Michael Jackson Guitarist Says Eddie Van Halen Wanted Her To Play The ‘Beat It’ Solo For Him
Known as Michael Jackson’s touring guitarist, Jennifer Batten recently touched upon how Eddie Van Halen contributed to Jackson’s ‘Beat It’ and how he made her play the song’s solo.
Jennifer Batten worked with the iconic pop star Michael Jackson from 1987 to 1997 as his touring guitarist in all three of his tours during those years. Later from 1999 to 2001, the guitarist worked with Jeff Beck. Having contributed to these artists’ successful careers, she recently spoke about Jackson’s collaboration with Eddie Van Halen.
Michael Jackson’s producer Quincy Jones decided that Jackson should spice up his songs by shifting slightly to a rock sound in the early 1980s. Hence, the producer contacted one of the best guitar players in the world, Eddie Van Halen, to work with Jackson to achieve that goal. Eddie began working with Jackson and created the ‘Beat It’ solo in only half an hour. He didn’t ask to be credited or demanded any money, thinking the album ‘Thriller’ would not be a success anyway.
However, on the contrary, ‘Beat It’ became a sensational hit, and the album made it to the top of the charts worldwide. It was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 500 songs that helped shape rock and roll. According to Rolling Stone magazine, it is also considered one of the best songs in the world.
Recently, Jennifer Batten talked about how Eddie came over to her and asked her to play the ‘Beat It’ solo for him. She met him in a Jackson tour and put on his guitar to play the solo. She described how uncomfortable she felt when she put the guitar on because it was low and wasn’t adjusted to her height. However, she played the solo for him regardless. It seems like the guitarist had forgotten the solo he created and Batten helped him figure it out.
Here is how she told the story:
“I met Eddie briefly at a Namm show, and I think he felt like an animal at the zoo because people were just staring at him. That was kind of uncomfortable. But we ended up rehearsing next door to each other in North Hollywood. He must have been checking out some gear because it was just him and his roadie, maybe one more person in his room, and then I had a gig that had been booked before I got the Jackson tour, so we were rehearsing to do that during a break in the Bad tour. They asked me to come next door and play the ‘Beat It’ solo. I went in, and he put on his 5150 Strat on me.
Anytime I put a guy’s guitar on me, it generally hangs uncomfortably low because I tend to have my guitars high, and he likes his Floyd Rose Tremolo bar loose, so it’s always going to swing. And mine, I know exactly where it is, I can push it, and it’s going to stay in that position so that it was a little bit of a struggle trying to find that. But I played it for him, and then he picked up the guitar and started learning it and scored Cisco.
So I gave him a couple of tips, but the most interesting about that was that he never played that with Van Halen. He improvised the stuff, played it, recorded it, and then never thought of it again. So, I wouldn’t expect him to know most of it, but even though we were playing the same notes, he was playing a couple of things in a very different way.”
You can watch Jennifer’s interview below.