Lip Sync Battle Will Open Season 3 With An All Star Cast Tribute Of Michael Jackson’s Beat It


Lip Sync Battle is taking on Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” recreating his famous music video for season 3 of the hit show — and EW has your first look at the trailer, above.

The performance finds host LL Cool J and commentator Chrissy Teigen facing off, dressed in costume and backed by dancers. Best of all, it shows the talent taking part in season 3, all of whom offer a peek at their lip-synching skills while sporting a version of Jackson’s famous, red jacket.

That talent includes Don Cheadle, Sir Ben Kingsley, Wanda Sykes, Uzo Aduba, Craig Ferguson, T.J. Miller, DeAndre Jordan, Jay Leno, Jeff Dye, Milla Jovovich, Ruby Rose, Lupita Nyong’o (see the teaser photo she posted to Instagram here), John Cho, Rob Riggle, America Ferrera, Sarah Hyland, Regina Hall, Laverne Cox, and Samira Wiley.

We know who to expect, but how will they perform? That is the question… See what tricks the stars have up their sleeves when LSBreturns to Spike with its season premiere on Wednesday, Oct. 12 at 9 p.m. ET.


Sources: EW | All Things Michael

Book: SOUL TRAIN The Music, Dance And Style of A Generation – By Questlove

Source: Soul Train (Forward by Gladys Knight/ Preface By Nick Cannon)


From Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson of the award-winning hip-hop group the Roots, come this vibrant book commemorating the legacy of Soul Train – the cultural phenonmon that launched the careers of such artists as Tina Turner, Stevie Wonder, the Jackson 5, Whitney Houston, Lenny Kravitz, LL Cool J and Aretha Franklin.




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Questlove reveals the remarkable story of the captivating program and his text is paired with more than 350 photographs of the show’s most memorable episodes and the larger-than-life characters who defined it: the great host Don Cornelius, the extraordinary musicians, and the people who lived the phenomenon from the stage, dance floor and behind the scenes.


Read more:

LL Cool J Talks About Michael’s Funny Side On Arsenio Hall

Source: All Hip Hop – By Keith Nelson Jr.


Check out LL’s appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show, including a funny story involving LL Cool J, Michael Jackson, a piano and an Indian shaman below:


Read more:

Questlove To Release Book On The History And Influence Of Soul Train

Source: WV – By Anthony Barton/ Consequence of Sound – By Michelle Geslani


The Roots bandleader, Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson, will release his book titled Soul Train: The Music, Dance, and Style of a Generation on October 22.

Delving into an the era that produced iconic acts such as Stevie Wonder, the Jackson 5 and Aretha Franklin, Questlove explores how the TV show, Soul Train, helped to launch the careers of countless artists.

To write the book Questlove watched over 1,100 episodes of the show and was granted exclusive access to the entire Soul Train archives that featured hundreds of never-before-seen photos.

Hosted and created by Don Cornelius, Soul Train was an important platform for artists and integral to the evolution of black entertainment. Cornelius hosted the show from 1971-1993, with the show finishing up in 2006 making it the longest running syndicated television show in history.

As well as being a launching platform for artists, Soul Train was also responsible for launching the careers of numerous other celebrities that started out as dancers on the show including Carmen Electra, MC Hammer and Mariah Carey’s husband Nick Cannon.

Questlove also lectures at New York University teaching a class called ‘Topics In Recorded Music: Classic Albums’ that dissects classic albums such as Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall and the Beastie Boy’s Paul’s Boutique. This is in addition to his band commitments with the Roots that includes the role of house-band on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.

With so much already on his plate, it’s amazing that he can find the time to research and write a book.

Questlove and the Roots will be touring Australia as part of the Falls Festival this December-January.

Soul Train: The Music, Dance, and Style of a Generation will be available October 22nd, both physically and digitally.

More about the book:

From Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson of the award-winning hip-hop group the Roots, comes this vibrant book commemorating the legacy of Soul Train—the cultural phenomenon that launched the careers of artists such as Tina Turner, Stevie Wonder, the Jackson 5, Whitney Houston, Lenny Kravitz, LL Cool J, and Aretha Franklin. Questlove reveals the remarkable story of the captivating program, and his text is paired with more than 350 photographs of the show’s most memorable episodes and the larger-than-life characters who defined it: the great host Don Cornelius, the extraordinary musicians, and the people who lived the phenomenon from dance floor. Gladys Knight contributed a foreword to this incredible volume. Nick Cannon contributed the preface.

