Michael Jackson’s Top Ten Career Highlights: A Look Back At The Amazing “King of Pop”

Sources: About Entertainment – By Ken Simmons | Edited By – All Things Michael


Here is a list of Michael Jackson’s Top Ten Career Highlights

1. Jackson Five Debuts With Four Number One Hits 1970

Photo of Jackson 5

From the album Diana Ross Presents The Jackson Five,  the first single, “I Want You Back,” hit number one on theBillboard  Hot 100 in January 1970. The group’s next singles “ABC” and “The Love You Save” from their ABC  album also hit number one. The following single, “I’ll Be There” from The Third Album, continued their dominance at the top of the charts. The Jackson Five, with eleven-year-old Michael as their lead singer, became the first recording act to reach the top of the Billboard Hot 100 with their first four singles.

2. “Motown 25-Yesterday, Today, Forever” 1983


One of the most memorable performances of Michael Jackson’s legendary career took place on March 25, 1983 during the taping of the Motown 25-Yesterday,Today, Forever TV special at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, California. The program aired May 16, 1983 and was viewed by 47 million people.

After Michael performed with his brothers, he commanded the stage solo and electrified the audience. His performance of “Billie Jean,” featuring the debut of his signature dance move, the “moonwalk,” earned him an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program.

Motown Records founder Berry Gordy Jr. said, “From the first beat of ‘Billie Jean,’ I was mesmerized, and when he did his iconic moonwalk, I was shocked. It was magic, Michael Jackson went into orbit, and never came down.”

3. Record Eight Grammy Awards February 28, 1984

Michael And Q

Thriller was released November 30, 1982 and became the best selling album in music history selling an estimated 65 million copies worldwide. The album earned Jackson seven Grammys and eight American Music Awards, including the Award of Merit.

He also won an additional Grammy in 1984 for Best Recording for Children, “Someone In The Dark” from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial storybook

Thriller topped the Billboard 200 chart for 37 weeks and was in the top 10 of the 200 for 80 consecutive weeks. It was the first album to contain seven Billboard Hot 100 top 10 singles.

Jackson also starred in the fourteen-minute Thriller mini-movie that defined music videos.

Thriller was one of three Jackson albums produced by Quincy Jones. Off The Wall in 1979was the first album with four number one hits: “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” “Rock With You,” “She’s Out Of My Life” and the title tune. Bad in 1987 broke that record as the first album with five number one singles: “Just Can’t Stop Loving You,” “The Way You Make Me Feel,” “Man In the Mirror,” “Dirty Diana,” and the title tune.

The Bad concert tour spanned 16 months, included 123 concerts witnessed by 4.4 million fans across 15 countries.


1. Album of the Year-Thriller

2. Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male-”Thriller”

3. Record of the Year-”Beat It’

4. Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male-” Beat It”

5. Best Rhythm and Blues Song-”Billie Jean”

6. Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male-”Billie Jean”

7. Producer of the Year (with Quincy Jones)

8. Best Recording for Children-”Someone In The Dark”

4. Victory Tour 1984

Paul Natkin Archive

The Jacksons reunited for the “Victory” stadium tour in 1984 featuring 55 concerts enjoyed by two million people. It was the only tour featuring all six Jackson brothers– Michael, Jermaine, Marlon, Tito, Jackie, and Randy. The tour, which was the group’s final tour with Michael, kicked off July 6, 1984 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri and ended December 9, 1984 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. The concerts grossed $75 million and Michael  donated his share of the proceeds, estimated at $3 to $5 million, to charity.

Although it was a group tour, it is best remembered for Michael’s solo performance of his songs from Thrillerand Off The Wall.

5. “We Are The World” Released March 7, 1985

Michael Jackson & Lionel Richie

Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie wrote “We Are The World,” produced by Quincy Jones, which earned $63 million for famine relief in Africa and the United States. The song for the USA For Africa project was released March 7, 1985 featuring 45 stars including Jackson, Richie, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Tina Turner, Ray Charles, Billy Joel, Kenny Rogers and Diana Ross. It sold 20 million copies and won three Grammys, including the 1985 Song of the Year.

