For the next project, the album "Thriller", which was originally
going to be called "Starlight", Michael teamed up again
with Quincy Jones, Rod Temperton, and many of the musicians
who played on "Off The Wall".
Michael: "I remember being in the studio once with Quincy
and Rod Temperton while we were working on 'Thriller'. I
was playing a pinball machine and one of them asked me,
'If this album doesn't do as well as 'Off The Wall', will
you be disappointed?' I remember feeling upset
- hurt that the question was even raised. I told them
'Thriller' had to do better than 'Off The Wall'. I admitted
that I wanted this album to be the biggest-selling album
of all time. They started laughing. It was a seemingly
unrealistic thing to want."
Michael got together with Paul McCartney again; their
collaboration produced "Say Say Say" and "The Girl Is
Mine". Eventually, Quincy and Michael chose "The Girl Is Mine"
as the obvious first single from "Thriller". #
"Not My Lover" was a title they almost used for "Billie
Jean" because Q had some objections to calling the song
"Billie Jean", Michael's original title. He felt people
might immediately think of Billie Jean King, the tennis
player. "A lot of people have asked me about that song, and
the aswer is very simple. It's just a case of a girl
who says that I'm the father of her child and I'm pleading
my innocence because 'the kid is not my son'." "This kind of thing has happened to some of my brothers
and I used to be really amazed by it. I couldn't understand
how these girls could say they were carrying someone's
child when it wasn't true. I can't imagine lying about
something like that."
For "Beat It", Eddie Van Halen agreed to play the session
for them and gave an incredible guitar solo.
But also Steve Porcaro [Toto], Steve Lukather, Greg
Phillinganes, Louis Johnson and Vincent Price, to name
but a few, collaborated with Michael on the album.
Eventually Michael and Q came under tremendous pressure
from the record company to finish "Thriller". Michael: "When a record company rushes you, they really rush
you, and they were rushing us hard on 'Thriller'. They
said it had to be ready on a certain date, do it or
So we went through a period where we were breaking
our backs to get the album done by their deadline. There
were a lot of compromises made on the mixes of the various
tracks, and on whether certain tracks were even going
to be on the record. We cut so many corners that we
almost lost the whole album.When
we finally listened to the tracks we were going to
hand in, 'Thriller' sounded so crappy to me that tears
came to my eyes. We had been under enormous pressure
because while we were trying to finish 'Thriller'
we also had been working on 'The E.T. Storybook',
and there had been deadline pressure on that as well.
All these people were fighting back and forth with
each other, and we came to realize that the sad truth
was that the mixes of 'Thriller' didn't work. We
sat there in the studio, Westlake Studio in Hollywood,
and listened to the whole album. I felt devastated.
All this pent-up emotion came out. I got angry and left
the room. I told my people, 'That's it, we're not releasing
it. Call CBS and tell them they are not getting this
album. We are NOT releasing it.' Finally I realized I had to do the whole thing -
mix the entire album - all over again... When it was
done - boom - it hit us hard. CBS could hear the difference
too. 'Thriller' was a tough project."
On December 1, 1982 the album "Thriller" was released
and has changed the history of music forever.
"Thriller" becomes the biggest-selling album of all
time - selling over 51 million copies worldwide and
providing a record of 6 Top Ten singles - the most ever
from one album. Both
records appear in The Guinness Book Of World Records
and have never been broken up to this date!!!
"Thriller" [LP] held its number one position on the
U.S. charts for an unrivaled 37 ! weeks during a 122
Michael: "Ever since I was a little boy, I had dreamed
of creating the biggest-selling record of all time.
I remember going swimming as a child and making a wish
before I jumped into the pool. Remember, I grew up knowing
the industry, understanding goals, and being told what
was and was not possible. I wanted to do something special.
I'd stretch my arms out, as if I were sending my thoughts
right up into space. I'd make my wish, then I'd dive
into the water. I'd say to myself, 'This is my dream.
This is my wish', every time before I'd dive into the
water." Michael Jackson becomes the undisputed King of Pop and
reigns over his title up to today - unrivaled!
For the first video, "Billie Jean", Steve Baron was
chosen as director. For the first time in history of
MTV, a music video told a story - and was not just a
collage of images. "Billie Jean's" video made a big
impression on the MTV audience and was a huge hit. It's
also seen as a major breakthrough for black artists,
who had previously been ignored by the channel. Michael
Jackson was in fact the first black artist to be added
the MTV's playlist! Before that, MTV refused to play
videos by black artists. Michael has changed that forever...
