‘Thriller’ is the first music video to ever be added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress
The song “Thriller” was originally titled “Starlight”
Film director John Landis (left) not only made ‘Thriller’ but he also made Jackson’s controversial 1991 video for the hit song ‘Black or White’.
A “gold trader” in Texas bought Jackson’s red ‘Thriller’ jacket for $1.8 million in 2011. He planned to “use the iconic jacket to raise money for children’s hospitals around the world,” according to Rolling Stone.
Jackson was inspired by hire Landis (and make-up artist Rick Baker) after seeing his cult 1981 horror film ‘An American Werewolf in London’. Ironically Jackson had never seen Landis’ biggest hits at the time: ‘Animal House’ and ‘Trading Places’
Jackson’s ‘King of Pop’ moniker didn’t actually originate in the ‘Thriller’ era. He embraced the term in 1991 around the time ‘Dangerous’ was released.
Although 1984’s hugely successful ‘Victory Tour’ was billed as a reunion of The Jacksons, it was largely spurned by the success of ‘Thriller’ — and the King of Pop performed hits from that album throughout the concert series.
The famous “Mama-say mama-sah ma-ma-coo-sah” chant from “Wanna Be Startin’ Somthin'” actually comes from Manu Dibango’s 1972 disco song “Soul Makossa”. Dibango sued Jackson over the lyric and the two settled out of court.
“At the height of the song’s popularity, MTV would run the 14-minute ‘Thriller’ video twice an hour,” reports the Los Angeles Times.
‘Thriller’ was largely inspired by the lack of critical recognition Michael Jackson’s ‘Off the Wall’ received. While that 1979 was a huge hit, it only scored one Grammy nomination.
Michael Peters, the late choreographer behind “Beat It” and “Thriller”, also choreographed the original Broadway incarnation of ‘Dreamgirls’.
The tiger cub featured on the iconic ‘Thriller’ album cover died of lung cancer in June.
“Billie Jean” was inspired by a real life crazed Jackson fan, who accused the singer of being the father of “one of her twins.”
In order to keep the budget for the ”Thriller’ music video under $500,000, the behind the scenes footage was sold to MTV and Showtime for several hundred thousand dollars.
Reportedly when MTV initially balked at playing Jackson’s “Billie Jean” music video (there was an alleged unspoken ban on black artists), the president of CBS Records, Walter Yetnikoff, threatened to pull all his videos off the network. MTV caved, and the rest is history.
Every song released from ‘Thriller’ became a top 10 single. The hits included:“Thriller,” “Beat It,” “Billie Jean,” “Human Nature,” and “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’”
Of the then-record 8 Grammys Jackson won in 1984, only 7 were for ‘Thriller’, the other was for a children’s recording he did for the film ‘E.T. the Extra Terrestrial’
Some of the background singers actually recorded their parts in a bathroom shower stall to take advantage of its unique acoustics
Ola Ray, who played Michael Jackson’s love interest in the Thriller music video had been a Playboy centerfold in 1980.
Quincy Jones wanted to call “Billie Jean” — “Not My Lover” — because he was worried people would think it was about tennis legend Billie Jean King (pictured).
According to the Los Angeles Times, “The music video of “Thriller” played in a Westwood theater for one week in 1983 to qualify for an Oscar nomination. It opened for Disney’s ‘Fantasia,’ much to the dismay of unsuspecting parents.”
Weird Al Yankovic won a Grammy for his parody of “Beat It”, called “Eat It”
It was Michael Jackson’s idea to hire real life gangs to appear in the video for “Beat It.”
“The Girl Is Mine” wasn’t actually Paul McCartney’s first collaboration with Michael Jackson. He wrote the underrated “Girlfriend” for 1979’s ‘Off The Wall’.
‘Thriller’ is the only album to have sold more copies in the United States than any other in two separate years, topping the sales charts in 1983 and 1984.
Legendary horror film actor Vincent Price took $20K up front to record his “rap” for the song ‘Thriller’, turning down millions in back end profits he could have made after the album’s release.
LaToya and Janet Jackson provided backing vocals on the track “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)”
Jackson was a devout Jehovah’s Witness at the time the video for ‘Thriller’ was made, so insisted on a personal disclaimer in the beginning that reads, “Due to my strong personal convictions, I wish to stress that this film in no way endorses a belief in the occult.”
Jackson spent a lot of time on the set of 1981’s ‘On Golden Pond’ with stars Jane Fonda and Katharine Hepburn right before making ‘Thriller’. He became so close to Hepburn he thanked her personally at the Grammys when ‘Thriller’ won best album.
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Thirty years ago today Michael Jackson’s greatest masterpiece, Thriller, was released in record stores.
The history of this album is fairly well known. It became the biggest selling album in both American and international history, with over 110 million copies and counting.
It also revolutionized the art form of music videos and cemented Jackson’s status as one of the most beloved and acclaimed artists of all time.
But there still may be some facts you don’t know about the blockbuster R&B classic.
Check out this slideshow, which pays homage to King of Pop’s biggest released triumph.