MAN IN THE MIRROR: DON WILSON ON MICHAEL JACKSON

Sources: American Popular Culture (Published June 2009) | All Things Michael

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Don Wilson produced, directed, and edited one of the most popular music videos of all time, the video for Michael Jackson’s hit song “Man in the Mirror.” We caught up with him to ask him about his experience working on that compelling artifact of American popular culture history.

Americana: With the recent passing of Michael Jackson, TV stations such as VH1 and MTV have been playing Jackson video retrospectives. One of the most revered is your “Man in the Mirror.” How does that make you feel?

Don Wilson: Well, firstly, I’m shocked and saddened by his death. It was obvious that Michael was not in a good place mentally or physically, so I hope for his soul that he’s found some peace. Regarding the video, it was a life and career changing thing. A friend played the newly released Bad record for me on a Walkman with small speakers and when I heard “Man in the Mirror,” I was blown away and told my friend that the song would be huge. I couldn’t get it out of my head. As fate would have it, I got a call to meet with Michael the day after Thanksgiving 1987 to talk about doing a video for the song, so, needless to say, it was a magical thing for me. It was an honor to be chosen to do the video and a task I did not take lightly. As I traveled from city to city looking for the footage, I realized the task was a big one. I soon understood that much of the footage had been seen on news programs, and I needed to present it in a way that made it compelling and watchable. I decided to make the video “reversible.” What I mean is if one were to play the video in reverse they’d notice that it begins with purity and innocence, and man’s innaction and injustices create chaos, hopelessness and war. I wanted people to feel tearful and affected and maybe for a second they’d think about doing something to change things. I’m glad people still like it. They tell me it’s on a lot of top ten lists, all time greatest music videos. I’m very proud of it.

A: Since you worked with him, Michael took quite a hit in terms of his reputation. Do you have any thoughts on the media frenzy concerning his personal life?

DW: You know, Michael was always a tender, sweet guy. He truly believed in the purpose behind “Man in the Mirror.” I know he struggled with some issues, but when I worked with him, he was generous, caring, and spared no expense to do everything the right way.

A: It’s quite a big deal to do such a music video with such a worldwide superstar.

DW: No question. He gave me opportunities that changed my life. The person at his record company, Larry Stessel, also had a lot to do with helping me as well and continued to support me in the music video business until it changed in the 1990s.

A: So you worked on other Jackson projects.

DW: Yes, the first thing I ever did was the Jackson’s Live in the early 80s. I edited other music videos, biographies, and directed a CBS Special called Michael Jackson: The Magic Returns.

A: Let’s return to “Man in the Mirror.” The video is noted for the footage. How did you get all that compelling material?

DW: I literally traveled the world gettting all that footage together. Some of it was archival. Other sequences, we shot. It was grueling too. I would give a list of shots I was looking for, and they would wheel out stacks of tapes with famine, war, disasters, and other imagery that would leave me shell shocked. It was a gut wrenching task for sure. One of the things we did, and it was a new thing at the time, was to paint color on certain images to emphasis something. For instance, the black and white scene of the Kennedy funeral procession, I had the American flag draping the coffin painted red, white, and blue. I had the bullets being fired from a Vietnam era bomber painted bright red. These things were subtle, but subconsciously it made it watchable and sort of reset the subconscious circuit breaker.

A: How did you get the idea to do a video without the star in it? You know, not featuring the star.

DW: We actually shot a lot of material with Michael, but it didn’t work with all the difficult images we were showing. You can’t really show a mega-star getting out of a limo after you’ve just shown kids starving in Africa. So the lyrics really dictated the content. You know, as I began to edit the piece together, I quickly realized it was way bigger than any one person. Larry Stessel, Michael’s record exec, agreed.

A: How involved was Michael in the edit bay?

DW: He left me alone. He came in once to see a cut, and he was moved to tears. When he finally gained his composure, he looked at me and said, “No changes.” We did have to change two shots because of logos that we could not get clearance for, but no creative changes were ever made from the first version. That’s pretty much unheard of.

