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The Movie Score You Didn't Know Eddie Van Halen Wrote

Rock fans around the world were devastated at the news that Van Halen guitarist Eddie Van Halen passed away from cancer on October 6, 2020. While the band that shared his name was known for their commercial success and incredible live performances, Van Halen himself was also an acclaimed musician who was selected as the fourth-greatest rock guitarist of all time by Total Guitar. He was also involved in a number of musical side projects, including playing guitar on Michael Jackson's "Beat It" (via CNN).

But his extracurricular activities weren't relegated to guest stints on other musicians' albums and singles. In 1984, Van Halen made one of the more fascinating moves in his career when he teamed up with Donn Landee to compose the score of the teen dramedy The Wild Life, written and produced by an up-and-comer named Cameron Crowe. It's the only film score Van Halen ever composed, and remains one of the most intriguing chapters in his incredible career.

How did Eddie Van Halen end up working on the score for The Wild Life?

First of all, don't worry if you're drawing a blank at the mention of The Wild Life. Despite its scribe now being a world-famous movie director, the film itself hasn't exactly enjoyed the cultural significance of other movies of the era, such as Crowe's own directorial debut, Say Anything. In fact, we wouldn't even call it a hidden gem. The movie starred Christopher Penn, Eric Stoltz, and Lea Thompson, and followed a group of unruly teenagers living in suburban California.

According to an interview in Guitar World Presents Van Halen, the world-famous guitarist decided he wanted to be part of the project after he came across the film's script. He said that he and Landee wanted to contribute something to the film, but ultimately, "We ended up doing just about the whole film [score]." Van Halen described the process as, "fun," despite the fact that they had to work on a tight deadline, and that Van Halen had to leave part of the way through to go on tour. For fans of the late guitarist, the score is worth seeking out, as Van Halen reports that he, "played all the instruments."

It's never easy to lose one of the greats, but the silver lining is that it provides an opportunity to dig deep into the lesser-known works of a tremendous career.