When it comes to Michael Jackson’s greatest hits, many consider “Billy Jean” to be near the top. It is a universally recognizable song, and one of the many hits that came off the legendary “Thriller” album.
Michael Jackson was without a question one of the most iconic names in the 1980s music industry. With his unique singing and dancing style, Michael Jackson quickly worked his way up the music charts. But what set him apart from many of the others at the time was that he had a dancing ability that matched the strength of his vocals, and his immense talent made him a household name in the 80s.
When it comes to Michael Jackson’s music, many consider his hits from the 80s to be his finest work. And one of those hits was “Billie Jean”, which set the music world on fire in the early 80s.
But do you know how this legendary song came to be? The story will probably surprise you.
Billie Jean By Michael Jackson
The song “Billie Jean” was a popular hit in the early 1980s, and was written by Michael Jackson himself. But many don’t realize the song was about a groupie who had gone over the edge.
Another odd fact about the song was how it was eventually composed. He once explained in an interview that he had written a large portion of the song while driving his car, and that he was so focused on composing the music in his head, that he did not realize his car was on fire.
The Story Behind “Billie Jean”
The song itself was actually inspired by a number of letters that Michael Jackson had received from a woman in 1981. Although not uncommon for groupies to claim that musicians were the fathers of their children, this one woman took her claim to a whole other level.
The Jacksons at the time referred to groupies as “Billy Jeans”, so when Michael Jackson received letters from them, he just ignored them.
But this one particular groupie continued to send him letters explaining how much in love with him she was. It even got to the point where she had wanted Jackson to commit suicide so that they could be together in their next life.
Billie Jean Almost Never Was
Believe it or not, the very popular song Billie Jean almost never was. While Michael Jackson believed that the song would be the next big hit, his producer thought that it wasn’t strong enough to be added to his upcoming album.
Not only did Quincy Jones dislike the demo altogether, but he even wanted to cut out the introduction at the beginning of the song. Nevertheless, after receiving a lot of pressure, Jones finally conceded and allowed its production.
The Billie Jean Music Video
In the early 80s MTV was still a fledgling music video channel. They were more focused on music that fit within the rock genre, and when Michael Jackson first presented the video, the channel executives refused to air “Billie Jean”.
In response to this refusal, the president of CBS Records threatened to pull all of their artists off of the channel. To the recording company, MTV’s refusal to play Billie Jean was a form of racial discrimination.
Nevertheless after much debate, the music video made its grand debut in March 1983. Within weeks following the first appearance of “Billie Jean” on MTV, Michael Jackson sold 10 million copies of the album Thriller.
The song Billie Jean worked its way to the top of the Billboard charts. Not only did it reach the number one spot for Black Singles within only 3 weeks, but it was also considered by many to be one of the fastest-rising singles in recent history.
By the end of 1983, Billie Jean had made it to the number 2 spot and was certified 6X platinum by the RIAA. To date, the official YouTube music video has received 1.1 billion views.