‘Thriller 40’ Released Today
18th November 2022
After six months of waiting the day has finally come, “Thriller 40” is in the hands of the fans and general public! Stream the complete album and buy it today!
Purchase on Amazon
The 34 track album starts with the original 9 songs that propelled the 1982 “Thriller” album to become the biggest selling album of all time. It then goes straight into the rarer tracks, kicking it off with “Starlight,” the original “Thriller” demo. The rarer tracks are:
- Got the Hots – Demo
- Who Do You Know – Demo
- Behind The Mask – Mike’s Mix (Demo)
- Can’t Get Outta The Rain
- The Toy – Demo
- Sunset Driver – Demo
- What A Lovely Way To Go – Demo
- She’s Trouble – Demo
The tracks that follow include remixes, edits and alternate versions of tracks from the original album. It ends with a megamix of the original album.
We’ve all been very excited to hear the unheard tracks. Due to age old leaks, previously released material, or newer versions being released, there’s only two fully new tracks that we have never heard any version of before. That’s “Who Do You Know” and “What A Lovely Way To Go.” The former certainly seems like the standout track from this collection.
‘Thriller’ 4K on YouTube
18th November 2022
The most popular video streaming service in the world now has the most revered and most popular music video of all time on its service! Michael’s 1983 classic short film “Thriller” is now available in stunning 4K resolution for the first time ever on YouTube!!
It’s arguably the most famous music video of all time. The dance sequence has become so iconic that along with Michael’s famous red leather jacket, that it is performed every year around the world. It also became the first music video to be inducted into the National Film Registry.
Running at 13 minutes, at the time of making it “Thriller” was the most expensive music video of all time. It was directed by John Landis, who wrote it with Michael.
Watch it in glorious 4K below.
Stuart Backerman Remembers Michael
17th November 2022
Michael Jackson’s former official spokesman Stuart Backerman sent us the below memories of his time with Michael.
Michael Jackson. The name still resonates for millions of people around the world, conjuring up dozens of hit songs and the incandes-cent performances that were an otherworldly experience for those who witnessed them—Michael Jackson at the peak of his powers.
I was one of Michael‘s biggest fans long before I started working for him, so when I received a call from Michael in Neverland that he wanted me to be his official spokesman and publicist, it was a dream come true.
I was thrilled, needless to say, when I heard his gentle voice on the end of the line saying, “Stuart, I just want to tell you I’m delighted to have you on board as part of the team. I can’t wait to meet you. I just want to say, ‘Welcome.’”
I reflected on that special mo-ment as I was sitting in the Neil Simon Theatre in New York earlier this year waiting for the curtain to rise on an-other sold-out performance of MJ: The Michael Jackson Musical, and feeling the electric sense of anticipation running through the crowd.
I started working for Michael in the spring of 2002 as part of a new management team that was dedicated to reviving Michael’s ca-reer, not only through his music, but through a number of visionary enterprises that would leverage his unique artistic vision and enter-tainment genius.
I still have vivid memories of those heady, exhilarating days and of our first meeting when I flew from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Los Angeles, renting a car for the trip to Neverland.
As I drove through the iconic gates on an idyllic sun-splashed morning, passing the thousands of blossoms that lined the shaded walkways, the melodic strains of Walt Disney’s “Fantasia,” coming from cleverly concealed speakers, gently wafted me into the magical world of Neverland.
Michael was having lunch on the patio behind his impressive Tudor-style house, so I joined him, his nanny Grace Rwaramba, and Blanket, Paris and Prince, eleven months old and five and six respec-tively, along with Dieter Wiesner, Michael’s closest advisor, who he’d first met in Germany in 1995 and who had become a father-figure to him over the years
“Great to meet you, Stuart,” he said, enthusiastically clasping my hand, his grip strong and masculine, firmer than I expected.
He introduced me to Paris and Prince, explaining that I was working for him and that I was from Canada.
Paris’s eyes widened.
I didn’t know what she’d read or knew about Canada, but she was at least curious about my country, for the words popped out of her mouth with an engaging ingenuousness, “Does it always snow in Canada, Stuart?” she asked.
I grinned. “No, Paris, and we don’t all live in igloos, either.”
She laughed, her eyes bright.
I wasn’t sure Paris even knew what an igloo was, but I told her we had a mild climate in Vancouver and invited her and her brothers to visit with their Dad.
“I’d be happy to show you around, and I’m sure you’d love it there,” I added.
They both beamed at the thought before standing up, shucking off their tops and plunging into the pool, tossing an inflatable beach ball back and forth and splashing about amid squeals of laughter.
Dieter and Michael and I discussed the plans of the team for Mi-chael’s career, and I spoke to him about his fans, saying how fortu-nate he was to have the greatest fans of any entertainer in the world, and that we planned to reach out to them in new and unprecedented ways.
Michael responded immediately, saying how much he loved his fans and appreciated their support.
“Stuart, outside my family, my fans are the most important thing to me. I want you to do everything that you can to help me con-nect with them in a more personal way.”
The members of the team and I took Michael’s directive to heart, initiating a series of events that did exactly that.
We orchestrated his return to Gary, Indiana, arranged a lavish 45th birthday bash at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles with the help of Michael Jackson’s fan clubs, who once again proved their en-during commitment to their idol and critical importance to the suc-cess of his career, and opened Neverland to the fans for a celebrity charity event, all of which brought Michael a tremendous feeling of satisfaction.
I think Michael’s return to Gary was the most meaningful to him. Returning to his roots was truly a healing experience and I don’t think he ever signed as many autographs in one day than he did the day he returned to his birthplace at 2300 Jackson Street and to where his incredible career started.
“I want Dieter to show you everything here at Neverland,” Mi-chael said when we finished chatting. “I want you to see all of it, so you know just how beautiful it is.”
Dieter and I hopped into a golf cart for a tour of the estate, so that I could see the famous landmarks that I’d already read so much about, including the zoo with its elephant, a gift from Elizabeth Tay-lor, and the giraffes and assorted other exotic animals.
Michael emerged from the house when we returned and asked if Dieter had showed me the movie theater.
We had only driven past it, but hadn’t gone inside.
“You got to see it,” Michael said. “I’ll take you there.”
So I hopped into the golf cart again and we zoomed off, arriving moments later.
Michael ushered me into the lobby and proudly showed me the theater itself with its fifty or so plush burgundy seats.
“Stuart, I want to show you something,” he said.
He opened a side door in the lobby and I followed him into a large room with about a dozen wheeled clothes hangers laden with his costumes and uniforms and sequined gloves as well.
He rolled the hangars away to reveal a floor-to-ceiling mirror that ran the entire length of the wall.
“Stuart, watch this,” he said, grabbing a black fedora from a bas-ket and slinging it over his head with a mischievous grin.
He tipped it down over his eyes and started to moonwalk.
I stood transfixed, mesmerized by the illusion of Michael walk-ing backward and forward at the same time, feeling a shiver run through me as I witnessed him perform his iconic dance move in per-son.
He did it twice alongside the mirror, classic Michael Jackson, a private performance from the legend himself.
I felt so privileged in that moment, so touched by his generosity of spirit and his gift of friendship.
“How do you like that, Stuart?” he laughed, lifting the hat and grinning at me. “Here, I want you to have this,” he said, tossing me the hat. “I know that we’re going to do great things together.”
We returned to the house and rejoined Dieter, Michael and I say-ing our goodbyes.
To my surprise, just as I was about to leave, he dashed out of the house with a book in his hand.
“Stuart,” he called out. “I want you to have this.”
I knew that Michael loved comics and had always wanted to buy Marvel and even star in his own production of Spiderman, so he was perhaps hoping the team could help him to rekindle that dream as he handed me, Comic Wars: How Two Tycoons Battled Over the Marvel Comics Empire—And Both Lost, by Dan Raviv.
I opened it and read the inscription he’d written: “Stuart, many thanks for your kind help and please don’t make plans for the next decade.”
Alas, it was never to be, for before we could prevent it, Michael’s career would begin the downward spiral that would end in his tragic and premature death.
Yes, memories of Michael flooded back to me in the Neil Simon Theatre as the show unfolded, a brilliant assembly of Michael Jackson hits from Billie Jean, Beat It, Thriller and so many others, performed by the brilliant Tony-award winning Myles Frost.
The show was spectacular, with standing ovations at the end.
I knew then, without a doubt, Michael was back.
His tarnished reputation was rapidly receding into memory, and his music and performance artistry remained invincible.
After the show, I mingled with the throngs outside on 42nd Street, soaking up the excitement that only hit Broadway shows can deliver, and congratulating Myles the next day on his amazing per-formance.
Michael was not only back, his legacy as the greatest entertainer in history is secure.
I recalled what his long-time associate Brian Oxman had said to me when I first joined the team as Michael’s spokesman: “Working for Michael Jackson is an almost mys-tical thing. It’s an experience you’ll never forget, something that will stay with you for the rest of your life.”
Michael is gone now, but his memory lives on in the hearts and minds of his fan club members and his millions of fans worldwide who keep the flame of Michael’s life and spirit burning brightly in their hearts.
Yes, he really was the King of Pop, yet he was also a gentle spirit who tried to make the world a better place through his art, to lift hu-manity out of its suffering, and to create a better future for the chil-dren of this Earth.
I believe that it’s important to remember that and to simply honor the soul of Michael Jackson.
MJ Musical Gets Grammy Nomination
15th November 2022
After winning big at the Tony Awards in June of this year, the hit Broadway show “MJ Musical” has once again been nominated for a prestigious award.
This time it’s a Grammy nomination for Best Musical Theater Album. It goes up against original cast recordings of “A Strange Loop,” “Caroline, or Change”, “Into the Woods,”
“Mr. Saturday Night” and “Six: Live on Opening Night.”
The winners will be announced during the ceremony at the Crypto.com Arena on Feb 5th, 2023.
‘Thriller’ And ‘Beat It’ Available in 4K
13th November 2022
Apple Music and iTunes now have the 4K versions of “Thriller” and “Beat It” to watch. We’re still waiting for “Billie Jean” to drop, and for the videos on YouTube to be updated.
We expect them to be more widely available by the release of “Thriller 40” next Friday. In the meantime the thumbnails used on the YouTube videos have been updated to the 4K resolution.
In the first 24 hours of the 4K versions of “Thriller” and “Beat It” being released on Apple Music, and even with no official promotion, they’ve shot straight to the top of the iTunes Music Video chart. “Thriller” sits at the top spot with “Beat It” at number 2.
“Thriller” was first restored in 2017 by the original director John Landis. It was shown in movie theaters across the US in 2018. It was a preview for those that had got tickets to watch the movie “The House with a Clock in Its Walls.” Those screenings were in 3D, and seeing it on the big screen totally changed what you knew about “Thriller.”
Watching these new versions of the videos is like watching them for the first time. So many details were easy to miss before. This breathes a fresh lease of life into this classic short films from Michael.