6. Super Bowl 27 Performance January 31, 1993

Michael Jackson File Images

On January 31, 1993, Michael Jackson performed the halftime show of Super Bowl 27 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California and set the standard for Super Bowl entertainment.

Jackson was the NFL’s remedy for the television audience dwindling during halftime, and he became the first superstar to perform solo during a Super Bowl halftime. It was the first Super Bowl where the ratings increased during halftime.

Jackson sang “Jam,” “Billie Jean,” “Black or White,” and “Heal the World.” The performance catapulted his Dangerous album 90 positions up the Billboard 100 album chart.

7. Grammy Living Legend Award February 24, 1993

The 35th Annual GRAMMY Awards

On February 24, 1983 Michael Jackson’s sister Janet Jackson presented him with the “Living Legend Award” at the 35th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. He is one of only fifteen artists to receive the honor which recognizes “ongoing contributions and influence in the recording field.”

8. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 1997 and 2001

12th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, 1997

Michael Jackson was inducted twice into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, first as a member of The Jackson Five on May 9, 1997, and again as a solo artist on March 19, 2001.

In 1997, Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr. presented the award to the group. Gordy stated, “They not only had hit records, they were a cultural revolution. For the first time, young black kids had their own heroes in their own image to idolize and emulate.”

Michael said, “I’d like to say to our family, our children and, most of all, our mother and father: You were there to protect us with unselfish love, and because you were there, we are here.”

In 2001, Michael Jackson was inducted into the Hall of Fame by ‘NSYNC member Justin Timberlake who said in his introduction, “There ain’t no stoppin’, there ain’t no enough, he’s the King of Pop, the one, the only, Michael Jackson.”

In receiving the honor, Michael said, “For me, the gift of music has been a blessing from God from the time I was a child.”

9. Michael Jackson 30th Anniversary Concerts September 2001

Michael Jackson's 30th Anniversary Celebration - Show

On September 7, 2001 and September 10, 2001, two concerts celebrating Michael Jackson’s 30th anniversary as a solo artist were taped for a TV special at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Called Michael Jackson: An All-Star Salute, the concerts featured a who’s who of entertainment including Elizabeth Taylor, Liza Minnelli, Marlon Brando,Whitney Houston, Britney Spears, ‘NSYNC, Destiny’s Child, Luther Vandross, Gladys Knight, Dionne Warwick, and Slash from Guns N’ Roses.

The Jacksons performed several of their hits including “ABC,” “The Love You Save,” “I’ll Be There,” I Want You Back,” and “Shake Your Body.” This was the first time Michael sang with his brothers since the “Victory Tour” in 1984. He dazzled the crowd with his solo hits “Beat It,” “Billie Jean,” “Black or White,” “The Way You Make Me Feel,” and “You Rock My World.” The show closed with several artists joining him in singing “We Are The World.”

The morning after the final concert, terrorist attacks shocked the United States on September 11, 2001. Jackson responded by helping to organize the “United We Stand: What More Can I Give” benefit concert at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. The concert took place on October 21, 2001 and included performances from dozens of artists. Jackson performed “Man In The Mirror” and was joined by all the artists for the finale, “What More Can I Give.”

10. American Music Awards “Artist Of the Century”

The 29th Annual American Music Awards - Show

On January 9, 2002, Michael Jackson received the American Music Award for Artist of the Century from comedian Chris Tucker at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. He was previously named The American Music Awards Artist of the 1980s. Jackson is also one of only seven artists to receive the American Music Awards International Artist Award of Excellence. During his career, he won a record 26 American Music Awards.

He is most awarded artist in history. Among his hundreds of awards:

  • 13 Grammy Awards including winning a record eight Grammys in 1984. Also, a Grammy Living Legend Award and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 86 Billboard Awards
  • 26 American Music Awards, more than any other artist. He was named American Music Awards “Artist of the Century” and “Artist of the 1980s.”
  • 31 Guinness World Records including Best Selling Album in History for Thrillerwhich has sold an estimated 65 million copies worldwide.
  • 85 MTV Awards
  • 8 World Music Awards
  • 13 number one singles on the Billboard 100, more than any other male artist
  • First artist to have a Billboard 100 top ten single in five different decades: 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s
  • Estimated 400 million records sold worldwide
  • Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame as a member of The Jackson Five and as a solo artist
  • Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Jackson Five and as a solo artist

Remembering the WORLD’S GREATEST entertainer…The ONE and ONLY KING OF MUSIC!!! BAM!



