When singer David Lee Roth announced he was leaving legendary rock band Van Halen in 1985, it left the group without their charismatic and outspoken frontman.
Actor Valerie Bertinelli, who was married to Eddie Van Halen at the time, wrote in her 2008 memoir Losing It that Van Halen was distraught after Roth’s departure. “Dave doesn’t want to come back,” she remembered her husband saying. “I don’t know what the hell I’m going to do.”
Eventually, Van Halen set his sights on a replacement for Roth, an equally charismatic – and female – singer he felt could take the band forward. Unfortunately, his choice caused a deep rift in his marriage with Bertinelli.
Valerie Bertinelli was by Eddie Van Halen’s side at his death
Eddie Van Halen died Oct. 6 after a lengthy battle with throat cancer, with which he was diagnosed in 2000.
He and actor Valerie Bertinelli married in 1981, had a son, Wolfgang, and divorced in 2007. Even after their split, they remained involved in one another’s lives. At his death, the Hot in Cleveland star noted on Instagram that she was grateful “to hold you in your last moments.”
Alongside a photograph of herself with their baby son and Van Halen by her side, she wrote, “40 years ago my life changed forever when I met you. You gave me the one true light in my life, our son, Wolfgang. Through all your challenging treatments for lung cancer, you kept your gorgeous spirit and that impish grin.”
Eddie Van Halen asked Patty Smyth to replace David Lee Roth
After Roth’s departure, Eddie Van Halen wasn’t sure who could possibly replace his band’s former lead singer. Roth wasn’t simply a great singer. He was theatrical, even gymnastic. Replacing him would be no easy task.
Bertinelli in her book recalled that it was she who introduced her husband to Patty Smyth, the lead singer for the rock group Scandal, which had had the major hits in the 1980s “Goodbye to You” and “The Warrior.” Eddie asked Smyth to replace Roth in the band, but the singer, eight months’ pregnant, knew she would not be able to shoulder the responsibilities of a new baby as well as touring and declined the offer.
However, Smyth’s friendship with Eddie continued and the One Day at a Time star came to regret her role in bringing them together.
“When I returned home after production [on a television movie], I found Ed campaigning to have Patty take Dave’s place in Van Halen. The other guys vetoed that idea, but it didn’t end Ed’s friendship with Patty. His infatuation with her seemed to intensify after she had her baby, and soon I was listening to him compare my hair or makeup to Patty’s.”
Patty Smyth denied anything more than friendship with Eddie Van Halen
Bertinelli was convinced at the time that her husband and Smyth had been having an affair. Twenty years later, she ran into Smyth, greeting her as “the woman who my husband had a crush on.”
The singer, 63, who has been married to former tennis great John McEnroe for over 20 years, made it clear that there was never anything romantic between her and Eddie Van Halen.
“[Smyth] explained that there was nothing beyond friendship,” she said, “and knowing what she knew and where she was coming from at the time, her intention was only to help Ed get off the booze. I believe her.”
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