How Steve Stevens Almost Joined David Lee Roth’s Band
"I met Dave, he came to my apartment, we went to lunch," Stevens tells the Double Stop podcast. "[But] I said, 'Look, I'm in the middle of finishing up this Idol record [1986's 'Whiplash Smile'], I'm not gonna leave, and I'm committed to touring behind it. So you would have to wait for me.' And by then he already had Billy Sheehan in the band. And he said, 'I don't think I can wait for you. Have you ever heard of this guy Steve Vai?' I knew him from the [Frank] Zappa stuff. I said, 'He's an incredible guitar player. Him and Billy would be phenomenal together.' So I passed on the Roth gig."
However, Stevens still ended up having a big impact on the sound of Roth's debut album, 'Eat 'Em and Smile,' when producer Ted Templeman sent out an S.O.S. from their New York City recording studio. "I think Dave wanted to record in New York 'cause he wanted to get away from the Van Halen thing. But they were having issues getting a good guitar sound with Steve. Ted asked me to meet up with Steve and give him some pointers. He was using Carvin gear or something. So I called Ted and said, 'You're not gonna get a good guitar sound out of that stuff.' I said, 'Let me send over my gear. I'll send over all my Marshall stuff.' So that's all my equipment on that first David Lee Roth record. I mean, that first record is just phenomenal."
The rest of the hour-plus interview with Stevens is equally illuminating. He explains how Steve Howe of Yes opened his eyes to the world of rock guitar, how and why he left and rejoined Idol's band, and what it was like helping Motley Crue singer Vince Neil launch his solo career, among many other things. You can listen to the entire episode here.
Stevens and Idol will soon be on the road in support of their new album, 'Kings & Queens of the Underground.'
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