An Eddie Van Halen and Chris Cornell collaboration very nearly happened

Eddie Van Halen and Chris Cornell
(Image credit: Jeffrey Ufberg / Tim Mosenfelder / Getty)

In a recent interview, Pete Thorn has discussed a long-lost session he recorded that was set to feature the unlikely pairing of Chris Cornell and Eddie Van Halen.

Thorn, alongside his online fame as YouTube’s go-to ‘tone connoisseur’, has an extensive resume as a sideman to the stars, having gigged alongside the likes of Don Henley, Melissa Etheridge and Cornell himself.

Speaking to The Mitch Lafon and Jeremy White Show (opens in new tab) recently, Thorn related a story of a little-known session from his days playing with Cornell that was intended to be a collaboration between the Soundgarden vocalist and Eddie Van Halen.

Thorn says Cornell and electric guitar icon EVH were friends and the singer suggested getting Van Halen involved on some acoustic tracks they were recording around the 2008 sessions for Cornell’s album Scream.

“[Chris and I were] in a parking lot listening to them in my car, I remember, and he looked at me and he said, ‘Hey what do you think if we got Eddie to work on this?’” recalls Thorn.

“And I was like are you serious? Because that was like a hundred percent ‘Yeah!’ I was so excited and he said, ‘Okay, you know, I’ll get in touch with him…’”

For all Thorn’s excitement about meeting the man he calls his “spiritual guitar godfather”, he reports Cornell never got around to making the call. Fortunately, mutual friend and amp whiz Dave Friedman rode to the rescue, mentioning the plan to EVH on a visit to the Van Halen man’s 5150 facility.

“45 minutes later he texted me and said, ‘Ed wants you to call him, here's his cell phone number,’” says Thorn. “So I left him a message and… he called me back and said, ‘Well how soon can you come up the studio and play me this stuff?’ …So we set up a date, I drove up the 5150, and he was just so cool.”

“I get out of the car and there he is, and you know he gives me a big hug and said, ‘Okay, let's go studio and take a listen…’ I was just like, ‘This is my hero’, you know? ‘This is awesome!’ He took me into 5150 and he was so humble and unassuming.”

Thorn tells White and Lafon that Van Halen recorded a contribution to the track but, sadly, the song “never got finished”, as Cornell didn’t get around to adding a vocal. However, the guitarist says that Cornell did perform the same acoustic version of Scream on his 2011 Songbook tour and EVH’s recordings are presumably still somewhere in the vault.

“It was just one of those things, you know,” says Thorn. “Unfortunately, I only heard it like once, going up there to listen to the work that he'd done on it. So somewhere at 5150 there's a 24-track reel with that on it and someday I'd love to [hear it again].”

It’s also notable, as the YouTube icon tells it, that Van Halen was still recording to tape, even in 2008, and reportedly EVH asked Thorn how he recorded.

“I said I recorded in Logic,” recalls Thorn, with a chuckle. “He said I use logic, too: that's why I record analog!”

Meanwhile, back in 2022, Wolfgang Van Halen continues to carry the torch for the family name, giving rare (and note-perfect) outings to Panama and Hot For Teacher onstage at the recent Taylor Hawkins tribute shows and working on a second Mammoth WVH album.

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Matt is a freelance journalist who has spent the last decade interviewing musicians for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk (opens in new tab), which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.