If you’re a Michael Jackson fan, nine times out of ten you’ve tried the moonwalk in the comfort of your solitude. Though the concept of the dance seems simple, it’s definitely no easy task.
Michael Jackson first performed the dance on TV for the special Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever, which aired on NBC on May 16, 1983, according to Billboard.
However, it’s pretty well known that M.J. didn’t invent the moonwalk and up until his performance, it wasn’t really known by that name.
Dancer Jeffrey Daniel notably performed the move on the U.K. show Top of the Pops in 1982 and back then, it was known as the “backslide.” Peep the moves around the 1:58 mark below!
Even before Jeffrey’s performance, poppers and b-boy dancers were known to do the dance in city streets and clubs. Mr. Freeze of the influential Rock Steady b-boy crew even did the moves in a scene from Flashdance, which was released on April 15, 1983. Check out his variation of the backslide around the 0:25 mark below!
A recorded variation of the backslide can also be found from the 1950s thanks to dancer Bill Bailey…
Despite who “created” the “backslide” or the “moonwalk,” there’s no question that M.J. popularized the move and turned it into a global phenomenon. According to Yahoo, Michael wasn’t specific on who taught him the dance (and there’s still much debate about this), but he still gave credit to the streets in his 1988 memoir Moonwalker.
“I would finally do the Moonwalk in public on Motown 25. Now the Moonwalk was already out on the street by this time, but I enhanced it a little when I did it. It was born as a breakdance step, a ‘popping’ type of thing that black kids had created dancing on the street corners in the ghetto…So I said, ‘This is my chance to do it,’ and I did it. These three kids taught it to me.”
Since Michael showed off his skills to the world, countless folks have tried the iconic footwork — from eager fans to talented celebrities.
Unfortunately, on the celebrity side, it hasn’t been all success.
In honor of Michael Jackson’s 60th birthday, check out some stars who nailed the dance as well as others who were not so smooth.