August 23, 2017
By William Glanz, Senior Editor, SoundExchange
Michael Jackson would have turned 59 next week. More than eight years after his death, the King of Pop remains as popular as ever.
Need proof? On August 30 – one day after his birthday – Michael Jackson’s Thriller 3D will premiere at the 74th Annual Venice Film Festival. A television special featuring the King of Pop’s music is planned for October.
Director John Landis announced plans earlier this month to re-release the music video in 3-D. Landis directed the original video, which was released December 2, 1983.
Music fans remain entranced by the King of Pop, and his legacy remains strong. Thriller continues to break ground. Billboard announced August 11 that Thriller became just the 16th album to spend 300 weeks on the Billboard 200 – that’s nearly six years.
According to Billboard: Thriller debuted on the list dated December 25, 1982 at No. 11, and rose to No. 1 on the February 26, 1983 list. It spent 37 weeks at No. 1 – the most weeks at No. 1 for an album by an artist. (Only the soundtrack to West Side Story spent more weeks atop the list: 54.)
Album sales of Thriller, released November 30, 1982, have exceeded 105 million.
Jackson’s birthday isn’t the only important milestone next week. August 31 will mark the 30th anniversary of Bad, his third solo album.
“Bad is a portrait of the artist in peak form – bold, creative and confident,” the Atlantic reported in a story about the album.
His death “…prompted the world to focus on his genius and an enormous body of work (beginning with his days as a kid with the Jackson 5) left behind,” Rolling Stone reported last week.
The King of Pop also has inspired generations of musicians.
“I wouldn’t be who I am today without Michael Jackson,” Usher said in a CBS interview following Jackson’s death.
Last year, The Weeknd credited Jackson with creating music that inspired him to become a singer.
“Michael, man, that guy was the star. He invented the star. There will never be another Michael,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “I want to make it very clear that I’m not trying to be Michael. He’s everything to me, so you’re going to hear it in my music. Off the Wall was the album that inspired me to sing.”
Happy birthday, Michael.
August 29, 1958 – born in Gary, Indiana, the seventh of nine children.
1968 – Motown Records signs the Jackson 5.
November 1969 – The Jackson 5’s first single, “I Want You Back,” is released.
1971 – “Got to Be There” is released as Michael Jackson’s first solo single.
1972 – “Ben” is Jackson’s first No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100.
1975 – The group leaves Motown for Epic Records and changes its name to The Jacksons.
1978 – Jackson plays the Scarecrow in “The Wiz.” “Ease On Down the Road,” a duet with Diana Ross, is a hit single.
1979 – Debut solo album with Epic Records, Off The Wall, sells over 20 million copies and has four Top 10 singles. Released in August, the album is certified platinum in December.
1980 – Jackson wins his first GRAMMY® for best R&B Male Vocal Performance.
November 30, 1982 – Thriller is released and is certified platinum the following January. It ultimately sells over 105 million copies worldwide and has seven Top 10 singles. That album and the song, “Billie Jean,” make him the first artist to have a No. 1 pop single, pop album, R&B single and R&B album – all at the same time.
1984 – Wins the GRAMMY® for Best Video, Longform for Making Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
1985 – Co-writes and performs on “We Are The World,” to help raise money for African famine relief.
1987 – Bad is released in August and is certified 4x platinum in December. Its five No. 1 singles set a record for a solo artist on one album.
1993 – Wins the Living Legend Award at the GRAMMY® Awards and the Humanitarian of the Year trophy at the Soul Train Awards.
1997 – The Jackson 5 is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
March 19, 2001 – Jackson is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist.
September 7 and 10, 2001 – Concert at Madison Square Garden, “Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Celebration, The Solo Years,” his first performance in the continental U.S. since 1989.
June 13, 2002 – Jackson is inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
March 5, 2009 – Jackson announces his This Is It concert tour.
June 25, 2009 – Jackson is rushed by ambulance to a Los Angeles hospital after going into cardiac arrest and is later pronounced dead.
Source: CNN, NPR