- Read more: Eddie Van Halen, 1955 – 2020: a fire-fingered colossus who turned guitar solos into a firework display
The legendary guitarist, who passed away yesterday (October 6), previously revealed that when he got the call from ‘Thriller’ producer Quincy Jones, he thought it was a practical joke.
“I went off on him. I went, ‘What do you want, you fucking so-and-so!,’” he told CNN in 2012. “And he goes, ‘Is this Eddie?’ I said, ‘Yeah, what the hell do you want?’ ‘This is Quincy.’ I’m thinking to myself, ‘I don’t know anyone named Quincy.’ He goes, ‘Quincy Jones, man.’ I went, ‘Ohhh, sorry!’”
After hearing the initial version of the track, Van Halen asked if he could rearrange the song and add a pair of solos. As he was finishing Jackson walked in.
“I didn’t know how he would react to what I was doing. So I warned him before he listened. I said, ‘Look, I changed the middle section of your song,’” Van Halen said. “Now in my mind, he’s either going to have his bodyguards kick me out for butchering his song, or he’s going to like it. And so he gave it a listen, and he turned to me and went, ‘Wow, thank you so much for having the passion to not just come in and blaze a solo, but to actually care about the song, and make it better.’”
Fans and musicians have today (October 7) been paying tribute to his work on the track, which he did for free and was never credited.
Just a reminder that while we were all being music snobs in high school, Eddie Van Halen does the guitar solo in Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” in one take and took no prisoners. pic.twitter.com/KOOXYIkhP0
— Eric Alper 🎧 (@ThatEricAlper) October 6, 2020
“Just a reminder that while we were all being music snobs in high school, Eddie Van Halen does the guitar solo in Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’ in one take and took no prisoners,” wrote Eric Alper on Twitter.
“When Eddie Van Halen was asked to do the solo on ‘Beat It’ from ‘Thriller’ he didn’t want to be credited or paid because it would make everything too complicated. He just asked for a case of beer and for MJ to give him dance lessons,” added Peter Rojas.
“In addition to Van Halen, Eddie Van Halen did the guitar solo for Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’ and was immortalized as a claymation hamburger in John Cusack’s Better Off Dead,” wrote fan Kevin M.Kruse.
You can view a selection below:
When Eddie Van Halen was asked to do the solo on “Beat It” from Thriller he didn’t want to be credited or paid because it would make everything too complicated. He just asked for a case of beer and for MJ to give him dance lessons. pic.twitter.com/FXcOWSPABz
— Peter Rojas (@peterrojas) October 6, 2020
In addition to Van Halen, Eddie Van Halen did the guitar solo for Michael Jackson's "Beat It" and was immortalized as a claymation hamburger in John Cusack's "Better Off Dead."
Hard to get more Classic '80s Icon than that. pic.twitter.com/4TwlyuBs9F
— Kevin M. Kruse (@KevinMKruse) October 6, 2020
RIP Eddie Van Halen. In addition to all of the incredible work he did with the band he founded, he’s responsible for the solo on Michael Jackson’s Beat it.
He did it for free.
“I did it as a favor,” Van Halen once said.https://t.co/dNFQLnNinH
— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) October 6, 2020
Rest In Peace
Eddie Van Halen
Thank u for blessing us with an iconic guitar solo for Beat It. Gone but never forgotten. pic.twitter.com/CjCV8BVKD0
— Matcha 🧟♂️👻 (@Matchagonnado) October 6, 2020
“Beat it” spent 3 weeks of 1983 at Number One, with great assist from the guitar solo written & performed by Eddie Van Halen. pic.twitter.com/DTGSZx4N8j
— Jake Query (@jakequery) October 6, 2020
"The Westlake HR-1 speakers were pounding so hard that one of the woofers actually overheated and caught fire." – Brad Sundberg on Michael Jackson, Eddie Van Halen and Beat It pic.twitter.com/CjMXAe7OeX
— andjustice4some (@andjustice4some) October 7, 2020
Guitar god from Van Halen, Eddie Van Halen, has died at the age of 65
Everyone knows his iconic solo in Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” … but have you ever seen them perform it together?
— T̷R̷O̷Y̷ ̷H̷U̷G̷H̷E̷S̷ (@TommySledge) October 6, 2020
Eddie Van Halen doing the “Beat It” solo in one take is perhaps the greatest flex in the history of recorded music. RIP.
— Ryan Droste (@ryandroste) October 6, 2020