'Thriller 40' - Out now!
'Thriller 40' - Out now!
Includes previously unreleased material
“The Girl Is Mine” was recorded by Michael and Paul at Westlake Studios, Los Angeles, from April 14th to 16th, 1982. A year earlier, the duo had recorded “Say Say Say” and “The Man.” Both were released after “The Girl Is Mine” on McCartney’s fifth solo album, “Pipes of Peace”.
During the recording of the narration, Michael became so upset when E.T. died that he cried. Quincy Jones and Steven Spielberg believed that recording it again would not change Michael’s emotional reaction. So they decided to leave the crying in the finished recording.
Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones begin work on the Thriller album.
Just months before ‘Thriller,’ Michael’s longtime friend Diana Ross released ‘Muscles,’ which was written and produced by Michael who also provided uncredited background vocals.
The debut single from ‘Thriller,’ a duet with Paul McCartney, ‘The Girl Is Mine’ is released and goes on to to reach number 8 on the UK charts and peaks at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. The B-Side was ‘Can’t Get Outta The Rain.’
This was released by MCA in the same month as ‘Thriller’ despite conditions by Epic Records that it should not be released until after Michael’s solo album. As a result, Epic took legal action against MCA which forced the album’s withdrawal, making it a collectors item. The album reached number 37 on the Billboard 200 and number 82 on the UK Albums Chart and won Michael a Grammy Award for Best Recording for Children.
After months of hard work, re-recording and engineering, ‘Thriller’ is finally released. After today, the music world changes forever.
Michael and E.T. are on the front cover of Ebony magazine. They dedicate seven pages to him and discuss the ‘E.T. Storybook,’ ‘Thriller,’ and an overview of his recent work including ‘The Wiz.’
Probably the most consequential single from the album, ‘Billie Jean’ arguably became Michael’s signature song and hit number one is many countries, including the UK and USA. The B-Side was ‘Can’t Get Outta The Rain.’
Michael attended the British Record Industry Awards at London’s at Grosvenor House Hotel to receive an award on Barbra Streisand’s behalf for her album ‘Memories.’
‘Beat It’ was released on valentines day, and quickly became a huge hit reaching number one on the Billboard chart and number three in the UK. The B-side was ‘Get on the Floor’ from his 1979 album ‘Off the Wall.’
Michael appeared on the front cover of Rolling Stone, issue 389. The article inside was titled “Life as a Man In the Magical Kingdom”. In the interview for the magazine he spoke about ‘Thriller,’ his career, and wanting to escape it all.
At a CBS Records press conference actress Jane Fonda presents Michael with a double platinum certification for ‘Thriller.’
‘Thriller’ makes Michael the first artist in history to simultaneously hold the number one spot on both the American (Billboard) and UK album charts.
Filming for the ‘Beat It’ music video beings in Skid Row, east of Hollywood. 50 actual LA gang members appear in the video next to 25 dancers, to give it an authentic look.
‘Billie Jean’ became the first video by a black artist to be aired in heavy rotation on MTV. The channel initially refused to air the video and so Walter Yetnikoff, the president of CBS Records, threatened to pull all their music videos from MTV unless they played Michael. He told MTV he was going to go public with the “fact you don’t want to play music by a black guy”. After the video was aired in heavy rotation, Thriller went on to sell an additional 10 million copies.
Rehearsals for the TV special ‘Motown 25’ begin with Michael and his brothers.
‘Beat It’ plays on rotation on MTV. The video, inspired by ‘West Side Story,’ was directed by Bob Giraldi and choreographed by Michael Peters, who also took the role of one of the lead gang dancers (in the white jacket).
Nearly a month before it’s due to air on TV, Motown 25 is recorded in front of a live audience at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.
Michael appears on the front page of Jet magazine. The article covered his interview with Ebony/Jet TV show, which took place during the filming of the ‘Beat It’ music video.
‘Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin” becomes the fourth single from the ‘Thriller’ album. It reached number five on the Billboard Hot 100, and number eight in the UK. The B-side was ‘Rock With You,’ taken from the 1981 ‘The Jacksons Live!’ album.