A: Is it true that he didn’t see the final cut until he was on the stage singing the song live at the Grammys?

DW: Yes, that is true. They put up a forty foot screen, so he could see the video as he sang. He was stunned by the whole experience. At the end of the song, he collapsed on the stage and had to be helped to his feet. I was stunned too, and I think that is when it all sank in.

A: A lot of people are impacted by the video. Some even say they changed their lives after seeing it. What’s your response to that?

DW: I think “Man in the Mirror” is a very important song. I mean, the lyrics are just incredible. I felt a responsibility to do something great. We did realize at the time that we wanted to impact humanity. I’m glad to hear that some say we did.

A: Did you ever consider doing a remake?

DW: We always wanted to do an updated version and were very close to having discussions with Michael, but fate changed all that.

Read more

http://www.americanpopularculture.com/archive/music/wilson.htm

Throwback Article: Michael Jackson Innocent In The Eyes Of Fifth-Graders

Sources: Baltimore Sun – By Sandra Crockett (Published February 22, 1994) | All Things Michael

Michael is innocent

Michael Jackson’s accusers have spoken. The critics have waded in with their opinions. Now it’s the kids’ turn to speak out.

And their opinion is worth hearing because kids will help determine whether Mr. Jackson, who on tonight’s “The Jackson Family Honors” on NBC performs for the first time since being accused of molesting a child, will be yesterday’s news or keep his superstar status.

If the 30 or so fifth-graders in Renee Johnson’s class at Baltimore County’s Deer Park Elementary School are any measure, The Gloved One won’t have much trouble getting on with his musical career.

“There is nothing wrong with his career,” Wayne Lee, 11, says emphatically.

But when Mr. Jackson settled the child molestation civil suit without admitting guilt but paying an unspecified amount (rumored to be between $10 million and $24 million) to his 14-year-old accuser and the boy’s family, he did lose a valuable endorsement.

Pepsi ended a 10-year relationship with Michael Jackson that reportedly paid him $20 million in endorsement fees during that period.

Mr. Jackson, however, is still a rich man. Forbes magazine has estimated his worth as $150 million.

But the charges and the settlement have not dimmed Wayne’s or other children’s enthusiasm for Mr. Jackson’s music.

“The people that accused him are just out for money,” says Wayne, who is into Michael Jackson music “big time.”

Some of the children’s comments revealed their own gentle innocence and belief that this world is an uncomplicated place.

“He gave all of that money to children and sick children,” says 10-year-old Cortney Williams. “He couldn’t have given all of that money away and then done that. Michael Jackson is innocent,”

“I think he’s innocent,” agrees Breyann Corbin, 10. “Michael Jackson can have anybody he wants. He wouldn’t have to sneak around.”

“I know he is innocent,” says Torrey Lewis, 10.

“I’m not reallly a fan of his, but it’s just not like him. From everything I have heard, he could not have done it,” says 10-year-old Sean Quinn.

“That boy is lying,” Tiffany Wilson, 11, says of the child accuser, adding that Mr. Jackson “paid the money to him so he can get on with his life.”

The Jackson who received the most scorn was LaToya, the sole family member who said her brother was guilty. “That LaToya, she just wants to be the famous one,” Wayne says.

“She’s jealous of her brother,” Tiffany adds.

Of course, a few of the 10- and 11-year-olds were left wondering about Mr. Jackson’s guilt or innocence after he paid the settlement. “At first, I thought he was innocent. But when he went and paid all of that money, it made him look guilty,” says Justin Mills, 10.

And like many adults, some children don’t know what to make of the accusations and the payoff. “I’m kind of stuck in the middle,” says 10-year-old Jennifer Ball, who leans slightly more toward thinking he’s innocent.

The children’s parents have talked about the case with their curious children. “We’ve discussed whether or not he could be guilty or whether he was a victim of circumstance,” says Roslyn Corbin, Breyann’s mother.

Breyann enjoys Michael Jackson’s music, which is fine with Mrs. Corbin. “I support her decision,” the mother says of her daughter’s desire to still listen to and buy Michael Jackson music. “Yes, I would buy his music.”

