Eric Martin says he could have been a man with big regrets if it wasn’t for his band Mr. Big.
During a recent appearance on the Appetite For Distortion podcast, Martin recalled the time he had the chance to become the lead singer of Van Halen.
“That’s the biggest thorn in my side,” said Martin, who went on to tell the story of the time Eddie Van Halen offered him a chance to audition for Van Halen following the departure of David Lee Roth in 1985. “I was invited to audition for Van Halen. I talked to [Eddie] on the phone two or three times, flew down to L.A., knew people that worked for the Van Halen organization, knew [bassist] Michael Anthony actually.
“I did a record with Danny Kortchmar and Greg Ladanyi, who both produced [Don Henley’s] ‘Building the Perfect Beast,'” he continued. “And all the musicians that played on that record – played on my record. We were in the same studio together.”
Martin is likely referring to his 1985 self-titled solo debut album, which was produced by Ladanyi and Kortchmar. The album featured the #87 single “The Information”.
Watch Eric Martin “The Information”
Martin continued, “So Danny Kortchmar was in New York, and he ran into Eddie [Van Halen], and he said, ‘This kid [Eric Martin]’s really good, we just did a record and blah, blah, blah, blah. So, here’s the quote – [Eddie] calls me up and he goes, ‘Hey, I’m Edward Van Halen, Danny Kortchmar told me about you. I listened to your record, and man, you’re a great singer, but I hate your records!’ [laughs]. He goes, ‘I hate your record!'”
“I recorded the conversation with one of those little suction cup little deelios ‘cuz no one’s gonna believe Eddie Van Halen called my house,” added Martin. “It was a really cheezy recorder. And I still have the cassette and I listened to it and he’s like [in low gravelly voice], ‘Hey this is Ed Van Halen.’ And I’m going, [in high pitched voice] YEAH!?’ I was so nervous. He even said, ‘Uh….Are you alright?’ [laughs]. And he goes, ‘Yeah, I love your voice man, you got a great singing voice but I hate your record. You shouldn’t be doing that kinda stuff.’ And I’m on the recording goin’, ‘Yeah, you’re right! You’re right man! It does suck!’ [laughs] And I’m on Capital records, the record just came out…I’m like, ‘You’re right man! It sucks!’ Totally stupid, ya know?”
So, what happened next? Well, Martin admits he just couldn’t get up the confidence to go through with the audition.
“Yeah, I chickened out,” he said. “I wish I woulda done it. It would look better and I wouldn’t have to keep [answering questions about it]. And it’s my big mouth that said something 25 years ago that, ya know, I was asked to audition for Van Halen. I don’t know what I was thinkin’ when I said it. And then now I have to tell people, ‘Yeah, well, yeah….I was uh….two miles from 5150 and his house and I just went, ‘I can’t do it!'”
But as we know, Martin’s story has a happy ending thanks to him teaming up with former David Lee Roth bassist Billy Sheehan, guitarist Paul Gilbert and drummer Pat Torpey to form the platinum-selling band Mr. Big, who went on to release the hit singles “Addicted To That Rush”, “Green-Tinted Sixties Mind”, “To Be With You” (#1), “Just Take My Heart” and “Wild World”.
Watch Mr. Big “Addicted To That Rush”
Listen To Eric Martin’s Interview On “Appetite For Distortion”