Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com
Michael Jackson's "Thriller": For The Record
"Your body starts to shiver for no mere mortal can resist the evil of the thriller." — Vincent Price, "Thriller" voiceover
By the time "Thriller" was released as a single on Nov. 2, 1983, few mortals had resisted the juggernaut that was Michael Jackson's album of the same name.
The sprawling title track was the seventh — yes, seventh — and final single from the LP, following (in reverse order of release) "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)," "Human Nature," "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin,'" "Beat It," "Billie Jean," and "The Girl Is Mine" featuring Paul McCartney.
Each single reached the Top 10, an unprecedented feat, with "Beat It" and "Billie Jean" topping the Billboard Hot 100 and "The Girl Is Mine" stopping just short at No. 2.
Though "Thriller" stalled at No. 4, it made the most lasting impression of all of the album's hits, thanks to its accompanying video. Clocking in at nearly 14 minutes, the elaborate production was truly a watershed moment for MTV. The "Thriller" video featured direction by John Landis, a screenplay, choreography, make-up and costumes, and special effects — resulting in a work that hinted at the boundless possibilities of merging filmmaking and music.
When it came time for the 26th GRAMMY Awards in 1984, Jackson savored arguably the biggest night of his music career. The King of Pop went to the podium at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles to accept eight GRAMMYs, including Record and Album Of The Year and Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical. "Thriller" would be responsible for two GRAMMYs: Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male and Best Video Album for Making Michael Jackson's Thriller, a captivating story behind the scenes document of the iconic video.
Jackson's haul set a record for the most GRAMMYs won in one night, a feat that has only since been equaled by Carlos Santana.