Flashback To That Time Sammy Hagar Once Scared A Singer Out Of Auditioning For Van Halen
Sammy Hagar (The Red Rocker) / Facebook
“I Chickened Out,” Says Mr. Big Singer Eric Martin
In 1985, Van Halen experienced a near miss of their own when after parting ways with former (now current) lead singer David Lee Roth they were faced with the daunting task of enlisting a brand new lead singer that was as palatable and reliable as he was talented and entertaining to watch and contacted Bay Area vocalist Eric Martin to come to Los Angeles to audition.
Well, that was the plan, anyway, until Sammy Hagar unknowingly scared him off.
Martin, who would become the lead vocalist for Bay Area balladeers Mr. Big in 1988, was contacted by Eddie Van Halen after having heard Eric’s solo album and after a series of backhanded compliments (“Your album sucks, but you’ve got an incredible voice“), set up an audition.
“I Backed Out – I Couldn’t Do It”.
Ecstatic at the prospect of singing for Van Halen, Eric made his way to Los Angeles and ran into Hagar who bragged at length about ‘having a gig with Van Halen.’ Suddenly, the reality of having to compete with Sammy Hagar for the role of a lifetime set in and in Martin’s own words, he “chickened out”.
“I was feeling like a chicken, big time. I was in LA and Eddie called and asked ‘Hey, are you comin’ down or what?’ and I backed out. I couldn’t do it,” says Martin.
Aww! As much as we love Eric Martin and wish he’d taken the chance of a lifetime when it was presented to him, there’s something so very, very right about his decision to back out. After all, we love him with Mr. Big and can’t get enough of “To Be With You,” and besides…look what happened to Gary Cherone when he joined Van Halen.