Eddie On CNN.com

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This topic has 11 voices, contains 13 replies, and was last updated by  PT5150 1785 days ago.

November 30, 2012 at 2:04 pm Quote #20769

frankm
(4741)

http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/30/showbiz/music/van-halen-jackson-thriller/index.html?hpt=en_c2

discuss …

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Eddie Van Halen deconstructs his collaboration on ‘Beat It’

By Denise Quan, CNN
November 30, 2012

Eddie Van Halen sits on a sofa in his home studio, smoking an electronic cigarette and reminiscing about the 30th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s masterpiece album, “Thriller.”

“It seems like yesterday, doesn’t it,” he says softly. “It would have been fun to work with him again.”

Van Halen was a surprise guest on “Beat It,” the album’s third single. His blazing guitar solo lasted all of 20 seconds and took half an hour to record. He did it for free, as a favor to producer Quincy Jones, while the rest of his Van Halen bandmates were out of town.

“I said to myself, ‘Who is going to know that I played on this kid’s record, right? Nobody’s going to find out.’ Wrong!” he laughs. “Big-time wrong. It ended up being Record of the Year.”

The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer recently revealed to CNN what went on behind-the-scenes of his iconic collaboration with the King of Pop.

CNN: When Quincy rang you up, you thought it was a crank call.

Eddie Van Halen: I went off on him. I went, “What do you want, you f-ing so-and-so!” 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!” (Laughs)

I asked, “What can I do for you?” And he said, “How would you like to come down and play on Michael Jackson’s new record?” And I’m thinking to myself, “OK, ‘ABC, 1, 2, 3′ and me. How’s that going to work?”

I still wasn’t 100% sure it was him. I said, “I’ll tell you what. I’ll meet you at your studio tomorrow.” And lo and behold, when I get there, there’s Quincy, there’s Michael Jackson and there’s engineers. They’re makin’ records!

CNN: Did Quincy give you any direction about what he wanted you to do?

Van Halen: Michael left to go across the hall to do some children’s speaking record. I think it was “E.T.” or something. So I asked Quincy, “What do you want me to do?” And he goes, “Whatever you want to do.” And I go, “Be careful when you say that. If you know anything about me, be careful when you say, “Do anything you want!”

I listened to the song, and I immediately go, “Can I change some parts?” I turned to the engineer and I go, “OK, from the breakdown, chop in this part, go to this piece, pre-chorus, to the chorus, out.” Took him maybe 10 minutes to put it together. And I proceeded to improvise two solos over it.

I was just finishing the second solo when Michael walked in. And you know artists are kind of crazy people. We’re all a little bit strange. 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.”

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.”

He was this musical genius with this childlike innocence. He was such a professional, and such a sweetheart.

CNN: That collaboration surprised a lot of people.

Van Halen: I’ll never forget when Tower Records was still open over here in Sherman Oaks. I was buying something, and “Beat It” was playing over the store sound system. The solo comes on, and I hear these kids in front of me going, “Listen to this guy trying to sound like Eddie Van Halen.” I tapped him on the shoulder and said, “That IS me!” That was hilarious.

CNN: How did you explain to the guys in Van Halen what had happened?

Van Halen: I just said, “You know. (Shrugs) Busted!” “Dave, you were out of the country!” “Al, you weren’t around!” I couldn’t call anyone and ask for permission.

Unfortunately, “Thriller” kept our album, “1984,” from going to No. 1. Our album was just about ready to go No. 1 when he burned his hair in that Pepsi commercial, if you remember that. And boom, he went straight to No. 1 again!

CNN: Is there an album since then that has shaken things up in the same way?

Van Halen: Wow, I don’t know.

CNN: Some people cite Nirvana’s “Nevermind” has one that caused a musical shift.

Van Halen: But still not like that. Not that crossed over to such a mass audience. Nirvana was huge, but it didn’t appeal to everyone.

I have a lot of respect for Michael. He’s going to be sorely missed. I’d be curious as to what he’d be doing right now.

CNN: I believe Quincy has said he paid you in two six packs of beer.

Van Halen: Yeah, something like that. Actually, I brought my own, if I remember right.