One parent was surprised that her child’s interpretation of what happened to Michael Jackson was different from hers. “Sean believes that he could not have possibly done it,” Robin Quinn says. “But it sounds suspicious to me.”

Read more at Baltimore Sun

Throwback Article: “Michael Jackson Has Bought Every Set We’ve Made”

Source: The Independent – By Paul Rodgers (Published October 27, 1996)

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It started with one magician and a Magic Drawing Board in Hamleys, but the business of Marvin Berglas, now 37, has grown into Europe’s biggest magic company, with over a million tricks sold last year.

Performing magic can be a risky business. I was once on a live chat show in Ireland and asked someone to select any card. I knew exactly which one he had taken but just as I was about to reveal it with a flourish and milk my applause, he decided to try to catch me out and named a different card. It was one of those moments that could have been a disaster. I had to resort to my best sleight of hand to make the card he named appear. That’s the sort of thinking on your feet that you have to do every day in business.

Some of our magic sets are a logistical nightmare, often with 40 or more components from 15 manufacturers in 10 countries. If just one component is late it holds up the entire production run.

One trick we had trouble with is designed around a little plastic paper clip in the shape of a black cat that I had found on my travels. In the trick, it jumps – or seems to jump – from one card to another.

We were ordering thousands of them from the Spanish manufacturer every few months. Then one day the company – magically – disappeared. We had to rush around to find someone else who could make them for us in a hurry. It took 10 days and a couple of magic kits for the managing director’s kids but we managed to make our Christmas deadline.

The business of magic is serious, but it’s still fun. I remember sitting in my office when I got a call from Hamleys one afternoon. Michael Jackson was in town and wanted to visit the Marvin’s Magic shop at Hamleys after hours. Whatever I had planned that night I dropped.

It was supposed to be top- secret, but by the time I got to Regent Street the pavement was packed with people. Jackson spent 90 minutes with us in private that first time. It was a wonderful experience – he was like a kid himself, humble and polite. We taught him some magic and now whenever he’s in London he comes round. He’s bought every magic set we’ve made.

My father, David Berglas, is president of the Magic Circle, yet I wasn’t all that interested in magic when I was younger. But when I was 17 he asked me to stand in at the last minute to help demonstrate and perform a new trick at the International Magic Convention in Lyons, France. I was told I had a flair for it. Since then I’ve practiced or performed practically every day. My father never taught me tricks, but what I did learn from him was to be innovative, take risks and concentrate on good presentation.

I didn’t intend to make a career from magic, but I’ve always been entrepreneurial and wanted to be my own boss. One of my hobbies was collecting soccer memorabilia but the related fairs and exhibitions always seemed cramped and poorly organized. So six weeks after I left school I hired Lord’s cricket ground and staged my own Collectors’ Convention. There were queues around the block.

The success of that prompted an international exhibition company to ask me to front a similar show for it at Kensington Town Hall. Everything was going fine until the siege at the Iranian Embassy started down the road. I was on TV saying “come to Kensington” while the police were cordoning off the area. A lot of people were scared off. It taught me never to count my chickens.

Ironically, around that time came my first big break: a golden goose – the Magic Drawing Board, which a school friend and I, now one of my business partners, found at a trade fair in 1979. It wasn’t being marketed properly and I asked the manufacturers to give us an exclusive three-month deal to sell it in Britain. They even extended us credit for the product. We approached Hamleys and later Harrods and demonstrated it right by their front doors. Our product has been there ever since.

My other partner is my brother Peter. Between the three of us we have skills in organisation, finance and marketing. One side of the company – First Class – markets innovative equipment to primary schools. The other side is Marvin’s Magic, which is my baby. It’s set to overtake the schools division in sales next year.

Marvin’s Magic got started when a buyer at Hamleys approached me in 1986 and asked if I could advise them on setting up a magic department in their store. I persuaded them to give me a year to come up with a winning formula and they agreed.