Bonus Track: ‘Who Do You Know’
10th November 2022
The final bonus track for “Thriller 40,” which is being released next Friday has been announced. “Who Do You Know” is an unheard track that Michael first wrote and started work on this song in 1980 but was still working on it in February 1982. It’s never been leaked, though Michael did acknowledge its existence in a 1993 deposition, and he considered it as a song for the “Thriller” album.
When it failed to make the final cut for the album, Michael considered it again for The Jacksons “Victory” album in 1984 but chose to contribute three other songs to that instead (“State of Shock,” “Be Not Always” and “The Hurt”).
Michael Hits The Charts
8th November 2022
It’s been a week since Halloween, a season that’s closely associated with Michael Jackson. With the #thrillerchallenge, Zombie flash dances around the world and general ghoulish fun, it’s no surprise Michael has made an appearance in multiple charts.
On the Billboard Hot 100 the single “Thriller” entered at number 26 this week. This is the ninth time it’s charted on the Billboard Hot 100 since its original release in 1983 where it peaked at number four. This year makes the fifth consecutive year for the song to re-chart.
The album “Thriller” is no stranger to the Billboard 200 as it regularly makes appearances on there. This weeks marks the albums 546th week on the chart over the course of its forty year history. This Halloween season has driven sales and streams of the album up dramatically, entering the top 20 again at number 19. This makes it the highest position its got to in the 21st Century. It would have likely returned to the top spot when Michael died in 2009 (and potentially previously with the release of “Thriller 25”), however at the time re-releases were not eligible for the Billboard 200. This has since changed.
All of this has grown Michael’s popularity generally. He entered the Billboards Artist 100 chart at number 21 this week. That chart was launched in 2014 and combines performance across the Hot 100 chart, the Billboard 200 album chart, and the Internet-centric Social 50 chart.
Amazon, Spotify & iTunes
Throughout the week, Michael hit the top spot on Amazon’s Best Sellers, as well as number one on Apple Music. He also entered the top 10 on the iTunes chart. “Thriller” became the 9th most downloaded digital song of the week, and 19th streamed overall. On Spotify Michael gained 5 million more listeners taking his monthly average to 37 million and making him the 57th most streamed artist in the world on that platform.
Bonus Track: ‘Can’t Get Outta The Rain’
3rd November 2022
“Can’t Get Outta The Rain” has been the penultimate track to be announced for “Thriller 40.” The song is very familiar to fans, as it’s been included on multiple releases over the years including as the original B-Side of “The Girl Is Mine,” as well as the US version of “The Essential Michael Jackson” album in 2005.
The song originates from the song “You Can’t Win,” which Michael recored and performed in the 1978 movie “The Wiz.” Four years later “Part 2” of that song was created. Michael repeatedly sings the line “Can’t get outta the game” and the vocals were overdubbed, resulting in “Can’t Get Outta the Rain.” The melody and lyrics (except for the word “rain”) are identical to “You Can’t Win.”
Parties, Documentary And Immersive Events
1st November 2022
The Michael Jackson Estate and Sony Music have announced some promotion for its 40th anniversary of “Thriller.” It includes immersive events, screenings of the new 40th Anniversary Documentary, and parties. Below is what’s available and where as of today (November 1st). This page on the official michaeljackson.com will be updated as more are added.
NYC Immersive Event
A 3-day immersive event designed to fully transport attendees into the world of the iconic album Thriller with specific track-focused experiences, interactive elements and social + photo opportunities throughout — all to ensure an unforgettable experience for both new and die-hard fans celebrating the 40th anniversary of the world’s best-selling album of all time.
Running Friday, November 18 – Sunday, November 20 at:
415 5th Avenue New York, NY
Between E 37th and E 38th St
Dusseldorf Immersive Event
A 3-day free event, open to the public, celebrating the best-selling album of all time, Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
The event offers many immersive experiences including some set recreations from the iconic short films, photo booth & an exclusive merch shop featuring music and limited edition Thriller 40 Merch.
Immerse yourself in the world of “Thriller” in this interactive event taking place from Thursday, November 10 – Sunday, November 13 in Düsseldorf at:
40212 Düsseldorf, Germany
A One-Time-Only Screening of the Thriller 40 Documentary Which Details the Making of The Biggest Selling Album in The World on Wednesday, November 30th in:
Fan Event Parties
We are holding fan events around the globe in celebration of the 40th anniversary including DJ sets, midnight playbacks, screenings of the short films, themed food and drinks, competitions, giveaways and much more. These are happening in:
- Milan, Italy
- Bogota, Columbia
- Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Taipei City, Taiwan
- Paris, France
- Stockholm, Sweden
- Victoria, Hong Kong
- Santiago, Chile
- Lima, Peru
Details coming soon
Thriller Night At Hayvenhurst
30th October 2022
Every year Prince Jackson in collaboration with Taj and TJ Jackson host a Halloween party to raise funds for their charities “Heal LA” and “The Dee Dee Jackson Foundation,” called “Thriller Night.” This year it coincided with the upcoming release and celebration of the 40th anniversary of the “Thriller” album and therefore was very much a celebration of that event, while raising money for the two good causes. The event spanned over two nights, along with a daytime event for underprivileged children from the Los Angeles area.
The two nights, October 28th and 29th, were filled with fans, celebrities, performers and those that had collaborated with Michael. Held at Michael’s Hayvenhurst family home in Encino, the house we completely revamped for Halloween. There were zombie figures and animatronics littered inside and outside the home, and a maze throughout the home with strobe lighting and werewolves and zombies coming at you left, right and center. Also inside the house was the Legacy room, which housed awards and memorabilia of Michael’s. This included his 1983 Grammy’s, original “Thriller” jackets, rhinestone encrusted glove, black fedora, the white suit Michael wore on the “Thriller” album cover and more.
Outside the house was a large dance floor, stage and replica of the Palace movie theater, as seen in the “Thriller” music video. In front of that and in the garden area was the incredibly life like statues of Michael, made by the wonderful Godaiking Studios. Attendees were also able to peer into the home studio, where Michael created demos of his legendary songs, including “Billie Jean.”
Alongside Michael’s children Prince, Paris and Bigi Jackson, and his nephews TJ and Taj Jackson, some other key people in attendance were Chris Tucker, Greg Phillinganes, Matt Forger, Jonathan Moffett and Travis Payne.
The #thrillerchallenge was also plugged on stage by Taj and posters were shown on large TV screens.
Michael’s music was blasted all night; and with iconic history in front of you everywhere you looked, his presence was felt as we all celebrated the 40th anniversary of the worlds best selling album of all time.
Bonus Track: ‘Starlight’
27th October 2022
This morning “Starlight” was announced as the next bonus track for “Thriller 40.”
The recording is the demo of “Thriller,” with its original lyrics. This demo has previously leaked online, but in quite bad quality. Another title for the song that was considered (but never recorded) was “Midnight Man.” After the initial recording of “Starlight,” Michael and producer Quincy Jones asked the songs composer and lyricists Rod Temperton to reimagine the song with scarier overtones, which led to the monster hit (pun intended) that we know today as “Thriller.”
New ‘Thriller’ Magazine Released
24th October 2022
A new unofficial magazine has popped up on the shelves in stores around the US, which is dedicated to Michael’s “Thriller” album, as we gear up to celebrate its 40th anniversary.
The 96 pager is produced by A360 Media and features Michael’s story, from his early days in Indiana with the Jackson 5, to the success of “Off the Wall” and how he followed that up with “Thriller.” The magazine focuses on specific tracks from the album, videos and also the legacy the groundbreaking album has left. The 12 chapters of the magazine are:
- A life in show business
- Growing pains
- Where do we go after disco?
- The Girl Is Mine
- Billie Jean
- Beat It
- Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’
- Human Nature
- The Videos
The magazine is filled to the brim with high quality photos. Peek inside the magazine below, and purchase your copy here.
Bonus Track: ‘Carousel’
20th October 2022
“Carousel,” written by Michael Sembello and Don Freeman, is the latest bonus track to be announced for the upcoming “Thriller 40” album.
The strong contender for the “Thriller” album but lost out to “Human Nature.” In 2001 an edited version was released on the “Thriller Special Edition” album. In 2008 the full version at 3 minutes and 40 seconds was released on the album “King of Pop – The Italian Fans’ Selection.”
It’s unclear if the version that will be released on “Thriller 40” will be in full, but we are assuming that to be the case.
15th October 2022
Today kicks off the “Thriller Challenge” to try and get the song “Thriller” to number one on the Billboard Hot 100.
The song has never reached the top spot before number one on Billboard Hot 100. It peaked at number four in 1983. This is now your chance to help make history by getting this Halloween anthem to number one between October 28th – November 3rd 2022.
The best way to help push a song up the charts is simply to purchase it! Sales of the actual song gain high points towards the Billboard Hot 100. The next big push would be to stream it lots. And finally, chart positions are also based on radio play. So a drive to request the song a lot on your local, and national, stations is a must.
We’ve created a page dedicated to providing you all you need. Links to buy and stream the song on the top services, as well as phone numbers to many radio stations around the USA. There’s also some that you can Tweet.
To get all the information you need visit our “Thriller Challenge” page now on our Thriller 40 website, and let’s get “Thriller” the placement it deserves this Halloween.
Bonus Track: ‘Sunset Driver’
13th October 2022
Today the sixth bonus track (out of ten) was announced as “Sunset Driver.” Our understanding is this is the same version that appeared on the 2004 “Ultimate Collection” album.
The song was written by Michael and recorded originally for “Off the Wall” and then again for “Thriller” in 1982. Michael even considered it for “Bad” a few years later. The 1982 version was eventually the on version released as a demo in 2004.
Bonus Track: ‘What A Lovely Way To Go’
6th October 2022
It’s Thursday, which means another song has been announced. This weeks is the first song that’s totally new and unknown to the fan community.
“What A Lovely Way To Go” was originally written by Michael in the late 1970s. He revisited it while he was writing songs for the “Thriller” album. It didn’t make the album and had never been released until now.
We’re super excited to hear this song. Something brand new like this will no doubt make these the stand out gems of the “Thriller 40” album.
‘Thriller’ Album Documentary
4th October 2022
Music journalist and filmmaker Nelson George is directing a documentary on the making of Michael’s “Thriller” album as part of the official 40th anniversary celebrations. This comes after previous documentaries by acclaimed director Spike Lee for “Bad” and “Off the Wall.”
The director has said;
“The release of “Thriller” redefined Michael Jackson, taking him from teen star to adult superstar, who composed memorable songs, sang beautifully and reached the highest level of on-stage performance. The album, and the short films they inspired, created a new template for marrying music and image. It’s been a privilege to explore this extraordinary album and revisit its magic.”
On talking about the documentary, in a statement Branca and McClain said;
“Michael opened and explored emotional depths and pushed the boundaries of sonic innovation on “Thriller.” In the process, he breached destructive barriers in the music industry and literally united the world through his music: there isn’t a place on this planet that hasn’t been exhilarated by the music of Michael Jackson. This documentary’s exploration of Michael’s process and impact is revelatory.”
The documentary is currently still in production and will include never-before-seen footage.