Book Description

With its smooth, soulful tunes and groovy dance moves, Soul Train launched the careers of countless African American artists and set lasting trends in music, dance, and fashion for more than three decades. To create this unparalleled tribute to the show, Questlove, the brilliant frontman for the Roots, has pored through more than 1,100 episodes of the show and been given exclusive access to its archives to present hundreds of never-before-seen photographs and the riveting, unfiltered story of how Don Cornelius revolutionized black entertainment.

In this incredible volume, Questlove takes you on a journey from the show’s conception and first episode in 1971 to Don’s final episode as host in 1993. You will learn how all-star performers such as Ike and Tina Turner, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Whitney Houston, David Bowie, Aretha Franklin, LL Cool J, Lenny Kravitz, the Beastie Boys, and Mariah Carey, to name a few, got their start, and get an up-close look at the show’s most memorable dancers, and the moves and fashion they popularized.

Soul Train was the longest-running syndicated program in television history. It was beloved by generations of youth, like Questlove, who eagerly awaited every episode, and young music lovers are still discovering it today. It’s taken more than forty years for the awesome legacy of Soul Train to be celebrated in a proper way, and this book does just that.


Source: WWE TV America


G.O.A.T. is an acronym for Greatest Of All Time and was the eighth studio album by American Pioneering Rapper LL Cool J released by the equally or even more legendary Def Jam Recordings label. It was released on September 5, 2000, and peaked at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200. It was LL Cool J’s first and to date only album to reach the #1 spot.

Rappers are known to be braggadocio and it is also to be expected to hold your ground in what some call not only entertainment, but a sport. At the time old school singers who were pioneers for black music in the middle of the last century were expected to carry a certain demeanor that represented humbleness and not be too edgy in fear of scaring away the mainstream. There would of course be exceptions to this rule like James Brown with songs like “I’m black and I’m proud,” but that was soul brother #1 who got an excuse from Middle America.

He was amidst the Civil Rights Era and back then it was the duty of our entertainers and athletes to take a stand for what was right regardless if it might hurt the bottom line. Something that a lot of entertainers and athletes today are quite afraid of doing, but that is another topic all together.

In that Era of James Brown came Berry Gordy’s Motown Records which changed America by being the “Voice of Young America”. It was deliberate marketing to avoid the words “soul” and “black” to attract a larger audience.

Fast forward a couple of decades later when Def Jam Recordings would hit the scene with an impact that would also be the “Voice of Young America”. In 1984 during the prime of Michael Jackson, a young and vibrant LL Cool J hit the scene with “I need a beat” that received a distribution deal with CBS Records which would later be known as Sony Music. The same CBS Records Michael Jackson had left just a scant years earlier after leaving The Jacksons group and the same Sony Music that he would make a record breaking deal with just a few years later.

Michael Jackson in 1984 was the darling of the media world believe it or not and was the biggest celebrity without question. It was the peak of Michael Mania as some called it. LL Cool J with the “new” genre of rap was also a darling in the streets for representing the ghettos of America. It was only natural these two titans would clash right?


With all the success of the biggest selling album “Thriller” in its early stages of selling like no other, there was still a problem for Michael Jackson with some of his critics. Some felt his music did not represent the gutter of America (in other words not street enough) and relied on fantasy images due to the success of the monster music changing Thriller album.

LL Cool J was the pop icon who was seen by some who represented the kid on the corner street or basketball court. What we ended up with in 1987 was Michael Jackson “Bad” vs. LL Cool “Bad”.

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I believe this “battle” was a crossroads in American music where the old school style of music that was rooted in Michael Jackson through growing up and learning from the greats such as James Brown, Jackie Wilson, and Stevie Wonder saw the rise of the new breed of music in the form of rap that was starting to takeover America with the likes of Run DMC and LL Cool J.

Marvin Gaye was once quoted as saying “Michael will never lose the quality that separates the merely sentimental from the truly heartfelt. It’s rooted in the blues, and no matter what genre Michael is singing, that boy’s got the blues”.

It was a fascinating quote that was reflective on how old school artists saw music, but the new musical movement of the streets would enter with edgy lyrics with curse words and story telling that was unexplored of the streets.

Michael Jackson was also a very smart in terms of marketing his brand as America’s most sought after star and originally wanted to “battle” Prince in the “Bad” music video. Prince was also seen as a man who was a threat to Michael Jackson in terms of staying true to his roots as MJ went “POP” so to speak on his Thriller Album according to some of his R and B critics at the time.

Michael Jackson always saw challenges and stayed true to what the clubs and the streets although it may not have seemed like it with his eccentric behavior which was done to create a certain magic aura surrounding him.