Most magic sets are inexpensive and tacky. I wanted to design a high- quality range that looked impressive but could be performed by anyone, without years of practice.

We started off with boxes containing individual tricks, but the business really took off in 1991 when we began designing innovative sets such as Marvin’s Executive Magic Collection, the Magic Circle Deluxe Box of Tricks and Dynamic Coins, which allows you to make money appear in front of your bank manager.

The best trick, from a business point of view, was one of the moulded plastic trays that hold the pieces. It was my idea to design it so that it could be flipped over and used in a different set, cutting our tooling costs.

Yet ironically, it was our financial controller – with no previous magical expertise in a company employing more than 30 magicians – who helped me design our unique packaging using a “now you see it… now you don’t” illusion.

Now that’s magic.

Read more: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/michael-jackson-has-bought-every-set-weve-made-1360405.html

Marvin’s Tribute To The King of Pop

Source: Marvin’s Magic Blog

Marvin's Magic Demonstrator, Bruce Smith performs for Michael Jackson.

Marvin’s Magic Demonstrator, Bruce Smith performs for Michael Jackson.

Marvin’s Magic pays tribute to the King of Pop who sadly passed away recently.

Magic fan Michael was the Vice President of the Marvin’s Club, following his behind closed doors visit to Marvin’s Magic in Hamleys during his London tour ‘Dangerous’. During that time Michael was entertained by Marvin Berglas plus other members of the Marvin’s Magic team. Senior demonstrator Bruce Smith was on hand to give advice, demonstrate and advise which was always appreciated by Michael.

During the early nineties, Michael was a regular visitor to the Marvin’s Magic departments in both London and New York, where he always enjoyed a large selection of our products.

See MJ impersonator tribute at 4:01-5:17

Marvin’s Magic.com: http://marvinsmagic.com/online/marvin-berglas/

Throwback Article March 21, 1991: Sony Had To Keep Michael Jackson Happy

Source: New York Times/ Baltimore Sun

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IN WHAT MAY BE the most lucrative arrangement ever for a recording artist, Sony Corp. announced yesterday that Michael Jackson, the pop-music icon of the 1980s, had agreed to create feature films, theatrical shorts, television programming and a new record label for the Japanese conglomerate’s American entertainment subsidiaries.

Jackson, whose albums “Thriller” and “Bad” were the two biggest-selling records of the past decade, also agreed to extend by six albums his existing contract with Epic Records, a Sony subsidiary.

Neither Sony executives nor representatives of Jackson would say how much the singer will receive under the agreement, which had been in negotiations for six months.

However, Sony officials said the company could realize $1 billion from retail sales of the various Jackson products.

The deal could be a prototype of the multi-media arrangements star performers can now demand and receive from the giant information-and-entertainment conglomerates that have been created through mergers and acquisitions in recent years.

Entertainment industry executives and analyst said, in fact, that to keep the 32-year-old Jackson, who had reportedly made rumblings about leaving for another label, Sony had no choice but to allow him to produce his own records and films.

“He doesn’t need the money; this is the guy who owns the Beatles’ music catalog,” said Emanuel Gerard, a communications analyst with Gerard Klauer Mattison in New York.

“What we’re dealing with largely is his ego. And from Sony’s standpoint, no matter what, they could not afford to have Michael Jackson signed away from them.”

A senior executive of a rival entertainment company, who spoke only on condition that he not be identified, said:

“My reading is that they were close to losing Michael Jackson. So you start by saying, ‘What do you have to do to keep him?’ He doesn’t need the money. So you say we have this fantastic company that has all these avenues for you. Give us your albums and you can do movies, TV shows.”

Neither Sony executives nor representatives of Jackson would comment on the negotiations, and a spokesman for Jackson said the singer would not talk.

But Michael P. Schulhof, the president of Sony Software, the Sony division that includes its entertainment subsidiaries, said the deal was viable simply because of Jackson’s varied talents.