On May 16, 1983 Michael performed "Billie Jean" on "Motown
25th: Yesterday, Today, Forever", a television special
in honor of Motown's 25th anniversary. More than 47
million Americans saw that show. After that, many things
his now legendary glittery black jacket together with
a black fedora for the first time as well as the already
known white glove, Michael started to perform "Billie
Jean" and showed the world for the first time ever
what would become Michael Jackson's greatest trademark
- the Moonwalk!"I
could tell that people in the audience were really enjoying
my performance. My brothers told me they were crowding
the wings watching me with their mouths open, and my
parents and sisters were out there in the audience.
But I just remember opening my eyes at the end of the
thing and seeing this sea of people standing up, applauding." Some people in the audience said later it seemed as
the whole world stood still when Michael performed the
In their February 19th, 1999 issue, "Entertainment Weekly"
described the historic performance: "One small step
for man, one giant glide for pop culture: Michael Jackson
unveils his physics-defying Moonwalk during the song
'Billie Jean' and leaves even rocket scientists scratching
their heads." "We spent hours in the editing
room discussing every shot", says Don Mischer, producer-director
of the NBC special. "He had a great sense of theatre." Everyone was moonstruck!
It was clear to everyone that the next single and video
should be "Thriller". Michael chose John Landis ( "An
American Werewolf in London") to direct the video, knowing
Landis would be perfect for it.
Furthermore, John Branca, Michael's attorney, came up
with a great idea. He suggested they make a separate
video about the making of the "Thriller" video. Michael: "It seemed odd that no one had ever done this before.
We felt sure it would be an interesting documentary..."
February of 1984 "Thriller" made its debut on MTV
and it truly revolutionized the art of making music
videos and forever changed the future of making videos. With the release of this music video, Michael Jackson
made history and forever changed MTV! "Thriller" was
the first music video produced completely and entirely
to be a short film. At the end of the Millennium, "Thriller" will be chosen
as the best music video of all time!
Michael: "My brother Jackie came to my house and
said, 'Are you watching this show that's on TV? All
they do is play music. It's MTV.' I put it on and
thought the concept was interesting. What I didn't
like were the videos that were a collage of images;
I thought that if I were to do one, I would do something
with a little more entertainment value. My dream was
to make something with a beginning, a middle and an
ending, like a short film."
the video debuted on MTV, CBS [Epic] released "Thriller"
as a single and sales of the album went crazy. According
to statistics, the "Thriller" film ( "The Making of Michael
Jackson's Thriller") and the release of the single resulted
in 14 million additional album and tape sales within
a 6 month periode. At one point in 1984, they were selling
one million records a week.
On March 30, 1984 the video "The Making of Michael Jackson's
Thriller" was released and becomes the biggest-selling
music video of all time. Michael: "The success of
'The Making of Thriller' was a bit of a shock to all
of us." This record will later only be broken once... Guess by whom.
January 16, 1984 Michael Jackson won for the first time
in the history of the American Music Awards 8 of the
most important, the 26th Annual Grammy Awards were
to be chosen. On February 28, 1984 Michael won 8 !
Grammys in ten categories: Album Of The Year ( "Thriller"),
Best Pop Male Vocal ( "Thriller" LP), Record Of The
Year ( "Beat It"), Best Rock Male Vocal ( "Beat It"),
Best R&B Male Vocal ( "Billie Jean"), Best New Song
Of The Year ( "Billie Jean"), Producer Of The Year
(with Quincy Jones) and Best Children's Recording ( "E.T. - The Extra Terrestrial" with narration by
date for the evening was Brooke Shields. It is the most ever won in a single year and entered
The Guinness Book of World Records. On February 23,
2000 Carlos Santana tied Michael's 17 year [the Grammy's
for 1983 were chosen at the beginning of 1984] record
for winning the most Grammy's in one year when he won
8 Grammy's for his album "Supernatural". Thus, these
two artists now share the distinguished record for winning
most Grammy Awards in one year. Santana told reporters
backstage that it was "a real honor'' to tie
Michael Jackson's record.
On January 24, 1984 the shooting of the first Pepsi
commercial began. The US$ 5 million endorsement contract was signed on
November 11, 1983 between Michael Jackson, The Jacksons
and Pepsi-Cola, involving sponsorship of the "Victory
Tour" and two TV commercials. During
the filming of the second Pepsi commercial on January
27, 1984 Michael suffered second and third degree
scalp burns as sparks from the bombs [for pyrotechnical
effects] set his hair on fire.
