Tuesday, November 10, 2009


At the Westlake Studios in Los Angeles in August 1982, Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones began to work on the album Thriller. The two chose nine songs out of three hundred to choose from, and the production cost was to be $750,000.
In an interview with Alex Haley for Playboy magazine, Quincy Jones claimed it was going to be a hit. "I knew from the first time I heard it in the studio, because the hair stood straight up on my arms. That's a sure sign, and it's never once been wrong. All the brilliance that had been building inside Michael Jackson for twenty-four years just erupted. I was electrified, and so was everyone else involved in the project. That energy was contagious, and we had it cranked so high one night that the speakers in the studio actually overloaded and burst into flames. First time I ever saw anything like that in forty years in the business."
But once they heard the master, it was a totally different story. It sounded terrible. The mix was wrong, and Michael was totally upset, so much so , he ran out of the room , crying. The solution would be time consuming, but necessary. They had to remix EVERY song, taking two songs a week. After a labor intensive effort, Michael was very happy with the finished product.
Quincy, Ron Weisner, John Branca, and Michael sat and listened to the playback of the album. Michael though the music sounded terrific, and he was very optimistic about how it would be received.
"Mike, you know, the record market is off right now," Ron Weisner said.
"Yeah, Mike," Quincy agreed. "You can't expect to do with this one what you did with Off the Wall."
"These days, two million is a hot album," Weisner added.
"Yeah, it's a tough market. Nobody's having hits," Quincy added.
"Turn it down," Michael told the engineer. "What's the matter with you guys? How can you say that to me? You're wrong. You are dead wrong."
"But Smelly-" Quincy began.
"Look, don't talk to me," Michael said, turning away from Jones. "I've had it with you. I'm really mad. Don't ever tell me anything like that again. What kind of attitude is that to have? I'm outta here! Michael said, as he stormed out the door.
The next day, Michael telephoned Branca, and told him how angry he was that Weisner and Jones said the album would only sell two million albums. "There is no way. There is no way . This is a big album."
He told Branca to telephone Walter Yetnikoff and cancel the Thriller project. "If Quincy and Ron don't have faith in me, then let's just forget it. I'm not even going to let the album come out. Thriller is going to be shelved forever."
What people does not understand about Michael, is that he completely believed in everything that he did, in particular the Thriller album. He as much told Yetnikoff so, and wanted the backing of CBS, OR NOTHING AT ALL. "Listen Walter, this album is the biggest album of all time. I just feel it," Michael told him. "The music is that strong, So it had better be a success, and you'd better make sure of it."
After Yetnikoff assured him, Michael was satisfied.
Soon, we all would be too, and then some.