Memo to this decade’s lazy pop moguls: ‘Billie Jean’ was mixed 91 times by Bruce Sweden. 91 times!
Walter Yetnikoff, the president of Jackson’s record label CBS, threatened MTV that he’d go public with their stance on race:
I said to MTV, ‘I’m pulling everything we have off the air, all our product. I’m not going to give you any more videos. And I’m going to go public and fucking tell them about the fact you don’t want to play music by a black guy.’
Michael Jackson said he came up with the idea while driving his Rolls-Royce down a motorway. He was so absorbed by the song that he didn’t notice his car had caught fire. A guy passing on a motorcyclist warned him and saved his life.
Quincy Jones did not want ‘Billie Jean’ to appear on ‘Thriller’.
Jones hated the bass line.
He also hated the intro.
“But that’s the jelly!…That’s what makes me want to dance,’ said Jackson. And the rest is history.
Kind of. Jackson and Jones quarreled over the title of the song. Worried that people would confuse the name with tennis player Billie Jean King, Jones wanted to change the name to ‘Not My Lover’. Jackson won that battle. But he didn’t get the co-producing credit he asked for. Or the subsequent royalties.
Jackson sang the vocals into a six-foot-long cardboard tube.