Eddie Van Halen appeared on Michael Jackson’s Thriller album for the song, “Beat It”.
Eddie reflects on his experience working with award-winning producer/songwriter Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson, in the later half of 1982:
“I used to have this old phone system in the studio. Phone rang, I picked it up and there’s this voice saying, ‘Yo, Eddie? That Eddie?’ There was lots of crackling and stuff. And I said, ‘Yeah, who’s this?’ But he obviously couldn’t hear me. So I hung up, figuring it was a fan. Phone rings again, and the same voice says, ‘Hey, Eddie.’ So this time I shout ‘Asshole’ and hang up. Phone rings a third time. ‘Hey, Eddie, Eddie, it’s Quincy Jones.’ Have I ever felt small.
‘Certain people in the band at that time didn’t like me doing things outside the group. But Roth happened to be in the Amazon or somewhere, and Mike was at Disneyland and Al was up in Canada or something, and I was home alone. So I thought, well, they’ll never know. Seriously: who’s going to know that I played on a black guy’s record? Michael said ‘I love that high fast stuff you do.’ So I played two solos over it and said, ‘You guys pick the one you want.’ It was 20 minutes out of my day. I did it for free and later everybody was telling me, you could have got a royalty point out of that record. But it didn’t matter because Quincy wrote me a letter thanking me, and he signed it ‘The Asshole’. I framed it. Classic.’
“Beat It” hit the charts on 3/12/83, lasting 15 weeks and reaching #1 in the U.S. and #3 in the U.K.