In celebration of Van Halen’s first live album, Van Halen (1978), we return to the glory day of the ‘80s and the band's unforgettable performances. Known for their eclectic and energy-oozing rock, legendary guitarist Eddie Van Halen and Van Halen’s most memorable appearances still echo across pop culture today. However, they are not solely iconic musical performers but also superstars whose cameos always seemed to nod at their legendary talents. Yes, there were epic collaborations in the 1980's with this band. Van Halen + other superstars = unforgettable appearances in likely and unlikely places.
Here are our rankings of the most unforgettable guest spots featuring Eddie Van Halen:
Michael Jackson - “Beat It” (1983) Yes, that’s the sound of Eddie Van Halen’s guitar. Quincy Jones immediately thought of Van Halen’s talents when he was producing Michael Jackson’s album Thriller. Although Jackson was hesitant of the collaboration at first, he and Eddie Van Halen met in the studio to create what would become one of the most defining songs of the 80s. Indeed, Van Halen’s solo and riffs transformed “Beat It” into the blended mastery as we know it today.
Frank Sinatra - “LA is My Lady” (1984) As one of the most famous entertainers of the '40s to the '60s, Frank Sinatra never shied away from collaborating with his contemporaries; from his Bossa Nova era alongside Antonio Carlos Jobim to the release of a shared album with jazz legend, Duke Ellington. Sinatra’s 1984 track, “LA is My Lady,” is a testament to that. The music video enlisted a galaxy of superstars, amongst whom is Van Halen. Featured in the music video, Eddie sets off alongside rock singer David Lee Roth. The two are filmed coming offstage into a frenzied crowd of fans; they hurriedly enter a car and play a VHS tape of “LA is My Lady.”
Sammy Hagar - “Eagles Fly” (1987) Hagar replaced David Lee Roth as the second lead vocalist of Van Halen in 1985, but departed the group in 1996. He occasionally collaborated with his former bandmates during his departure but finally returned to the band in 2003. One such collaboration during his band hiatus was on his solo album, I Never Said Goodbye. The album is widely recognized as his best. It also features Eddie Van Halen on a track. The song, “Eagles Fly,” combines Van Halen’s magical guitar and chimes to transforming the song into an exciting musical experience.
To indulge in some more Van Halen heat, make sure to check out the new LIVE: RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW collection, which includes all 24 songs from the original CD release, plus three additional live recordings available on vinyl. Get it in stores on April 22.