Shortly after MJ’s death in 2009, a leaked single called “Serious Effect” that was originally planned for the “Dangerous” album was released. That single was recorded shortly after their “battle” of dropping their “Bad” albums in the late 80′s. It was clear that both Michael Jackson and LL Cool J knew what uniting with each other meant to American music at the time.

Michael Jackson foresaw the perfect storm that hip hop was going to bring for the decade of the 90′s and had prepared himself with aligning with LL Cool J. The song was never released, but Michael Jackson ended up working with Naughty By Nature, Heavy D, and Kriss Kross who were all major players in the game at the time.

Smokey Robinson was quoted as saying “He’s an ancient in modern times. I knew Jackie Wilson, I knew James Brown, I knew all them guys Michael loved. It took them years to develop their sound. When Aretha was seven, she was playing full-chorded big voiced gospel piano. That was a miracle. Michael was a miracle. It was more than having soul: it was soul that went deep into the soil of a whole people’s history.”

Pretty lofty praise from the lead singer of The Miracles. However, it was clear Michael Jackson was out to create Timeless Music and thrived off of it as with that same “Dangerous” Album he created “Remember The Time”. It was a classic, but yet a throwback at the same time in an era where rap was slowly starting to take over.

With all the changes that has happened in music over the years and all the celebrity gossip that surrounded the “King of Pop”, it has been pretty much shown that Michael Jackson has tested the time as the true Greatest of All-Time.

Here are my 20 reasons why Michael Jackson is the GOAT!!!!

Honorable Mentions:
Beat Music Video:

Michael Jackson brought REAL blood and crips to the set to keep it street. Of course, MJ being a citizen of Los Angeles knew of the problems in the city.

However, he felt he could bring the two rival gangs together in unity for his music video which he did. A fight happened on set eventually, but for a moment in time Michael Jackson brought the gangs together in one spot.

1993 Grammys Lifetime Achievement Award:

It was nice to see the 1st Family of Music get their just dues when Janet presented her brother with the highest accolades possible. Janet Jackson was becoming huge in her own right for her musical achievements, but it just showed how big Michael was when he stood taller next to the Pop Princess. Not too many artists can do that with one of the biggest Divas of all-time.

We Are The World:
Not much needs to be said about why this moment is on here now is there?

Heartbreak Hotel song:

The Jacksons were on a mission to break out of their Motown image of bubblegum Rhythm and Blues with this single right here. It was too edgy for the radio, but it was a huge hit in the clubs as it mixed old school religion with a touch of sexuality and fear.

The record companies thought it was Michael Jackson taking a shot at “King of Rock ‘N Roll” Elvis Presley and renamed the song for the album “This Place Hotel”. Michael Jackson swore the single wasn’t a reference to Elvis Presley.

MJ marries the “King of Rock ‘N Roll” Daughter:
Lisa Marie Presley once said that she didn’t want kids with her husband because it would have been war in the court room between these two larger than life musical families.

Bad Music Video: This was explained why above!

Rock With You Music Video:

Believe it or not the word “Rock” was not seen in a good light in the time of this release. Somehow MJ got past the airwaves with this infectious song. It can still be heard in clubs today which is the definition of Timeless!

Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough Music Video:

It was a breakout song that had Michael become the Prince of R and B!

The Jackson 5ive Cartoon:

Seeing this for children of the era was huge and also showed how mainstream acceptable Michael Jackson and his brothers were. They were known as “The Black Beatles” for a reason. All this right of the heels of the post civil rights movement.

You Rock My World Music Video
This video showed that although he started his musical career in the 60′s he still had the allure of getting big name celebrities to appear in his videos decades later. It was Michael Jackson’s last hurrah for the modern era.

Now The TOP 10 MOMENTS that make him the GOAT!!

10. If “You Rock My World” was his swan song as a solo performer than it is easy to say that his Madison Square Garden performance with his brothers was a throwback to the days of when seeing young black men on television was rare. Truly a Timeless moment that will never be forgotten how the family made big grown men and women cry at their performance as if they were children all over again.

9. Michael Jackson cleaning up at the Grammys

8. Michael Jackson releases Thriller Album

8. Michael Jackson releases Thriller Album

The release that turned him Immortal in the ranks of history!

7. Off The Wall Album
What many consider to be the perfect album and the greatest R and B album in history. THIS album is the one that truly turned him from a child star into an adult superstar.

6. American Music Awards Performance 1995
This moment in time was definitely the peak of his dancing skill and proved that even though the landscape had changed with the ever empowering hip hop music that was growing in popularity by leaps and bounds, MJ STILL could mesmerize a crowd like he did in the 80′s. It was also clearly proven he had turned back the challenge from MC Hammer in dancing here.

