In 2003, Eddie Van Halen was near the end of his lengthy hiatus from public activity that began in 1999, after the Van Halen III tour.
Steve Lukather, his longtime friend, was in the midst of creating a Christmas album, Santamental, and approached Ed about joining him on a revved-up version of the holiday traditional “Joy to the World.”
“Ed and I have been friends for 24 years or so,” Luke said at the time. “I got him out of seclusion to come rip on one of the Xmas tunes.
“I did a version of ‘Joy to the World’ that sounds like it’s ‘Hot for Teacher’ or ‘Space Boogie.’ It’s that tempo, that groove, and we rearranged the voicings around the melody. Me and him go back and forth on some solos.”
Released in October 2003 on the new Bop City label started by Elliot Scheiner, Al Schmitt and Ed Cherney, Santamentalwas reissued in 2005 on Steve Vai’s Favored Nations label.
Check out Steve and Ed’s Christmas magic below.