Steve Lukather Clarifies A Misunderstanding About Eddie Van Halen And Michael Jackson Collaboration
Steve Lukather has collaborated with various successful acts throughout his career, and the guitarist’s work with Michael Jackson‘s ‘Thriller’ was among his bests. There have been misunderstandings, however, about Eddie Van Halen‘s contribution to Jackson’s hit record. Steve addressed these false claims to the Vintage Rock Pod and disclosed the truth of the track, ‘Beat It.’
Toto guitarist discussed the record’s creative process and working with bandmate Jeff Porcaro, producer Quincy Jones, Eddie Van Halen, and Michael Jackson. Lukather recalled they had to remaster all of their work when someone had cut the tape of the recording of ‘Beat It.’ The rocker remarked that they had to make a backward version of the ‘Beat It’ not to lose the track’s quality.
“It [the backward version] was recorded because there was another version of it before Eddie did the solo,” stated Lukather, recalling the incident. “Somebody cut the two-inch tape which scr*ws up the simple code which locks all the tapes. So, Quincy asked Jeff and me to put the record together again because they needed to keep those tracks first generation. You had to think about that back then.”
“So, there was no click track,” continued the rocker. “Jeff had to go out and make his own click based on the bleed-through of Michael’s lead vocal in the headphones. That was recorded while he was doing the vocal, and Michael was hitting the two and four, like on a drum case. So, Jeff went out and made his own click with drumsticks, then he played the drums, and he locked it up by the second take, he nailed [it].”
“So, I started putting all the guitars on,” remarked Steve. “I played the bass on it. At first, I made [the recordings] since I knew Eddie was playing on it. So, I had to redo that. I went over and worked with Michael and Quincy on the rest of it. ”
“I came up with some of the other ideas to help them with the rest of the parts,” disclosed the guitarist, addressing the misunderstanding on his guitar parts. ” I played all the guitars and the bass. Jeff played the drums. Michael sang, and Eddie played the solo. I mean, a lot of people think Eddie played all the riffs, but he didn’t.”
Lukather addressed the misconception that Eddie had played all the guitar parts of ‘Beat It,’ but in truth, Van Halen had only played the legendary solo of the track. The song’s recording process was also complex since they had to rerecord it. However, their works paid off as Jackson’s record, ‘Thriller,’ and track ‘Beat It’ became timeless classics.