5. 1988 Grammy’s Performance
This is perhaps his greatest soul stirring free televised performance
in history. Right at the peak of his “battle” with LL Cool J.

4. Ed Sullivan Show
Although this was not the television debut of Michael Jackson and his brothers (They previously appeared on Hollywood Palace), it was indeed the moment in time that the world fell in love with the little star that would become the biggest star to shine ever.

3. Thriller Music Video
Not much needs to be said about the music video that changed the industry.

2. Billie Jean Music Video
It paved the way for black music videos on MTV which says a lot since it was less than 2 decades removed from the Civil Rights Movement. It was the beginning of what MJ would do with music videos 2 years later.

1. MOTOWN 25
In an event that housed some of the greatest stars of all-time, Michael Jackson at the peak of his popularity imo stole the show like no one else in history with his performance.

It was the debut of the moonwalk to the masses although Michael Jackson kept his ears to the street by learning it from an inner city kid at the time. Only further proof that Michael Jackson during his prime and peak was well aware of the pop culture and street culture.

I started the article about who was the GOAT and why his battle with LL Cool J was symbolic, but it is this performance and night that separates the greats from the greatest.

When the media today proclaims people like Justin Bieber or Justin Timberlake as the new generation MJ just remember this piece that was written and scoff at the lack of historical dexterity.

Administrator’s Note: I get what the author is trying to say but I believe that Michael was in competition with himself more than anyone else to beat his own records. 

Throwback Article: MICHAEL JACKSON ‘Black Or White’ Classic Tracks -SOS (August 2004)

Source: SOS – By Richard Buskin

Producers: Michael Jackson, Bill Bottrell • Engineer: Bill Bottrell

Photo: Mick Hutson / Redferns Michael Jackson supported the Dangerous album with a huge world tour

The 18-month gestation period behind Michael Jackson’sDangerous album and its lead single ‘Black Or White’ saw ’80s studio perfectionism taken to extremes — and despite their success, the experience helped to convince co-writer, engineer and co-producer Bill Bottrell that there had to be another way to make records.   classictracksbottrell.s

Grammy Award-winning producer, engineer, composer and musician Bill Bottrell has amassed some pretty amazing credits since leaving college in 1974 and first seeking work inside a recording studio. He’s engineered the George Harrison/Bob Dylan/Roy Orbison/Tom Petty/Jeff Lynne opus The Traveling Wilburys, Vol. 1 (1988), Petty’s Full Moon Fever (1989) and Madonna’s Like A Prayer; co-produced Thomas Dolby’s Aliens Ate My Buick album (1988), Madonna’s songs on the Dick Tracy film soundtrack (1990) and a trio of numbers on Michael Jackson’s Dangerous (1992); and produced the movie soundtrack to In Bed With Madonna (aka Truth Or Dare in the US, 1991), as well as Sheryl Crow’s smash hit debutTuesday Night Music Club (1993) and the eponymous I Am Shelby Lynne (2000). Most recently he has been performing live with various bands that he’s assembled close to his studio near Mendocino in Northern California, while also running and maintaining said facility, and co-composing, producing, engineering and mixing Five For Fighting’s second album, The Battle For Everything, released this year on the Sony Music label.

Having worked as an engineer on the Jacksons’ 1984 Victory album and then on Michael’s Bad three years later as part of the second-tier team working at his Encino home, Bottrell received a call in 1988 to commence work on the follow-up. The fact that he was already a producer by then was quite timely, as the Gloved One was parting company with Quincy Jones and looking to create a more hard-edged, streetwise image with the help of some new writing/production/arrangement collaborators — most notably Teddy Riley, as well as Glen Ballard and Bruce Swedien. So it was that Bottrell ended up as a co-composer on ‘Dangerous’, ‘Give In To Me’ and ‘Black Or White’, while also co-producing the latter two in addition to the Jackson-penned ‘Who Is It’.

From Bad To Worse…

“Michael told me at the end of the Bad sessions that he would hire me as a producer on his next album,” Bottrell confirms, while explaining how his initial involvement with Dangerous commenced at LA’s Oceanway complex.

“The genesis of the songs we co-wrote consisted of Michael humming melodies and grooves, and him then leaving the studio while I developed these ideas with a bunch of drum machines and samplers, including an Akai S1000,” Bottrell says. “Still, we were only at Oceanway for a few weeks, and none of the things we worked on there actually made it onto the record.” classicblackorwhite.l

Thereafter, the sessions moved to Westlake, where Bruce Swedien utilized one room, Bottrell used another and, eventually, drummer/percussionist/synth player Bryan Loren worked in a third. Armed with a Neve console, Bottrell used a pair of 24-track Studer analogue tape machines to record initial tracks and then compiled things on Mitsubishi 32-track.

