The legendary Eddie Van Halen, known for his two-handed fretboard tapping technique on the guitar, which gave his heavy metal rock group a unique sound, passed away back in October 2020.
With his passage, the band lost an integral part and wanted someone to fill in for him. While on the topic, even the guitar virtuoso legend Joe Satriani was approached. In his recent appearance on the podcast, Out of the box, Satriani talked about how he was approached as a replacement and how felt about it.
Satriani didn’t talk about the incident until the former Metallica bassist, Jason Newsted spilled the beans about how he was supposed to be a part of it, along with Alex Van Halen on drums, David Lee Roth on vocals, and Joe Satriani on guitar.
Although the whole thing failed before it was even revealed to the public, Satriani explained, “I get a call out of the blue from Alex Van Halen, who I’d never met until then, and he poses the unimaginable to me, which is to go out with a Van Halen tour, playing guitar. And as I’ve told other people, I heard my voice saying, ‘Yeah, I’ll do that,’ before my brain thought, ‘Don’t say ‘yes.’ That’s an impossible thing to do; you can’t replace Eddie Van Halen. Nobody can.’
Further, he said, “But I had such a good conversation with Alex, and just getting to know him on a few phone calls. And he brought Dave into the loop, who I’d met before but I can’t say I know the man… And we came close to doing that sort of coming out to show that New York City was holding [in Central Park] last year.”
Remembering the time he felt scared about filling in Eddie’s place, he continued, “And that would have been frightening, ’cause it was only three weeks away. And I was still listening to the Van Halen stuff, but still working on [my latest solo] album.”
So it wasn’t like we were prepared. There was no bass player. They hadn’t told me who was gonna play bass. And then there was the whole controversy about who should actually be in the band. And I was on the outside; I’m just some new guy. I was the one saying, ‘Who’s playing bass, by the way?’ And, ‘Is Sammy [Hagar] gonna come by?’ And, ‘Did you talk to Mike [Anthony, former Van Halen bassist]?’
While Satriani was already scared, he was also aware of the internal conflicts within the band. He went, “So, conversations kept going on and on. I met with Alex at one point when I went down to L.A. But I think there’s some internal stuff that needs to get worked out with the family, and then the Van Halen band family, which is kind of big.
He continued,” Again, I feel like I’m not close to the top of that queue. And many times I’ve told Alex, ‘Are you sure? Me?’ ‘Cause I don’t perform like Eddie. I’m just a superfan. And I can certainly play the stuff. But Eddie was such an original — just the way he ran around on stage and sang and played. It’s amazing.”
Satriani was considered by both Alex Van Halen and David Lee Roth to fill in for Eddie’s parts in 2021’s, We Love NYC: The Homecoming Concert, and a possible Van Halen Tour. Nevertheless, the “frightening” plan didn’t really take place, since there was no preparation and problems within the band and Van Halen’s family.