“This is the first example where we have been able to combine interests in both film and records,” said Schulhof, 48, who is directing Sony’s efforts in multi-media packaging. “Because Michael Jackson is a multi-faceted entertainer, we felt this was the first time we could attempt it. If this transaction works as we anticipate, it might very well be the forerunner of a new kind of entertainment deal.”

Industry executives who have followed the negotiations said the contract called for Jackson, who is already the highest-paid performer in the record business, to receive an advance higher than the $18 million he was reported to have received for the final record of his current contract.

That would mean that Jackson would be paid more than $108 million for the six new albums alone, on top of whatever he might receive for the movies, television shows and records he might produce, write or star in.

Tommy Mottola, the president of Sony Music Entertainment, said the company based the estimate of $1 billion in retail revenues on the 40 million copies of “Thriller” and 25 million copies of “Bad” that have been sold, at an average of $10 per record, or $650 million.

Jackson’s entire family seems to have a strong hold on the public imagination and the entertainment industry’s wallets. Just last week, his 24-year-old sister Janet signed a contract with Virgin Records that the entertainment trade press said would pay her between $30 million and $50 million for three to five records.

Under the terms of his deal with Sony Software, Jackson will star in his first full-length feature film, which will be produced by Columbia Pictures Entertainment. The company described the film as a “musical action adventure” based on an idea of Jackson’s.

Jackson is currently negotiating with Sir Richard Attenborough, who made “Gandhi,” and Chris Columbus, the director of “Home Alone,” to direct two of the short films, Mottola said. He said other potential directors include David Lynch, the creator of “Twin Peaks,” and Tim Burton, the director of “Batman.”

Jackson is also creating a new record label, called Nation Records, under the auspices of the Jackson Entertainment Complex. With it, “he will be developing new, young and budding talent, and he will be the magnet to attract superstars to leave their current recording company to come to Sony,” Mottola said.

Some analysts suggested that Sony might be taking a large risk in assuming that Jackson’s popularity will extend from records to other media.

“Michael Jackson is yesterday’s news,” said Stanley Lanzet, an analyst with Arnhold & S. Bleichroder in New York who tracked sales of the Jackson shoe line. “He’s not magic anymore.”

But Sony’s competitors in the entertainment industry were not so quick to criticize the deal. “I don’t think you’d ever bet against Michael Jackson,” said Joe Galante, the president of RCA Records.

http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1991-03-21/features/1991080202_1_michael-jackson-sony-jackson-happy

Throwback Article February 28, 1984: JACKSON WINS 8 GRAMMYS!

Source: The New York Times 

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LOS ANGELES, Feb. 28— Michael Jackson tonight won an unprecedented eight Grammys, including album and record of the year, but was beaten twice by the Police ballad ”Every Breath You Take,” the year’s top new song.

Mr. Jackson’s hit album ”Thriller,” which spawned seven Top 10 singles that dominated the airwaves throughout 1983 and has sold nearly 30 million copies worldwide, was named the year’s top LP over rivals including ”Synchronicity” by the Police and the ”Flashdance” soundtrack.

Mr. Jackson’s ”Beat It” was named record of the year and his ”Billie Jean” was chosen best new rhythm and blues song.

Mr. Jackson picked up three best male vocalist awards – with ”Beat It” for rock, ”Billie Jean” for rhythm and blues, and ”Thriller” for pop.

He was also named producer of the year, along with Quincy Jones, and won for best children’s recording for his non-musical narration on ”E. T. the Extra-Terrestrial.”

Mr. Jackson’s eight Grammys topped the record of seven won by Paul Simon in 1970, and the six collected by Roger Miller for 1965’s ”King of the Road.”

Mr. Jackson, nominated for a record 12 Grammys, had to sweep the final two awards of the telecast after being upset twice earlier in the evening by ”Every Breath You Take,” which was named best new song and also defeated ”The Girl is Mine,” by Mr. Jackson and ex-Beatle Paul McCartney, for best pop performance by a duo or group.

The Police won a third Grammy, for best rock performance by a duo or group, with ”Synchronicity.” Sting, the group’s lead singer, won a fourth Grammy for best rock instrumental performance on the ”Brimstone and Treacle” movie soundtrack.