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On This Day In History 1984: Michael Jackson Is Inducted Into The Hollywood Walk Of Fame

On November 20, 1984, as Michael Jackson was presented with the 1793rd star on the walk of fame by mayor Johnny Grant and Bill Welsh, president of the local Chamber of Commerce in Hollywood in front of a horde of screaming fans.


Michael has two stars on the Hollywood walk of fame, one for himself, (located at 6927 Hollywood Blvd.) and one for The Jackson Five. He was the first celebrity to have two stars in the same category.


20 Scintillating Beatles Covers That Stand Up To The Originals

Sources: NME | All Things Michael


It’s been a busy spell recently for Beatles covers, between the Flaming Lips’ start-to-finish remake of ‘Sgt Pepper’ and Billy Joel and co’s new ‘Art of McCartney’ tribute album. Then again, when’s it not a busy spell for Beatles covers? One of the most coverable song canons ever, artists are always putting their own spin on Lennon and McCartney. Here’s 20 who made Fab Four songs their own.

Michael Jackson – ‘Come Together’: The King of Pop famously owned the rights to the Beatles songs in the 1980s, and took full advantage of this in ’88, trading the ‘Abbey Road’ classic’s bluesy guitar grind for fist-pumping stadium pop euphoria. It appeared in his ‘Moonwalker’ film and later served as a B-side.


The Rolling Stones – ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’: Written by Lennon and McCartney, recorded and released by Mick Jagger’s swaggering rock ‘n’ roll greats then re-recorded by the Beatles, this blues freakout was a moment of cross pollination between the ’60s two most important bands.


Otis Redding – ‘A Hard Day’s Night’: Peppered with Motowny trumpets, Redding’s vibrant, deliciously dancey spin on this Lennon-penned third album title track is a gem. The soul hero’s breathless growls hammer home the song’s work-weary complaints with brilliant conviction.


Al Green – ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’: Green’s smokey, seductive ’69 rendition of this early Beatles favourite underlined the soulfulness inherit in the original while taking the track into slick new territory, slowed it to a saunter and dotting brass around Green’s inimitable rasps.

North Sea Jazz Festival - Day 2

Stevie Wonder – ‘We Can Work It Out’: A high point of his ’71 ‘Signed Sealed & Delivered’ album, Wonder’s gloriously fun turn on this ’65 single did away with Lennon and McCartney’s acoustic guitar-driven wistfulness, but kept its heart-warming hippy-dippy message.


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The Musical Box #19: Chiptuned Michael Jackson

Sources: Gamasutra – By Marcelo Martins | All Things Michael


There are not a lot of successful partnerships between pop music and videogames. Most approaches seem to focus on the promotion of the artist to the detriment of the features that make a game so cool and appealing. This is obviously not the case for Moonwalker, a rare gem from the 16-bit era that captured the minds and ears of many gamers when it was released in the 90′s.

Game: Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker
Released: 1990
Platform: Sega Genesis (Mega-drive) and many other platforms
Developer: SEGA
Composer: Michael Jackson

The Set-up

Moonwalker is a videogame based on the movie with the same title and both were created to promote the album “Bad.” There are several versions of the game released for different platforms, but this edition of The Musical Box will focus on the Mega Drive release.

The game is a side-scroller with incredibly beautiful graphics and simple, but addictive, gameplay. Michael needs to save kidnapped children that are hidden in 5 stages based on scenes from the movie. The player’s attacks are actually Michael’s staple dance moves, including the famous “moonwalk.”

Co-developed by Jackson himself, Moonwalker features synthesized versions of some of Michael Jackson’s greatest hits such as “Smooth Criminal,” “Beat It,” and “Billie Jean.” Even considering the limitation of the console’s sound capabilities at that time, the result is quite impressive. The game soundtrack is incredibly close to the original versions and even featured an instrument that simulated Michael’s vocal lines.

The moment

Check out the first stage of Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker and listen closely to the comparison.

