Still the most successful album of all time, Thriller shaped the music industry for decades to come and consecrated Michael Jackson as the "King of Pop".

A 14-minute mini-film showing Jackson turn into a werewolf and bring the living dead out of their graves helped to re-energise sales of the album.
A 14-minute mini-film showing Jackson turn into a werewolf and bring the living dead out of their graves helped to re-energise sales of the album. (AFP)

Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”, first of its kind of fusion of rock, pop and RnB, rendition is set to turn 40 years old next week. It is the most successful album of all time and dominated a coming era with its audiovisual ambition.

"Thriller" has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide since its release on November 30, 1982.

The album consecrated Jackson as the "King of Pop" and ever since remained a drawing force in the world of music.

Even British filmmaker Dan Reed’s 2019 documentary “Leaving Neverland” based on paedophilia allegations against Jackson didn’t dent his popularity and it rather kept growing.

His music is currently ranked 60th in the world on Spotify with 36.7 million monthly streams.

The man behind the magic of “Thriller” is producer Quincy Jones, who had worked with Jackson on 1979's "Off The Wall". The collaboration saw sparks fly - literally on one occasion.

"When we were finishing 'Beat It'... we were working five nights and five days, with no sleep. And at one point, the speakers overloaded and caught on fire!" Jones recalled to Rolling Stone.

Initial racism at MTV

"Thriller" became revolution in music industry and Jackson started to pull in influences from across pop culture, with Eddie Van Halen's hard rock solo on "Beat It", and pop ballad "The Girl is Mine" with Paul McCartney.

There were pioneering rap rhythms on "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" and a sample from "Soul Makossa" by saxophonist Manu Dibango.

However, MTV, then newly established channel, in the beginning refused to show the video for megahit single "Billie Jean" on the grounds that black music did not "fit" with its white-dominated rock programming.

Walter Yetnikoff then the head of CBS, Jackson's parent label, threatened to publicly denounce MTV and block their access to videos of rock artists in its catalogue. 

Yetnikoff won that battle but then found himself clashing with Jackson over his plans for a $1 million video for the album's last single, the title track "Thriller".

Jackson wanted to work with director John Landis, having loved his movie "An American Werewolf in London", while Yetnikoff thought it was pointless when the album was already at number one.

Eventually 14-minute mini-film was premiered at a Hollywood cinema before a star-packed crowd, showing Jackson turn into a werewolf and bring the living dead out of their graves, which further helped in re-energise sales of the album.

Then the process started a whole new branch of music business- extravagant and ambitious videos that came to define the next two decades of pop culture.

READ MORE: US judge dismisses lawsuit by man who alleged Jackson molestation

Source: AFP