Eddie Van Halen Thought His "Beat It" Call Was a Prank

Eddie Van Halen and Michael Jackson in 1984
Photo Credit
Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

One of the most mind-blowing moments in '80s pop history - and a major moment of discovery for suburban kids - was Michael Jackson's "Beat It," featuring a blistering guitar solo from Eddie Van Halen. The track became the third of an unbelievable seven Top 10 hits from Thriller and primed the pump for Van Halen to take over the charts the following year courtesy of 1984.

And to think, a bad telephone line almost prevented it from happening.

Read More: Summer of '84: When Mick Jagger Teamed Up with Michael Jackson for "State of Shock"

In 2012, the late guitarist told CNN he thought he was on the receiving end of a prank call when producer Quincy Jones recruited him. "I went off on him," he said. "I went, 'What do you want, you f-ing so-and-so!'" But Eddie did head to the studio to lay down two takes of an improvised solo in the track's bridge. According to legend, the solo was so powerful that a speaker caught fire during the recording.

Read More: January 1984: Van Halen Releases "1984"

Amazingly, Van Halen received no fee for his work, figuring it was a favor while the rest of his band was out of town. "I said to myself, 'Who is going to know that I played on this kid's record, right? Nobody's going to find out,'" he recounted. "Wrong! Big-time wrong."

And while Van Halen didn't appear in the track's successful video, he did join Michael once more to play "Beat It" on an early stop on The Jacksons' Victory Tour in Dallas on July 14, 1984.

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Warner Records/Rhino
The band's 1980 release features unreleased tour recordings.
Parlophone Records Ltd., a Warner Music Group Company
Liverpool's other famous quartet set a British chart record in 1963.
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Sixteen nominees will be considered.

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