Mr. Jackson’s triumph overshadowed Sir Georg Solti, whose four classical awards gave him a career total of 23, passing Henry Mancini, who has won 20, as the all-time Grammy winner.

The ”Flashdance” soundtrack got three Grammys – for Irene Cara as best female pop vocal, ”Love Theme” as best instrumental composition, and the entire album as best original score for a movie or television special. The Tony-winning ”Cats” won for best original cast show album.

Chaka Kahn also won three awards – for best female rhythm and blues performance for ”Chaka Kahn,” best rhythm and blues performance by a duo or group for ”Ain’t Nobody” with Rufus Kahn, and best vocal arrangement for ”Be Bop Medley” with Arif Mardin.

Wynton Marsalis, a 22-year-old trumpeter, the first artist ever nominated in both jazz and classical categories, also became the first to win in both, for jazz instrumental performance and as classical instrumental soloist.

Duran Duran won both video awards, for ”Duran Duran” as best video album and ”Girls on Film” as best video short.

Other winners in voting by members of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences included Culture Club with Boy George as best new artist, Pat Benatar for ”Love is a Battlefield” as best female rock vocal performance and George Benson for ”Being With You” as best pop instrumental performance.

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Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/1984/02/29/arts/jackson-wins-8-grammys.html

Awards won in one night: Best R&B Vocal, Male for ‘Billie Jean’, Best R&B Song (Songwriter) for ‘Billie Jean’, Best Rock Vocal, Male for ‘Beat It’, Producer of the Year (Non-Classical), Best Pop Vocal, Male for ‘Thriller, Best Video Album for ‘Thriller, Best Recording for Children (Quincy Jones (Producer) & Michael Jackson for ‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’, Record of the Year ‘Beat It’ and Album of the Year for ‘Thriller.’

Throwback Article: Michael Jackson New Drawing Card For Disney (Published July 25, 1985)

Source: Chicago Tribune – By By United Press International

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L: Francis Ford Coppola; Middle: Michael, R: George Lucas

HOLLYWOOD — Rock star Michael Jackson is finishing a 12-minute musical space fantasy film that will become a major new attraction at Disney`s theme parks in Florida and southern California, it was reported.

Francis Ford Coppola, who directed “The Godfather,“ is directing the Disney film with George Lucas, who directed “Star Wars,” as executive producer, the Los Angeles Times said in its Wednesday editions. The Times said Disney was expected to announce the project Thursday.

Jackson, the hottest property of 1984, whose last solo album, “Thriller,” released in 1982, sold more than 30 million copies, is singing several new songs and dancing.

The project is expected to play a pivotal role in strengthening the appeal of Disney’s parks, the Epcot Center at Disney World in Orlando and Disneyland in Anaheim, the Times said.

The film will be titled “Captain EO,” the Times said, and will feature several new characters from Lucas’s “Star Wars” galaxy. Filming has been going on for several months and will be completed this weekend, the newspaper said.

Disney spokesmen would not say how much the film will cost, but a source told the Times it is projected to cost between $10 million and $15 million.

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http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1985-07-25/news/8502190079_1_orlando-and-disneyland-disney-spokesmen-epcot-center

A Must Read Throwback Article – MICHAEL JACKSON AT 25: A MUSICAL PHENOMENON

On this day in history, January 11, 1984, Michael Jackson is nominated for  a record breaking 12 Grammy’s. This article is posted to commemorate that event.

Source: NY Times – By Jon Pareles (Published January 14, 1984)

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In the world of pop music, there is Michael Jackson and there is everybody else.

Earlier this week the singer-dancer-songwriter received 12 nominations for Grammy awards, the record industry’s equivalents of Hollywood’s Oscars. No one has ever received so many nominations, a reflection of the popularity of a performer who has stirred the kind of worldwide enthusiasm that recalls the Beatlemania of the 1960’s.

