Michael Jackson wanted to write a rock song that appealed to kids and had an anti-violence theme. Producer Quincy Jones tried to call guitar virtuoso Edward Van Halen. Because Van Halen couldn't hear Jones on his end, he thought it was a crank call and let loose with a string of expletives. On the third try, Jones got through and invited Van Halen down to the recording session for "Beat It." The guitarist was so thrilled to be there that he refused any pay for his work, looking at it as a favor. The session also listed Greg Phillinganes, Steve Porcaro, Bill Wolfer, Steve Lukather, Tom Bahler, Paul Jackson Jr., Jeff Porcaro, and engineer Bruce Swedien. CBS/Epic didn't want to release "Beat It",fearing that it would interfere with the ascendancy of "Billie Jean"; either "Billie Jean" would be dropped from radio play lists to add "Beat It" or "Billie Jean" would garner so much attention that "Beat It" wouldn't be added.Jackson's manager Frank DiLeo assured the label that both tracks would occupy the pop Top Ten; he turned out to be right. There was some controversy concerning the West Side Story-themed "Beat It" music video.MTV refused to air it with the result being CBS Records banning all their other music videos from the network.Motown artist Rick James, whose videos were also not being played by MTV, leveled charges of racism. As the third single from Thriller, "Beat It" went platinum, going to number one R&B and number one pop for three weeks in the spring of 1983.