Bonus Track: ‘Got The Hots’
29th September 2022
Another week, another bonus track announced. Today it was the Rod Temperton penned “Got the Hots,” which fans will be familiar with due its release on the Japanese version of the 2008 “Thriller 25” album. It was previously considered for the 2001 “Thriller Special Edition,” but never made the got cut.
Bonus Track: ‘The Toy’
22nd September 2022
Today “The Toy” has been announced as another bonus track from the upcoming “Thriller 40” album.
This song was inspired by the 1982 Richard Pryor film of the same title. After not making the cut for the “Thriller” album, Michael continued to work on the song for the rest of his career. It first became “I Am Your Joy” and ultimately evolved into “Best of Joy,” which was released posthumously on the 2010 album “Michael.” It’s noted as being the last song he recorded during his life, likely in 2008.
This will be the first time the original incarnation from forty years ago will be heard by the public.
Bonus Track: ‘She’s Trouble’
15th September 2022
“She’s Trouble” has been announced as another bonus track on the forthcoming “Thriller 40” album. It will be the nineteenth track on the album, making it the final bonus track and shows on the track-list as “She’s Trouble (Demo).”
The song has floated around the fan community since the 1990s under the title “Trouble.” It will be a great fit for the anniversary album. Michael recorded it in 1982 however decided not to use it. A year later the band Musical Youth covered it and released it on their album “Different Style!” It was also covered in the same year by Happy Days star Scott Baio for his album “The Boys Are Out Tonight.”
It will be great to have this song recorded by Michael officially released after all this time.
Bonus Track: ‘Behind The Mask’
8th September 2022
Michael Jackson’s Estate, along with Sony Music, are announcing the bonus tracks for “Thriller 40” one at a time between now and its November release. Today they kick started their announcement with the original demo of “Behind the Mask.”
“Behind the Mask” was a song originally released by the Yellow Magic Orchestra. In the early 1980s Quincy Jones introduced the song to Michael. The singer then contributed more lyrics and added an accompanying melody. “Behind the Mask” was planned to be on “Thriller” but it was dropped due to a royalties dispute with Yellow Magic Orchestra’s management. A remix of Michael’s version was released on the 2010 posthumous album “Michael.” Several artists recorded Michael’s version and released it before his was made public. The most famous rendition came from British rock star Eric Clapton. His single hit number 15 on the UK charts in 1987.
Michael’s 2010 version included a new saxophone solo and crowd noise (taken from the 1992 Dangerous Tour). The single was released for radio only and as a limited 7″ vinyl for Record Store Day.
Additional ‘Thriller 40’ Tracks Unveiled
29th August 2022
As announced earlier today, as well as the 10 tracks, which will consist of rarities and demos, that will be released with the “Thriller 40” album, there will also be 15 additional tracks which have been previously released with past editions of the album. They will made available exclusively on digital/streaming sites. It’s been revealed that they are:
- Billie Jean (1981 Home Demo)
- Billie Jean (Long Version)
- Billie Jean (2008 Kanye West Mix)
- Beat It (Demo)
- Beat It (2008 with Fergie Remix)
- Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ (Demo)
- Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ (Tommy D’s Main Mix)
- Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ (2008 with Akon)
- Human Nature 7″
- P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) (Demo Version)
- P.T.Y. (Pretty Young Thing) (2008 with will.i.am)
- The Girl Is Mine (2008 with will.i.am)
- Thriller 7″ (Special Edit)
- Thriller (Def Thill Mix)
- Thriller (Megamix)
Notably missing from these 15 tracks are “Carousel,” “Someone In The Dark,” and the original solo demo of “The Girl Is Mine.” We’ll find out between September 5th – November 18th what the 10 secret tracks are, and if those are included.
Source: Apple Music & MJWN
10 New ‘Thriller 40’ Tracks Coming Soon
29th August 2022
On Michaels’ 64th birthday, Sony Music and the Estate of Michael Jackson have released an official press release to give an update on the upcoming “Thriller 40” double album.
They have confirmed that the double CD will be comprised of Michael’s original 1982 masterpiece and an exciting bonus CD of rarities and demos. The titles of the ten bonus tracks will be revealed one at a time, starting after Labor Day (September 5th) with the last track being revealed just before release date, November 18th. Additionally, 15 additional tracks which have been in limited release previously will be available as part of an expanded digital release.
As well as the new release, to celebrate the biggest selling album ever, pop up events and worldwide activations are planned to honor Michael’s epic creation. The new album artwork, which includes a shiny silver cover, now seems to be the dominant artwork being used in marketing materials.
Pre-order your copy of “Thriller 40” today.
Source: PR Newswire & MJWN
‘Thriller 40’ Website Launches
29th August 2022
In May this year it was announced that Michael Jackson’s most consequential album, “Thriller,” the biggest selling album of all time, would be celebrated in its 40th year.
It was kicked off at the Billboard Awards on May 15th and on May 16th the official “Thriller 40” double album was announced. It was there and then we at MJWN decided to launch thriller40.com and started to created a website to honor and celebrate the groundbreaking album.
Over the last three months, we’ve enjoyed researching the stories from Michael’s life during the early to mid 1980s. We’ve flicked through 100s if not 1000s of photos, gathering the best ones to use on this site and researched heavily all the songs from the “Thriller” album and beyond, along with all the news between 1982 – 1985.
We thought Michael’s birthday, August 29th, would be the perfect date to launch this site officially. Many have already seen what we were working on. Our thanks to all those who have stumbled upon the website so far and shared their love and appreciation on social media. It’s been wonderful to see the reaction, and we will continue to grow the site over the rest of 2022 as the world celebrates the 40th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album.
Nicki Minaj Mentions Michael In Award Win
28th August 2022
Tonight Nicki Minaj won the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award at the MTV VMA’s.
Minaj is the first winner since Missy Elliott in 2019. The award was named after Michael in 1991. However in 2019 MTV dropped his name, though Missy Elliott referenced it by its full name in her acceptance speech.
Three years later and Michael is once again mentioned in the acceptance speech, on the eve of what would have been Michael’s 64th birthday. In her long list of thank you’ve, Minaj said:
“I wish that Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson were here. I wish people understood what they went through. I wish people took mental health seriously, even for the people you think have perfect lives.”
Congratulations Nicki Minaj on winning the prestigious award!
‘Thriller 40’ Slip Sleeve Revealed
23rd August 2022
On the German version of Amazon, a new cover for the upcoming “Thriller 40th Anniversary” album, being released on November 18th, is now being featured.
The cover is a slip sleeve, which houses the new double album, with original cover artwork. It’s unknown if this new slip sleeve is shiny, though one could assume that to be the case. The 0 of 40 is cut out, which has Michael’s face nicely in place as it lines up so well with the original photo.
The slip sleeve is simple, delightful and elegant, and unlikely to cause issues among the Michael Jackson fan community.
Michael Album CD Re-Issued
9th July 2022
Without any big fanfare or even an announcement, the 2010 album ‘Michael’ has been re-issued, now only containing 7 tracks instead of 10.
It’s not just that 7 was Michael’s favorite number, but that 3 of the tracks have been accused as using fake vocals. The three controversial tracks were removed from streaming services at the end of June, and it now seems you can purchase the album once again on CD, but this time exclusively with Michael Jackson’s vocals. The 7 songs that are left are fantastic, and make it a worthwhile purchase in itself!
- Hold My Hand
- Hollywood Tonight
- (I Like) The Way You Love Me
- Best of Joy
- (I Can’t Make It) Another Day
- Behind the Mask
- Much Too Soon
Right now it’s only available through michaeljackson.com, however we’re sure this will be the only available version of the album everywhere soon.
Source: michaeljackson.com & MJWN
Controversial Cascio Tracks Removed
29th June 2022
Since it’s release in 2010, the first posthumously released album from Michael Jackson’s Estate has come under scrutiny and controversy from fans.
The album simply entitled ‘Michael’ included 10 tracks including ‘Hold My Hand’ with Akon, which was leaked in 2008. It also included ‘(I like) The Way You Love Me,’ an alternate version of which was released on the 2004 ‘Ultimate Collection’ multi disc album.
However three tracks have come under fire. ‘Keep Your Head Up,’ ‘Monster’ and ‘Breaking News’ have all had doubt cast over them as to whether or not it’s actually Michael singing or a sound alike. General opinion across the MJ fan community is that these three songs are fake.
While we don’t believe the Estate would intentionally release fake material, there is belief they were misguided by Eddie Cascio and his brothers. They were close friends of Michael during his life, and the songs were written by them. The tracks are now known as the Cascio tracks.
While fans have been vocal about their displeasure over the Cascio tracks, the Estate has also been hit with a lawsuit from fans claiming false advertising of a product. Amazingly today those three tracks have now been removed from most major streaming platforms including Apple Music. Spotify still have them on there, though we assume they will follow soon.
This is huge news and a monumental day 12 years in the making.
Update June 30th: Spotify, the largest streaming service in the world, has now also taken down the offending tracks.
‘Thriller’ Actress Ola Ray Releases Book
28th June 2022
At the age of 61, and 39 years since the iconic video was released, Ola Ray who starred opposite Michael in the ‘Thriller’ short film, has released her first autobiography called ‘The Thrill of it All.’
Ray started out as a model, and became a Playboy centerfold in 1980. Three years later she got the role on ‘Thriller,’ which changed her life. In the years following the actress complained over issues collecting her royalties for the short film. She blamed Michael and just a month before he died in 2009, she sued him. In 2012 the Michael Jackson Family Trust settled the lawsuit.
On her new book, Ola Ray says that she reached international fame as the co-star in ‘Thriller.’ She says:
“Whenever I am in a public, people seem to find a way to approach me, wanting to know what it was like to be in a music video with the King of Pop. I have remained in the shadows for decades, avoiding television and radio interviews from inquisitive reporters to protect the stroke of destiny that changed my life forever”.
You can buy ‘The Thrill of it All’ here.
‘Thriller Live’ And Siedah Garrett Record ‘Man In The Mirror’
25th June 2022
In support of Ukrainian refugees, cast members of the hit West End stage show, ‘Thriller Live’, have joined together with Grammy Award winning singer and songwriter, Siedah Garrett, to record a cover of ‘Man In The Mirror’ – the social justice anthem made famous by Michael Jackson, whom Siedah originally wrote the song for, alongside Glen Ballard.
Every penny from the download of the single will go directly to the Disasters Emergency Committee Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal.
Siedah said, “When Glen Ballard and I wrote the song ‘Man In The Mirror’ for Michael Jackson, we had no idea that it would become such an important anthem, to inspire people the world over, encouraging each and every one of us to make this world a better place, starting with ourselves.”
She continued, “That’s why I’m so excited to join the cast members of the hit musical ‘Thriller Live’ in performing and recording a new version of the song to help raise funds for those courageous refugees in the war in Ukraine. Our hearts go out to you.”
More than 13 million people have fled their homes to escape the war in Ukraine. Leaving behind jobs, belongings and loved ones, they need shelter, food and water.
Homes have been destroyed or are unsafe to live in. Essential services have been hit. Families have been separated. People have been injured. Lives have been lost.