Michael Jackson has been doing more than just selling records, however. While his latest album, ”Thriller,” was selling better than any long- playing record ever made by a single performer, he also was breaking through the racially segregated programming policies of many radio and television stations. And although he has been singing hits since the 1960’s, when he was the child star of the Jackson Five, he has become a pioneering entertainer in the new technology of the music video cassette.

”Michael Jackson is mass culture, not pop culture – he appeals to everybody,” said Charlie Kendall, program director of the New York rock radio station WNEW-FM. ”No one can deny that he’s got a tremendous voice and plenty of style, and that he can dance like a demon. He appeals to all ages and he appeals to every kind of pop listener. This kind of performer comes once in a generation.”

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Difficult to Categorize

Over the last year, Mr. Jackson’s songs have defined dance music. The arrangements on the ”Thriller” album mesh his piping voice with a muscular blend of real and electronic sounds, in rhythms that can’t be categorized as rock or funk or disco.

”Thriller” is now played on rock radio stations that cater largely to young white listeners as well as on urban dance-music stations that appeal largely to blacks. Before ”Thriller,” few entertainers were able to cross that subtle color line. A similar crossover has taken place on cable television, where Mr. Jackson’s video clips are shown on programs that rarely offer black performers.

Since its release just over a year ago, the ”Thriller” album has sold 20 million copies worldwide; it is now in its 25th week as No. 1 on Billboard’s chart of best-selling LP’s. Meanwhile, Mr. Jackson’s singles have been in the top 10 since November 1982, when ”The Girl Is Mine,” a duet with the former Beatle Paul McCartney, was released in advance of the”Thriller” album.

Five other singles from ”Thriller” have also reached the top 10 – an unparalleled number for anything other than a greatest-hits album. (America’s current No. l single, in fact, is ”Say Say Say,” a duet by Mr. Jackson and Mr. McCartney that appears on Mr. McCartney’s album ”Pipes of Peace.”)

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At Ease in Video Clips

A major factor in these record sales is Mr. Jackson’s command of video. He is one of the few musicians at ease in rock video clips, song-length films that simultaneously promote and reshape a hit single and that have had a profound effect on mass entertainment.

Mr. Jackson also is one of the few pop performers who finances and owns his promotional video clips. These clips have not only been popular with television viewers, they have also become an industry in themselves.

”Making the Thriller Video,” an hourlong documentary of Mr. Jackson rehearsing and acting in his ”Thriller” short, was released as a home video cassette on Dec. 14 by Vestron Video, with a list price of $29.95. Its initial order – more than 100,000 copies – was the largest registered for a video cassette that had not been previously released as a movie.

In addition, ”Making the Thriller Video” became the first video cassette to be carried by many record stores, putting these outlets into the home-video business. (The clip will be broadcast on the MTV and Showtime cable television channels beginning Thursday.

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Combination of Styles

One reason Mr. Jackson’s videos are so popular is Mr. Jackson’s tautly controlled dancing, which mixes moves from break-dancers and such entertainers as James Brown with earlier popular dance styles.

Michael Peters, a choreographer who worked on Mr. Jackson’s video clips, said that the entertainer had also studied the vintage routines of Fred Astaire and his contemporaries on video cassettes.

As a top song-and-dance man, Mr. Jackson draws large audiences to live concerts. A coming world tour by Mr. Jackson with the Jacksons (formerly the Jackson Five) is shaping up as one of the most profitable entertainment events in history. Pepsi-Cola will pay the Jacksons at least $5 million to become the sponsor of the tour, which will come to New York City in the summer.

Yet Mr. Jackson does not fit the rebellious image of the typical pop star. Indeed, he projects a personality of wide-eyed, vaguely androgynous innocence. He is a Jehovah’s Witness who lives with his mother and who is close to his family; his group, the Jacksons, includes four brothers and is supervised by his father.

Michael's praise

Limited Press Relations

Michael Jackson, who has been in show business for 20 of his 25 years, never talks to the press unless he is in a carefully controlled public relations situation. The reclusive singer keeps such pets as a boa constrictor and a llama, and a recent visitor to the Jackson family’s home in Encino, Calif., saw a working popcorn stand and hot-dog cart in the yard, where outdoor speakers played themes from Walt Disney movies.

