Blog | Soundtrack of my Life – Billy Sheehan

Addicted To That Rush

The only musician I will go on a picture with is Billy!”, I stated long ago. 
I was referring to the one and only Billy Sheehan, the bass player whom’s deep growling bass sound and thunderous playing I fell in love with since his Talas days. His career climbing, the man to me was my mythological, an iconic player in the vein of Rush’ Geddy Lee. 


Photo credit Edwin van Hoof

My initial fascination with the bass guitar stemmed from Lee. Its deep, rumbling tones cut through the turmoil of the band’s progressive music, captivating me as I approached a venue pulsating with the iconic rhythm of `YYZ’. The venue’s windows reverberated with the powerful resonance, sending vibrations straight to my core. As I queued for tickets, the song’s bass line continued to echo in my mind, solidifying my admiration for bass players.

,,Sink Your Teeth into That” blared from my friend’s speakers, and when ,,Shy Boy” began, I was mesmerized by the rich timbre of the bass, overshadowing the guitar as Billy Sheehan took the lead with his masterful playing. His distinctive tone and dynamic skill propelled the song forward, drawing me into its heart. Witnessing Billy’s collaboration with David Lee Roth’s band, particularly his synergy with Steve Vai on the reimagined version of ,,Shy Boy,” showcased their collective brilliance. Vai’s lightning-fast agility complemented Sheehan’s aggressive style, resulting in an electrifying performance that showcased their unparalleled technique and versatility. Their interplay was nothing short of lethal, leaving a lasting impression of musical genius.


After parting ways with DLR, Billy embarked on an enduring musical odyssey with his new band, Mr. Big, which soon ascended to fame. I immersed myself in fandom, avidly collecting all things Mr. Big and cherishing their blend of melodic and raw compositions. With the echoes of Gilbert’s electrifying guitar work from Racer X still resonating in my mind, I eagerly anticipated his collaboration with Billy. What a thrilling prospect it was!

Their debut album shattered my expectations, seamlessly merging unforgettable melodies and harmonies with impeccable groove and musicianship beneath Eric Martin’s soulful vocals. Tracks like ,,Addicted to that Rush” sent waves of excitement coursing through me, with its high-frequency distortion and lightning-fast notes pulsating with energy and precision, filling the entire sonic spectrum. The synchronized assault of bass and guitar lines unleashed by Billy and Paul was nothing short of breath-taking. I was utterly captivating.

(On a side note) Admittedly, I was initially taken aback by the overwhelming success of their chart-topping hit single ,,To Be with You,” feeling disgruntled for sharing my favorite band with the masses. However, it also presented me with countless opportunities to witness the band live as they embarked on relentless tours in support of the album.


Billy Sheehan – photo credit Edwin van Hoof

And then, there was this moment of intense joy: The band was announced to open for White Lion on the band’s `Mane Attraction’ tour, overpowering the headliner night after night. After weeks of anticipation, the moment had finally arrived. We were bound for Utrecht Vredenburg in The Netherlands, having prepared ourselves for the gig for what seemed like an eternity. We arrived early, taking the opportunity to visit the renowned Staffhorst and marvel at their impressive collection of high-end instruments and gear, all the while eagerly counting down the minutes.

As we made our way to the venue, we were struck by the minimal lighting and sound setup, a testament to Mr. Big’s daily conquest taming the roars of White Lion. Yet, if anything, this only deepened my admiration for the band. Despite the constraints, they exuded a palpable and electrifying energy that left a lasting impact. Their setlist leaned heavily on tracks from their debut album, each song brimming with intense energy. Knuckle buster ,,Daddy, Bother, Lover, Little Boy”, the strutting ,,Take a Walk” and towering melodic ,,Alive and Kickin” sealed the deal, with ,,Green-Tinted Sixties Mind” landing even deeper in my veins. Pointing at Billy, I declared, “He’s the only musician I’ll get a photo with,” unaware that I would encounter him just 45 minutes later.


Billy Sheehan [l] and Edwin van Hoof [r]

Leaving the venue amidst White Lion’s lackluster performance, we strolled towards our cars, feeling somewhat let down by the Lions but energized by the upcoming Mr. Big gig. As we crossed the square behind the venue, we noticed a tall, slender figure with a bass bag slung over his shoulder, unaware of his identity. Intrigued, my friend grabbed his camera, declaring, “I might just hold you to your promise”.

In the shimmering darkness, he disappeared into the night, only to return moments later with my idol in tow. He graciously agreed to a photo, leaving me feeling a bit starstruck. Spending some time with us, the affable Sheehan inquired about our experience at the show, genuinely interested in his fans’ perspectives. He made us feel welcome and valued throughout our conversation.


As we walked him to the bus, Eric and Paul joined us, and we exchanged thoughts on how they were treated by the headliner and label mates of White Lion. Though we hinted at the headliner’s misconduct, they simply smiled without taking a stance, remaining diplomatically neutral. However, as the bus revved its engines and began to pull away, heading towards the airport, this shifted. With a loud puff, the doors opened, and to our surprise, they tossed us a White Lion tour shirt. Shouting that we didn’t need it, one of them retorted, “You can always wipe your ass with it!

Even since ,,Addicted to that Rush” is the rush we experienced meeting my hero. An experience tied to the song and one year later repeated when we met them again in Groningen, taking all the time in the world for us. This fond memory goes down in the realms of me growing up as a fan, as a friend also. 

Header photo by Edwin van Hoof



Logged in as