Charlie's 80s Blog

This Day In Music, November 30th

On this day in 1982: Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ album was released. ‘Thriller’ was Jackson’s sixth studio album.  Reunited with ‘Off the Wall’ producer Quincy Jones, Jackson was inspired to create an album where “every song was a killer”. With the ongoing backlash against disco, Jackson moved in a new musical direction, incorporating pop, post-disco, rock and funk. ‘Thriller’ foreshadows the contradictory themes of Jackson’s personal life, as he began using a motif of paranoia and darker themes. The album features a single guest appearance, with Paul McCartney becoming the first artist to be featured on one of Jackson’s albums. Recording took place from April to November 1982 at Westlake Recording Studios in Los Angeles, with a production budget of $750,000.

Jackson’s previous album ‘Off the Wall’ (1979) received critical acclaim and was a commercial success, having sold 10 million copies at the time. The years between ‘Off the Wall’ and ‘Thriller’ were a transitional period for Jackson, a time of increased independence. The period saw him become deeply unhappy; Jackson said, “Even at home, I’m lonely. I sit in my room sometimes and cry. It’s so hard to make friends … I sometimes walk around the neighborhood at night, just hoping to find someone to talk to. But I just end up coming home.”

When Jackson turned 21 in August 1979, he hired John Branca as his manager. Jackson told Branca that he wanted to be the biggest and wealthiest star in showbusiness. He was upset about what he perceived as the underperformance of ‘Off the Wall’, feeling it had deserved the Grammy Award for Record of the Year. He also felt undervalued by the music industry; in 1980, when ‘Rolling’ Stone declined to run a cover story on him, Jackson responded: “I’ve been told over and over that black people on the cover of magazines doesn’t sell copies … Just wait. Some day those magazines are going to be begging me for an interview. Maybe I’ll give them one, and maybe I won’t.”

On this day in 1985: Phil Collins went to #1 on the U.S. singles chart with his duet with Marilyn Martin, ‘Separate Lives.’ The song is featured on the soundtrack to the motion picture ‘White Nights.’ It reached #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts as well as #1 in Canada and Ireland.

The music video features Martin and Collins singing and playing the piano, intercut with scenes from the movie. It was edited to make it appear that Phil and Marilyn were in the same building as the movie’s stars, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gregory Hines, but in a separate studio.

Here’s a look at the complete Top 20 on the U.S. singles chart from this day back in 1985:

1 3 SEPARATE LIVES –•– Phil Collins & Marilyn Martin (Atlantic)-9 (1 Week at #1) (1)
2 1 WE BUILT THIS CITY –•– Starship (Grunt)-13 (1)
3 4 BROKEN WINGS –•– Mr. Mister (RCA)-11 (3)
4 2 YOU BELONG TO THE CITY –•– Glenn Frey (MCA)-12 (2)
5 5 NEVER –•– Heart (Capitol)-12 (5)
6 6 LAY YOUR HANDS ON ME –•– Thompson Twins (Arista)-11 (6)
7 9 WHO’S ZOOMIN’ WHO –•– Aretha Franklin (Arista)-10 (7)
8 13 ELECTION DAY –•– Arcadia (Capitol)-6 (8)
9 17 PARTY ALL THE TIME –•– Eddie Murphy (Columbia)-9 (9)
10 14 SLEEPING BAG –•– ZZ Top (Warner Brothers)-7 (10)

11 18 ALIVE AND KICKING –•– Simple Minds (A&M)-7 (11)
12 22 SAY YOU, SAY ME –•– Lionel Richie (Motown)-4 (12)
13 11 BE NEAR ME –•– ABC (Mercury)-15 (9)
14 8 MIAMI VICE THEME –•– Jan Hammer (MCA)-13 (1)
15 15 ONE OF THE LIVING –•– Tina Turner (Capitol)-9 (15)
16 19 I MISS YOU –•– Klymaxx (Constellation)-12 (16)
17 7 HEAD OVER HEELS –•– Tears For Fears (Mercury)-12 (3)
18 10 PART-TIME LOVER –•– Stevie Wonder (Tamla)-13 (1)
19 21 PERFECT WAY –•– Scritti Politti (Warner Brothers)-13 (19)
20 12 YOU ARE MY LADY –•– Freddie Jackson (Capitol)-13 (12)

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