The song will be released on the 29th August, but you can watch the video and pre-order the single now:
You can also see the cast of Thriller Live perform ‘Man In The Mirror’ live, alongside the London Community Gospel Choir at MJ Day 30 on the day of release.
MJ Musical Performs And Wins At The Tony Awards
13th June 2022
‘MJ The Musical’ took home four awards at tonights Tony Awards in New York. This included Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical for Myles Frost!
Frost lead the cast in a performance of ‘Smooth Criminal’ during the show, making it the second Michael Jackson performance during a major awards ceremony this year, after ‘Lady In My Life’ was performed at the Billboard Awards last month.
Michael’s two eldest children, Prince and Paris, introduced the cast before they performed. Prince said;
“A lot of people seem to think our dad Michael Jackson changed popular music forever, and who are we to disagree? But what people may not know is he loved musicals, on film and on the stage. That’s why we are so incredibly honored to introduce the night’s first nominee for best musical, ‘MJ,’ which, using many of his iconic hits, looks at the complexities and brilliance of our father’s process.”
Here’s the list of awards they won:
- Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical – Myles Frost
- Best Lighting Design of a Musical – Natasha Katz
- Best Sound Design of a Musical – Gareth Owen
- Best Choreography – Christopher Wheeldon
Congratulations to all involved!
Source: CNN & MJWN
MJ Day 30 in London On Michael’s Birthday
11th June 2022
Don’t miss the ultimate Michael Jackson party celebrating the King of Pop’s birthday at one of London’s most iconic venues, Madame Tussauds on Bank Holiday Monday, 29th August 2022.
Appearing live for the first time in the UK we bring you one of the world’s greatest Michael Jackson tribute acts, Sergio Cortés! Also performing on stage are cast members from the record-breaking show, Thriller Live, and the incredible London Community Gospel Choir! We are also proud to announce that X-Factor winner, the amazing Dalton Harris will be singing live on stage. And if that’s not enough, we bring you one of Britain’s Got Talent’s greatest ever acts, Signature!
End the evening on the dance floor as our DJ spins a mix of Michael’s and Jackson 5 hits from ‘I Want You Back’ to ‘Don’t Stop Til’ You Get Enough’, ‘Billie Jean’, ‘Bad’ and many more!
Make it an extra fun evening and live it off the wall by donning a fancy-dress costume, black tie or ball gown.
VIP TICKETS NOW ON SALE
VIP tickets will give you access to Madame Tussaud’s from 6:00pm, where you’ll be taken on the Spirit of London Ride through to our A-List lounge for a drinks and delicious food reception, giving you the chance to dine amongst all of the iconic waxworks, from Beyoncé to Tom Cruise. You’ll then be whisked into the Marvel Movie Theatre where you will watch our all-star stage show.
Afterwards you’ll make way to ‘Studio 54’ where you can live it off the wall for a night of pure Michael Jackson disco hits!
This event will be supporting the Disasters Emergency Committee Appeal on behalf of the humanitarian effort for the Ukrainian people.
FOR TICKETS VISIT:
Source: MJ Day & MJWN
MJ The Musical Cast Recording Album
10th June 2022
MJ The Musical will be releasing an Original Broadway Cast Recording of the show on July 15th digitally and on CD.
The track listing for the album is:
- Beat It
- Jackson Five Medley (The Love You Save / I Want You Back / ABC)
- I’ll Be There
- Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough / Blame It on the Boogie / Dancing Machine
- Stranger in Moscow
- You Can’t Win
- I Can’t Help It
- Keep the Faith
- Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’
- Earth Song / They Don’t Care About Us
- Billie Jean
- Smooth Criminal
- Victory Tour (For the Love of Money / Can You Feel It)
- Keep the Faith (Reprise)
- She’s Out of My Life
- Human Nature
- Bad / 2 Bad
- Man in the Mirror
- Finale ( Jam / Black or White / Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’)
The musical is centered around the making of Michael’s 1992 Dangerous World Tour and created by Tony Award®-winning Director/Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage.
The broadway show has quickly become a smash hit, and nominated for a 10 Tony Awards, one of the most nominated shows of the year! The winners will be announced this Sunday, June 12th.
Source: MJ Musical & MJWN
4K Short Films For ‘Thriller 40’
18th May 2022
When Thriller 40 was announced, the artwork divided the fan community. However Michael’s Estate has asked the fan community to focus on the products more than the artwork. They said that in selecting the new fonts, the goal was to make the design feel fresh and current for music fans who are only now discovering Michael Jackson and this iconic album.
In their communication they teased us with some of the material we should expect to see this year that’s yet to be fully announced. They said that what is coming is “directly in response to the numerous fan requests over the years,” and referenced unreleased material and 4K short films as examples.
As well as the announced double CD, there will also be a limited edition vinyl pressing of ‘Thriller,’ mastered from the original analog master tapes and pressed at RTI, Mobile Fidelity’s UltraDisc One-Step 180g on 33RPM LP. It is presented in an open-ended slipcase, featuring a special foil-stamped jacket and faithful-to-the-original graphics that illuminate the splendor of the recording.
Source: MJ Online & MWN
‘Thriller 40’ Double Album Announced
16th May 2022
Sony Music and the Michael Jackson Estate have announced that they will be releasing a special 40th Anniversary edition of ‘Thriller.’
The double album will be released on November 18th and will include the original album alongside new Thriller-era bonus material including previously unreleased demos.
The announcement comes a day after Maxwell performed ‘The Lady In My Life’ at the Billboard Music Awards, and a week after the MJ musical on Broadway became one of the most nominated shows of the year for the 2022 Tony Awards.
Not much else is known about the upcoming release, or what else maybe planned to celebrate the biggest selling album of all time; but we’re very excited to hear that second bonus disc!! It’s available for pre-order from today.
Source: Billboard & MJWN
Maxwell Performs ‘The Lady In My Life’
16th May 2022
At the 2022 Billboard Music Awards tonight, Grammy award winning artist Maxwell performed Michael’s heart wrenching ‘The Lady In My Life‘ to celebrate 40 years of the ‘Thriller’ album.
Entering the stage similar to the opening of ‘Rock With You,’ Maxwell’s silhouette was seen as smoke filled behind him. He walked out wearing a glitter jacket, gloves and tie, along with black trousers and silver shoes. All the sequins were a great homage to the King of Pop.
He went on to perform the love ballad, which is the final track of the biggest selling album of all time. As he ended the performance he shouted “We love you Michael Jackson!” to screams and applause from the audience.
A strong start to the momentous anniversary we’ll continue to celebrate this year! Watch Maxwell’s performance:
Source: Billboard Awards & MJWN
Billboard Awards To Celebrate ‘Thriller’
15th May 2022
Michael’s Estate has confirmed that tonights Billboard Music Awards will kick off the celebrations for the 40th anniversary of the ‘Thriller‘ album.
The award show will air at 5pm PST / 8pm EST / 1am BST. US fans can catch the show live on NBC and on their streaming service Peacock. Rumours are that the Grammy award winning artist Maxwell will perform ‘The Lady In My Life,’ which was the last track on the 1982 album and written by Rod Temperton.
‘Thriller’ was released on November 30th 1982 and quickly became the biggest selling album of all time, a record that it still holds today. It helped Michael earn a record breaking eight Grammy awards, and provided the world with some of the most iconic short films of all time with ‘Billie Jean,’ ‘Beat It,’ and of course the groundbreaking title track ‘Thriller.’
Tomorrow, May 16th, there will be a press release with more information on how ‘Thriller’ will be celebrated this year.
Source: MJ Online & MJWN
MJ Nominated For 10 Tony Awards
9th May 2022
‘MJ’, the Michael Jackson musical that has taken Broadway by storm has been nominated for 10 Tony Awards, only three months since it opened at the Neil Simon Theater. It’s even been nominated for the most prestigious ‘Best Musical’ award. The nominated categories are:
- Best Musical
- Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical (Myles Frost)
- Best Book of a Musical (Lynn Nottage)
- Best Scenic Design of a Musical (Derek McLane and Peter Nigrini)
- Best Costume Design of a Musical (Paul Tazewell)
- Best Lighting Design of a Musical (Natasha Katz)
- Best Sound Design of a Musical (Gareth Owen)
- Best Direction of a Musical (Christopher Wheeldon)
- Best Choreography (Christopher Wheeldon)
- Best Orchestrations (Jason Michael Webb and David Holcenberg)
The smash musical is centered around the making of Michael’s 1992 Dangerous World Tour. Christopher Wheeldon directs and choreographs the show and is a previous Tony Award winner. Lynn Nottage, who is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, wrote the show. And while the show has the audience on their feet as it showcases Michael’s best songs and signature dance moves, it also offers a look at his creative mind that catapulted him to legendary status.
The winners for this years Tony Awards will be announced live at the awards ceremony on June 12th.
Source: Tony Awards & MJWN
Michael Jackson And The Lakers Game
7th April 2022
NBA superstar Magic Johnson has opened up about his close relationship with Michael Jackson.
Johnson and the King Of Pop had been friends since the early 1970s, befriending Michael during the Jackson 5 days, when he would accompany the brothers on tours. Reflecting on those days he said;
“Michael Jackson, he was such a perfectionist. You know, see him look in a mirror for two hours, working on his moves without his brothers.”
One time the basketball star invited Michael to an LA Lakers game, but Michael only reluctantly agreed as he thought the fans wouldn’t let him watch it in peace. Johnsons says;
“He was right. He sat down; people went crazy. They were running from upstairs, the sides. We had to stop the game to get him out.”
This happened a lot for Michael during his lifetime, often having to turn down the chance to watch something he would enjoy, as to avoid stealing the limelight.
Source: Variety & MJWN
Vote For Michael’s Simpsons Episode
24th March 2022
In 1991 Michael Jackson appeared in the season 3 opening episode of The Simpsons, voicing a man who claimed to be Michael Jackson. Now Billboard are running a poll, asking readers to vote for their favorite musical cameo, of which there have been many. At the time of writing, Michael is leading the poll with Britney Spears a close second.
Over the 30+ years since it launched the episode has become a classic and one of the most popular episodes of the long running cartoon sitcom, despite being pulled from circulation in 2019 by the producers, much to public uproar.
The episode is notable not just for Michael voicing the character, but also for the song ‘Lisa It’s Your Birthday.’ While the singing wasn’t voice by Michael, the King of Pop did do a recording of the song, which can be heard online.
Let’s make Michael proud and show the producers the grave mistake they made by pulling it out of circulation. Vote for Michael.
Source: Billboard & MJWN
MJ Musical To Go On North American Tour
22nd March 2022
The Michael Jackson music MJ, which has already become a huge Broadway hit has announced that it will go on a North American tour next year, starting in Chicago on July 26th 2023. It is scheduled to play 17 major cities over 60 weeks.
Lead producer of the show Lia Vollack said;
“We are thrilled by the Broadway response to MJ, and that we are already deep in preparations to bring this exhilarating show to Chicago and across the United States. Chicago is a premier theatre and music destination, and we are excited to be able to begin this journey in one of the Nederlander Organization’s most beautiful venues.”
