Thriller: 25 Years Later
February 12, 2008
Long before Michael Jackson was an unqualified freakshow, and even before he was oddly known as the King of Pop, he was an incredible musician. Teaming up with producer Quincy Jones, they produced some of the most memorable music of the 1980's, and helped put MTV and music videos on the map.

On February 12, 1983 Michael Jackson released Thriller, his much-anticipated followup to Off the Wall (another terrific album). Thriller was a run away success, sitting atop the Billboard Album chart for 37 weeks and staying in the top 100 for 122 weeks. It produced 7 top 10 songs and eventually won 8 Grammys (out of 12 nominations). That same here he debuted the famous "Moonwalk" dance will performing at the Motown anniversary show on national TV.

In Kansas City, there was a show on local TV called "Friday Night Videos" where callers would vote all week on their favorite videos. The 13-minute, cinematic video for the album's title track, "Thriller" was #1 on that show for over a year, and strangely I never got tired of watching it.

After Thriller, Michael Jackson continued to produce albums and have some hits, but never on the scale of Thriller. The first concert I ever attended was the Jackson 5 "Victory Tour", and at that time he was the undisputed "Biggest Star in the World."

Since then, Michael Jackson's troubles have been well-documented. Today he's nearly broke and lives some weird life of hermit-like obscurity, hiding his bizarrely disfigured face and seldom making headlines. There was a rumor that Trump was trying to get him to do a show in Vegas, which seems unlikely as his health is a disaster and he's a total flake. The guy is only 52 years old (same age as Madonna, who still fills arenas at $300 a ticket).

For me, I prefer to remember the Michael Jackson of the 80's. Back when he was good; back when he was black; and back when he had something that looked like a human nose.

tags: culture