Music
In Honour Of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” Album Being Released 30 Years Ago Today, Here’s 30 Facts Y
November 30, 2012
submit to reddit

in-honour-of-michael-jacksons-thriller-being-released-30-years-ago-today-here's-30-facts-you-might-not-know-feature1.jpg

30 years ago today, Michael Jackson's greatest album 'Thriller' went on sale in record stores around the world.

It became the biggest selling album in both U.S. and international history, with more 110 million copies and counting.

It also revolutionized the making of music videos and confirmed Jackson's place as one of the greatest artists and entertainers of all time.

So, in that spirit, here are 30 facts you might not know about 'Thriller'.

1. Every song released from 'Thriller' became a top 10 single. There were 7 top ten hits: "Thriller," "Beat It," "Billie Jean," "Human Nature," "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin," "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing" and "The Girl Is Mine."

2. 'Thriller' sold the most records in the U.S. in 1983 and 1984. It is the only album ever to have sold the most copies in two separate years.

3. At the height of the song "Thriller's" popularity, MTV would run the 14-minute video two times an hour.

4. Jackson won 8 Grammy Awards in 1984, but only 7 were for 'Thriller'. The other was for a children's song he did for 'E.T. the Extra Terrestrial' called "Someone in the Dark."

5. Brooke Shields was Jackson's date to the '84 Grammys.

6. Jackson was said to be inspired to write 'Thriller' because he was upset his previous record 'Off The Wall' didn't sell as much he expected. As the story goes, he told his manager her wanted to be the biggest star in show business and "the wealthiest".

7. At the start of the "Thriller" video, there is a disclaimer from Jackson making it clear he does not endorse any belief in the occult. Apprently, he insisted on that as he was a devout Jehovah's Witness at the time.

8. The song "Thriller" was originally going to be called "Starlight."

9. Apparently, Quincy Jones wanted to call the song "Billie Jean" - "Not My Lover" - so people wouldn't think it was about tennis legend Billie Jean King.

10. Real gang members were brought it to be extras in the "Beat It" video. It was said to be Jackson's idea.

11. Eddie Van Halen does the guitar solo for "Beat It."

12. The album 'Thriller' is also credited with breaking down racial barriers on FM radio. A "white" station in New York at the time - WPLJ - reportedly played "Beat It" because of Van Halen's appearance on it. Some listeners protested, saying they didn't want "black" music on their station.

13. Similarly, MTV was known playing white performers at the time. Apparently, it wasn't interested in playing the video for "Billie Jean" video. The president of CBS Records, Walter Yetnikoff, threatened to pull all his videos off the network. So, MTV agreed to play it.

14. In 1984, Jackson's videos for "Thriller" and "Say, Say, Say" were listed as too violent by the U.S. National Coalition on Television Violence. The group targeted more than 100 MTV videos, with the head of the coalition saying, "It's not hard to imagine young viewers after seeing 'Thriller' saying, 'Gee, if Michael Jackson can terrorize his girlfriend, why can't I do it too?'"

15. At the height of "Thriller's" success, Jackson was invited to the White House to meet U.S. President Ronald Reagan.

16. Legendary horror film actor Vincent Price took $20,000 up front to record his "rap" for the song "Thriller". In the end, he could have made millions in royalties.

17. Weird Al Yankovic won a Grammy for his parody of "Beat It", called "Eat It"

18. Janet and LaToya Jackson sang back-up on the track "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)"

19. The man who wrote the song "Thriller," Rod Temperton, also wrote songs for Boyz II Men, Herbie Hancock, Karen Carpenter and Michael McDonald.

20. "Thriller" is the first music video to ever be added to the U.S. National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.

21. The album's opening song, "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'," is the longest track, at more than six minutes. But the radio version is about two minutes shorter.

22. The famous "Mama-say mama-sah ma-ma-coo-sah" chant from "Wanna Be Startin' Somthin" comes from a 1972 disco song called "Soul Makossa" by Manu Dibango. Dibango sued Jackson over the lyric. They settled out of court.

23. Although "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' " was one of the album's biggest singles, Jackson never made a video for it.

24. The video "Billie Jean," was directed by Steve Barron, who also directed A-ha's "Take on Me."

25. A Texas man bought Jackson's red 'Thriller' jacket for $1.8 million last year. According to Rolling Stone, he planned to use the jacket to raise money for children's hospitals.

26. Ola Ray, who played Jackson's date in the "Thriller" video was a Playboy centerfold in 1980.

27. Jackson hired director John Landis (and make-up artist Rick Baker) after seeing his 1981 horror film 'An American Werewolf in London'. Jackson had never seen Landis' biggest hits at the time: 'Animal House' and 'Trading Places'.

28. Landis also made Jackson's 1991 video for the hit song 'Black or White'.

29. Rick Baker actually appears in the "Thriller" video: - He's the zombie who stumbles out of the mausoleum.

30. The 1988 movie "Return of the Living Dead Part II" features a zombie dressed as Michael Jackson.

Related stories

Spike Lee & His New Documentary 'Bad 25' About Michael Jackson's 'Bad' Album

Andrew Lloyd Webber On How Michael Jackson Could Have Easily Been The Phantom

Why Is A British Soccer Team Erecting A Statue Of Michael Jackson?

Comments

Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Submission Policy

Note: The CBC does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that comments are moderated and published according to our submission guidelines.