Photo by Neil Zlozower
For nearly three decades, songwriter/producer Desmond Child has reigned as one of music’s most successful hitmakers for the biggest bands like Bon Jovi, KISS, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Ratt, and Joan Jett. According to Child, Van Halen could have been another band on his resume, but David Lee Roth prevented that from happening.
Child, a recent guest on Darren Paltrowitz’s Paltrocast podcast, said he was asked to write some new songs for 1996’s Van Halen Best Of – Vol. 1. Child got pretty close to making it happen. In fact, he was literally in Eddie Van Halen’s home about to make music with Eddie and Alex before David Lee Roth broke up the songwriting session. Below is an excerpt from the interview:
DP: Last time I spoke with you, you told me a great story about how David Lee Roth and you had a meeting and he told you the ‘Do you want to see what I’m all about?’ and he brought in a stripper who did a striptease…
Desmond Child: It was two strippers in spiked heels, overcoats like spies, and fedoras. Black hats. Pretty soon the hats went off, the coats went off. I don’t think the heels ever came off but they were writhing on the floor like a couple of snakes and it was like, ‘What?!’ [laughs]
DP: A couple years later in his book when he’s talking about how he was bad-mouthing Van Halen, saying, ‘How dare you guys want to write with Desmond Child?’ Because it seems like Eddie and the band wanted to write with you.
Desmond Child: Yeah, after our meeting, and [David] never called me back. So, fine, whatever. Then I got asked to try going to write a song with Eddie and the guys in the band, and guess who drives up there like almost like he knew the session was happening? David Lee Roth in a convertible. He drives up there and we were sort of getting it together to go into the house or into the studio to write up at the house. All of the sudden he’s there, in the middle of it all, and the fact is that we couldn’t have our session. So he came to bust it up. It’s like, ‘Okay, well why don’t we all write together?’ I thought. Well, I wasn’t about to get in involved in a sibling squabble, so I just left.
DP: So the mystery has been kind of solved, that no songwriting got underway. It almost happened but was this kind of thing where Eddie reached out or his publisher talked to your publisher to arrange it?
Desmond Child: I don’t know how it happened. I can just imagine it was probably the label or the management hoping that they could have another hit. They saw that my songs with different bands were getting charted, so you didn’t have to do a lot of math. Like, ‘Hey, what’s the harm in trying?’ But we never got to try because the other guy showed up and this was at the time when they were trying to find another lead singer too, so there was a lot of kind of uh…You know how the ex’s always get a little jealous of the new one and all this kind of stuff? So it really felt like family…family stuff. [David] might have, after the striptease, he might have felt that I was not somebody that would respond to his hetero kind of music, so maybe he was judging me on that account because I didn’t kind of go crazy about the female strippers. I don’t know. I mean, what was I supposed to do? Throw myself into the middle of it? [laughs]
Watch Desmond Child’s Interview with Darren Paltrowitz