6 Thrilling Facts About Michael Jackson's "Thriller"

Michael Jackson was born on August 29, 1958, and went on to become one of the most admired, most awarded, and most controversial artists of all time.  Here are six thrilling facts you probably didn't know Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album...


The Album's Title Was Almost Midnight Man Rod Temperton, the arranger and songwriter, was asked by Quincy Jones to think up a good title for the album. In his hotel room, he jotted down between 200 and 300 possible titles but decided to call it “Midnight Man.” In the morning, the word “Thriller” came to him, and he realized this was the perfect title for the album.

The Song "Thriller" Was Originally Titled "Starlight" The original song “Thriller” had different lyrics as well as the title. The chorus was “We got to make it while we can / You need the starlight / Some starlight sun.” The new album title did not match the song, so the words had to be changed. Quincy Jones asked Temperton to come back with something more like what Edgar Allan Poe would have written.


Vincent Price Wasn’t Paid Much for His Part Quincy Jones’ wife, Peggy Lipton, knew horror actor Vincent Price and asked him to record part of the title song. It only took two takes to do, and Price was paid $1,000 for his work on the title track. When the album became a big hit, Price was frustrated about his meager paycheck and said Jackson would not take his calls.

Jackson Was Sued For The Song "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" Cameroon musician Manu Dibango recorded the “Soul Makossa” in 1972. The song was sung in the Cameroonian language of Duala, with the phrase “ma ma ko/ma ma sa/ma ko ma ko sa.”  Michael Jackson changed the words  to “ma ma se/ma ma sa/ma ma ku sa,” but the similarity was obvious. Jackson was sued for infringement, and a settlement was reached out-of-court.

“Billie Jean” Was About an Intruder at Jackson’s Home There are several stories about the subject of “Billie Jean”. Quincy Jones claimed that Jackson told him “Billie Jean” was based on a girl who climbed over his wall one morning and accused him of being the father of one of her twins. Although Quincy Jones wanted Michael Jackson to change the title of the song, which he thought might be confused with Billie Jean King the tennis player.

Eddie Van Halen Collaborated With Jackson A Popular Song Eddie Van Halen was a secret sideman for Michael Jackson in the song “Beat It” by performing two guitar solos. Van Halen said he didn’t charge Jackson for the performance and even rearranged the song. However, Van Halen was probably disappointed that he was not mentioned as a collaborator when the album came out in 1982.