We’ve all seen it. Multiple times. It’s one of the greatest music videos ever produced. Here are a few of the things you may, or may not have, known about this landmark video (courtesy of Rolling Stone):
1.The video cost half-a-million dollars; at the time, it was the most expensive video ever made. But CBS Records wouldn’t pay for a third video from Thriller, and MTV had a policy of never paying for clips. Jackson and Landis funded their budget by getting MTV and Showtime to pay $250,000 each for the rights to show the 45-minute The Making of “Thriller.” (MTV reasoned that if they were paying for a movie, they were circumventing their own policy.) Landis nicknamed the stretched-out documentary The Making of Filler.
2. Before songwriter Rod Temperton came up with “Thriller,” Michael Jackson’s working title for the album was Starlight. Temperton, a British native formerly of the funk band Heatwave, also wrote “Baby Be Mine” and “The Lady in My Life” for Thriller (and earlier, had penned “Rock with You” and “Off the Wall” for Jackson).
3. “Thriller” had a Playmate: Jackson’s “Thriller” costar, former Playboy Playmate Ola Ray, also appeared on Cheers and in Beverly Hills Cop II, but her only other notable music video was “Give Me the Night” by George Benson (a single also written by Rod Temperton and produced by Quincy Jones), on a date with Benson that involves hot dogs and champagne. That video’s biggest special effect: Benson playing guitar on rollerskates.
4. Fred Astaire could’ve been a “Thriller” extra: Hollywood legend Fred Astaire, a fan of Jackson’s dancing (Jackson personally taught him to moonwalk), attended a “Thriller” rehearsal. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who e edited Jackson’s Moonwalk autobiography, logged some serious hours: When they were filming at 3 A.M. in a bad neighborhood in east Los Angeles, she was hanging out in Jackson’s Winnebago.
5. The “Thiller” choreographer was a “Beat It” gang member: Choreographer Michael Peters also did the epic dance sequences in Pat Benatar’s “Love Is a Battlefield” and in Jackson’s “Beat It” video (where he played one of the gang leaders — the one dressed in white, with sunglasses and a mustache). He won a Tony for his work on Dreamgirls and died of AIDS in 1994, at just 46 years old.
6. Vincent Price’s “lost rap” is fantastic: When horror-movie legend Vincent Price (House of Wax, Edward Scissorhands) recorded his spoken word, he did a whole verse that got cut: “The demons squeal in sheer delight / It’s you they spy, so plump, so right / For though the groove is hard to beat / Yet still you stand with frozen feet / You try to run, you try to scream / But no more sun you’ll ever see / For evil reaches from the crypt / To crush you in its icy grip.”
And now, with over 152 million views on Youtube and counting…