Eddie Van Halen fans are remembering him for some of his most iconic work of all time, including the guitar solo on Michael Jackson's song "Beat It." Van Halen passed away on Tuesday after a prolonged battle with throat cancer, and music fans everywhere are inconsolable. On Social media, many are remarking on the bizarre tale of his collaboration with Jackson.
Van Halen was asked to do the guitar solo for "Beat It" by legendary music producer Quincy Jones, according to J. Randy Taraborrelli's biography titled Michael Jackson — The Magic and the Madness. The whole story is whimsical — Van Halen reportedly thought at first that he was receiving a prank call, and he poked fun at Jones. He then nearly turned down the job, since he and his band had promised each other not to do any side gigs. However, with the rest of Van Halen out of town, he agreed to let Jackson and Quincy come over to his home recording studio. Van Halen recorded the solo in one take.
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
Even more amazing, Van Halen reportedly turned down any offers of formal credit or payment for the solo. Not wanting to complicate the job with contracts and legal proceedings, he simply asked Jones and Jackson for a case of beer. He also reportedly asked Jackson to "teach him how to dance some day."
This story is the kind of thing rock 'n roll legends are made of, and fans were pleased either to learn the news or to share it. It sparked a conversation on social media about creative integrity and paying success forward. Here is a look at how Twitter handled this story amid news of Van Halen's passing.
Eddie Van Halen did the Beat It solo in one take for free— ☕netw3rk (@netw3rk) October 6, 2020
Learn Something New
I was today year's old when I learned this. It proves that great musicians cross genres. Music is universal. Sweet story. But also a charge to know your craft! 💛— 🖤☮🖤☮🖤☮🖤 (@Jacsqueeze) October 6, 2020
What's funny is that at the time people complained about how the solo totally ripped off Eddie's style, that's how distinctive his playing was. pic.twitter.com/5xSLwRwvdk— Peter Rojas (@peterrojas) October 6, 2020
REST IN PEACE LEGEND😭 pic.twitter.com/0NtBSGul8N— Il_Capitano (@musiclover078) October 6, 2020
Among Other Accomplishments
DVR'd block of classic '80s MTV music vids-go— George Schmidt (G) (@GeorgeSchmidt67) October 6, 2020
*RIP EDDIE VAN HALEN - your videos always were fun & rad as fuck just like you dude! When I learned he's the unbilled guitarist on MICHAEL JACKSON's 'Beat It' - Mind.Blown!
HOT FOR TEACHER is my fave vid of theirs. pic.twitter.com/u4RMJyVhDN