47 million people tune in to watch Michael perform the moonwalk for the very first time. After performing Jackson 5 greatest hits with his brothers, Michael takes the stage by himself to perform ‘Billie Jean.’ The performance is received with critical acclaim across the world. It’s nominated for an Emmy award and the sales of ‘Thriller’ soar.
Michael appeared on the front cover of the music magazine Creem.
Capitalizing on the massive success of ‘Thriller,’ Motown releases ’18 Greatest Hits.’ The compilation album contains some of the biggest hits from the Jackson 5 and Michael as a solo artist on their record label. The album was exclusively released in the UK and went to number one on the album charts.
‘Human Nature’ is released and peaks at number seven on the Billboard chart. B-side is ‘Baby Be Mine.’
‘P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)’ is released, with the B-side being ‘Working Day and Night’ and ‘Thriller’ (instrumental). It peaks at number ten in the USA and number eleven in the UK.
Michael is splashed on the front page of Rock & Soul magazine, with an article entitled ‘The new me.’
The duet with Paul McCartney, ‘Say Say Say,’ is released from McCartney’s ‘Pipes of Peace’ album. The song hit the top spot on the Billboard charts and number two in the UK.
Shooting for the ‘Say Say Say’ music video begins. It was filmed at Sycamore Valley Ranch, which Michael bought five years later and renamed it Neverland Valley Ranch.
Paul McCartney releases ‘Pipes of Peace,’ which features two duets with Michael Jackson. ‘Say Say Say’ and ‘The Man.’ Both tracks were recorded in 1981, a whole year before any tracks for ‘Thriller’ started.
A collectors pack of 9 singles, all printed on red vinyl, is released in the UK. The pack contains singles from both ‘Off the Wall’ and ‘Thriller’ albums.
The Jacksons get together to start recording their final full album with Michael, Victory. It takes six months to record the eight-track album, which includes a duet with Mick Jagger.
Michael appears with his brothers and promoter Don King in New York to announce plans for the forthcoming Jacksons tour. The Victory tour will reunite all the Jackson brothers together. King did most of the talking, while Michael introduced his parents.
The ‘Michael Jackson Suite’ at the Hotel Royal Plaza in Disney World opens. The suite displays many of his awards, including Grammys and American Music Awards.
A year and a day since the release of the album, and MTV debuts the title track 14 minute short film. The short film cost $800,000 of Michael’s own money to make and changed the face of music videos forever.
‘The Making of Michael Jackson’s Thriller’ VHS receives over 100,000 advance orders. It goes on to sell more than a million copies, becoming the biggest-selling music video ever.
Michael and Paul McCartney appear on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine with the tagline “Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney team up for TV”
Michael visits the Burn Center at the Brotman Memorial Hospital in LA to cheer up patients. Ironically little did he know he would be a patient there just two weeks later when he suffers severe burns to his scalp during the filming of the infamous Pepsi commercial.
Michael wins Top Male Vocalist, Best Album (‘Thriller’), Best Single (‘Billie Jean’), and Best Video Performance (‘Beat It’) at the first Black Gold Awards. While he couldn’t attend in person, he recorded a video message for each win.
‘Somebody’s Watching Me’ by Rockwell (Berry Gordy’s son) is released on the Motown label. Michael provides his vocals for the catchy chorus, with additional background vocals by his brother Jermaine. It peaked at number two in the USA and six in the UK. However it topped the charts in many other countries. It’s since become a Halloween classic, gaining popularity ever October.
A two LP set is released by ABC. It contained a radio broadcast, which aired interviews of Michael throughout the 1970s until 1983. It came with a cue sheet in a deluxe box and included interviews with his brothers and Quincy Jones among others. It also had music from the Jackson 5, Jacksons, ‘The Wiz,’ ‘Off the Wall’ and even some tracks from ‘Thriller.’
Michael wins an unprecedented eight awards at the American Music Awards including Favorite Pop/Rock Album, Single, Video, and Male Artist. He attended the event with Brooke Shields as his date.
Having previously been released in the UK in November 1983, ‘Thriller’ is released as a single in the US with the Jacksons track ‘Things I Do for You’ from the 1978 album ‘Destiny’ as the B-side. It reached number four on the Billboard charts, and peaked at number 10 in the UK. It becomes the final single to be released from the ‘Thriller’ album and set a new record, making Michael the first artist in history to achieve seven top ten singles from one album.
