A dream collaboration between late rockers Chris Cornell and Eddie Van Halen nearly happened, but the song never came to fruition according to Cornell’s former guitarist Pete Thorn.
Thorn made the revelation during an appearance on the podcast The Mitch Lafon and Jeremy White Show. As he tells it, Eddie was a huge fan of Cornell and had hoped to collaborate with the singer. When Cornell was recording his 2009 solo album Scream, the opportunity presented itself.
“They were buddies … Eddie always wanted to do something with Chris, musically,” Thorn said. “He loved his voice and he used to be like, ‘Man, I love him. We were always talking about doing something together.'”
Thorn produced versions of album tracks “Long Gone” and “Scream,” and during the recording process, Cornell had the idea of contacting Van Halen to lay down some guitar. Via amp guru Dave Friedman — who had worked on Eddie’s gear — Thorn extended the invitation to the guitar legend.
“And 45 minutes later, [Friedman] texted me,” Thorn recalled. “He said, ‘Ed wants you to call him. Here’s his cellphone number.'”
Thorn met with Van Halen at his own 5150 Studios to show him the Scream tracks in question. Eddie ended up recording some guitar parts for the title track, but the results were shelved and the collab never happened.
“I don’t want to get anybody excited thinking that this ever got finished, because it didn’t,” Thorn said. “But he did work on it. And, you know, I would go up there over the next couple of weeks, and he had played on it. 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: “And then, it’s a long story, but it never got a vocal on it by Chris. You know, 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.”
According to Thorn, Cornell ended up playing the alternate version of “Scream” — sans Eddie’s guitar — on his 2011-2012 Songbook tour. We can only imagine what the song would sound like with those added parts.
As for what happened to Van Halen’s recording, Thorn said, “Somewhere at 5150 there’s a 24-track reel with that on it and someday I’d love to [hear it again].”
Watch Cornell performing the song at a 2011 concert in Minnesota and stream the interview with Thorn below.