Valerie Bertinelli would like to set the record straight on any accusations that she was a "Yoko Ono" figure who led to the breakup of the original incarnation of Van Halen.
The actor, celebrity chef and ex-wife of late guitar legend Eddie Van Halen spoke on the "Literally! With Rob Lowe" podcast about how she got along with the band in the early days of her marriage, how she first met Eddie Van Halen and how "cocaine was everywhere" in the early 1980s during their relationship.
Bertinelli, 61, recalled being blamed for the original lineup of the platinum-selling band breaking up in 1985 when frontman David Lee Roth left the group and was replaced by Sammy Hagar. Bertinelli married Eddie Van Halen in 1981.
"Well, I have been accused of that, even though Yoko (Ono) didn’t break up the Beatles, and I certainly didn’t break up Van Halen," Bertinelli told Lowe.
Bertinelli said that shortly after she became involved with Eddie Van Halen, the band "all of a sudden" had a rule that no girlfriends or wives were allowed on the road when they were touring. She also said she had a rocky relationship with Roth that puzzles her to this day.
"I got along great with Al (Van Halen) and with Mike (Anthony). It was someone else I don’t know why didn’t like me, but what are you going to do?" she said. "I don’t know why he didn’t like me. I mean, I was always nice to him. I honestly don’t know.
"One day I’d like to sit down with him and go, ‘Dude, what did I do? Honestly, I’ve always been a fan of yours. I think you’re a brilliant frontman, I think you’re a brilliant songwriter, I love your lyrics. Why don’t you like me? What did I do?'"
The "One Day at a Time" star remembered first meeting Eddie Van Halen when she was staying at her parents' home in Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1980 because there was an actors strike in Hollywood. The band was playing a show in the area and a local radio station organized backstage passes for her. She looked at a picture of Eddie on the cover of an eight-track of a Van Halen album that her brother had.
"I saw what he looked like and I'm like, 'OK, I'll go, this guy's cute,'" she said. "So I went, and there we go. It was love at first sight, for sure."
The two were married eight months later when she was only 20 years old. She got swept up in the the hard-partying ways of the band.
"I am a prude now, but I partaked as well for a few years there until I just couldn't take it anymore," she said. "Cocaine was everywhere and easy to get."
"It took me years before I enjoyed a sunrise and enjoyed the birds chirping," she added. "Now, I look forward to it. It's like, 'God, I was going to stop three bumps ago and I didn't and here I am and the birds are chirping, godd-----, why did I do this?"
Bertinelli also remembered lighter times like when Eddie Van Halen cooked up the legendary riff for Michael Jackson's megahit "Beat It" from the 1982 album "Thriller."
"Ed never got paid for it," she said. "He never called lawyers, never called managers. He just went down and did it."
She said Jackson later sent the couple a LaserDisc player as a thank you for one of the biggest songs of his career.
As she discussed Eddie Van Halen's struggle with drug addiction, Bertinelli referenced her past issues with food.
"I think that we all have a toolbox that we go to when we need to suppress any kind of emotion that we don't want to feel, any kind of pain that we don't want to feel," she said. "And I know that Ed's toolbox was full of drugs and alcohol. My toolbox was full of food, which I thought was love, and I misused it and thought it was the enemy for a long time."
Eddie Van Halen, whom Bertinelli divorced in 2007, died from cancer in 2020.
"Near the end of his life, his pain was incredibly raw, and he was very vulnerable about it," Bertinelli said. "I'm grateful that he was able to make amends with so many people that he loved and knew that he didn't treat as well as he would have liked to because his heart, oh, my God, that man's heart was just so kind and so sweet."