“As soon as we got to Westlake, the first thing that Michael hummed to me was ‘Black Or White’,” he recalls. “He sang me the main riff without specifying what instrument it would be played on. I just hooked up a Kramer American guitar to a Mesa Boogie amp, miked it with a Beyer M160, and got that gritty sound as I played to his singing. He also sang me the rhythm and I put down a simple drum-machine pattern coming out of an Emulator, and he then left so that I could spend a couple of days working alone on the track. It was Michael who actually drew me out as a musician — on the Bad sessions he would hum me things and go away, and I’d be there alone for two weeks, working on a track. I was used to sampling, but he needed music; guitars, keyboards, you name it. That’s what he expected of me. He assumed I could do it, and since I had been a musician before going into engineering I just followed his lead. 

“For ‘Black Or White’ I laid down a more precise guitar part, and I also had this very dorky EIII drum machine playing a one-bar loop. Back then I would use a Hybrid Arts sequencer that I loved dearly — it ran on the Atari platform and was kind of sophisticated for its time, and I would use that for all my MIDI storage. I could run anything through it, so I set about adding loads of percussion, including cowbells and shakers, trying to get a swingy sort of groove. You see, the guitar swung a lot, as defined by the original hook that Michael had sung to me, and the percussion devices were pretty straightforward, but the groove itself was heavily tweaked in the sequencer in order to be complex and non-linear. This basically amounted to shifting things and manipulating the data. 

The control room at Record One as it appeared in 1991, housing this Neve desk.

The control room at Record One as it appeared in 1991, housing this Neve desk.

“As soon as I sorted out the guitar and drum machine parts on day one, Michael performed a scratch vocal as well as some BVs. I miked him with a [Neumann] U47, which was my choice, and I’d take out most of the bottom end and compress the rest with my Sontec limiter. The guy’s an absolute natural — I mean, we’re talking about Michael Jackson — and for me the best thing about ‘Black Or White’ was that his scratch vocal remained untouched throughout the next year [of work on Dangerous] and ended up being used on the finished song. He had some lyrical ideas when he first entered the studio, and he filled them out as he went along.”

Keeping It Loose

So it was that, within two days of commencing work on ‘Black Or White’ at Westlake, Bottrell had recorded the guitar, drum loop, a small amount of percussion and what would prove to be the finished vocal. Aware that the addition of just bass and a little more percussion would be sufficient to flesh out the verses and choruses, he subsequently took it upon himself to ensure that Jackson would allow the song to retain a basic, more free-and-easy sound.

“I thought the vocal was brilliant, and that the loose, imperfectly layered backgrounds were perfectly charming,” Bottrell says. “As opposed to some of the other people who worked with Michael at the time, when I was allowed to produce I would consistently try to go for simpler vocals, comping them from two or three takes, with looser backgrounds and a more instinctive feel. In this case, he came in with such an endearing lead vocal and background track, I really resolved to try and keep it. Of course, it had to please him or he would have never let me get away with that, but the way it went down is that we had the verses and choruses — the main part of the song — and there were two big gaps in the middle which prompted us to look at each other and say ‘Well, we’ll put something in there.’ They were big gaps.

“The total length of the song up to that point was probably about a minute and a half, and Michael has always felt better really fleshing out something over a long period of time to discover everything that he can about it. Most Michael Jackson songs are worked on quite heavily, for months and months, and we certainly had those months when we worked on ‘Black Or White’ along with the other songs. However, we worked on the middle sections, filling in those two big gaps, and this meant that, while the song got the amount of attention that Michael was used to giving something, I was able to retain its strange, funky, loose and open Southern rock feel all the way through to the end. We never touched anything else. I mean, he never asked to redo the vocals, and so while I say it was my agenda to keep things as they were, maybe it was his as well. 

Even when he was working on projects like Michael Jackson's Dangerous album, Bill Bottrell — shown here in the early '90s — was looking for ways to bring his country and roots influences to bear

Even when he was working on projects like Michael Jackson’s Dangerous album, Bill Bottrell — shown here in the early ’90s — was looking for ways to bring his country and roots influences to bear

“As a co-producer, Michael was always prepared to listen and put his trust in me, but he was also a sort of guide all the time. He knew why I was there and, among all the songs he was recording, what he needed from me. I was an influence that he didn’t otherwise have. I was the rock guy and also the country guy, which nobody else was. He has precise musical instincts. He has an entire record in his head and he tries to make people deliver it to him. Sometimes those people surprise him and augment what he hears, but really his job is to extract from musicians and producers and engineers what he hears when he wakes up in the morning.

