If there is one word Steve Lukather would use to describe Eddie Van Halen’s approach to the guitar it would be “adventurous”.
Lukather talked about Eddie, his friend of 40-plus years, with Guitar World recently and shared a few stories that exemplified his road less traveled philosophy.
“He was just a humble little guy who just loved to mess with shit and do things different,” said Lukather. “Like, the worst thing that could have happened to Eddie Van Halen would have been guitar lessons. When it came down to details about equipment and how he liked to do things, he always had an ‘adventure’ mentality. He knew what he wanted. And he wanted really weird shit.
We co-wrote a song for my first solo record [‘Twist the Knife’, from 1989’s Lukather],” he continued. “He said, ‘Yeah… I have this riff, I want you to learn it.’ So I got to get inside his head for a minute. And what he did was he gave me a guitar and he said, ‘Tune it up a whole step and take an A bass string and tune it to B.’ And I go, ‘What? The neck’s gonna bend in half. What the fuck?’ He goes, ‘Trust me.’ I did it and I got a good take out of it, and that’s the record.”
Steve Lukather – “Twist The Knife” (featuring Eddie Van Halen on bass):
Lukather went on to talk about Eddie’s iconic guitar solo on Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” from 1983.
“Ed and I got to do that crazy Michael Jackson record that was fluke-ishly put together. I was working on the album [1982’s Thriller] already. Long story short, they did a version of ‘Beat It’, and they sent it to Eddie to do the solo. But he cut the tape because he wanted to play over a different section. So Quincy [Jones, Thriller producer] called me and [Toto drummer] Jeff Porcaro and said, ‘I need you guys to fix this record for me because Eddie cut the tape!’ Ed, he didn’t give a fuck. It’s like, ‘We’re in my studio, we do things my way.’ He didn’t do sessions.”
Eddie’s “Beat It” Guitar Solo:
“Ed fucking changed the world,” Lukather said. “I remember him telling me,’Look, man, I never meant to turn [tapping] into this parlor trick thing — it’s just the way I play.’ It’s playing rhythm and lead at the same time, you know? He found a new way to fill out the sound. He created a whole orchestra on the instrument. You have to look at things pre-Van Halen and post-Van Halen when it comes to guitar.”
Steve Lukather Telling Story Of Recording “Beat It” with Michael Jackson & Eddie Van Halen: