Pete Townshend Says He Recommended Eddie Van Halen For Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’

In a recent interview, Who guitarist Pete Townshend told Rolling Stone that he decided against accepting an invitation to play electric guitar on Michael Jackson‘s Thriller album but recommended Eddie Van Halen.

“I said I couldn’t do it but recommended Eddie, who called, and we chatted,” Townshend told Rolling Stone. “He was utterly charming, happy about the connection, but told me how much he was enjoying playing keyboards.”

Van Halen played a key role in the success of “Beat It,” one of the singles from Thriller. The song, which also featured Toto guitarist Steve Lukather, topped the singles chart for three weeks.

“His smile was just classic. A man in his rightful place, so happy to be doing what he did,” Townshend said of the late Van Halen. “As he got older, he became more generous and amusing and self-effacing about his enormous gifts. He shared so many tricks through guitar workshops, online and on TV shows. Immense talent.”

The Who guitarist said Van Halen was a virtuso showman who “just blew us all away every time,” calling his death “completely tragic.”

“Every shredder today has lost their master teacher and guide,” he added and called Van Halen the “Great American Guitar Player. I was hoping he might be president one day.”

Van Halen passed away on October 6 after a long battle with cancer.

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