Michael and his brothers filmed a Pepsi commercial alongside a young Alfonso Ribeiro (later known for portraying Carlton on ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’). Michael sang a parody of ‘Billie Jean,’ changing the lyrics to be about Pepsi’s new generation.
During a recording for a Pepsi commercial, Michael and his brothers were performing in front of an audience of 3,000 when he went too close to a pyrotechnic. Flames landed on Michael’s head burning through his hair, and he suffered second-degree burns to his scalp. He was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and later moved to Brotman Memorial Hospital.
Michael receives an award from the Guinness Book of World Records for selling 25 million of ‘Thriller;’ more than any other album in history. The event is held in front of 15,000 guests at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Natural History. On receiving the award Michael said “I’ve always wanted to do great things and achieve many thing. But for the first time in my entire career, I feel like I’ve accomplished something because I’m in the Guinness Book of World Records”.
Michael attends the premiere for the Pepsi commercials at New York City’s Lincoln Center. The advertisements become so successful, that on the night of the Grammy Awards they become the first (and only) commercials to be included in the weekly TV Guide listings.
A picture of Michael with Brooke Shields from the Guinness World Records event graces the cover of Jet magazine. The story is about the unique friendship they share.
Michael wins a record breaking eight Grammy Awards. They include Album of the Year (‘Thriller’), Best Pop Male Vocal Performance, Record of the Year (‘Beat It’), Best R&B Male Vocal Performance (‘Billie Jean’) and even Best Recording for Children (‘E.T. Storybook’).
Weird Al Yankovic releases ‘Eat It,’ a parody of ‘Beat It.’ Michael gave him personal permission for Yankovic to record the song, which went on to win a Grammy Award.
Michael was on the front cover of Rolling Stone magazine, where he published an open letter to promoter Don King instructing him to not communicate with anyone on behalf of Michael. The letter went further to say that any money made by Michael on the upcoming Victory tour should not be collected by King, and that King should not do anything without Michael’s personal approval.
Artist Andy Warhol creates an image of Michael for the front cover of Time magazine. The cover becomes an iconic image in Michael’s career, and this edition of Time cover Michael with a large nine page article.
Vice President of Promotions at Epic Records, Frank Dileo, became Michael’s manager. He stayed with Michael throughout the 1980s, becoming a huge influence in Michael’s life.
An interview recorded the previous year with Michael and Quincy sitting together and talking about ‘Thriller’ is aired in a TV special called ‘I Love Quincy.’ During the interview Michael brings out his pet snake.
Michael attended the 56th Academy Awards Board of Governors Ball (known as the after party) with Liza Minnelli, who presented the Best Actress award that night.
Jermaine Jackson releases his self-titled debut album, which contains the duet with his brother Michael ‘Tell Me I’m Not Dreamin’.’ Internationally the album is called ‘Dynamite.’
Michael attend the opening ceremony of a nineteen bed unit at the Mount Sinai New York Medical Center, which he had donated $3 million to. The unit is part of the T.J. Martell Foundation, which does medical research for leukemia, cancer and AIDS.
Michael visits Frank Sinatra in the studio as the legendary singer records his final album ‘L.A. is my Lady,’ which was being produced by Quincy Jones. Footage of the two meeting features in the music video for the title track, and is included in a documentary ‘Frank Sinatra: Portrait of an Album,’ released the following year.
Ebony has a picture of Michael on the front cover from the Guinness World Records Awards ceremony. The article inside is all about his rise to be the greatest entertainer of all time.
Two ‘Thriller’ 3D Viewmasters are released. A classic red viewer, and a larger white one, which came with three discs that played music.
To celebrate his mothers 54th birthday, Michael attends a party in her honor. During the night he serenades her by singing a short rendition of ‘For the Good Times’ to her.
Motown release ‘Farewell My Summer Love.’ The compilation album consists of unreleased Michael Jackson songs recorded from January to October 1973. It goes on to peak at number 9 in the UK charts.
