As the rock community in Southern California continues to process the sad passing of LA’s hometown boy, Eddie Van Halen, fans and friends are finding comfort in the vast memories and stories from Eddie’s life. California Rock News reached out to Mitch Malloy, who was originally on board to replace Sammy Hagar as the singer for Van Halen to talk about his time with the band and how EVH’s passing has impacted him. Malloy is the lead singer of Great White.
California Rock News: So how did you feel when you heard about Eddie’s death?
Mitch Malloy: I actually got a text from my radio DJ friend Kevin McKay. I was surprised but I wasn’t surprised. I was shocked but I wasn’t shocked. I immediately felt physically ill and that feeling has eased slightly but it’s lasted nearly three days now. All the memories of Ed and my time with him came rushing back to me.
California Rock News: Can you name a lasting memory of Ed that you will always have of him?
Mitch Malloy: The one thing that keeps coming into my mind is that he always told me he loved me. And I always felt he meant it and he made sure I knew he meant it.
California Rock News: Anything else?
Mitch Malloy: He was not your typical person, not your typical man. He was extremely soulful and deep feeling and I guess that should come as no surprise to the fans as everyone could feel that in his music. It’s rare that someone can translate their soulfulness into their art to that degree. But he did. He was also extremely generous with compliments to me and I felt he fully embraced my talent and told me so often. In fact and this is going to sound terrible to say, so I apologize, but he’s the only person to ever call me a musical genius. But I will of course never forget that moment. He also often told me he would do anything for me…“anything to help,” he said.
California Rock News: Can you talk about what it was like to be with him in his home and in the 5150 studio?
Mitch Malloy: The time I spent with the Van Halens was a special moment in time for me. Wolfie was only a child and Valerie was so warm, polite, and graceful. I will never forget when I was leaving their home to fly home they all came down to the gate to see me off with hugs and heartfelt good wishes. So I’m driving off in the back of the limo waving to them like they are family. New family but family. Amazing people. And the first notes we played together in the studio… he asked me what song I wanted to do first. I said “Panama!” So imagine the entire band coming through the massive studio speakers int he wall and it’s turned up so loud that the legs of my jeans were moving all by themselves and the power of Ed’s guitar standing right next to me was mind-blowing. I’m not sure my feet were actually touching the ground. The power of Ed, Al, and Mike lifted me off my feet and the adrenaline rush was unimaginable. I’m not sure I’ve come off it yet. Lol. Wow!!!
California Rock News: And how has the loss hit you?
Mitch Malloy: For me, Ed’s loss is so surreal… just like my time with him. I’m thankful to have been his pick to replace Sammy. We spent the days together hanging out and playing music. On the third day I was there, he told me I was in the band. Amazing moment for me. We never know why life takes the turns it takes and why some things work and some don’t, but Ed and I had a bond and nobody can ever take that away from me. I carry that with me. Now that he’s gone, it feels amplified somehow. He seems closer now.
California Rock News: Is there anything else you’d like to share that wasn’t in the Mitch Malloy Van Halen’s Lost Boy mini-documentary?
Mitch Malloy: Well, I’m not sure it really matters but there was a time he was calling every day. This is right after Gary and he parted ways. In fact, it started that day. He was actually crying, which wasn’t the first time he’d cried with me over the phone. He was just super emotional and awesome. Anyway about a week at least had passed and he was calling daily and then one day he asked me what I thought he should do next. I said, “Honestly??” And I took a deep breath and he said, “Of course, honestly.” Then I said, “Get Dave back!” And for the first time ever he yelled at me. He did NOT want to hear that and I think he felt betrayed by me for suggesting it.
California Rock News: Ok so in closing is there anything else you’d like to add?
Mitch Malloy: I’d like to add that the Van Halen experience gave me a lot but the greatest gift Ed ever gave me was his belief in me and I’ve carried that with me my whole career. The world has lost a truly gifted and generous man.
Van Halen’s Lost Boy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxF4WRORQ9s