“After the first couple of days working on ‘Black Or White’, I put down this big, slamming, old sort of rock & roll acoustic guitar part using my all-mahogany 1940s Gibson LG2. It’s very rare and pretty battered, and it’s actually a deeper acoustic than most other Gibsons — you can hit it hard and it doesn’t cave in. The part I played was in the style of some of my own musical influences, like Gene Vincent, where you just hit the guitar hard and play a big open ‘E’ and an ‘A’ chord. I was quite pleased with it and wondered if Michael was going to like it, but he didn’t say a thing. He just accepted it when he first heard it, and I was really happy to get that type of classic sound on a Michael Jackson album.”

Taking The Rap

Brad Butler assisted Bill Bottrell in terms of tweaking the percussion and getting it to swing in a complex way — mechanically, but with a human feel. At this point they were in Westlake’s Studio B while Bruce Swedien utilised the Harrison-equipped Studio A. But then, while attention turned towards some other numbers — ‘Earth Song’, which would end up on 1995’s HIStory collection, and a couple that are still on the shelf — Bottrell switched to Studio A and remained there for about six months before relocating to Ocean Way’s Record One complex in Sherman Oaks. It was there that he and Michael Jackson set about filling those two big gaps in the middle of ‘Black Or White’. Initially only featuring a drum machine, these would eventually comprise the song’s ‘heavy metal’ section and another that would evolve into the rap. In all, this intermittent process took about a year, during which time several more tracks were also recorded.

“I had hopes to insert a rap in the first eight and Michael came up with the idea of putting heavy metal guitars in the second eight,” Bottrell states. “He sang me that riff and I hired my friend Tim Pierce, because I couldn’t play that kind of guitar. Tim laid down some beautiful tracks with a Les Paul and a big Marshall, playing the chords that Michael had hummed to me — that’s a pretty unusual approach. People will hire a guitar player and say ‘Well, here’s the chord. I want it to sound kinda like this,’ and the guitarist will have to come up with the part. However, Michael hums every rhythm and note or chord, and he can do that so well. He describes the sound that the record will have by singing it to you… and we’re talking about heavy metal guitars here!”

After Tim Pierce had adhered to the main man’s wishes, Michael Boddicker played a stand-alone Roland sequencer part that was meant to sound like high-speed guitar segueing into and out of the heavy metal section. Bottrell’s young musican friend, Kevin Gilbert, also contributed some high-speed sequencer.

“Michael Boddicker played synths and keyboards on several songs,” Bottrell recalls, “and on ‘Black Or White’ he played really fast sequencer notes running up and down, and I recorded his MIDI out of that box into my Hybrid Arts. I then used that, put a guitar sample in my Akai and ran it through the Mesa Boogie amp in order to make it sound more like a guitar. At that point the heavy metal section was intact and Michael [Jackson] sang it, which meant we only had the rap to do. Things remained that way for quite a time, during which I put Bryan Loren on Moog bass and tried Terry Jackson on five-string electric bass going through a preamp that I had built. Bryan’s Moog part was really good, and I used some of Terry’s notes to fortify it and make a rhythm, while also replacing the simple Emulator drum machine with live drum samples that I had in my Akai.

“All the time I kept telling Michael that we had to have a rap, and he brought in rappers like LL Cool J and the Notorious BIG who were performing on other songs. Somehow, I didn’t have access to them for ‘Black Or White’, and it was getting later and later and I wanted the song to be done. So, one day I wrote the rap — I woke up in the morning and, before my first cup of coffee, I began writing down what I was hearing, because the song had been in my head for about eight months by that time and it was an obssession to try and fill that last gap.” 


It is interesting that Jackson left this task to Bottrell and didn’t try to fill said gap himself. “That’s the sort of thing he does,” asserts Bottrell. “It seems kind of random, but it’s as if he makes things happen through omission. There’s nobody else, and it’s as if he knows that’s what you’re up against and challenges you to do it. For my part, I didn’t think much of white rap, so I brought in Bryan Loren to rap my words and he did change some of the rhythms, but he was not comfortable being a rapper. As a result, I performed it the same day after Bryan left, did several versions, fixed one, played it for Michael the next day and he went ‘Ohhh, I love it Bill, I love it. That should be the one.’ I kept saying ‘No, we’ve got to get a real rapper,’ but as soon as he heard my performance he was committed to it and wouldn’t consider using anybody else.”