Michael attends a Kool and the Gang concert in New York with Tatum O’Neal. As to not be recognized he disguised himself in a beard and afro wig.
Michael visits Shirley Maclaine backstage after her performance in ‘Shirley MacLaine on Broadway.’
President Ronald Reagan presents Michael with a Special Achievement Award in recognition of his contribution to discouraging people to drink and drive.
Jet magazine run a front page news story dedicated the Jacksons upcoming Victory Tour.
Michael has a meeting about Camp Good Times, which is a charity dedicated to young caner patients. It’s organized by McDonalds and also includes Dustin Hoffman and Neil Diamond.
Michael attends the unveiling ceremony of his waxwork at the Guinness Museum of World Records in San Fransisco.
The first single from the ‘Victory’ album, ‘State of Shock,’ is released. Lead vocals are by Michael and Mick Jagger, making it all but a duet between the two. The b-side was ‘Your Ways’ from the previous Jacksons album ‘Triumph’ in 1980. The song hits number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and 14 in the UK. The song was originally recorded with Freddie Mercury instead of Jagger. The version has since leaked on the internet. ‘State of ‘Shock would become the last top ten hit for the Jacksons.
‘Victory’ is released, becoming the fifteenth studio album by the Jackson brothers. It was the bands last album to be entirely recorded with Michael as the lead singer, as well as their first album to feature Jermaine Jackson in nearly a decade. It peaks at number 3 in the UK charts, and number 4 on Billboard.
After being accused by an young girl that the Jacksons were being “selfish and just out for money,” Michael holds a press conference announcing that all of his proceeds from the Victory tour will be donated to charity.
Michael and his brother Tito accept the Dr. H. Claude Hudson Medal of Freedom Award by the NAACP and the 1984 Olympic Medal of Friendship Award on behalf of the Jacksons.
At 9:45pm the Victory tour opens at the Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. Approximately 2 million people saw the live show during its five month run of 55 dates.
While in Dallas as part of the Van Halen tour, lead guitarist Eddie Van Halen, who performed the iconic guitar solo in ‘Beat It,’ joined the Jacksons on stage to perform the smash hit with Michael.
Michael appears on the front cover of Newsweek, which talks about all the excitement around the new Victory tour.
LJN toys release a series of 6 Michael Jackson dolls, each with a different outfit. The outfits were ‘Beat It,’ ‘Billie Jean,’ the Grammys Awards, ‘Thriller,’ ‘Human Nature,’ and the American Music Awards. You could also get additional miscellaneous outfits to change your dolls, including a sparkly Motown one. Each doll cost $13.
Billboard devotes a magazine to Michael, with a 28 page pullout, including great artwork to promote the Victory tour.
‘Torture’ is released as the second single from the ‘Victory’ album. The song reached number 17 on the Billboard charts and number 26 in the UK. It became their last song to hit the top 40 in the US.
Backstage at Madison Square Garden for the Victory tour, Michael met with Kermit the Frog and his creator, Muppets legend Jim Henson
The Jacksons go ahead and start shooting the music video for ‘Torture.’ Michael decided not to participate in the filming for the music video and so a Madame Tussaud’s waxwork was used in his place throughout.
Michael filmed a short video of him flanked by over a dozen police officers, all wearing sunglasses like he was, as he walked down the steps of City Hall, leading the way.
Michael releases a statement through his manager Frank Dileo. In the statement Michael denies using hormones to maintain his higher voice, having cosmetic surgery on his eyes, or altering his cheekbones. He confirms that one day he hopes to get married and have children. He said he released the statement after my deliberation, because of the trauma those close to him were suffering.
Michael sat with Ed Meese in the Presidential Box at the Kennedy Center’s Opera House to watch Anthony Quinn in Zorba.
‘Body’ by the Jacksons is released as the third single from ‘Victory.’ Michael sings chorus for the song and doesn’t appear in the music video. It peaks at number 47 on the Billboard charts.
Michael’s older sister Rebbie releases her debut album ‘Centipede.’ Michael wrote, produced and sang backing vocals on the title track.
Magician Franz Harary, who is in charge of the stage illusions for the Victory tour shows in Vancouver, Canada, levitates Michael for the cameras backstage.