To see all the latest tour stops visit the MJ Musical website.
The show has been at Broadway’s Neil Simon Theatre since February 1 and has become one of the hottest tickets in town. We can’t wait to see it light up theater’s around the USA.
Source: Playbill & MJWN
Producer John Barnes Passes Away
20th March 2022
John Barnes, who worked on many of Michael’s albums during the 1980s and 1990s, has passed away.
Michael met Barnes in the early 1980s. In an interview with The MJCast podcast, Barnes recalls his first meeting with Michael:
“Michael said I heard you can make your own sounds and play them. How many sounds can you make? And, I responded, ‘How much time do you have?’”
Barnes became part of Michael’s team after working as a synthesizer and arranger on the 1984 Jacksons album ‘Victory.’ He went on to collaborate with Michael on the 1985 charity single ‘We Are The World,’ the 1986 3D Disney short film ‘Captain EO,’ and then every subsequent major album from Michael into the late 1990s. He was also the musical director for the Bad World Tour. Credits with Michael included:
- Bad (1987) – Synthesizer, Piano, Arranger, Programming, Vocal Arrangement, String Arrangements, Rhythm Arrangements
- Dangerous (1992) – Bass, Keyboards
- HIStory (1995) – Synthesizer, Piano, Keyboards
- Blood on the Dance Floor (1997) – Synthesizer, Keyboards
Source: John Barnes Music & MJWN
Sean Lennon Talks About Michael
4th March 2022
Sean Lennon, the son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, has spoken about the time he spent with Michael. He befriended Michael in the early 1980s and appeared with the King of Pop in his 1988 hit movie ‘Moonwalker.’ Lennon said:
“I think that was a super strange time, but not in a dark way; in an odd way, in a unique way. It was odd because Bubbles was all dressed up in dandy outfits and we were all running around playing video games with this chimpanzee.”
Sean compared his time at Neverland Ranch to a combination of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and recalls fondly his memories with Michael. He continued;
“He was the coolest dude I’d ever met for sure. I mean people, you know, they have a lot of opinions about him and like anything else, my opinions can only be based on my experience.”
Michael Jackson & Sean Lennon (Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
In 2016 Lennon released ‘Bubbles Burst,’ which was part clay motion depicting Michael and Bubbles. Sean said some listeners interpreted “Bubbles Burst” as criticism of Michael, or as a defense of him. Sean said it was neither. Rather ‘Bubbles Burst’ was a document of Sean’s surreal experiences with Bubbles.
Source: Showbiz Cheatsheet & MJWN
Gladys Knight Misses Michael “Every Day”
27th February 2022
Legendary singer Gladys Knight has told The Mirror she misses Michael Jackson “every day”.
She knew Michael from the very beginning of his J5 days and labelled herself “an older sister” to Michael,
She told the tabloid paper:
“I still miss him every day. Me and Michael, we started at a very young age. I know his mum and dad and brothers and sister. He knew all of my kids, we were very tight together. I’m so sad that he’s not here anymore. We would do shows together and afterwards sit in the lobby and just talk about life.”
During one particular memory the Grammy winner said;
“I remember one day he came over to my house, because he was friends with my kids, and we were having fun. And then he asked me something and it almost made me cry. He said, ‘Gladys, how do you make a family?’ I said, Michael, you’ll be able to have one, it’s got to be in your spirit, you’ve got to calm yourself down. It’s who you love, that’s what it is. You’ve got to take that time away, and one day love will fall into your lap. I think about him every day. He was an amazing young man.”
Source: Bang Showbiz & MJWN
Donny Osmond And Michael Jackson
20th February 2022
Donny Osmond has spoken about his friendship with Michael and the advise he got from the King of Pop. This isn’t the first time Osmond has spoken publicly about his time with Michael when they were teenagers. In the new interview he says;
“I remember seeing Michael peeking out the side of the curtain watching me during the show. In hindsight that was a pretty amazing moment, but at the moment it was like, ‘There’s my buddy looking at me stage right.’”
Earlier on in the day they would have just been playing around backstage like two normal 13-year-olds do. He added:
“It’s really difficult talking about … these two little teenagers who are just selling amazing amounts of records and having number-one records and very powerful recording artists, and all they want to do is just be kids. Those were the innocent, wonderful moments before life got difficult and complicated.”
In the early 1980s they went to see the movie “The Dark Crystal” together and Michael insisted they wear disguises; trench coats, wigs and sunglasses. “We were just trying to be normal,” Osmond said. Still, everyone knew it was them!
While Michael was achieving great success with ‘Thriller,’ Osmond’s career had stalled. On asking Michael for advise, Michael told him to change his name as it was poison. Reflecting on that Osmond said;
“It was quite offensive, but what’s interesting is that he told me that in ’83, and it wasn’t until 1989, that ‘Soldier of Love’ became a hit without my name. So Michael was right.”
Many more years passed and Osmond said that he and Michael had plans to record a duet together of Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish” but those plans fell through. The last time he spoke to Michael was in 2008 where Michael told him that he had rented a tour bus and was with his kids in Phoenix. Osmond invite him to come and stay with his family, but it never came to be.
Source: Page Six & MJWN
Guitarist Steve Stevens Remembers Michael
19th February 2022
Rock guitarist Steve Stevens, who featured on ‘Dirty Diana’ has spoken to Ultimate Classic Rock about his experience with the King of Pop, and how it came to be.
It all started when Quincy Jones reached out to him to ask him to record. Stevens flew to LA expecting a huge entourage, Bubbles the chimp and lots of craziness, but the reality was far different. Stevens said;
“I get to the studio and I open the studio door, and it’s just Michael and Quincy and an engineer…and I said, ‘Oh, I’m at home. This is cool.'”
Stevens remembers Michael being “very exacting about the rhythm” and making a few suggestions about the “big picture” of the song, but otherwise he let Stevens have free reign of the track. “He wasn’t one of these guys to say, ‘Play a B-flat here and diminished,’ you know. He would just hum it,” he adds.
Stevens got the larger than life experience that he was expecting when it came to being part of the ‘Dirty Diana’ short film.
“I pull up, and there’s a van outside the soundstage. There’s toys and swings and all this stuff set up. I go ‘Wow, this is great. They take care of the kids.’ No, no. This is [for] Bubbles”
The guitarist fondly recalls meeting Bubbles and says the whole production was “exactly the way you’d imagine it.”
During the shoot, Michael asked Stevens about various elements of stage production, as he was about to embark on the first solo tour. Stevens recalls;
“He had previously just done Jackson 5 tours, and on the R&B circuit, the productions weren’t as big, lighting wasn’t as big, sound wasn’t [as big]. But Michael had seen Queen and Van Halen, and he knew what a rock show was about. So he was really hitting me up for all of, ‘Who does your sound? Who does your lights?'”
Michael, being as humble as ever, even said to Stevens “‘Oh, do you know Eddie?’ I go, ‘Yeah, I know Eddie.’ And he goes, ‘Yeah, he played on “Beat It.”‘ Like who doesn’t know that? I go, ‘Yes, Michael. I know that’s Eddie Van Halen on “Beat It.”‘”
And that’s when Stevens saw Michael do something he’ll never forget. “He goes, ‘Do you like Van Halen? I like Van Halen,'” the guitarist remembers. “And he proceeded to do – now if you can imagine this, this is Michael Jackson, doing an impression of David Lee Roth. Now, that is something that probably I saw, and no one else on the planet. He did the whole, ‘Look at all the people here!’ Had him down perfectly, the strut. Great, man. That was the moment that I said, you know, I’m like pinching myself. I go, ‘Am I watching Michael Jackson impersonate David Lee Roth? Is that really what I’m seeing?'”
‘Dirty Diana’ went on to be a number one hit on the Billboard charts in the US, and Steve Stevens even joined Michael on stage to perform it at Madison Square Garden in 1988 during the ‘Bad Tour’.
Source: Ultimate Classic Rock & MJWN
Victory Glove Up For Auction
12th February 2022
Michael’s white crystal glove is officially back up for auction at Goldin. The iconic glove was worn by Michael during the 1984 Victory Tour with his brothers. The glove features real Swarovski crystals and was custom designed for Michael by Bill Whitten in the early 1980s.
While the minimum bid was $20,000, it has already surpassed this amount. In 2009 it was purchased for $350,000 at auction, though went down in value in 2020 to $100,000. This glove was originally donated to UNICEF in the 1990s, who went on to sell it in 1998.
The crystal-studded glove comes with a letter of provenance from David Miller, a former employee of MJJ Productions, and was personally given this glove from Michael Jackson himself.
If you have some money to spare and would like to own a piece of HIStory, you can bid on the auction here. The auction ends on February 23rd.
Source: Pop Crush & MJWN
Official Michael Jackson Biopic Is Coming
7th February 2022
An official Michael Jackson biopic project, backed by Michael’s Estate, has been given the green light and picked up for worldwide distribution rights by Lionsgate.
The biopic will be penned by three-time Oscar nominee John Logan (Gladiator, Skyfall) and produced by Oscar winner Graham King (Bohemian Rhapsody, Ali) along with John Branca and John McClain from Michael’s Estate. King and Logan also previously collaborated on Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator.
The film, which has a working title of ‘Michael,’ is set to be an in-depth portrayal of a complicated man who became the King of Pop. It will bring to life Michael’s most iconic performances and show his artistic process as well as exploring his personal life.
Producer Graham King has said;
“I first met the Jackson family in 1981 and I’m humbled to bring their legacy to the big screen. Sitting at Dodger Stadium watching the Victory Tour, I could never have imagined that nearly 38 years later I would get the privilege to be a part of this film.”
Michael’s mother Katherine Jackson has also spoken about the project;
“Ever since Michael was little, as a member of The Jackson 5, he loved the magic of cinema. As a family, we are honored to have our life story come alive on the big screen.”
Source: Deadline & MJWN
Janet Jackson Documentary
4th February 2022
If you haven’t seen it yet, you really should!
The new Lifetime four part documentary series on Janet Jackson is the number one documentary to watch right now, with nearly 16M people already who have watched it. The intimate series shows Janet’s history, dating back all the way to the Jackson 5 days as she watched them rehearse, to joining them on their variety shows in the 1970s, to becoming a star in her own right.
She goes on to speak very personally about her love for Michael and how much the allegations hurt her, both professionally and personally. She talks about how he was the person she was closest to, and struggled to come to terms with his death.
Other Jacksons, including Katherine, are interviewed for the enlightening documentary and there’s plenty of unseen Michael footage and behind the scenes clips of the making of Scream to watch out for. It’s as much as history lesson on the Jacksons, as it is on the astonishing career of Janet Jackson!
Watch all 4 parts for free on Lifetime TV.
Source: Lifetime & MJWN
MJ Musical Officially Opens
2nd February 2022
After previews late last year, last night the Broadway show ‘MJ’ opened its doors and raised its curtains. On its opening night it had multiple standing ovations and cheering throughout the show.
