When the Grammy Awards ostensibly snubbed Michael Jackson’s groundbreaking 1979 album “Off The Wall,” he vowed that voters at the Recording Academy would not ignore what he would offer next.
On Nov. 30, 1982, just over three years later, Jackson released “Thriller,” which earned him a record eight Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year.
To commemorate the 40-year anniversary of “Thriller,” the Jackson estate and Sony Music Entertainment said they’re celebrating the artistic vision that anchored the biggest-selling album of all time with a new official documentary.
Directed by Nelson George, the film promises to take fans back in time to the making of the album and release of revolutionary short films that redefined the music video format and captivated audiences globally.
The yet-titled documentary chronicles the point in Jackson’s career that launched the singer into megastardom and created a pop culture phenomenon that is woven through the culture and continues to influence the worlds of music, television, dance, fashion and more to this day.
According to a news release, the documentary features never-before-seen footage and candid interviews.
“The release of ‘Thriller’ redefined Michael Jackson, taking him from teen star to adult superstar, who composed memorable songs, sang beautifully and reached the highest level of onstage performance,” George said in the release. “The album, and the short films they inspired, created a new template for marrying music and image. It’s been a privilege to explore this extraordinary album and revisit its magic.”
The second studio album by Jackson as a solo artist on Epic Records, “Thriller” garnered a record 12 Grammy nominations, winning eight.
Since its debut, “Thriller” has sold an estimated 70-100 million copies worldwide and was the first album to be certified triple diamond by the RIAA.
“Billie Jean” remains the most streamed Michael Jackson song and “Thriller” is the only music video that has been inducted onto the elite National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.
When a fledgling MTV, which programmed white rock artists almost exclusively, refused to play the video for “Billie Jean,” Epic Records persisted. Once the wall came crashing down, MTV’s ratings soared, and a door was opened for a generation of African American artists.
“He was MTV’s Jackie Robinson,” said cultural critic Touré, who appeared this week on the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s “Let It Be Known” to promote his new show, “Masters of the Game.”