Michael is made an honorary member of the New Westminster Police Department in British Columbia, Canada. He swears as a police constable to serve the Queen and cause the peace to be kept and preserved.
Michael unveils his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame just outside Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (then known as Mann’s Chinese Theatre). Michael never got a chance to give his speech, as 5,000 people came to see him and there was concern a stampede to get near him may occur.
Michael appears in court due to a $5 million lawsuit that was filed claiming he didn’t write ‘The Girl Is Mine.’ During the proceedings Michael revealed how he composes his songs. He said “I put them in a tape recorder and I orally sing them into the tape.” The copyright suit was closed after the jury of five men and a woman reached a verdict in Michael’s favor after three days of deliberation.
After 55 shows, the Jacksons Victory tour comes to a close at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. During the show Michael announced his split from the Jacksons.
Michael attends a ceremony at the Brotman Memorial Hospital to open the Michael Jackson Burn Centre, which he donated $1.5 million to. After the ceremony he toured the hospital and met with patients.
Jermaine Jackson’s duet with Michael, ‘Tell Me I’m Not Dreamin’ (Too Good to Be True),’ is released as the B-side to one of Jermaine’s biggest songs ‘Do What You Do.’ Previously in July 1984 the instrumental version was released as the B-side to another release called ‘Dynamite.’ Legals differences between Michael’s label, Epic, and Jermaine’s label, Arista, stopped it being released as a single in its own right.
Michael rescues Bubbles the chimp from a cancer research center in Texas. The ape becomes famous and the association with Michael is lifelong. During the rest of the 1980s they have a close relationship with Michael teaching him many tricks, bringing him to press conferences, recording sessions and on tour.
Michael wrote the foreword for the book ‘Curly: An Illustrated Biography of the Superstooge,’ written by Joan Mauer Howard. Reflecting on the impact the Three Stooges had on him growing up, Michael said “The stooges’ craziness helped me to relax and to escape life’s burdens. They influenced me so much that I even wrote a song about them.”
Michael and Lionel Richie sit down and start to compose the charity single ‘We Are The World’ at Michael’s home in Hayvenhurst. The idea was started by Harry Belafonte. The song was completed over the course of a week, and the demo was recorded on January 22nd.
Michael and 44 other artists record the charity single ‘We Are The World.’ The stars gathered after the American Music Awards at A&M Recording Studios in LA. As they came in there was a sign hanging up that said; “Please check your egos at the door.” The recording session took 10 hours.
At the Grammy Awards, Michael wins the Best Video Album award for ‘The Making of Thriller’ making it the 8th Grammy associated with the ‘Thriller’ album. Michael did not attend the ceremony.
The final single from the ‘Victory’ album was released, in the UK only. ‘Wait’ didn’t reach the top 40 charts. The b-side was a live version of ‘She’s Out Of My Life.’
‘We Are The World’ is released and becomes a massive number one hit in almost every country it’s released in, including America and the UK. In the USA it goes on to sell over 20 million copies and became the fastest-selling single in US history. A year later at the 1986 Grammy Awards, the song wins multiple awards including Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Music Video.
During a visit to London, Michael watches Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Starlight Express’ musical.
Michael arrived at Madame Tussaud’s in London to unveil his waxwork. Outside 8,000 fans lined the streets waiting for him. As he left he jumped on the roof of the car to wave to everyone.
A police drill is performed for Michael, and he’s then presented with a badge and helmet from the Marylebone Police Station.
“We Are The World: The Video Event” is released on VHS. It’s a documentary of the recording, and contains the music video, which is a compilation of the event.
The Caribbean island of St. Vincent release eight official stamps of Michael.
Michael, Lionel Richie, Bruce Springsteen, Cyndi Lauper, Willie Nelson, Tina Turner and Bob Dylan appear on the cover of Life magazine. The editions main focuses is on “We Are The World.”
‘We Are The World’ album is released and hits number one in the USA. Like the single, all proceeds go towards famine relief efforts in Ethiopia.
The Diana Ross song “Eaten Alive” is released. It’s written by Michael Jackson and Barry and Maurice Gibb. Michael also sang background vocals along with co-singing lead with Diana.