#67 Eddie Van Halen Beat it solo cover by Kelly Dean Allen
54 year old attempting to play Guitar Worlds top 100 guitar solos He is at 67 right now Eddie Van Halens solo in Beat it by Michael Jackson
my continuing effort to learn and play Guitar World magazine's top 100 guitar solos of all time.
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Eddie Van Halen was paid two cases of beer and zero royalties to guest star on Michael Jackson's Thriller album to lay down this phenomenal solo to Beat it. Probably his most famous. That's the way he wanted it. He did it as a favor to Quincy Jones and Jackson. He was also not credited for the solo. Why?
Well, because no member of Van Halen at the time were to get involved in any outside projects that weren't VAN HALEN. It was a band rule. The band were on a break and Eddie did it behind the band's back. He asked for no credit because he wanted to remain anonymous. When the band did find out, they actually were thrilled (pardon the pun) about it.
That's actually kind of funny. One listen and you know exactly who it is. If there's one guitar solo in history that's pretty much the exact opposite of anonymous, it's Beat it. It's EVH without a shred of doubt, and initially one of the reasons that I didn't care much for this solo when I first heard it. I had a theory about this solo. It was a wrong theory but it's what I thought at first, so hear me out.
EVH was probably my biggest influence on guitar when I was a teenager (him and Alex Lifeson). I worshiped him and his skills. My bedroom walls filled with Van Halen posters and pictures. My theory was this: Quincy Jones and/or Michael Jackson got Eddie in the studio and told him to do ALL his Eddie tricks in this one solo. "Do all that crazy stuff that you do, and don't leave ANYTHING out!" This is what I thought. It was Eddie overkill. It was like a parody of Eddie Van Halen performed by Eddie himself. Practically every trick in Eddie's trick bag is in this solo. Pinch harmonics, tap harmonics, whammy dives, two hand tapping, big stretches, right hand finger slides, tremolo picking etc etc etc... The only thing missing was phased pick slides to complete the picture.
I personally thought that Eddie would never put down a solo like this on a Van Halen record (granted Eruption was like this but it was his big introduction to the world). It was too much. Too over the top. Absolutely nothing subtle about it, and for that reason I didn't like it. I've since changed my tune about this solo. Eddie actually had total control over what he put down. He actually rearranged the structure of the song in the studio to more fit what he wanted to put in the solo. Maybe he was showing off (hell, why not? he's Eddie Van Halen after all), or maybe since he thought that it would be anonymous that he would just go all out with every trick in his bag at once. Who knows what was in his head.
Here's what I DO know. It's hard as balls to play, and to play cleanly. It's just so fucking busy from start to finish. No solo on this list is as busy as this 25 to 30 seconds. Hitting the notes isn't so bad, it's all the tricks. tricks that don't always work, like tap and pinch harmonics. As fellow guitar players you know this. Tap and pinch harmonics don't always ring out the way you want. They are just too precise in hand position and tone to nail every single time you want to. Getting through this solo clean is quite the chore.
I put down about fifteen takes (none perfect) and chose the best one. I didn't quite nail an early tap harmonic and I blew the very last note of the solo (had to bend it into shape as fast as I could), other than that I think I got a pretty good take. Worthy of uploading and adding to the list. Like I've said before, my criteria for playing these solos is this: 1 - It's shit. keep practicing until it's not shit. 2 - It's pretty good. Sometimes I've gotta settle for "pretty good". 3 - Nailed it. I've only really "nailed" a few so far IMO.
This one gets a "pretty good" from me. I played it well I think. Just missed a few little things, but like I said, it's a really bloody busy 30 seconds on the guitar. Fun as hell to play. Thanks Eddie, I like your picks too!
That's it for this week. A long 3 minute solo coming up next. Gotta get to work on it.
Thanks as always for watching. Keep shredding!