The show covers Michael’s life from the Jackson 5 through the 1992 rehearsals for his ‘Dangerous’ World Tour. Director Christopher Wheeldon and dramatist Lynn Nottage created the entertaining piece of theater that shows Michael was human, and not invincible to problems, but concentrates on the music.
The cast is led by Myles Frost who sings out classics like ‘Bad,’ ‘Beat It,’ ‘Billie Jean’ and more. In total there are over 30 songs performed (some shorter than others), leading up to the finale ‘Man in the Mirror.’
Among those in attendee for the opening night were Michael’s three children Prince, Paris and Bigi (formally known as Blanket), actor Samuel Jackson and friend and director Kenny Ortega.
Get your tickets for the show now!
Source: Showbiz 411 & MJWN
Playbill Celebrate MJ
1st February 2022
The new Broadway show ‘MJ’ has its opening night tonight and Playbill have released four collectable Playbill covers, for the first time in its 138 year history! They will be distributed throughout the month of February to not only celebrate the new musical and Michael Jackson, but also to honour Black History Month.
These collectable Playbills each feature a different illustration of an iconic Michael Jackson pose, illustrated by Nate Giorgio who created the artwork for the musical.
Source: Times Square Chronicles & MJWN
Rare Audio of Michael And Taj
14th January 2022
Michael’s nephew Taj Jackson has shared a rare recording he has come across of Michael interacting with him when he was only 2 years old. Of the must listen audio he said;
The bond of an uncle.
Some people will never fully understand the special bond I had with my uncle Michael. I feel truly blessed how close we remained through out his life. I am also very fortunate that I’ve been entrusted in both honoring him and standing up for him whenever necessary. I don’t take this responsibly lightly.
The other day I was transferring video tapes for my MJ series and came across an old tape cassette labeled “Taj – Baby Talk”.
I wanted to share with you around 2 minutes of this 6+ minute tape. It brought a huge smile to my face and I hope it does for you guys as well.
Listen to it here:
Dangerous Album Artwork Concepts
26th November 2021
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of ‘Dangerous’, artist Mark Ryden who created the beautiful artwork for Michael’s 1991 album, has shared some of his original concepts on his Instagram page.
30 years ago today, Michael Jackson’s “Dangerous” album was released. Here are my other sketches for the project. I’ve never shown these before. I had 5 days to come up with ideas. I feverishly worked that week and came up with one resolved design per day. The parameters I was given were to focus on Michael’s eyes, show the earth in peril, and include kids and animals. I was instructed the image could be scary, but should still be fun. This was the most exciting project of my life up to that point.
Source: Instagram & MJWN
‘Thriller’ In Billboard Top 20
8th November 2021
Michael horror classic ‘Thriller’ single has returned to the Billboard Hot 100 in the USA at No. 19, marking its highest placement since its original chart run in 1984!!
It originally peaked at No. 4, but it re-entered the chart in 2021 with nearly 13 million streams, 8.2 million radio airplay audience impressions and 6,300 downloads sold in the Oct. 29-Nov. 4 tracking week.
The title track of Michael’s 1982 album was produced by Quincy Jones and written by Rod Temperton. It helped propel the album to become the biggest selling album of all time, while cranking out the scary song year after year to be a Halloween staple. The famous John Landis directed short film was inducted into the National Film Preservation Board’s National Film Registry.
This also means that Michael has had a presence in the Billboard top 20 in the 1970s, ’80s, ’90s, 2000s, ’10s and ’20s. If you include his lead in Jackson 5 then he also hit the top 20 in the ’60s thanks to their debut hit ‘I Want You Back.’ Michael is the only artist with top 10 Billboard hits in five distinct decades as a soloist (’70s-’10s).
Source: Billboard & MJWN
25th Anniversary screening of GHOSTS
22nd October 2021
MJ DAY 30 will now take place on the 30th April 2022, but there will still be some Halloween celebrations this year as they celebrate the 25th Anniversary screening of GHOSTS on 30th October 2021, between 7pm – 10pm at The Vue Cinema, Leicester Square, London.
The screening will also feature an online live Q&A with the movie’s co-writer, Mick Garris. After the film they’ll be a private reception where you can enjoy some MJ classics over a drink or two!
All current MJ DAY 30 event ticket holders can attend – just RSVP to email@example.com with your ticket number and name, ASAP.
If you don’t yet have an MJ DAY 30 ticket, and wish go to the screening or the party, please visit www.mjday30.com for full ticket details!
Glen Ballard Remembers Michael
5th October 2021
Michael’s long time collaborator Glen Ballard who perhaps most famously co-wrote ‘Man in the Mirror’ has shared his studio memories of the King of Pop.
His first encounter with Michael was writing a song for the ‘Thriller’, that ultimately never made the final cut. However in 1987, with Siedah Garrett he wrote the number one mega hit ‘Man in the Mirror,’ which Michael released on his ‘Bad’ album and has gone on to be one of his most iconic songs.
On the recording of MITM, Ballard said;
“It’s one of the great weeks of my life to have Michael and the choir and we all felt something special was happening on that record…Michael was so generous with his time and with his patience…He was just a sweet presence always and always encouraging.”
Four years later he penned ‘Keep the Faith,’ also with Garrett for Michael’s 1991 ‘Dangerous’ album. On the writing process he said;
“We wrote a song called Keep The Faith and I sat at the piano and Siedah Garrett was there with me and Michael. We spent half the time laughing and having fun and just trying to find the easy end for the song. It was never like a gun to your head, it was just fun. That’s the Quincy Jones way. We’ve got to have fun while we’ll working.”
Source: Express & MJWN
Walter Yetnikoff Passes Away
10th August 2021
Walter Yetnikoff, who led CBS Records during the boom years of Michael’s ‘Thriller’ album, has died of cancer, aged 87.
In one of his first acts as president of CBS Epic, Yetnikoff signed the Jacksons, snatching them from Motown Records. Initially he wasn’t overly impressed with their self-titled first album in 1976, however he started to have a close relationship with Michael, and supported him in expanding into solo work.
At the 1984 Grammy Awards, Michael brought Walter Yetnikoff on stage, calling him “the best president of any record company.”
“That’s unheard-of,” Mr. Yetnikoff bragged afterward, “You don’t bring record executives up at the Grammys, ’cause no one’s interested. I went back to CBS and said, ‘Give me another $2 million for that!’”
Source: New York Times & MJWN
New Adrian Grant Interview
6th July 2021
Adrian Grant, author of ‘Michael Jackson: The Visual Documentary,’ was recently interviewed by Brice Najar for his website. Adrian is also the founder of MJWN, and has been involved in the fan club world since setting up Michael’s very first fan club in the late 1980’s. He’s also the brains behind ‘Thriller Live,’ as well as the Annual MJ Day; a public celebration of Michael that was held over many years in London, including one that Michael personally attended in 2001.
Adrian will be celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Annual MJ Day, with a Michael Jackson Halloween party at Madame Tussauds, London on the 30th October. For more details sign up at www.mjday30.com.
Read the complete interview between Adrian and Brice below:
First, can you tell us how you became a Michael Jackson fan, and share your oldest memories of that era?
My dad was a big music fan, mainly soul and lovers rock (reggae). His pride and joy were his HiFi system, speakers and record collection. They did sound great, and from a young age I enjoyed listening to the various artist he played such as Bob Marley, Stevie Wonder, Maze, Odyssey, Diana Ross and Earth, Wind & Fire. However, I strongly remember when I first heard the Jacksons on the radio. The song was ‘Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground)’. I would have been about 9-years old, and I just loved their energy and sound.
That said it wasn’t until the first time I saw Michael moonwalk during the Motown 25th Anniversary TV special that I really became a huge fan. His whole performance was electric and on point, and it turned Michael from a superstar into a megastar overnight.
The ‘Thriller’ album had been released several months earlier, and I remember my school friend Helen raving about it. She lent me the cassette she had bought (yes, there were no downloads or internet back then, lol). I took it home and played it on my boombox, and was blown away by the first track, ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Something’. Wow, the vocals, the lyrics, the beat. Actually, to this day it’s still one of my favourite Michael tracks.
Then came the ‘Thriller’ short film itself! It was shown on a programme called ‘The Tube’ which aired on Channel 4, hosted by Jools Holland and Paula Yates. They had a late-night premiere (1am!) and I, like most of the nation, stayed up to watch. The public were mesmerised. Firstly, we had never seen a music video so grand, but also the choreography, the special effects and the way Michael looked in that red leather jacket was perfect. Everything was just off the scale.
I was now a big fan of Michael, so it was great whenever he was mentioned in magazines or newspapers. He was a trailblazer during the 80s and many other pop and RnB acts followed his lead. So, it was with bated breath that I waited for his next album, ‘BAD’, to be released. I recall some months or weeks before seeing a track listing published in Number One magazine and thinking what the meaning behind each song was, or what the video may be like. As fans we already knew about ‘Another Part Of Me’, as it was from the Disney film, ‘Captain Eo’. But song titles such as ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’, ‘Man In The Mirror’ and ‘Smooth Criminal’ really set the imagination alight.
When the ‘BAD’ video premiered it was another must-watch TV event. Michael had been somewhat away from the media eye prior to its release, so when the public first saw his new look, it was an OMG moment! The hair, the boots and buckles. This was a new, sharp grown-up Michael Jackson, who really was bad, in a good way!
The following day, 1st September 1987, the ‘BAD’ album was released in the UK (it had been released on the 31st August elsewhere around the world, but that was a bank holiday in England. Tuesday morning couldn’t come quick enough as I scuttled into town, and bought a vinyl copy of the album from Our Price Records. On the bus ride home, I felt like Charlie Bucket with his winning golden ticket. I studied every word on the album, from the cover to inner sleeve. Taking in the names of all the musicians, writers and Michael’s messages of thanks to those who had made the album possible. Back in the day those liner notes were as a much a part of an album release than the music itself!
When I got back home, I put the record on my dad’s beloved turntable, cranked up the volume and let the music burst out of those glorious huge speakers! At the time, ‘Another Part of Me’ and ‘Liberian Girl’ were amongst my favourite tracks, but it was ‘Man In The Mirror’ that got rotated most. “Make that change!”
The 80s were a magical time for music full-stop. We had the likes of Madonna, Freddie Mercury and George Michael at their peak. But there will never be another Michael Jackson. The music industry has changed and is far more instant now than it was 20, 30, 40 years ago. Michael had grown up during the Motown era, and worked hard with his brothers touring and perfecting their craft. Furthermore, he had learnt from greats such as Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Jackie Wilson and James Brown. He once said, “Believe in yourself. Study the greats. And become greater.” And that he did!
You may find an individual who can sing better, or dance better – but what made Michael the King of Pop was that he did everything, and he did it so very well and with his own style. Look at some of the hits he wrote such as ‘Billie Jean’, ‘Remember The Time’, ‘Earth Song’ and ‘Don’t Stop Til’ You Get Enough’ – pure pop classics. As a singer he had an incredible 4-octave range, and as a dancer he created breakthrough videos such as ‘Beat It’ and ‘Smooth Criminal’.
