Sources: Rant Lifestyle – By Nancy Rump | Edited By – All Things Michael
Michael Jackson broke musical barriers, countless world records and essentially the mold when it came to living an unique life. Let’s take a look at 20 things that make his legacy truly off the wall.
1. Jackson cast real gang members in his videos
In the video for 1987’s ‘The Way You Make Me Feel,’ real members of the Crips gang were used as extras. Earlier in the decade, Jackson cast about 80 members of Los Angeles’ rival Crips and Bloods gangs for ‘Beat It,’ to foster peace between them and add authenticity to the production, which was filmed on Skid Row.
2. Vincent Price’s ‘Thriller’ rap includes a lost verse
The horror movie legend’s spoken-word portion of the song included this cut verse: “The demons squeal in sheer delight/It’s you they spy, so plump, so right/For though the groove is hard to beat/Yet still you stand with frozen feet/You try to run, you try to scream/But no more sun you’ll ever see/For evil reaches from the crypt/To crush you in its icy grip.” It also originally ended with Price laughing maniacally and saying, “Can you dig it?”
3. Jackson wasn’t allowed to sing when he guest-starred on ‘The Simpsons’
He provided the voice of Leon Kompowsky, a mental patient who believes he’s the King of Pop, for 1991’s ‘Stark Raving Dad’ episode, but his record company wouldn’t allow him to sing the birthday song to Lisa. Jackson remedied that by hand-picking Kipp Lennon, a founding member of the folk band Venice, as his vocal stand-in.
4. Jackson was supposed to be at the Twin Towers the day of the terrorist attacks
Jermaine Jackson said his brother was scheduled for appointments at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, but as a longtime suffer of sleep deprivation, the singer overslept that morning. Jackson was supposed to put a watch in a bank vault, but failed to wake up early after talking to his mother, Katherine, until 3 a.m.
5. Sonic the Hedgehog provided instrumental roots for ‘Stranger in Moscow’
The lyrics of the R&B ballad, originally written as a poem, were penned by Jackson in 1993 during his Dangerous World Tour stop in Moscow. An instrumental theme written by the singer and his tour keyboardist, Brad Buxer, for the 1994 video game ‘Sonic the Hedgehog 3’ served as the basis for the track’s musical score.
6. A New Jersey school banned students from wearing Jackson’s signature white glove
In March 1984, shortly after Jackson dominated the Grammy Awards, Bound Brook High School gained national attention for banning students from wearing imitations of the singer’s sequined, shiny white glove. Officials said the glove interfered with typing, gym and operating machine shop equipment.
7. Jackson was trained by ‘The Incredible Hulk’
Actor Lou Ferrigno, TV’s ‘Incredible Hulk,’ was a longtime friend of Jackson’s and had trained him during his career. He was training Jackson prior to the singer’s sudden death in 2009 in anticipation of the upcoming ‘This Is It’ concert series scheduled at the O2 Arena in London.
8. Jackson convinced Queen to release ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ as a single
Freddie Mercury and his bandmates never thought the song would be a hit, but Jackson came to them after a show on the Game Tour and told them they were mad if they didn’t release it. It sold over seven million copies and became the Queen’s most successful single.
9. Jackson’s landmark videos from ‘Thriller’ revolutionized music video budgets
In 1983, following the November ’82 album release of ‘Thriller,’ Jackson filmed three landmark videos all within approximately three months of each other. The budget for ‘Billie Jean’ was $250,000, paid by Epic Records. Five weeks later, ‘Beat It’ was filmed for $150,000, paid out of Jackson’s own pocket. Later, ‘Thriller’ was filmed for an estimated $500,000 (rumored $1 million), the highest budget ever for a music video at that time.
10. Shamone has meaning, in more ways than one
The word “shamone” is slang for “come on.” When Jackson used it in ‘Bad,’ he was paying tribute to its inventor, iconic soul-gospel singer Mavis Staples. Staples used the word when performing the 1972 classic ‘I’ll Take You There,’ a No. 1 single from her family band, The Staple Singers.
11. Annie in the song ‘Smooth Criminal’ is more of a what than a who
Jackson’s inspiration for the lyrics, “So, Annie, are you okay?/Are you okay Annie?” was a CPR dummy from a first-aid class he took. Laerdal’s Little Anne dolls, often nicknamed Annie, are used to teach CPR. Before administering CPR, you’re required to check to see if Annie is conscious by asking her, “Annie, are you OK?”
12. He created his speaking voice, choosing to speak the way he primarily sang
Jackson was a high tenor with a three-and-a-half octave vocal range. He had a baritone speaking voice, but chose to sing and speak mostly in tenor only.
13. Spike Lee, Martin Scorsese and other famous directors worked with Jackson
Scorsese directed ‘Bad,’ which featured a young Wesley Snipes. John Landis (‘An American Werewolf in London’) directed ‘Thriller’ and ‘Black or White.’ Fashion photographer Herb Ritts directed ‘In The Closet.’ David Fincher (‘Fight Club,’ ‘Gone Girl’) directed ‘Who Is It,’ and John Singleton (‘Boyz N The Hood’) directed ‘Remember The Time.’
14. Jackson never filmed a music video, according to him
The singer wouldn’t allow anyone associated with the production of his music videos to call them “videos.” Jackson referred to each of his productions as a “short film,” of which there are over 40, most running an average of five minutes each. Many run 10 minutes or more. A collection can be seen on the DVD box set ‘Michael Jackson’s Vision.’
15. Two music videos were filmed for the song ‘The Don’t Care About Us’’
For the first time in his career, Jackson made a second music video for a single. The first shows him singing and dancing while surrounded by onlookers in Brazil’s Salvador and Rio de Janeiro. The second shows him in a prison with cellmates, and contains real footage of human rights abuses. Spike Lee directed both videos.
16. Jackson (sort of) let Spike Lee pick his own music video to direct
Jackson initially asked Lee pick any song off ‘HIStory’ to direct as a music video prior to the album’s 1995 release. Lee picked ‘Stranger in Moscow,’ but Jackson wanted him to do the lyrically-controversial ‘They Don’t Care About Us.’ Lee obliged and suggested they film in Brazil, where officials unsuccessfully tried to shut down production, fearing images of poverty would affect tourism and their chances of hosting the 2004 Olympics.
17. ‘Ghosts’ is the longest music video to date
In 1996, Jackson teamed with acclaimed horror novelist Stephen King to pen the long-form music video ‘Ghosts.’ The 40-minute video was screened in theaters as a short film alongside the movie adaptation of King’s ‘Thinner.’ In it, Jackson plays several roles. The video also earned him the 1997 Bob Fosse Award for best choreography in a music video.
18. He holds the biggest recording contract in history
Jackson’s estate signed a $250 million deal with Sony Music nine months after his death. It is said to include a back catalog of material spanning his 40-year career such as outtakes, unreleased material from the ‘Off The Wall,’ ‘Thriller’ and ‘Bad’ studio sessions, and more than 100 unreleased songs.
19. He earns more than any other deceased musician
In 2010, one year after his death, Jackson took the top slot on Forbes’ annual list with earnings of $275 million, more than the rest of the top 10 combined. He’s held the position every year since, this year earning $140 million. Elvis Presley was second with $55 million. Bob Marley was third with $20 million. The honor also earned him a spot in the Guinness World Records book.
20. His ‘Billie Jean’ music video broke barriers on MTV
The video wasn’t the first aired on the music channel by a black artist, but the popularity and heavy rotation of ‘Billie Jean’ paved the way for genres like funk, R&B, and later rap to be added to the channel’s then mostly rock-oriented format.
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