”I think he’s really Peter Pan,” said Mr. Peters. ”He is this constant dichotomy of man and child. He can run corporations and tell record companies what he wants, and then he can sit in a trailer and play Hearts for hours with a friend who is 12 years old. He loves fantasy, and when he writes about real life it’s a role for him, a fantasy – he sees it from his bubble.”

Marshall Berman, a professor of political science at City College-City University of New York, and the author of ”All That Is Solid Melts Into Air,” a study of modernism and popular culture, added: ”The time is right for Michael Jackson, because American culture has gotten better at handling sex and playing with gender roles. He gives you the sense that you can play with anything – with being man or woman, black or white, scared or scary, or some funny combination of all of them.”

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An Early Hit in Gary

Mr. Jackson was a teen idol before he was a teen-ager. The youngster’s boy-soprano lead vocals and his assured stage presence made the Jackson Five the talk of their hometown, Gary, Ind., in the mid-1960’s.

After the group signed with Motown Records – the black-owned, independent Detroit label that created some of the most durable songs of the 1960’s with an ”assembly line” of staff songwriters, producers and singers – it had its first multimillion- selling hit with ”I Want You Back” in 1969. Two years later, the group became the subject of a popular Saturday-morning cartoon series on television.

In the 1970’s, the Jackson Five left Motown for the Epic Records division of CBS and began writing and producing some of its own material as the Jacksons.

Michael Jackson’s 1979 solo album, ”Off the Wall” (produced by the influential Quincy Jones), sold seven million copies. With the Jackson Five and the Jacksons, and as a solo performer, Mr. Jackson had already sold some 100 million records before ”Thriller” was released in 1982.

According to Frank Dileo, Epic Records’ vice president of promotion and the executive responsible for getting records played on the radio, ”Beat It” was the single that turned ”Thriller” from a hit album to a blockbuster.

”Beat It,” a tale of gang warfare, was released as the third single from the ”Thriller” album in February 1983. It was heard on Album Oriented Rock stations that, in recent years, had played fewer and fewer new releases and virtually no music by black performers.

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Breaking the Color Line

”We never had A.O.R. people before for Michael Jackson,” Mr. Dileo said. ”It really made the difference.”

Mr. Jackson had broken through a color line.

”Of course,” Mr. Dileo added, ”the videos helped immensely, too.” Mr. Jackson has appeared in ever-more- elaborate video clips – a $60,000 production directed by Steve Barron for ”Billie Jean,” a song about a paternity battle; a $150,000 clip of ”Beat It” directed by Bob Giraldi, and the $1.1 million ”Thriller” short directed by John Landis, the Hollywood director who made ”An American Werewolf in London.”

”He’s the Al Jolson of the 80’s,” Mr. Berman said of Mr. Jackson. ”Like Al Jolson, he’s bringing black music to a white audience. And like Jolson, he shows that you can come out of the ghetto and if you have the energy, you can do anything. It’s the American dream.”

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http://www.nytimes.com/1984/01/14/arts/michael-jackson-at-25-a-musical-phenomenon.html?pagewanted=1

Memories of MJ and Debbie Rowe OK Magazine Interview 1997

Originally posted on Stop Global Airwave Abuse:

While re-reading this particular article I decided to bring it to everyone’s attention once again,  it shows how happy Michael and Debbie were about the birth of their son and in particular how hard Michael tried to keep Prince and later, the rest of his children out of the public eye. He wanted them to grow and take their own place in society and do whatever they wished, the sky has always been the limit for these children and they should live their own lives.  Please take note of MJ and DR’s answers it is a great reminder how he and Debbie had a caring relationship.  She is the mother of Prince and Paris and he always respected and loved her and she him.  I find this article to be very telling and all the answers still stand true today.

nwa5c6OK Magazine Interview

April 4 & 11, 1997

Michael permitted…

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