40 facts about a groundbreaking record

The best-selling album in the world celebrates its 40th anniversary on Wednesday. Michael Jackson’s Thriller was a musical revolution in 1982. Forty facts about an iconic record.

Alexander van Eenennaam

1. Jackson’s white suit on the album cover was borrowed by the photographer, Dick Zimmerman. A stylist had brought two full racks of clothes, but Jackson didn’t see anything nice. “He pointed at me and asked if I had another suit like that,” Zimmerman recalled years later. “We were almost the same size, I offered him to carry mine. I pulled something out of the rack.”

2. Thriller is the best-selling album of all time with 70 million copies, according to the record company the number is even around 110 million.

3. Seven of the nine songs became singles: The girl is mine, Billie Jean, Beat it, Wanna be startin’ something, Human nature, PYT and Thriller.

4. Brit Rod Temperton, who died in 2016, composed three songs from the album, including the title track. He also wrote out the spoken lines Thriller.

5. The album won eight Grammys, a record at the time.

6. To correct the dull bass sound Billy Jean sound engineer Bruce Swedien put a fabric cover over the bass drum and isolated the sound.

7. Jackson himself wrote four songs for the album: Beat it, The girl is mine, Billie Jean and Do you want to start something.

8. Eddie Van Halen recorded the famous guitar solo Step. He also changed the number in several places, something which Jackson gratefully accepted afterwards.

9. In addition to Van Halen, members of the band Toto also contributed to the album: drummer Jeff Porcaro, keyboardist Steve Porcaro (who human nature co-wrote) and guitarist Steve Lukather.

10. For recording the scary lyrics on the title track Thriller is the horror actor Vincent Price (1911-1993) responsible.

11. Called in the first instance Thriller Or else: Starlight. The text Because this is thriller/thriller night was originally We need some starlight/starlight sun. Thriller more suited to the mystique that Jackson wanted to exude. Starlight appeared as a bonus track on the anniversary edition this month.

12. Jackson did not write his songs on paper, but sang or hummed them into his Dictaphone.

13. As compensation for his spoken texts regarding Thriller Vince Price could choose between $20,000 or a percentage of sales. He made the worst decision of his life.

14. Habit Billy Jean 91 mixes were made. Producer Quincy Jones came into the studio while the 91st was playing and said listen to track 2. That was it.

15. The signature synthesizer sound with which Step begins is taken directly from a 1981 album of demo sounds from a synthesizer, the Synclavier II. Composer Denny Jaeger was not credited. He later appeared in the credits of follow-up albums bathwith the songs Cheeky diana and Smooth criminal.

16. Thriller had to become the best-selling album of all time, Quincy Jones and Jackson decided. Every song had to be a hit. Despite the high pressure, it succeeded.

17. The recording and mixing time was seven months.

18. The budget for the album was $750,000, which compares to $2 million today.

19. Jackson’s desire to make the greatest album ever was partly due to the magazine’s rejection Rolling stones to him with priest Off the wall to put on the cover. Black artists on the cover didn’t sell, was the thinking back then.

20. Thriller was recorded at Westlake Studios in Los Angeles.

21. In the US, the album spent 37 weeks at #1 in 1983 and 1984.

22. The first song recorded on April 14, 1982: The girl is minea duet with Paul McCartney.

23. Habit Thriller two anniversary editions have been created: the first after 25 years, the second was published this month.

24. Producer Quincy Jones liked the intro to Billy Jean too far. Jackson stood firm and said it spurred him on to dance. Jackson got his way.

25. Eddie Van Halen refused to pay for his solo op Step. He kept his contribution a secret, not expecting anyone to ever find out. Later printings have his name in the credits.

26. Do you want to start something was originally intended as an album Off the wallJackson copied the text part Mama-see, mama-sa, ma-ma-coo-sa from the number Soul Makossa by Cameroonian artist Manu Dibango. In the Netherlands it later became known as ‘Mama Appelsap’.

27. The last song to make the album was human nature, written by Steve Porcaro and John Bettis. Jackson described it as the most beautiful tune he had ever heard. The song Carousel had to make room for what that number is on the new anniversary edition.

28. I Step can be heard just before the guitar solo. It’s not Eddie Van Halen knocking on the door, but Jackson himself knocking on a case with the drum kit. It’s also in the credits: Michael Jackson – drummer.

29. Queen singer Freddie Mercury was also supposed to be on the album, but he didn’t like that Jackson had brought his llama into the studio. Later, Mercury would regret his decision to leave.

30. Because the bar for the album was so high and they were dissatisfied, Jones and Jackson had all the songs remixed. Each song was worked on for about a week.

31. Vince Price’s spoken horror text i Thriller is shortened from three to two verses on the album. The full version can be found online.

32. The anniversary edition for the 25th anniversary contains a version of The girl is mine added, where Paul McCartney is replaced by will.i.am of The Black Eyed Peas.

33. On the number PYT (Pretty Young Thing) Jackson’s sisters Latoya and Janet are the backing singers.

34. Billy Jean was Jackson’s biggest hit in the Dutch Top 40, although the song stayed at number 2.

35. There was a lot of experimentation with sound on the album. That’s how Jackson’s backing vocals came about Billy Jean (e.g Don’t think twice) created by singing through a 6-foot-long cardboard tube.

36. Hundreds of songs were played Thriller 30 were recorded and nine made it onto the album.

37. Quincy Jones chose the cover. There were about 35 pictures laid out in front of him and within a minute Jones picked him out.

38. Billy Jean is one of Jackson’s most personal songs; it’s about a woman who stalked Jackson and said he was the father of her son. Something that actually happened to him.

39. Wasn’t just musical Thriller a revolution. To increase sales even more, Jackson made very expensive music videos for hits such as Billy Jean and Step. Bee Thriller he even made a thirteen-minute mini-horror movie. It set a new standard for video clips.

40. Jackson drew a lot during the recording of the album. Usually it was faces. Sometimes he drew on the front of the recording tapes.

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