The Notorious W Cool B? If the hat fits… “I was OK with it,” he says. “I couldn’t really tell if it sounded good, but after the record came out I did get the impression that people accepted it as a viable rap. Since I try to do everything in the spirit of instinct and in-the-moment, I had given it my best shot, and apparently it worked… I also played a funky guitar part on my Kramer American in the rap section, but then I still felt that the song needed some sort of fire, and so I sampled distorted guitar riffs into my Akai and laid them down all over the place. It just need a more live feel, and a real guitar would have had the wrong effect, so I laid out a keyboard of maybe eight guitar versions, and as I didn’t want to do it — I had heard the song so many times — I brought in my friend Jasun Martz. He listened once to the samples, listened to the song and just laid them down using my Hybrid Arts, a MIDI keyboard and the Akai sampler, and it worked great. He brought an immediacy and a rock & roll fire to something that had been pieced together.”



Photo courtesy of Bill Bottrell As a response to the claustrophobic recording enviroments he encountered on projects like the Dangerous album, Bill Bottrell established a one-room studio called Toad Hall, where the emphasis would be on capturing the feeling of live performances.

Photo courtesy of Bill Bottrell
As a response to the claustrophobic recording enviroments he encountered on projects like the Dangerous album, Bill Bottrell established a one-room studio called Toad Hall, where the emphasis would be on capturing the feeling of live performances.

One way in which Bill Bottrell swam against the tide when working on ‘Black Or White’ was in actually using the live rooms in Westlake and Record One studios; his own guitar parts were tracked in the control rooms, but almost all the other elements, including Michael Jackson’s vocals, were tracked in the studio live areas. “Don’t forget, this was the late ’80s, when so much work was being done in control rooms and these huge studios were being wasted,” Bottrell remarks. “I always found it ludicrous the way studios were designed — all the gear would be in the control room and there’d be no space for people — so I built my own studio consisting of one room with no glass in between.” 

Named Toad Hall and located within a storefront venue near to the Pasadena Playhouse a few miles north-east of Los Angeles, this comprised a long, faux-stone, high-ceilinged room with neo-Gothic lighting, book-lined and tapestry-draped walls, antique furniture and plenty of classic recording gear. It was here that, among numerous other projects, Bottrell produced, engineered and co-wrote Sheryl Crow’s Tuesday Night Music Club album, and since relocating to a tiny, remote Northern California village during the second half of the 1990s he has pretty much replicated the unique look and atmosphere with the expansive, open-plan Williams Place, which houses a Neve 8058 console, Pro Tools, and Radar II and Studer A800 recorders.

 Mixing & Matching

Conforming to his usual approach, Bottrell basically mixed and built the track as he went along. “Even back then I didn’t believe in ‘mixing’ per se. I mix as I go, and when the song is finished recording I leave the faders where they are and press Record on the machine.”

Still, this didn’t mean that everything was simple and straightforward when the mix proper took place on Record One’s Neve 8078. How could it be? “Mixing was quite a trip,” he confirms. “I was dealing with the fine points of audio and equipment and what they were doing to the feel of the song. That’s where I struggled. It was down to balances or effects. There weren’t many effects. As I’ve said, the main part of ‘Black Or White’ always remained the same, but I could not get the rap section and heavy metal part to sound right. I therefore went over to Larrabee, where the bulk of the company had moved, and did a mix over there and then couldn’t get the country part to sound right. The problem was the SSL, which really worked for the heavy metal section — where the Neve produced too much ringing — but was too cold and clinical for the rootsy and nostalgic country part. It didn’t work at all, so I cut the two together, using a Neve for the main parts and the SSL for the rap and heavy metal sections. 

The live area at Westlake Studio A, which Bill Bottrell made a point of using to track vocals and other instruments.

The live area at Westlake Studio A, which Bill Bottrell made a point of using to track vocals and other instruments.

“It didn’t take a long time to get that together, but it did take a long time for me to realise that’s what I had to do. I was going around in circles for a while, and although Michael would drop in every now and then he wasn’t aware of the struggles that I was going through. I don’t think I ever told him. I would try something, it would be time to finish the song and turn it in, so I’d do the mix and the next day I’d hear it and not like it for some reason. Nevertheless, each time I did a mix it would only take an hour or two, or less, because by then the song was so commodified in my mind and repeated so many times that there was nothing to mix. I was just trying to get the audio to sound right.”

A Musical Education

In all, the Dangerous project accounted for about 18 months of Bill Bottrell’s life, and working on it brought him into direct contact with the megastar ethic at its most extreme. This, in turn, was an education for him, both in terms of conforming to this type of sensibility and in concluding that in future he’d rather work on rootsier, more understated, less commercially obsessed projects — ones that would connect with his own Appalachian and country leanings.

