Eddie Van Halen and Chris Cornell came close to collaborating on one of Cornell’s songs, according to guitarist Pete Thorn, who was part of the Soundgarden singer’s solo touring band.
Thorn, who has worked with everyone from Don Henley to Melissa Etheridge talked about the near-collaboration.
“They were buddies back around the late, I believe it’s like kind of the late ’90s, early 2000s, and Eddie always wanted to do something with Chris, musically,” said Thorn in a recent interview. “He [Van Halen] loved his voice and he used to be like, ‘Man, I love him. We were always talking about doing something together.'”
The two came close to working together when Cornell was working on his third solo album, Scream, which was released in 2009 and produced by Timbaland.
“I produced a couple of versions of a song called ‘Long Gone’ and ‘Scream,’ the title track from the album, in a very stripped-down kind of acoustic way, with brushes on the snare drum and upright bass and stuff, and me playing acoustic guitar,” shared Thorn. “So Chris listened to them he’s like, ‘I love this, man.’ And he looked at me and he said, ‘What do you think if we got Eddie to work on this, if we would ask him to play on it?'”
Thorn connected with Van Halen, who recorded some guitar parts for the title track, though a full collaboration with Cornell never progressed from that point.
“I don’t want to get anybody excited thinking that this ever got finished, because it didn’t,” said Thorn. “But he [Van Halen] did work on it, and I would go up there over the next couple of weeks, and … I would listen to it and just be like, ‘I can’t believe this is happening. This is myself and Eddie on a track.'”
Thorn added, “It’s a long story, but it never got a vocal on it by Chris. … That was what it was, and Ed got busy doing the next Van Halen record right around then and producing things up and it just never ended up getting finished.”
Cornell died on May 18, 2017, at the age of 52, and Van Halen also passed away on Oct. 6, 2020 at 65.
The version of “Scream” featuring Van Halen, which he recorded on tape, is still locked up somewhere at the guitarist’s 5150 Studio in Los Angeles.
“So somewhere at 5150,” said Thorn, “there’s a 24-track reel with that on it.”
Photo: Eddie Van Halen (Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images); Chris Cornell (Photo Jen Cash)