I sometimes think he was underrated as an artist, because people focused more on his lifestyle and the hype around him, than the actual quality of his music and performances.
How did you get the idea to do something for the Jackson community of fans and create the ‘Off The Wall’ magazine in 1988 when you were only 19 years old?
After completing a Business Studies diploma at college, I had been discussing with a friend the idea of starting our own company. We looked at various ventures from window cleaning to selling fresh orange juice! Fortunately those ideas came to nothing, and we both jumped into what I would call, ‘safe’ career choices – James working in Insurance whilst I went on to work as an Accounts Assistant for a computer company. But after several months I was finding the job boring. What I really wanted to do was to work in entertainment and media producing content. So, I applied for many different jobs at various record companies, radio stations and TV channels. However, rejection letter upon rejection letter fell on my doorstep.
Then one day I was in Tower Records browsing through a fanzine called ‘Controversy’ for the artist Prince, whom I was also a fan of, and had a light-bulb moment. I thought if Prince has a magazine why doesn’t Michael Jackson? Fortune favoured the brave, and I wrote to CBS/Epic Records to see if it they had a problem with me starting a Michael Jackson fanzine in England. They said it would be fine. I then wrote out a business plan and applied for a Grant from the Prince’s Youth Business Trust. I received £1,500 which allowed to me purchase a computer, some desktop publishing software and print 200-copies of the fanzine. The first issue of ‘Off The Wall’ magazine was published on the 1st July 1988, just two-weeks before Michael’s record-breaking concerts at Wembley Stadium on his ‘BAD’ world tour.
How did you manage to write articles and get photos at the beginning of the adventure? And how did the magazine evolve and keep growing in the course of its existence?
As we had no social media in the 80s, teenagers tended to make friendships by having pen pals. I had met Denise Pfeiffer this way, who was probably one of the biggest Michael Jackson fans in the country. She was also a good writer and helped with a lot of content in the early years. I also acquired content from some American fans who became regular contributors including Gayle Stever, who at the time was writing a thesis on fan behaviour for her master’s degree in counselling at Arizona State University.
Then there were other more mysterious writers including Mr Tibbs and Benny Cool, who were actually just figments of my imagination to make my editorial team look bigger than it actually was.
The first few issues of the magazine were quite frankly not very good. It was very much trial and error, as I had never produced a magazine before and there were many mistakes. But it was raw, real and passionate and the fans were loving it, as they had no other dedicated source of Michael Jackson news.
For the second issue I managed to get some distribution in Tower Records and Virgin Megastore and circulation quickly rose from 200, to 500, to 700 and kept growing.
For pictures I had to go to a photo agency in London and spend hours trawling through their files to get one decent photo of Michael for use in the magazine. Others were supplied either by Sony Records, and later by MJJ Productions.
Eventually the magazine peaked with a distribution of over 25,000 copies and readers in 47 different countries!
Do you know how Michael Jackson first heard about your magazine? How did it feel to know that your idol took your work into consideration?
The magazine was published every three months and I used to send it over to Michael’s President of Communications, Bob Jones. He was very supportive of my work and passed the magazine onto Michael, telling me that he really liked the publication and all the fans’ comments. I was blown away to think that Michael was actually reading my magazine, and that made me even more determined to improve its quality.
It soon went from being printed in black and white to colour, and I think by the seventh or eighth issue I had obtained national distribution in shops like WH Smith, and even into Rita Fairclough’s corner store in Coronation Street (a popular British soap).
As the magazine became more popular it attracted more and more writers. Chris Cadman was a very important contributor at the time, as was John Powner. Later on Gloria Haydock became the editor of the magazine and was meticulous with her proof reading which really helped!
The team continued to grow and I’m glad to still be in touch with some of them including Jayne Ross, who now runs the Michael Jackson World Network, something that had grown from the endeavours of the magazine.
A crucial moment in your relationship with Michael Jackson was the trip you made to Los Angeles in March 1990 when you presented him with the ‘Off The Wall Appreciation Award’. How did you get the idea to have a montage made by painter Vincent McKoy to give to Michael?
I can’t remember the exact origins, but I recall wanting to present Michael with an appreciation award from the readers of the magazine. I believe it may have been Chris Cadman that suggested a painting, so I did some research and came across Vincent McKoy, who had been putting together some incredible oil paintings of famous personalities.
I told him I would like a montage of Michael Jackson images from the past 20-years (1969-1989), gave him some references and told him he only had two-months to complete the painting. I think he did it in 6-weeks and had sent me a photograph of the finished canvas, cheekily asking ‘if this would do?’. It was incredible!
Can you tell us about your meeting with Michael for the first time? Did you already know that you would be allowed in the studio and experience those fabulous moments?
In March 1990 I flew over to Los Angeles after Bob Jones had set up a meeting for me to present the ‘Appreciation Award’ to Michael at Record One Studios where he was recording his new album, ‘Dangerous’.
Just getting the 6 x 3 foot painting to the studio in one piece was a mission. Firstly, when it was unloaded off the plane from cargo at LAX, I noticed a hole in the packaging and feared it may have gone through the canvas. Then I was interrogated by security for what felt like an hour, as to its contents and did I know there had been a recent oil painting heist. And then my taxi driver decided to pursue a hit and run he had witnessed instead of taking me straight to my hotel. Welcome to America!
The following day I made my way to the recording studio and was surprised by its surroundings. It really was a non-descript neighbourhood, and not one where you may have thought the world’s biggest star was at home recording the follow up to two of the best-selling albums of all time!
Still I was fairly relaxed and didn’t know what to expect of the day. I first met photographer Sam Emerson, who helped me place the picture above a fireplace in a lounge room next to the recording studio. Bob Jones was also there, but it was Sam who was doing most of the talking and telling me some interesting stories about some of the famous people he had worked with.
We then waited, and waited some more (or so it felt), and then I heard a beautiful voice singing acapella. It was Michael, adlibbing a tune. He walked into the room, and I swear it felt like the moment he walked into Club 30 from the ‘Smooth Criminal’ video. Everything around me just disappeared, and all I could see was Michael Jackson in glorious technicolour right in front of me! Still, I kept it together. Although Michael looked fabulous, and he was the world’s biggest most famous celebrity, whom I had dedicated a complete magazine to and my whole career. Yes, he was that man, the reason why. And his first glance, was not towards me, but the incredible 6 x 3 foot oil painting that was hanging on the wall. Oh no, he’s going to ignore me I thought. But he didn’t, he stretched out his hand, as Bob Jones introduced me. I can’t remember the first words that I or Michael spoke, but I did feel instantly at ease in his presence.
I presented Michael with the painting, told him the story behind it, and Sam busily took photographs of us both grinning from ear to ear. I then asked if Michael would give Vincent a call, and this he did – to thank him for his beautiful artwork. It must have been early morning when Vincent received the call, but he was certainly wide awake as he spoke to Michael, although a little shocked!
From there on the day just got better and better. I asked Michael if he would pose for a picture for the cover of ‘Off The Wall’ magazine, and this he did, much to Bob Jones surprise who stated, “He’s not going to do that Adrian!”. Michael replied, “It’s ok, it’s for the magazine.” And that’s how Michael was, and our relationship. He really was the most giving person I have ever met, and he gave his time to me because he knew it was for the fans.
Michael then asked if I would like to hear a track from the new album, which I’m led to believe no one else had heard at them time. He played me ‘Men In Black’, which was funky and loud, but ultimately never made it onto the final track listing. I stood by his side nodding my head to the beat, as Michael sat at his mix desk pushing various buttons. We talked some more, and he read through some of the letters and messages the fans had sent me to bring along. Then Michael wrote a heartfelt note for the fans, which was published in the magazine.
And then time stood still again, when Michael asked me if I would like to come over to his ranch, Neverland, that coming weekend for lunch. Did I just hear correctly? Would I like to go to Neverland Valley for lunch with Michael Jackson on Saturday, when my flight home leaves on Friday? Ummm, yes, absolutely. Would love to, even if I have to walk home!
What memories do you hold of that first visit to Neverland?
Needless to say, visiting Neverland was the most memorable experience ever. It really was a fantasy land, filled with fun things to do and the most beautiful scenery everywhere you looked.
As I walked through the gates I saw two chimpanzees, Max and Alex, rolling around on the grass, giraffes, llamas, the funfair and classical music was echoing out from the flowerbeds. I said to the security guard who was escorting me up to the main house that this wasn’t reality, but he replied that it was reality for Michael Jackson, that this was what he woke up to every morning. And that was true. Michael had lived a life that pretty much since the age of 11, when he had his first number one with The Jackson Five, he was able to have almost anything that he wanted or had his every whim catered for. Fortunately, Michael chose to channel most of his desires towards something positive and getting to know him I saw how much he really did care for children – often opening the Neverland gates to the underprivileged or disabled. I feel this (his charitable work), along with four decades of great music is his greatest personal legacy.
For the rest of the visit Michael was very hospitable. He chatted a lot during lunch which was shared by a couple of other musicians who were working with him on the ‘Dangerous’ album. They talked a little about some of the songs, but in the main Michael was relaxed and jovial. I then had a tour of the grounds, which included an extended period of me playing on the arcade machines. Later as Michael showed me the movie theatre, we passed through a dance studio, and I asked if I could teach him any moves. The grin and on Michael’s face was a definite, thanks, but no thanks!
At the end of the day Michael said come back anytime and I did that just that, being fortunate enough to visit the ranch many more times in future years.
You met with Michael several times over the following years (backstage during tours or shootings of videos, and at ceremonies. Can you share a few anecdotes about those moments and your relationship with Michael that surely had evolved over the years?
There were many memorable moments I had with Michael, but I recall a trip to Budapest in 1994. Michael, along with Lisa Marie-Presley, was visiting children’s hospitals, handing out gifts and toys. I was fortunate to be the only ‘media’ allowed to accompany them into the hospitals, and I was delighted to help in giving the gifts to some of the sick children. However, the sceptical press suggested the trip (part of Michael’s ‘Heal The World’ campaign), was nothing more than a publicity stunt. What they didn’t report was the moving moment when Michael brought a smile to the face of a dying girl who had lain motionless and silent for weeks. Her mother, at her side in constant vigil, broke down in tears as her daughter reached out and touched Michael’s hand.
A few months later I was fortunate to spend some more time with Michael at the Hit Factory in New York where he was recording the ‘HIStory’ album. I was there for about three days. On one occasion Janet was there, along with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, presumably they had been working on ‘Scream’. The next day, Lisa Marie Presley was in the studio, and Michael treated us to a preview of the songs, ‘Stranger In Moscow’, and ‘Smile’. Both songs were incredible. Especially ‘Stranger In Moscow’, hearing it breathe around the acoustics of the state-of-the-art studio complete with a 96-channel mixing console. This indeed was history being made right there. Lisa and Michael were very relaxed and happy together.
I suggested to Michael that for ‘Smile’ he could appear in a video alongside actual footage of Charlie Chaplin, as Tom Hanks had done in the movie, ‘Forrest Gump’ with the likes of John F. Kennedy, John Lennon and Richard Nixon. Michael replied saying that’s exactly what he intended to do, but unfortunately a video was never made for the song.