The impact

Creating convincing chiptune versions of well-known songs is not as easy as it seems. Synthesized sounds (especially at that time) are very simple and don’t have the same sonic impact as real instruments. Moonwalker’s soundtrack is one of the few examples in the game industry of a game that could really translate the power of such memorable tunes into an unforgettable musical experience in a videogame.
Special thanks: Gilliard Lopes, Rafael Kuhnen, Fernando Secco, and Sandro Tomasetti.


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Where Were These Boy Bands By The 4th Album?

Sources: USA Today – Brian Mansfield | Edited By – All Things Michael


With Monday’s release of Four, the members of One Direction find themselves at a career crossroads. For boys bands, fourth albums often turn out to be crucial ones. After the initial flush of success that typically comes with first and second albums, the acts have stopped being the next big thing, and the realities of maintaining a career have started to settle in.

The singers are more mature — or, at least, older. Often, they’ve gone from being teenagers enthralled with the notion of fame to being young men who want to exert control over their creative output. The audience is growing up, too, and keeping a teen fanbase into its adulthood is one of the most difficult tasks in all of pop music.

Frankly, most teen-oriented groups find their careers waning by album No. 4. If One Direction manages to maintain its popularity, and its original membership, through this next album cycle, they’ll be bucking the trend.

We take a look at where other key groups were when they released their fourth studio albums.

The Jackson 5, Maybe Tomorrow

Between December 1969 and October 1970, The Jackson 5 released three studio albums and a Christmas set and hit No. 1 with four consecutive singles. The career heat cooled a little with Maybe Tomorrow, released in April 1971. After Never Can Say Goodbye reached No. 2 as a single, the title track barely cracked Billboard‘s top 20.Michael Jackson’s first solo single, Got to Be There, followed in that fall, forever changing the group dynamic. “How long can this structure contain this one very extraordinary talent? The answer was not very long,” Rolling Stone contributing editorAnthony DeCurtis says. “They clearly were a kind of backup for Michael. That situation becomes untenable.”

The Beatles, Beatles for Sale

If there was such a thing as a filler Beatles album, 1964′s For Sale was it. The fourth album released in fewer than two years, it contained only one big hit, Eight Days a Week, and several covers, as John Lennon and Paul McCartney had pretty much exhausted their catalog (and felt exhausted, too, if the cover photo is any indication). In the USA, the analogous Beatles ’65, which contained eight For Sale tracks, hit stores 10 days before Christmas and became the year’s fastest-selling title. But great things were just around the corner: Help! and Rubber Soul came in 1965, and Revolver was just 20 months away.

New Kids on the Block, Face the Music

Eight years into their recording career, New Kids on the Block desperately wanted to be taken seriously — and they weren’t kids anymore. So they new-jacked their sound and changed their name to NKOTB, which didn’t fool anybody. Released in 1994, Face the Music debuted at No. 37 on the Billboard album chart, and NKOTB quickly fell from headlining arenas to playing theaters and large clubs. Jordan Knight soon left the group. The Kids didn’t release another album till 2008.

Backstreet Boys, Black & Blue

The Backstreet Boys were at the top of their game when Black & Blue came out in 2000. The album, actually just their third released in the U.S., made them the first act to sell a million copies of back-to-back albums in the first week of release — but they wouldn’t stay there much longer. Before the group released its next album, business tensions and A.J. McLean’s drug and alcohol problems nearly destroyed the group.Never Gone, released in 2005, saw the group pursuing a more rock-oriented direction, and sales plummeted.

‘N Sync, none

‘N Sync was the one boy band that got out while the getting was good, releasing just three albums between 1997 and 2001, all massive successes. After No Strings Attached and Celebrity, the two fastest-selling albums of the SoundScan era, the quintet went on an indefinite hiatus and hasn’t recorded together since.Justin Timberlake released his solo debut, Justified, in 2002, quickly becoming a superstar in his own right. “With boy bands, everybody’s got their role,” says music journalist Alan Light. “If one starts to demonstrate a different kind of star power, that creates a tension. You could see Justin straining against the limitations of that band.”

