The Story Behind Eddie Van Halen’s ‘Beat It’ Solo
Everyone thinks that Michael Jackson had his finger on the hottest talent and he knew Eddie Van Halen was the perfect guy to solo on 'Beat It'.
Far from the truth! Quincy Jones, the producer didn't even help it to happen. Here's the real story. According to songfacts, Ted Templeman, the producer of all the Van Halen albums up to that point was friends with Quincy. They were looking for a harder rock sound to it and Ted suggested Eddie Van Halen. Eddie grabbed his guitar and equipment and headed to the studio.
Songfacts goes on to say that Quincy knew Eddie was a drinker and liked to have beer and smoke in the studio. He had 2 six-packs of beer waiting and an ashtray. Eddie agreed to do the guitar solo as a favor so he was never paid except the beer.
When Eddie Van Halen was told where to solo, he said it was impossible according to feelguide. So, he was told to play where he wanted and totally changed the song. At first, Michael was not happy, but once he heard the track, he loved it.
Feelguide says Eddie didn't want to do the solo at first. He and Van Halen had a deal with each other that they wouldn't play for other people. That is where Ted Templeman said for Eddie to do it. So, Eddie had his list of conditions.
1) he would never be credited for the work because he didn’t want other members of Van Halen to find out about it, 2) he didn’t need to be paid because it was just a favor so all he wanted was a case of beer in return, 3) Eddie also asked for Michael to “teach him how to dance someday.
Well, 2 out of three!! He was credited, the whole band found out and I think that helped their 1984 album. The excitement was growing as people who didn't know about Van Halen were now learning about their music and Eddie's style of play.
Songfacts says Eddie's amp was so loud that everyone left the control room, including the engineer Bruce Swedien. They hired Donn Landee, Van Halen's engineer to record the solo. Feelguide finishes the story, they said, Eddie was so loud and pushed his amp to the point of it blowing up at the end of the second take.
Something else to keep in mind about this song. The members of TOTO played the backing tracks to this song. Steve Lukather remembers the way it happened. Eddie also tells the story.
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