Thirty years ago today — November 30, 1982 — the greatest album of all time was released: Michel Jackson’s Thriller LP.
If you’re fan of any kind of music, then you’ve heard all the songs and seen all the videos. So what more is there to say? As it turns out, a lot.
There are a plethora of cool tidbits related to this classic album and to 1982 Michael in general.
So in honor of 30 years of the greatest album of all time, turn the music up, scroll down and read 30 cool facts you might have not known about Thriller.
1. Thriller is the best selling album of all time.
2. The album had seven singles, which is odd considering that most LPs only have three or four.
3. The first song recorded for the album was the Paul McCartney collabo “The Girl is Mine,” which was also the lead single.
4. “The Girl is Mine” was panned by most critics when it was released initially.
5. Twice Michael Jackson was sued for plagiarism for the “Girl is Mine.” Both times he won the case.
6. The album Thriller entered the Billboard 200 at No. 11 during the week ending Dec. 25, 1982.
7. Thriller spent 122 weeks on the Billboard 200.
8. Michael himself wrote four out of the nine songs on the album.
- 9. The song “Thriller” was originally called “Starlight.”
- 10. John Landis, the mind behind National Lampoon’s Animal House, The Blues Brothers, An American Werewolf in London and Trading Places, directed the “Thriller” video.
11. Michael’s love interest in the “Thriller” video, Ola Ray, was a Playboy Playmate. Years later she also hinted that she and Michael had a fling while shooting the video.
12. Actress Jennifer Beals turned down the role to play Michael’s girlfriend in the “Thriller” video.
13. Michael wanted the “Thriller” video destroyed after he found out that the Jehovah’s Witnesses heard he was doing a video about a werewolf. Michael would eventually change his mind after a disclaimer was added to the video.
14. The “Thriller” video played in a theater for one week in 1983 so it could qualify for an Oscar nomination. The movie opened for Disney’s Fantasia.
15. Vincent Price narrates the “Thriller” video.
16. The costumes for the “Thriller” video came from the Salvation Army.
17. The video for “Thriller” actually lost to The Cars’ “You Might Think” video at the first VMAS.
18. The song “Beat It” was used in a campaign against drunk driving. Because of this, MJ was able to meet the president at the time, Ronald Regan.
19. ”Human Nature” was the last song selected to be on Thriller. The track ousted a song called “Carousel” from the final track listing.
20. Michael recorded Thriller in large part because he was disappointed in the sales and reception of Off the Wall.
21. The album won Jackson a record-breaking eight Grammy Awards in 1984.
22. Michael broke racial barriers. His song “Beat It” made it to “white radio” stations due to Eddie Van Halen’s guitar solo on the track…
23….Speaking of that solo, Halen recorded his guitar solo free of any charge.
24. The video for “Beat It” actually had real life gang members in it.
25. “Billie Jean” is based on a true story. Michael claims an obsessive fan tried to say he was the father of her child.
26. Writer Rod Temperton came up for the title of Thriller.
27. While recording Thriller, Michael was narrating The E.T. Storybook.
28. E.T. director Steven Spielberg talked about making a Peter Pan movie starring Michael Jackson.
29. Janet and LaToya sang backing vocals on “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing).” They were the only Jacksons to appear on the album.
30. Counting Jackson 5 LPs and his solo work, Thriller was Michael’s 19th studio album.