“By then I was at the end of my musical education with Michael,” he says. “I had been out at his house for a couple of years and at various studios with him before that, so it was all adding up, and by the time we even started the Dangerous album I was well into that system. It taught me a lot about really going all the way for something, working and working until there’s some kind of perfection. Objectivity is everybody’s biggest problem, especially if you’ve worked a long time on a song, but there’s also a threshold beyond which that isn’t a problem any more because, having the luxury of so much time to spend, your failures in objectivity eventually get fixed. 

Bill Bottrell today.

Bill Bottrell today.

“In other words, if something ends up sounding wrong, there’s no deadline to turn it in. And you will hear that it’s wrong if you get away from it for five days and then hear it again. You always have that second chance, as well as that third or fourth or fifth chance, and that’s a technique which I learned from Michael, in addition to meeting the challenge of outdoing whatever’s out there within the same game. It’s a case of doing whatever it takes. So, I learned all of those things… and never did them again. I totally refused to, but that doesn’t mean I disrespected doing them. I absolutely respected doing them. It just taught me that there is another way to beat everybody, maybe by taking the exact opposite approach to a technique that requires a tremendous amount of time, listening to what records are doing, listening to what gimmicks people are using and making sure you did it better. 

“What I decided to try was to not listen to anybody else, but go to the extremely raw and take that to its logical ends. Only serve the words and the melody and the singer, and although that can take you to some extreme place, you won’t feel it’s extreme because you haven’t been listening to everybody else. This is the approach I’ve been taking ever since, and while it may be less contrived by definition, I say that without imposing any judgement on contrivance. At the time, I was interested in the techniques employed for a project like Dangerous. It was a challenge to me, and none more so than ensuring that ‘Black Or White’, with its cool Southern rock/country thing happening, didn’t go in the wrong direction. That was my agenda: to save take one.”


Eddie Van Halen And LL Cool J Talks About Michael Jackson On Piers Morgan Tonight (Video)

Source: Piers Morgan (Aired May 3, 2013)

Eddie Van Halen on Michael Jackson

On Friday evening, Piers Morgan welcomed legendary rock guitarist Eddie Van Halen to the program. Ranked at the top of “Rolling Stone” magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists,” the musician and leader of his eponymously named band spoke about his work with another legendary musician, the late Michael Jackson.

In the early 80s, Jackson invited Van Halen to play on his single “Beat It,” but because of Van Halen’s policy with his band mates he was unable to take financial credit for his contribution.

“Honest to God truth, the band’s policy was, you know, we don’t do things outside of the band at the time, and everybody was out of town so I had no one to ask,” explained Van Halen. “I swear to God, I figured who’s going to know if I play on this black kid’s record.”

Van Halen also shared his memory of Jackson as a person away from the music. “He was a sweet guy is all I know,” he said. “Accused of a lot of things. He was just I think, you know, he wanted to remain a kid himself.”



LL Cool J Gets Personal With Inspiring Welcome Speech at 2013 Grammy Awards

Source: The Drop.FM – By Emily Tan

Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images

Instead of jokes and parodies as other award shows tend to do, LL Cool J brought a more sentimental tone to his opening monologue at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards Sunday night.

“Now Taylor [Swift] says we’re never going to get back together, but the truth is that at the Grammys, we always get back together,” he said after giving Swift props for her opening performance. “And that’s what makes music’s biggest night.”

The rapper-actor revealed why the Grammys and having the opportunity to host it this year were such an honor to him.

“This year I want to take just a moment to host this show for you,” LL stated.

“Wherever you come from, eventually you have that moment where it hits you — the Grammy Award is music’s ultimate honor. For me that moment came when I saw Michael Jackson cradling all those Grammys he won…

“That magical image inspired me to go after my own dream, and the same is true for many of us in this great hall tonight.”

After giving props to artists such as Justin Timberlake, Beyonce and Rihanna, he, again, turned the focus to himself and shared his memories of winning two gramophones including the 1992 Best Rap Solo Performance for ‘Mama Said Knock You Out.’

“When I received them, I gave my Grammys to my grammy — my grandmother — to look after because she always looked after me,” he shared. “And more than anyone, my grandmother taught me to dream, dream, dream. And when that great lady passed more than a decade ago, I took them into my home where my family lives, and I cherish and I polish them regularly.

“And anytime I look at them, they inspire me to strive for excellence just like you kids at home should do.”

He continued, “A Grammy isn’t a shiny thing to hold onto. A Grammy is a dream come true.

Watch LL Cool J’s 2013 Grammy Awards Welcome Speech