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Michael Jackson had many successful singles from his many multi-award-winning albums, such as Bad, which featured five number one singles, and Off The Wall, which saw Jackson receive his first ever Grammy Award. The star’s biggest selling album of all time, Thriller, was released in 1982, and included the hit song Beat It. In 2017, the album was certified 33x Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
But while most of the music was 100 per cent written and performed by Jackson, Beat It actually had some unexpected outside influence.
The King of Pop first wrote the track alongside guitarist Steve Lukather as a pop song with a hard rock edge.
At the time, in the 1980s, rock anthems were sprouting up in the charts each year, gaining a strong following for the genre.
But when Eddie Van Halen unexpectedly arrived at the Los Angeles studio, Jackson’s producer Quincy Jones invited him to listen to Beat It.
Van Halen spoke of the monumental event in an interview with CNN in 2012, in which he revealed he helped put the finishing touches to the song.
After listening to Beat It without Jackson present, he says he rearranged the song and added the iconic solos fans know and love today.
He then explained that Jackson walked in once he had finished altering the track.
Van Halen said: “I didn’t know how he would react to what I was doing.
“So I warned him before he listened. I said, ‘Look, I changed the middle section of your song.’
“Now, in my mind, he’s either going to have his bodyguards kick me out for butchering his song, or he’s going to like it.”
Thankfully, the star loved it, and even went on to give Van Halen a heartfelt thanks.
The guitarist said: “He gave it a listen, and he turned to me and went: ‘Wow, thank you so much for having the passion to not just come in and blaze a solo, but to actually care about the song, and make it better.’”
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Despite adding two enormous parts to the song, Van Halen was never paid for his solos and was not credited on the album, nor did he appear in the music video.
However, fans instantly knew it was Van Halen, as the solos included his signature fretboard tapping and screeching guitar sounds.
Because of the musician’s help, Beat It went on to become certified 5x Platinum.
Earlier this week Eddie Van Halen sadly passed away following a battle against throat cancer.
His son, Wolf Van Halen, posted a touching tribute to his father, breaking the news to the public.
He wrote on his Twitter account: “I can’t believe I’m having to write this, but my father, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, has lost his long and arduous battle with cancer this morning.
“He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I’ve shared with him on and off stage was a gift.
“My heart is broken and I don’t think I’ll ever fully recover from this loss. I love you so much, Pop.”
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