Boyz II Men, Nathan Michael Shawn Wanya

Following a debut studio album and a Christmas release, Boyz II Men’s 1994 effort, II, sold 12 times platinum on the strength of singles such as On Bended Knee and I’ll Make Love to You, consecutive No. 1 records on Billboard‘s Hot 100. The group’s members exerted more creative control on fourth album Nathan Michael Shawn Wanya, released in 2000, but it went only gold, due partly to a shifting musical climate. “There was a revivalist aspect to them, a Motown/Philly idea,” says DeCurtis. “How do you sustain that in an environment that’s totally changing? I think the culture changed underneath them.” The group has continued to record and perform, releasing its 11th album, Collide, in October.


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30 Years Ago Today The Jacksons Performed At B.C. Place On The Victory Tour

Sources: Straight.com – By Steve Newton | Edited By – All Things Michael

The Jacksons in Vancouver, BC Place Stadium, November 16, 1984 ~ Victory Tour

The Jacksons in Vancouver, BC Place Stadium, November 16, 1984 ~ Victory Tour

Thirty years ago today–on November 16, 1984–the Jacksons Victory Tour hit B.C. Place Stadium for the first of three shows. For some reason, I went.

Here’s my unspectacular review from the Nov. 23-30 issue of theStraight.


The biggest show in the history of pop music came to Vancouver last week, in the form of theJacksons’ Victory Tour.It was a dazzling display of lights and lasers, mechanized staging and slick choreography, available to anyone who wanted to shell out $40–and in three nights 107,000 fans did just that.

As expected, Michael Jackson stole the show from his brothers, spinning, leaping, and ‘moonwalking’ to the tune of “Beat It” and “Billy Jean”–from his multiplatinum album Thriller–and other songs from his years in the Jackson Five.


Two of the show’s most magical moments were the opening segment–in which four computer-controlled “Kreetons” (camel-like monsters) prowled the stage in a medieval “Sword in the Stone” fantasy skit–and Michael’s vanishing trick, in which he was corralled into a silver box by two huge, black automated spiders and then lifted into the air and blown up–only to reappear on a platform stage left.

A seven-story, 44-metre stage–that takes 240 workers five days to erect–housed over 2500 lights and 240 custom-built speakers. But for those who went to hear as well as see the shows, the sound system was a disappointment. With ten musicians playing and the five Jacksons singing, the result was one shrill barrage of sound.

The Jackson’s six-month North American tour should prove the most lucrative in music history, with an estimated gross income in excess of $70 million. In Vancouver alone, ticket sales grossed about $4.5 million.


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Unearthing A Jackson 5 Gem From Chicago Label One-derful

Sources: The Washington Post – By Aaron Cohen | All Things Michael


One day in July 1967 on Chicago’s Near South Side, a group of unknown brothers from Gary, Ind., stepped into a professional recording studio for the first time and taped a song called “Big Boy.” Their father, Joe Jackson, would have been familiar with this Michigan Avenue record company, One-derful!, established by brothers George and Ernie Leaner. Within two years of that summer, the world would know that musical family as the Jackson 5.

“Michael Jackson, even then, was inquisitive,” says R&B singer Otis Clay, who also recorded at One-derful! “He’d follow you around all day asking you questions.”

The Leaners didn’t end up releasing “Big Boy,” and, for decades, few could even attest to the recording’s existence. And, of course, the Jacksons’ subsequent success overshadowed that of their first producers. But, as a new compilation proves, the Leaners weren’t just a footnote to musical history.

The first volume of “The One-derful! Collection,” released late last month by Secret Stash Records, includes several of the old label’s releases, and its liner notes document its history, including the rediscovery of “Big Boy” (the Jacksons’ 45 is available with one of the installments in Secret Stash’s full subscription series).

The Leaners entered the record business almost by happenstance. In the 1940s, they both worked at their brother-in-law’s Chicago record store. A few years later, George and Ernie moved into record distribution, forming United Record Distributors and releasing jazz, gospel and soul singles and albums across the Midwest. It wasn’t until 1962, however, that they launched One-derful! to produce R&B.

Fullscreen capture 11142014 24258 PM

When the Leaners set up shop at 1827-29 S. Michigan Ave., they were joining a burgeoning industry on a street then known as Record Row. Chess, with its celebrated blues catalogue, may be the most famous today. The popular record companies Vee-Jay and Brunswick were a few blocks north and, like One-derful!, had African American executives. (This was at a time when Ebony magazine had editorialized that a supposed lack of black entrepreneurs was “the one weak link in the strong chain of Negro achievement.”)

