Saturday, December 1, 2012

30 Years of Thriller

True legends have that one movie, television show or album that solidified their legendary status. Whitney Houston had the Bodyguard soundtrack, Marlon Brando had the Godfather movies and Denzel Washington had the movie Malcolm X. Michael's was Thriller; a album that had nine songs that produced two number one hits and seven top ten hits. Thriller was number one on the billboard charts for 37 weeks in a row and supposedly sold one million copies every week. Thriller is also the best selling album of all time in America and Worldwide. Thriller won a record eight Grammys in 1984 and eight American Music Awards that same year. This past Friday, November 30th, Thriller celebrated 30 years and when I think about that milestone, I think about how much of an impact the album made in Michael's life and the lives of his family. I think about the impact that the album made in the music business and I also think about how the album changed the way we listen to music forever. I am not going to do this entry to talk about the impact because that is well known and documented. Rather, I am going to talk about what I like from that time in his life. The Thriller album created the "eras" that artists experience during a certain time their work has been released. For example, the word, "Era" means a time period and in regards to Michael, from 1982 to 1985, that time period was known as the Thriller era. 

The classic Thriller album.

To begin, I like to talk about the Motown 25 performance that Michael did back in 1983. Michael was asked by the founder of Motown, Berry Gordy, to perform at the special and Michael did just that. He not only performed with his brothers singing the classic Jackson 5 hits, but he also performed his song "Billie Jean". When he performed that song on the special, it became the most watched special of that night and it made Michael a bigger star that he ever was before. When you watch that performance, you start to see the beginning of a legend. 

Motown 25 "Billie Jean" performance.

When Michael was winning Grammys and American Music Awards, they were television events. Over 30 million people watch Michael win the awards that he worked so hard to achieve. He was determined, when his previous classic album, Off The Wall, only won one Grammy that his next album will sell 100 million copies and win various awards. Only a person of God can have that happened to them and Michael was a person of God who had that amazing feat happen to him. 

Michael at the 1984 Grammys winning Record of the Year.

Michael at the 1984 Grammys.

Michael at the American Music Awards in 1984.

In the 1984 American Music Awards, Michael was given the Lifetime of Merit award and he was the youngest performer/entertainer to ever received that award (25). 

In 1983, Michael went a James Brown concert and the video of this amazing event was leaked years ago online. The video is a huge hit on and in the video, James Brown sees Michael and tells Michael to come up on stage and sing/perform with him. In the same concert, but not in the video that I am about to post, the singer, Prince, was also in the video. It is an amazing thing to witnessed because you see two generations of influential  black entertainers doing their thing and when do we ever see that? It is a rare thing to witness. 

Michael performing at a James Brown Concert in 1983.

Michael rarely did interviews throughout his amazing career. It is understandable why he did not do interviews because the media has become a joke and it is a tool to ruin the rich, talented and famous. Before the tabloid show, Entertainment Tonight paid for interviews, they were, for the most part, a legitimate entertainment show. Michael did an interview with the show and talked about the success of Thriller and other things. 

Michael being interviewed in 1983.

The Making of Thriller was the first of its kind to do a documentary on a music video/short film. The Thriller short film is the greatest music video of all time and the most successful. The documentary of the making of the short film sold over 500,000 when it was first released to video. In the documentary, the viewer will see how Michael, with the help of the director, John Landis, make-up artist Rick Baker and the late choreographer Michael Peters, created the classic that is the Thriller short film. You will also see the greatness, innocence, sweetness and the joy that was Michael. 

The Making of "Thriller" short film.

When Michael teamed up with Lionel Richie to write the song "We Are The World", he wanted people to be aware of the horrible famine that was happening in Africa in 1985. Michael, with the help of Quincy Jones gathered some of the biggest music stars of that era to come to the studio and record the song. "We Are The World" became one of the biggest hits of 1985 and raised millions of dollars to aide the famine in Africa.

"We Are the World" music video.

Michael took a lot of pictures throughout his career and personal life. The pictures that were taken during the Thriller era are some of the most memorable images of the era. It shows Michael at his peak of his career. 

When I think about Michael's legacy, I think about all of the great things that he has done in his career and in his life. This year saw the milestones of two major events that happened in Michael's life and career: the 25th Anniversary of Bad and the 30th anniversary of Thriller. The executors of Michael's estate are responsible for making sure that Michael's legacy will not become a money machine for anyone to make money on. Sadly, the executors of his Estate has made it a mission to divide Michael's family, create things about Michael's career that never happened and refuses to remove the Michael album from the shelves and because of the three fraudulent songs that are included in the album. During the Thriller era, Michael started to focus more on his humanitarian efforts and the Estate executors have not made any attempts on donating the earnings from the various deals the Estate executors have made to the charities that Michael supported when he was alive. When I was viewing the video of "We Are the World", I could not help but be amazed of the vision Michael had to change the world. This man sat down with his friend Lionel Richie and wrote a song reminding people of what we have to do for our fellow human beings. When I watched the Making of Thriller, I watched Michael be aware of what was going on and how his short film for "Thriller" was being made. He made sure to participate in all of the things that he had to do for the short film and made sure that he include himself in what he had to do for the short film to happen. Michael was dedicated to making the "Thriller" short film the success that it became. Spike Lee could have put in the same determination Michael had with his work on to the Bad documentary to make sure the right people spoke for him. However, in a way, Mr. Lee included people in the documentary that did not have anything kind to say about Michael when he was here. Mr. Lee did not do any real research on Michael to correct some of the mistakes in the documentary. Instead of Quincy Jones being there to talk about the process of making the classic Bad album, Mr. Lee puts John Branca, a music lawyer who has no idea how to make music, to talk about Michael as if he was one of the main producers of the Bad album. The executors are not honoring what Michael was about and what he stood for. Thriller was the album that changed Michael's life forever - for the good and for the bad. Fans of Michael need to understand that the 30th anniversary of Thriller is about celebrating the greatness of a man who had a dream and made that dream come true. Unfortunately, he is no longer here to watch his dream turn 30 and reflect on a time of his life where he singlehandingly changed the world. 



Videos -

Pictures -
The pictures came from my personal harddrive.