Thriller/Victory years : 1981-1984

December 1981 : Michael starts working on demo songs such as “Bille Jean” at his Hayvenhurst home studio.


Michael becomes friend with Marlon Brando and Mark Lester.

Michael does backing vocals for the “song State Of Independence” by Donna Summer.

February 6 : Enid gives birth to Brandi Jackson.

April 14 : Michael & Paul McCartney start recording the song “The Girl Is Mine” in Los Angeles. Michael meets Matt Forger during this session.

July 4 : Michael, Quincy Jones & his wife Peggy Lipton attend the annual 4th of July picnic & barbecue at the Skywalker Ranch, George Lucas’s Estate, located in a secluded, yet open area near Nicasio, California, in Marin County.

July 17 : Michael attends a gala in honor of Quincy Jones at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

August : Michael, Quincy Jones & Bruce Swedien start the recording of The Thriller album at the Westlake Studios in Los Angeles.

August 1 : Michael makes a surprise appearance at the Budweiser SuperFest at Rose Bowl in Pasadena during Quincy Jones’ set, he sings and dances on the song “Stuff Like That”.

August 18 : Katherine files for divorce for the second time but she withdraws her demand later on.

August 20: Michael gives an interview for the October’s issue of Interview magazine when Andy Warhol calls him to take part in the interview.

September-December : Michael pays an architect to raze and rebuild Hatvenhurst. During the reconstruction, he moves into a condo that he owns with Katherine, Janet & LaToya on 410 Lindley Avenue in Encino. Joes stays in the property to watch out for thieves.

September: The single “Muscles” by Diana Ross is released. The song was written, composed and produced by Michael.

Steven Spielberg asks Quincy Jones and Michael to produce a storybook album for his movie ET. Even though, they are very busy working on the “Thriller” album but they accept and spend days & nights working in the Westlake Studio.

Michael gives an interview to Rolling Stone correspondant Gerri Hirshey from his rented condo in the San Fernando Valley.

September 15 : Michael attends the last Queen concert from their Hot Space US Tour at the Forum in Inglewood. Later Freddie Mercury and him record songs together at the Hayvenhurst studio including a duo titled State Of Shock.

October : During a photoshoot by Dick Zimmerman for the cover of ET Storybook, Michael meets make-up artist Karen Faye. Later Michael requests Karen for the photoshoot of the Thriller cover. Karen becomes his personal make-up artist until the end of his life.

October 10 : Michael attends the wedding of Courtney Sale & Steve Ross in New York (with Quincy Jones & his wife Peggy).

October 18 : “Girl Is Mine” is released by Epic as the first single from “Thriller. It will peak at #2 on Hot 100 Billboard. Michael does not shoot a video for this single.

November 7 :  “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial”  audiobook is released by MCA Records and promo copies of “Someone in the Dark” are sent to radio stations.

Epic Records allowed Michael to record the album on two conditions:

MCA Records was not to release E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial until after Christmas 1982. (This was to avoid the audiobook competing with Jackson’s new album, Thriller.)
The song “Someone in the Dark” was not to be released as a single.
MCA Records breached both conditions, releasing the storybook in November 1982 and giving 7-inch promo copies of “Someone in the Dark” to radio stations. After Epic lodged a $2 million lawsuit, MCA Records was forced to withdraw the album and prohibited from releasing “Someone in the Dark” as a single.

Epic executives had felt that MCA was misleading members of the public into believing that the then-recently released single “The Girl Is Mine” was featured on the storybook album. The plaintiffs further requested that MCA Records be banned from working with Jackson in the future and that any other media owned by MCA featuring the singer be prohibited from release.

November 8 : Michael, Quincy & Bruce complete the mixing of the Thriller album.

November 30 : The album “Thriller” is released on Epic. It will peak at #1 on Billboard 200 and become the most successful album of all time with 7 hit singles, 107 millions copies sold worldwide, 3 legendaries videos , 8 American Music Awards & 7 Grammy Awards!!!

December : Michael & ET are on the cover of Ebony Magazine.

Michael gives an interview to UK’s magazine Smash Hits.


Michael is baptized a Jeovah’s Witness at the Kingdom Hall of Los Angeles.

Michael hires Marlon Brando’s son, Miko Bando.

January : Katherine, LaToya, Michael & Janet move back to Hayvenhurst now equipped with a second story to the bedrooms, upstairs a den and a gym, downstairs a game room and a thirty-two-seat movie theatre and off the entry hall, a trophy room.

January 2 : The single “Billie Jean” is released by Epic. It will peak at #1 on Hot 100 Billboard. Michael shoots a short film for the song directed by Steve Barron.

February : Michael goes to London to work on songs with Paul MacCartney. While in London he visits his friend Mark Lester.

February 8 :  Michael attends the Brit Awards at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London with Paul & Linda McCartney. He accepts an award on behalf of Barbara Streisand.

February 14 :  The single “Beat It” is released by Epic.It will peak at #1 on Hot 100 Billboard.

February 17 : Michael is on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine with exclusive photos and an interview by Gerri Hirchey.

February 25 : At a CBS Records press conference, Jane Fonda presents Michael with a Platinum certification for Thriller.

March : Michael is on the cover of Rock & Soul magazine.

The Jackson do not renew the managing contract of Weisner & DeMann.