The following day we were meant to do a photo shoot at the studio, but Michael didn’t feel up to it. This led to one of my most memorable conversations with Michael when just the two of us spoke for half an hour in his office about life in general, and my hair, lol. I think every time we met, I had done something different to it. Actually Michael felt bad about the postponed photo shoot, so he flew me to Chicago a few months later, and I got to take my favourite ever pictures with him, in which I sporting a very funky hair style, lol.
Looking back I feel very privileged that I got to know one of the greatest entertainers of all-time so well. He inspired me greatly to do the things I love, working in music, film and theatre. As a person he was always kind, giving and funny and as an artist he was a true genius.
You also published three books about Michael Jackson. How did you move on to that next step? How did Michael react to your work as a writer?
Being the editor and publisher of ‘Off The Wall’ gave me great access to Michael’s world and I was invited to cover many stories from concert tours to video shoots and more recording sessions. These were all so special and I believe in time Michael grew used to me being around and trusted me enough to have chats not just about his own work, but life around him.
The first book, ‘Live And Dangerous’, was published in 1992, and was really just a review of the ‘Dangerous’ concert. It was more of a magazine, but I was pleased I was able to capture the magic of that tour in a commemorative publication.
‘Making HIStory’ was very similar to ‘Live And Dangerous’, again more of an extended magazine, of which the focus was an interview I did with Michael in February 1998, talking about the making of the ‘HIStory’ album. However, it was originally intended to be much bigger book published back in 1996 to coincide with the ‘HIStory’ tour. Michael was going to contribute some drawings, poems and we were going to chat about the most memorable moments of his career, for which I had agreed a publishing deal. But Sony were looking for a more lucrative contract. In the end it never happened, and the rest as they say is history, lol.
The concept of your book ‘The Visual Documentary’ was obviously a very demanding work, describing Michael Jackson’s life day by day. How did the concept of that project emerge, including the numerous updates and new versions that followed? Were you nervous about the fact that Michael himself was expecting it?
‘Michael Jackson – The Visual Documentary’, really was a labour of love and at the time was a book that I wanted to be the most concise chronology of Michael’s life ever published. To make that possible I had an amazing team of researchers including Chris Cadman, Lisa Campbell, Angelika Meisel and Gloria Haydock who spent months trailing through newspapers, reports and other books to make sure we had as many facts as possible. For later editions of the book Deborah Dannelley, Jayne Ross and Luigi Pedone would also be very important contributors.
I also spent about three weeks in LA going backwards and forwards to the beautiful offices of MJJ Productions on Sunset Boulevard, when at the time they had a massive vault of photographs that I was able to make a selection from. Again, Bob Jones was most supportive of my work, and transcripts of the book were sent to Michael in advance of it being finished for his approval.
I remember on one visit to Neverland, I saw a copy of the book in Michael’s lounge, and that made me really proud.
Organizing musical shows is also part of your work. How did you come up with the idea of ‘Thriller Live’ during the 2000s, while Michael was less to be seen in the musical news?
Michael was a big fan of the ‘Annual Michael Jackson Day’ that I used to produce once a year in London, first starting in 1991. He loved them so much that he used to send his own video crew to film them, as well as donating signed prizes for the raffle, and recording personal video messages for the fans.
Then on the 10th anniversary in 2001 Michael came to watch the event personally. Unlike previous MJ Days this was more of a complete show, a tribute concert that featured various singers and dancers, and after the performance, Michael came on stage (having watched from the wings in a tent to shield him from the fans) and said it was ‘Incredible and beautiful!’ He loved all the acts and seeing the young kids ‘impersonating’ the Jackson 5 and other renditions of the songs he had made famous.
That gave me the idea and belief that the annual celebration could become a touring show, not just for Michael’s fans – but for everybody to get a little taste of what Michael Jackson was like live on stage.
Shows like ‘We Will Rock You’ (Queen) and ‘Mamma Mia’ (Abba), went onto become massive hits, and both groups, like Michael were very theatrical. The Queen musical especially inspired me, and I had originally wanted to create a book musical that saw Michael’s songs woven into a fictitious story which I had written.
However, there were various obstacles in my way and I couldn’t get the grand rights for a book musical, plus Michael had to sadly face more trials and tribulations in court during 2005. But when he was rightly vindicated, I thought now is time people need to be reminded of his music and what a great artist he is. This led me to create the first ‘Thriller Live’ show in August 2006, then the following year I teamed up with Flying Music, an experienced theatrical and concert producer for more than 25 years and they took the show on a UK and European tour in 2007. Since then ‘Thriller Live’ has played in 34 different countries to almost 5 million people!
I am fortunate we have always had an amazing team of creatives, crew and performers working on the show from the company manager to sound engineers, video technicians, dressers and chaperones to everyone in the producer’s officer who take care of marketing, bookings and a multitude of other task.
Add to that the work of director and choreographer, Gary Lloyd and musical director, John Maher, whom are both meticulous in their efforts in putting the show together, as we all strive for a production that will make Michael’s fans happy.
Looking back, do you consider Thriller Live as a posthumous tribute, even though it was launched while Michael was still alive?
The show was always a celebration of Michael Jackson’s music, and its format has never changed from the time it was first produced in 2006 until now. It was created out of love and respect for Michael’s work, and that remains true today, so I wouldn’t call is a posthumous tribute. Every time I see the show, and hear and see our performers dancing and singing, it feels as fresh to me now as it did the first time. I can feel Michael’s energy all around the production, and whilst we cannot replicate his magic, we can certainly honour him with the best show possible and I am proud of what we have achieved over the past 15-years with ‘Thriller Live’.
As a conclusion, I would like to evoke your long-lasting relationship with Michael Jackson. How and why did it remain so strong over the years, in your opinion?
I was always honest with Michael, and I would like to think that I spoke with him like I would any other friend. Because of that he trusted me and allowed me access to his world – that is Michael Jackson the normal man at home, and Michael Jackson the megastar on stage.
But at the end of the day Michael opened his doors to me because I was a fan, like many others who he gave access to.
After Michael’s memorial in 2009, I went back to Havenhurst and spent some time with the family. I had met Katherine once before, but this time I was introduced as a writer who always spoke well of her son. Katherine replied, “Well what else could he write, Michael was only every good.”
And that Mrs. Jackson is very true. Michael was the best!
Source: Brice Najar, Adrian Grant & MJWN
Billie Jean’s 1 Billionth Video Stream
16th June 2021
Michael’s classic and arguably biggest hit ‘Billie Jean’ has crossed the 1 billion view mark on YouTube, marking the King of Pop’s first entry into the Billion Views Club.
The 1983 mega hit is the third music video from the 1980s to reach this milestone, following Guns N’ Roses’ ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ and a-ha’s ‘Take on Me.’
The song, taken from his 1982 ‘Thriller’ album, helped propel the album to become the biggest selling album of all time, and was a number one hit in many countries including the USA and UK. It won two Grammy Awards and became a staple performance of his live shows, during which you’d catch Michael slide backwards across the floor performing his iconic moonwalk.
Source: Billboard & MJWN
Michael Jackson ONE Returns!
16th June 2021
After nearly 18 months since it stopped due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Michael Jackson ONE is officially reopening in August at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas!
Tickets are available now. The first show date will be on August 19th. Also, Michael’s Estate has plans to celebrate both the relaunch of the show and Michael’s birthday on the weekend of August 28th and 29th!
If you want to attend the show with the Estate and its special guests, please make sure your secure tickets for Saturday night August 28th.
Source: MJ Online & MJWN
Kelsey Grammer Shares Michael Memory
16th June 2021
Frasier star Kelsey Grammer appears in a new film called ‘The Space Between’ with Michael’s daughter Paris Jackson. During the press tour for the movie he shared a story of when he once met her father, the King of Pop, and while he told it, it brought him to tears.
“I was checking into the Waldorf [Hotel] and there was Michael. He was recording something. It was just the sweetest moment…cos, you know…boy they went after him, took shots at him all the time. And I just thought how the hell do you handle that?”
The actor went on to say how during that encounter he met Paris for the first time;
“He stopped to say hello. We sort of shook hands and he had his little mask on, but then she said, ‘Daddy’…”
At this point Grammer, gets emotional and struggles to continue’
“And he uh….he just took her in his arms, and I said ‘oh hello little one’ and she was so lovely, it was so beautiful.”
Watch the video here of him recounting the story here:
Source: Extra TV & MJWN
We Be Ballin
14th May 2021
Update: Since posting this article, this track has since been removed from streaming services.
In 1998 Michael recorded a short chorus for a song entitled ‘We Be Ballin’. It was to be used in a remix of Ice Cube’s song ‘We Be Clubbin’, which also featured Shaquille O’Neal.
The remix was set to be released on an NBA compilation album and feature in commercials; however the project was shelved due to the player-initiated strike against the league.
For the past 20 years the track has been leaked online, however today a song with the same time has been released to streaming services using the same unreleased hook that Michael recorded. This version of ‘We Be Ballin’ doesn’t include Ice Cube, but is instead by Jethro Sheeran, a British music producer.
We’ve reached out to Michael’s Estate to learn more about this release.
MJ Musical Update
11th May 2021
Originally set to open last summer, but delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic; ‘MJ The Musical’ will now have its preview curtain go up at the Neil Simon Theatre on Broadway in New York on December 6th 2021, ahead of an opening night on February 1st, 2022.
Tony nominee Ephraim Sykes will perform in the new musical, which was written by two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage. Tony winner Christopher Wheeldon will direct and choreograph the show which will have Michael’s hit catalog throughout.
There will also be a special Pre-Sale window exclusively for Michael’s fans, so check out the official social media pages on Friday for full details.
Source: MJ Estate, Broadway.com & MJWN
Robson’s Case Dismissed Again!
26th April 2021
Today, a Los Angeles Superior Court dismissed Wade Robson’s case, which was against Michael and his Estate.
The Estate was represented by Jonathan Steinsapir and the late Howard Weitzman of the law firm
Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump LLP. Steinsapir issued the following statement;
“As of today, a summary judgement against Wade Robson has been granted three different times by two different judges of the Superior Court.
Wade Robson has spent the last eight years pursuing frivolous claims in different lawsuits against Michael Jackson’s estate and companies associated with it. Robson has taken nearly three dozen depositions and inspected and presented hundreds of thousands of documents trying to prove his claims, yet a Judge has once again ruled that Robson’s claims have no merit whatsoever, that no trial is necessary and that his latest case is dismissed.”
James Safechuck’s case was also previously dismissed by a court.
Source: Roger Friedman/showbiz411.com & MJWN
Neverland Statues Being Sold
21st April 2021
Twenty-eight of the statues that were in the grounds of Michael’s Neverland Ranch, are being sold via Noble Art Lovers, who are based in Dubai.
The private collector who owns the statues, is currently asking $2.5 million for them. They will not be sold off individually, but as a job lot.
Source: Allhiphop.com & MJWN