I don’t even think I’m credited on the record. It just says, “Guitar solo: Question Mark” or “Guitar solo: Frankenstein” (the name of his guitar).

CNN: Did you ever hear from Quincy again?

Van Halen: At the very end, Quincy wrote me a letter thanking me. It was signed, “The F-ing Blah Blah Blah,” which I still have. It’s very funny.


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November 30, 2012 at 2:18 pm Quote #20770

videoman320
(306)

That is a great story, thanks for posting it!


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November 30, 2012 at 2:27 pm Quote #20771

PT5150
(5510)

Great more for the next VH media disc 3..


EDDIE’S fingers aren’t fingers they are muscle-powered pistons that hammer guitar strings to the fretboard with the force of a rivet gun”.


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November 30, 2012 at 6:05 pm Quote #20778

Gilligan
(1417)

I always thought it was weird that he only played the solo and not the riff or anything. I guess when I was younger I didn’t realize how easy it was to patch that stuff together. Oh and I remember being bummed when he wasn’t in the music video! Nice story though. Glad he can remember things!


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November 30, 2012 at 6:15 pm Quote #20780

guitard
(7354)

EVH:
Van Halen: I’ll never forget when Tower Records was still open over here in Sherman Oaks. I was buying something, and “Beat It” was playing over the store sound system. The solo comes on, and I hear these kids in front of me going, “Listen to this guy trying to sound like Eddie Van Halen.” I tapped him on the shoulder and said, “That IS me!” That was hilarious.


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By 1982, Ed’s influence on the guitar playing world was probably at or near its peak and there was no shortage of Ed wannabes and clones – some of whom could really imitate Ed’s playing style exceptionally well.

I remember the first time I heard “Beat It” on the radio, I thought, “Holy shit . . . that guy is the best Ed copycat I’ve ever heard!”


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November 30, 2012 at 6:19 pm Quote #20781

steecoe
(1953)

They misquoted Ed in the text, he did not call MJ a musical genius, he said musical giant….


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November 30, 2012 at 9:09 pm Quote #20790

eruption1962
(1359)

I found it equally ironic that Ed ONLY performed the solo. The riff and that funky break .had Ed written all over it…maybe not the playing…but definitely the styling! Anyway…nice share!


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December 1, 2012 at 1:06 am Quote #20800

stayfrosty
(23)

Great stuff!
I still recall when I first heard it.I immediately thought it was Ed but wasn’t 100% sure.Upon the second listen too it Iknew it was him.There were alot of copycat studio players doing solos on many pop songs,but, they didn’t sound nowhere near that good.
While the solo was a part of it of course,it was really the part just before the solo where it sounds like a submarine being crushed by pressure.Sorta similar (but not really) to the begining of Everybody wants Some.I knew right then it was Ed.


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December 1, 2012 at 10:30 pm Quote #20809

jabbo5150
(335)

It’s Steve Lukather on the rest of the track isn’t it?

Not only did Eddie do it for free, he reworked the song for free too.


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December 3, 2012 at 7:10 pm Quote #20845

Cut2TheCrash
(793)

This is the best quality video of Jackson and EVH that I have seen yet I have been looking for a better copy for years


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December 3, 2012 at 7:58 pm Quote #20846

Gilligan
(1417)

Geez, that’s kind of a mess!


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December 3, 2012 at 11:28 pm Quote #20847

Cut2TheCrash
(793)

Does anyone know why the footage of that show looks that way , I was told that a collector has the original master and made the copy that has been out that way on purpose , has anyone have anymore info on this show ? The date of the show is July 14, 1984 Dallas, Texas.


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December 4, 2012 at 12:25 am Quote #20848

Dutchie
(1522)

Its a shame Ed didn’t break in to the solo in that interview. He does have a few guitars sitting behind him. That would of been awesome…


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December 4, 2012 at 12:35 am Quote #20849

PT5150
(5510)

Saw that Darren like the Striped Wolf.. 8)


EDDIE’S fingers aren’t fingers they are muscle-powered pistons that hammer guitar strings to the fretboard with the force of a rivet gun”.


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