The Leaners’ productions signaled a new sound for urban black youths. But both George and Ernie were born in Mississippi, so their label also connected to earlier generations of black migrants through their uncle Al Benson, an influential DJ in Mississippi.

The Leaners also nurtured younger black singers, such as Clay, who had moved to Chicago from the rural South, and opened their doors to local performers, such as Beverly Shaffer and Alvin Cash.

“George Leaner would talk to me about life,” Clay recalls. “We would sit around his office and talk for hours. Somehow, I became his son.”

The Leaners’ community engagement went beyond music, with George raising money for civil rights demonstrators and Ernie working with the Chicago Urban League.

One-derful! had a few hits, including the Five Du-Tones’ energetic dance single “Shake a Tail Feather.” The brothers also owned imprints that specialized in R&B, blues, teen-oriented tunes, early funk and gospel. (Secret Stash is reissuing those subsidiaries’ 45s through 2015.) The Leaner sound could be described as stripped-down instrumental arrangements associated with the South and upbeat rhythms associated with the Midwest.

“Since Ernie and George were distributing records through United,” says Will Gilbert of Secret Stash, “they would get records from labels outside of Chicago, and so they were on the pulse of what was happening. Combined with their own Mississippi roots, some songs sound like Memphis and some sound like Motown. It’s a hard soul sound.”

Memories of the time Joe Jackson brought his sons to One-derful! have long since faded. The “Big Boy” tape wasn’t unearthed until 2009, after studio guitarist Larry Blasingaine recalled those sessions and mentioned them to a journalist who was writing about the Jacksons’ early years. The Leaner family found the recording, but their work had just begun.

“We were standing there, we had this tape, but nothing to play it on,” says Ernie’s 52-year-old son, Eric. “I tried to find experts in the field who could bring old tape to life, because I didn’t want to ruin history. I found Steve Puntolillo at SoniCraft on the Internet, and a few days later, I’m listening to 8-year-old Michael Jackson singing this song.”

It’s not clear why the Leaners decided not to release the single (the Jacksons rerecorded the song with Steeltown Records the following year, which led to their signing with Motown). It might have had something to do with George Leaner’s retirement in 1968 (Ernie kept the business going for a couple of years and then opened a chain of record stores in the 1970s). Eric Leaner, who maintains the brothers’ archives, learned about his family history on fishing trips with his uncle, who died in 1983. His father, who also told a slew of dinner-table anecdotes, died in 1990.

“My dad was very charismatic, and my uncle was very meticulous,” Leaner says. “I saw the different roles. But I also learned a lot through meeting people, and 99 percent of them said, ‘Had it not been for your dad and your uncle, I would not be where I am today.’ ”

Today, the Leaners’ studio is a dental office in the shadow of high-rise condos, with nary a clue to its artistic past. The same can be said for the rest of Record Row — even Chess, which is open only sporadically for tours. Still, the music that the Leaner brothers and their colleagues produced has endured. And Eric Leaner hopes that the One-derful! reissue will inspire his family’s younger members.

“I’m trying to get my sons to understand that they come from a very, very prestigious family of strong black men who had an entrepreneurial spirit,” he says. “I try to instill that in them and motivate them every day to continue to push the name forward.”


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One Huge Part Of Michael Jackson’s Legacy Almost Didn’t Happen

Sources: She Knows – By Jule Sprankles | All Things Michael


In 1983, in front of a live studio audience in Pasadena, California, music legends like Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder took the stage for a television special unlike any other.

Dubbed Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever, the concert proved just as iconic as the string of musical geniuses who gathered for it.

Now, for the first time, that special is being released on DVD — chock-full of bonus content featuring interviews with many of the classic Motown musicians.

To get the behind-the-scenes scoop on the one-of-a-kind concert, we picked the brain of the show’s award-winning executive producer (and legend in her own right) Suzanne de Passe.

A Harlem, New York, native, de Passe first ventured onto the music scene while in college at Syracuse University — the undergrad routinely skipped class to frequent a New York dance club called Cheetah Disco, where her unabashed and often unwarranted opinions impressed the club owners enough to give her a job as the club’s talent coordinator.

