On November 30th, 1982, the most-popular album of all-time was released and red leather jacket sales began to surge. Yep, it’s been 35 years since the release of Michael Jackson’s landmark Thriller album.

In honour of the iconic album’s anniversary, our music team at JACK put together a list of 35 things to know about Michael Jackson’s biggest album. Let’s begin…

  1. It is the best-selling album of all-time (duh), with sales of at least 65 million units (and possibly more than 100 million, if you count bootlegs and other unauthorized versions)!
  2. Not only was it the biggest commercial release of all-time, it was critically acclaimed and won 8 Grammy awards, including 1984’s Album of the Year.
  3. Thriller spent 122 weeks on the Billboard 200.
  4. Seven singles were released from the album, all of which reached the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
  5. At its peak, the album sold one million copies worldwide per week.
  6. Still popular today, Thriller sells an estimated 130,000 copies in the US every year.
  7. According to Nielsen SoundScan, Thriller was the 14th best-selling album of 2009 in the US, with 1.27 million copies sold (2009 was the year Michael Jackson passed away).
  8. Counting Jackson 5 LPs and his solo work, Thriller was Michael’s 19th studio album.
  9. Michael Jackson’s working title for Thriller was Starlight. Songwriter Rod Temperton eventually came up with the Thriller title.
  10. The recording for Thriller commenced on April 14, 1982 at 12:00 noon with Jackson and Paul McCartney recording the duet “The Girl Is Mine”.

    MJ & Macca in the studio
    MJ & Macca in the studio
  11. When the album’s nine songs were completed, both producer Quincy Jones and Jackson were unhappy with the result and remixed every song. They spent a week on each.
  12. The famous video for “Thriller” wasn’t released until a full year after the album had been released. It premiered on MTV to huge fanfare 367 days later, on December 2nd, 1983.
  13. And while it made its world premiere on MTV, most Canadians would have first watched the video on that night’s episode of CBC’s “Good Rockin’ Tonight” with Terry David Mulligan or NBC’s Friday Night Videos.
  14. At the height of “Thriller’s” popularity, MTV would run the 14-minute video twice an hour.
  15. Hollywood legend Fred Astaire (a big fan of Jackson’s dancing) attended a “Thriller” rehearsal. Imagine if he was one of the zombie extras?!?
  16. In the “Thriller” video, they added extra padding to Michael’s iconic leather jacket to make him look bigger and tougher. Always slight of frame, at the time he weighed roughly 100 lbs.
  17. Horror movie legend Vincent Price was only paid $1000 for voicing the iconic intro to “Thriller”.
  18. The “Thriller” video played in a movie theater in California for one week so that it could qualify for an Oscar.
  19. The video has been awesomely recreated using Lego!
  20. The zombie dance sequence was filmed at the junction of Union Pacific Avenue and South Calzona Street in East Los Angeles. Next time you’re in LA, go take a visit (here it is on Google Maps).
  21. The 1988 movie “Return of the Living Dead Part II” features a zombie dressed as Michael Jackson.

    Zombie Michael in "Return of the Living Dead II"
    Zombie Michael in “Return of the Living Dead II”
  22. The largest number of people doing the “Thriller” zombie-dance routine, according to the Guinness Book of World Records is 13,597. Watch it here.
  23. Over 1,500 inmates of Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center, a maximum security prison in Cebu, the Philippines, recreated the zombie dance. Since being posted to YouTube, the video has more than 57 million views.
  24. The album broke down barriers as the song “Beat It” made it onto “white radio” stations due to Eddie Van Halen’s guitar solo on the track… which Eddie recorded free of charge.

    Eddie Van Halen performing "Beat It" with The Jacksons
    Eddie Van Halen performing “Beat It” with The Jacksons
  25. Real gang members from the Bloods & Crips were brought it to be extras in the “Beat It” video.
  26. Producer Quincy Jones wanted “Billie Jean” to be titled “Not My Lover,” so people wouldn’t think the song was about tennis player Billie Jean King.
  27. According to some sources Michael Jackson got the inspiration for the song “Billie Jean” after a female fan alleged that Jackson (or one of his brothers) had fathered one of her children. The singer however refuted this and stated that the song is based on a few groupies that he encountered during performances.
  28. Michael Jackson did his famous moonwalk for the first time while performing “Billie Jean” in the 1983 TV special “Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever”.
  29. His sisters Janet and LaToya sang backing vocals on “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing).” They were the only Jacksons to appear on the entire album.
  30. On June 27, 2011, the red leather jacket from the “Thriller” video sold for $1.8 million at Julien’s Auctions.
  31. Steve Porcaro, of the band Toto, co-wrote “Human Nature” and played synthesizers on three songs from the album.
  32. Legendary Canadian musician, record producer, composer, songwriter, and arranger David Foster played synthesizers on “The Girl is Mine”.
  33. “Human Nature” was the last song selected to be on Thriller. The track ousted a song called “Carousel” from the final track listing.
  34. Thriller was reissued on October 16, 2001, in an expanded set titled Thriller: Special Edition. The original tracks were remastered and the album included a new booklet and bonus material, including the songs “Someone in the Dark”, “Carousel” and Jackson’s original “Billie Jean” demo.
  35. Michael achieved one of the highest royalty rates in the music industry to that point for Thriller; approximately $2 for each album sold.
Filed under: 1982, JACK likes Lists, Michael Jackson, Thriller