And while the axe icon was honoured to be asked, he had a very good reason for saying no.
Drummer Appice and bassist Bain are back together in Last In Line, which also features Dio co-founders Viv Campbell and Claude Schnell, plus Andy Freeman in place of the late, great frontman.
Asked if there’s anyone he’d still like to work with, Appice tells My Global Mind: “There are lots of cool people. It would be fun to play with Eddie Van Halen – we both know Eddie. We almost played with him one time, a long time ago.
“Jimmy and I were putting something together. I called him and he called me back, and I didn’t know it was him. ‘Vinny, it’s Eddie.’ I went, ‘Eddie?’ Then I caught on.
“I said, ‘You’re probably busy, but we were thinking about you. We thought we’d start at the top for guitar players.’ He said, ‘Aw, man, that’s really cool, and I appreciate it, dude. But I’m joined with my brother.’”
Appice has worked with some big names in his time, but for him they don’t come bigger than his stint with John Lennon, which took place in 1975 while he was working with his first professional band, BOMF.
The nine-piece were managed by Jimmy Iovine, who was working with the ex-Beatle at the time, meaning they were often in New York’s Record Plant studios at the same time. Appice recalls: “One day they needed handclaps and they said, ‘Can you guys come down and do some handclaps for us?’ The band and I went down and we saw John in the control room. We were like, ‘Oh shit, it’s John Lennon.’
“We did handclaps – that’s me on Whatever Gets You Through The Night. A couple of days later he comes up and hangs out. We were like, ‘Oh fuck’ when we were playing. But he dug the band so we did a gig with him, at the New York Hilton for Lew Grade.
“We did three videos and we did eight songs in the studio with John producing. You’d hear him in the headphones telling you what to play. We’d play pool with him. It was just insane – that was a highlight.”
Last In Line played a brief debut tour in the UK in August, which was curtailed by guitarist Campbell’s cancer treatment. Appice has vowed there’s more to come from the band. Last night Campbell reported: “Did my second to last chemo today – only one more to go. Strangely, my hair’s already started to grow back a little.”