How Eddie Van Halen Broke A Rule By Playing On “Beat It”
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Eddie Van Halen is widely known for delivering the iconic guitar solo in Michael Jackson’s 1982 hit, “Beat It.” However, breaking a long-standing band rule was the key to his involvement in the song.
Jackson assembled a lineup of top-notch musicians for his Thriller album, including Toto members Steve Lukather, David Paich, and Jeff Porcaro. While Lukather handled many guitar parts, producer Quincy Jones sought someone else for the dynamic solo in “Beat It.”
According to Paich on the Broken Record podcast, Lukather was initially content to contribute to the album. However, the plan to bring in EVH, a friend of Lukather’s, changed the course.
When Jones first approached Van Halen, he received a dismissive response. Paich recalled the initial conversation, where Eddie hung up on Jones after a brief introduction.
Eddie Van Halen’s Impact on ‘Beat It’
Eventually, EVH became convinced that it was indeed Quincy Jones calling. Despite Van Halen’s initial reluctance due to Van Halen’s strict “no-session-band” rule, he agreed to participate and brought his unique touch to “Beat It.”
Initially hesitant, Van Halen recalled in 2012, “Ed didn’t want to do it at first because Van Halen had a no-session-band rule. You can’t play on other people’s records.” However, he not only agreed to take part but also added his creative touches.
After listening to the song, Van Halen proposed changes and improvised two solos, contributing significantly to the final result. “Beat It” became a massive chart-topping success, standing as one of the best-selling singles of all time. Although not officially credited on the track, Van Halen later regarded it as his favorite collaboration in his illustrious career.