Miko Brando (Marlon Brando's son and Michael's personal
secretary) was the first person to reach Michael and
he was the one who did smother the flames with his
hands. Michael was rushed to Cedar Sinai Medical Center
and was later moved to Brotman Memorial Hospital for
treatment. The next day, January 28, 1984, Michael was released
from hospital. Later, Michael received US$ 1'500'000.-- from Pepsi
which he immediately donated to the Michael Jackson
February 27, 1984 MTV previewed the two 60 second commercials
free of charge.
The next day, February 28, 1984, at the 26th Annual
Grammy Awards, The Jacksons' Pepsi commercials were
aired during the telecast and are amongst the most successful
and most popular ads ever, and the first and only set
of advertisements ever to be included in the weekly
"TV Guide" listings.
On July 2, 1984 "Victory", by the Jacksons, was released.
The album became a hit and was also the last album of
The Jacksons as a group.
On July 6, 1984 The Jacksons' "Victory" tour's opening
concert was performed at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas
City, Missouri. Reunited with Jermaine, The Jacksons
did 55 shows over the course of 5 months, criss-crossing
America and Canada with the most ambitious design and
execution ever created for the concert stage. It took
4 months to construct it.
On December 9, 1984 the group performed the last concert
of the "Victory" tour. During "Shake Your Body (Down
To The Ground)", Michael announced his split from The
The tour grossed a record of US$ 75 million and was
the biggest tour any group had ever done, in huge
outdoor stadiums. Over 2 million people came to see
The Jacksons. And thanks to Michael Jackson, for the
first time Pepsi-Cola overtook their arch-rivals, Coca-Cola.
donated all his performance money from this tour to
charity. "For me, that was what the 'Victory' tour
was all about - giving back", he says later.
November 20, 1984 Michael was honored with a star
on the Walk Of Fame [Hollywood Boulevard] in front
of the Mann's Chinese Theatre. His star, which has
the number 1'793, is between the stars of country
singer Lefty Frizzell and actress Lupe Velez.
Michael becomes the first celebrity to have 2 different
stars dedicated to him, having first received one
as a member of The Jacksons in the 70's.
Two hours after the 12th Annual American Music Award
ceremony on January 28, 1985 Michael and 44 other artists
gathered secretly for 10 hours at A&M Recording Studios
in Los Angeles to record "We Are The World". The song
was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie at
Michael's home in early 1985.
Michael: "I wrote the song with Lionel Richie after
seeing the appalling news footage of starving people
in Ethiopia and the Sudan."
March 7, 1985 "We Are The World" was released and made
On April 5, "Good Friday" and "We Are The World" was
broadcast simultaneously by over 8'000 radio stations
around the world.
The song created recording history by becoming the first
ever Multi-Platinum single and being certified in all
categories (Gold, Platinum, Multi-Platinum) within the
space of one month. The single is the industry's first
ever Multi-Platinum single!
"We Are The World" entered the Guinness Book Of World
Records as the biggest-selling single of all time and
stayed at the top position until in 1997 Elton John's
tribute song to Princess Diana, "Candle In The Wind
'97 / There's Something About The Way You Look Tonight",
becomes the biggest-selling single of all time.
Today, "We Are The World" still is the second biggest-selling
single of all time and with absolutely no doubt is and
will probably forever be THE number one world hymn!
"We Are The World" won 4 Grammy Awards for Song Of The
Year, Record Of The Year, Best Pop Performance By A
Duo Or Group, and Best Music Video [Short Form].
"USA for Africa" ["United Support of Artists for Africa"]
raised a record of US$ 200 million. The money was given
to Ethiopia to fight famine.
In August of 1985 Michael Jackson purchased the "ATV
Back Catalogue" for US$ 47.5 million. The catalogue
[publishing rights], today worth 3 times as much, comprises
over 4'000 compositions, including 251 songs by The
Beatles as well as hits by Pat Benatar, Little Richard,
The Pointer Sisters and The Pretenders. Michael already
owns the publishing rights to the Sly Stone collection
as well as a collection of 60's hits. Michael rewarded
his attorney John Branca and then-manager Frank Dileo
each with a Rolls Royce for their help in negotiating
the "Beatles deal".
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