering over a track played by Ed and Alex Van Halen and Michael Anthony. Apparently, he was also being considered for the lead singer gig between Hagar and Cherone. As Malloy says in the description field of the below YouTube video, “It’s 1996 and I’m invited, via a phone call from Eddie, to ‘hang out’ with the band. After an amazing time in L.A., which included Ed saying, ‘Congratulations you’re in the band,’ I’m leaving and he hands me a tape of an instrumental of the band and says, ‘Turn this into a song.’ Well, I did write that song, but never shared it with anyone out of respect for the band. But, 20 long years later, I decided that with the challenging times the world is having ‘It’s the Right Time’ to share that uplifting song. Fans have wondered what I would sound like with Van Halen, now you will know.”

Daryl Hall – Yep, Daryl Hall of Hall and Oates fame. When Sammy Hagar guested on Hall’s show Live at Daryl’s HouseHagar asked Hall if he’d been invited to join Van Halen after the band split with David Lee Roth and Hall admitted he had, but declined. That episode of Daryl’s House could have given some insight as to what Hall would have sounded like singing some of the Hagar-era VH tunes, but Ed and Alex Van Halen’s legal team blocked them from being able to perform any Van Halen on the episode. Here, though, he Hall and Hagar cranking through “Rock Candy,” from Hagar’s pre-Van Halen band Montrose.

Ed Van Halen – OK, this one is a stretch, but the only guy to sing lead on a Van Halen song other than Roth, Hagar and Cherone is Ed Van Halen himself. You wouldn’t know it, though, unless you’d listened to 1998’s Van Halen III (the one album they recorded with Cherone) to the end. Ed Van Halen sang lead on this piano ballad, which closed the album. Knowing how difficult his relationship with singers had been, surely he considered taking up the mic after he took vocals on one song. Of course, “How Many Say I” isn’t what most fans would consider classic VH.

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