Eddie Van Halen once joined Michael Jackson onstage. Watch the video of the unrehearsed performance, above.
It was this weekend in 1984, when two gigantic musical acts rolled through on Texas. Michael Jackson kicked off three nights at Texas Stadium, with Eddie Van Halen joining him onstage during the first night. Eddie was unable to join him on the next two nights, as Van Halen kicked off three sold out shows at the Reunion Arena in Dallas the following day.
”Beat It,” the classic collaboration between Michael Jackson Eddie Van Halen, went Number One on the Billboard chart on 3/12/83, lasting 15 weeks and reaching #1 in the U.S. on April 30th, 1983, and #3 in the U.K. Michael Jackson’s Thriller went on to sell more than 30 million copies.
Eddie reflected 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.
Upon Michael jackson’s death, Eddie told TMZ, “I am really shocked; as I’m sure the world is, to hear the news. I had the pleasure of working with Michael on ‘Beat It’ — one of my fondest memories in my career. Michael will be missed and may he rest in peace.”
Thanks to Rodney Carr, who provided the newspaper clippings above, which prove the performance was Friday, July 13th, 1984, instead of the 14th, which is the date commonly associated with this performance.
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Eddie Van Halen Deconstructs His Collaboration On ‘Beat It’