But it was later, while working as a booking agent for the Howard Stein talent agency, that de Passe caught the attention of Berry Gordy — the founder of Motown Records. De Passe’s ballsy, no-nonsense approach earned her a ticket to Detroit and a plum job as a personal assistant.

By 1981, de Passe was the president of Motown Productions and, two years later, it would be Motown 25 that would truly put her on the map.

For it was at that time that the talented young executive would win her first Emmy.

“It was such a roller coaster that night, because you think, ‘Gee, we have 10 nominations, wow.’ And then one by one, you lose them all,” she said. “There’s no reason to believe the last and final one is going to go your way.”

But it did. When television personality Perry Como opened that last envelope,Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever was written inside… much to de Passe’s surprise.

“I think there was, like, a split second before I was catapulted from my seat — before I self-ejected from my seat — to run up to the stage. It was amazing that night. Truly amazing,” she shared.

Understandably then, releasing Motown 25 on DVD now is especially sentimental for de Passe, who describes putting it together as a “cocktail of emotions.”

A walk down memory lane

She felt joy revisiting the monumental night, naturally, but de Passe also felt sadness in diving so deep into a past rife with memories of those artists who are no longer with us.

Still, the moments she shared with those artists through Motown 25 will stay with her forever — perhaps none more so than the groundbreaking moment Michael Jackson debuted his moonwalk.

From the moment de Passe saw it in rehearsals, she knew it was special.

“We were like, ‘Oh my God,’” she recounted. “And that was quickly dashed by a letter that arrived — in those days we didn’t have email or cell phones, so a messenger came to the theater with a letter from Michael’s attorney — saying we were forbidden from taping it.”

Jackson apparently only wished to perform the distinctive move for the in-house audience.

Of course, the moonwalk did make the cut, thanks in large part to de Passe. She was able to persuade Jackson to let them tape it under the premise they would scrap it if he didn’t approve. Happily, he did.

Jackson’s moonwalk wasn’t the only magical moment viewers can relive through theMotown 25 DVD release. Other special moments include Smokey Robinson’s long-anticipated reunion with The Miracles, a battle of the bands between the Temptations and Four Tops and several high-profile reunions.

Oh, and, as de Passe puts it, “bloopers aplenty!”

“We had this dramatic moment for Marvin Gaye to be on this elevator with a piano and come up from below the stage so that you see him rising into position. And of course, the elevator broke,” she said, laughing.

“And he says, ‘I’m not going down there again! No, no, no.’ Because it didn’t just break — like, it slumped, and it jostled him!”

That wasn’t the only moment Gaye had to roll with the punches, either. As it were, the red tuxedo he wore at the end of the show was actually supposed to be his wardrobe for his memorable performance of “What’s Going On.”

“But it didn’t arrive on time, so he had to perform in that beige outfit that was really his streetwear,” de Passe explained. “And I have to say that had he been all glammed up in the velvet, I don’t think it would have been as effective… the outfit was more appropriate for the subtlety of his performance.”

And Gaye wasn’t the only superstar with a surprise in store. When Adam Ant — who de Passe describes as “the anomaly in the show” — took the stage to sing “Where Did Our Love Go?” by The Supremes, Diana Ross was having none of it.

Waiting with de Passe in the wings for her dramatic surprise finale reveal, Ross looked at de Passe and asked, “Who is that?!” Before de Passe had time to respond, Ross was on the stage doing a little “booty” dance.

“She’s standing upstage from him, and all of a sudden the audience goes, ‘Yaaaay!’ And he thinks to himself, ‘They love me! I’ve got ‘em!’ And then out of the corner of his eye, he sees Diana Ross doing her little cutesy-poo dance — and he goes and dances around her.”

Despite the moment being completely unplanned (not to mention ruining Ross’ surprise reveal), de Passe maintains she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“When you see her on the show, it’s this incredibly spontaneous, magic moment.”

Check out all of the iconic moments for yourself by picking up the single DVD or three-DVD set in stores now, or order the six-DVD Deluxe Collector’s Box for more than 14 hours of bonus features.


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