Steve Perry clarifies infamous Van Halen guacamole incident

Steve Perry onstage in 1978, and some guacamole
Steve Perry onstage in 1978, and some guacamole (Image credit: Ed Perlstein / Getty Images)

Back in 1978, Journey were touring their Infinity album and took fledgling rockers Van Halen out on the road. 

One of the stories to emerge from the tour is one of rock's strangest, and was told in Runnin’ With the Devil, Van Halen tour manager Noel Monk's book about his years with the band. 

In the book, Monk claims that Journey frontman Steve Perry, having entered the Van Halen dressing room at precisely the wrong moment, had been the unwitting target of a bowl of guacamole tossed at singer David Lee Roth by Eddie Van Halen

Concerned that Perry would be furious about being covered by the avocado-based dip, Monk followed the distressed singer into the bathroom.  

"From the top of his luxurious mane of silky black hair to the middle of his shimmering new sateen Journey jacket," wrote Monk, "he was completely covered in guacamole.

“'I was going to wear this onstage tonight,' he told me, tapping the chest of his jacket, his lower lip quivering. 'Look at it now – it's fucking ruined.' Words failed him, and for a moment I thought he was about to erupt – to start screaming, to demand that we pay for damages and leave the tour immediately, have our heads mounted on spikes and set outside the front doors of our next gig, but instead he simply began crying, a soft, sad little whimper, and I felt bad for him."

Now Perry has provided further clarification, telling Rolling Stone that the incident wasn't quite as Monk described.

"I open the door and was about to say, 'Hey, guys…'." says Perry. "Now, back in these days, guacamole came in a cottage-cheese–like container. The band was having a food fight. Just as I was opening the door, a container of guacamole bumped off the mirror to my left and splashed against my most prized possession, being a small town kid from Fresno. It was my satin tour jacket that had 'Journey' on the back of it. Wearing that, I felt like I was finally somebody.

"The guacamole went on my left shoulder and my left arm. I looked down on it and I looked up at them and they sheepishly laughed like, 'Oh shit.' I just looked at them and I closed the door and left because I was pissed. I went into the bathroom and I was just pissed. That was my prized jacket. I still loved them, but I couldn’t give them props anymore after that. I wiped my guacamole off my satin jacket.

"I wouldn’t cry over guacamole. It becomes folklore at some point. It becomes silly."

Elsewhere in the interview, Perry pays tribute to Eddie Van Halen, and reveals how the two talked about jamming together after Roth left the band. 

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.