March 9 : On Skid Row, east of Hollywood , Michael begins filming the “Beat It”short film , directed by Bob Giraldi & choreographed by Michael Peters with 25 dancers and 50 actual Los Angeles gang members. The video costs $ 150 000!

March 10 : The “Billie Jean” short film is added to MTV’s playlist which is seen as a major breakthrough for a black artist.

March 12 : The co-managing contract between Joe Jackson, Weisner & De Mann expires.

March 20 : Michael & LaToya attend the “Dreamgirls” opening night after party at the Shubert theater in Century City.

March 25 : Michael & The Jacksons rehearse for Motown 25th Anniversary Show at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.

March 31 : The “Beat It” short film has its world premiere on MTV during prime time. Soon after its premiere the video is also running on other video programs including BET’s Video Soul, SuperStation WTBS’s Night Tracks, and NBC’s Friday Night Videos. In fact, “Beat It” is the first video shown on the latter’s first ever telecast on July 29, 1983.

April 6 : Michael attends a post concert party for Liza Minnelli at the New Universal Amphitheater, Hollywood with Quincy Jones & David Geffen.

April 9 : All the Jackson brothers (including Jermaine & Randy) rehearse and tape their segment of the Motown 25th Special at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.

April 16 : Michael & Samir Kamoun don Charlie Chaplin outfits to pay tribute to him on his birthday.

April 25 : Michael is on the cover of Jet magazine.

May 8 : The single “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin” is released by Epic. It will peak at #5 on Hot 100 Billboard. Michael does not shoot a video for this single.

May 16 : NBC broadcasts the two hour special “Motown 25th: Yesterday, Today & Forever” featuring for the first time since 1975, a performance of the six Jackson brothers for a medley of the Jackson 5 hits followed by a solo performance of “Billie Jean” during which Michael showcases his first ever public performance of the Moonwalk.

At the end of the show, Michael joins Diana Ross and all the Motown stars on stage to pay tribute to Berry Gordy.

The show is watched by 47 millions Americans and Michaels dancing talents are finally recognised when legends such as Fred Astaire & Gene Kelly call him and congratulate his performance.

June : Michael is on the cover of Creem magazine.

Member of The Jacksons World Fan-Club receive an improvised and unreleased song from the group named “The Surprise Song”. The Jacksons reveal that they are working on a brand new album and world tour.

June 22 : Michael decides not to renew his managing contract with Joe, Weisner & DeMann.

July : Michael is rumoured to work with Steven Spielberg on a new adapatation of the children fairy tale Peter Pan.

July 12 : The single Human Nature is released by Epic. It will peak at #7 on Hot 100 Billboard. Michael does not shoot a video for this single.

July 1 : Latoya and Michael attend the Black Radio Exclusive Convention at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Los Angeles, California.

July 9 : Michael appears on the cover of the teenage magazine Top.

August 14 : Michael attends David Bowie’s “Serious Moonlinght” concert at the Forum in LA. Backstage he poses with David Bowie, Bette Midler and Cher.

August 20 : Pre-production begins on the Thriller short film directed by John Landis & choreographed by Michael Peters.

Michael attends a James Brown’s concert at the Beverly Theatre and James invites him on stage to sing and dance! Later that night Prince also comes on stage.

September : It is announced that The Jacksons will tour the US in 1984.

Michael is on the cover of Black Beat magazine.

September 6 : Michael signs an agreement through his production company Optimum Productions, that will pay John Landis 50 per cent of net profits from both the Thriller video and the documentary.

September 19 : The single “P.Y.T (Pretty Young Things)” is released by Epic and it features Janet & Latoya doing background vocals. It will peak at #10 on Hot 100 Billboard. Michael does not shoot a video for this single.

September 25 : Michael’s performance at the Motown 25th is shown at the Emmy Awards Ceremony where it is nominated but does not win.

September 30 : The Jacksons sign boxing tycoon, Don King, as promoter of their forthcoming tour.

October : Michael is on the cover of People, Interview, Globe & Rock & Soul magazines.

October 3 : A new duet between Michael & Paul MacCartney named “Say Say Say” is released by Columbia Records. It will peak at #1 on Hot 100 Billboard.

Michael & Paul shoot the video in Santa Ynez Valley (California) with cameo appearances by Latoya Jackson & Linda Mac Cartney! During the filming, Michael stays at Sycamore Valley Ranch who will one day become his Neverland Valley Ranch.

October 11-20 : Michael shoots the “Thriller “short film in Los Angeles. Jackie Kennedy Onassis visits him on the set and has dinner at Hayvenhurst.

November : Michael & Diana Ross are on the cover of Ebony.

Michael & Quincy return to the Westlake studios to make an interview about Thriller.

November 11: A $5 million endorsement contract is signed between The Jacksons & Pepsi Cola involving sponsorship of the Victory Tour & two TV commercials.

November 14 : Michael attends the premiere of the Thriller short film with a private audience at the Crest Theater in Los Angeles. In attendance were Diana RossWarren BeattyPrinceEddie Murphy and many more “A-list” stars. Michael stays in the projection booth so that others such as actress Ola Ray could bask in the attention. 

November 30 : Michael attends a press conference at New York’s Tavern On The Green to announce plans for the Victory Tour. He is accompanied by his parents & sisters (in the audience) plus his brothers and a young boy named Emmanuel Lewis (star of the TV show Webster). During the conference Don King announce The Jacksons’s Victory Tour sponsored by Pepsi.

December 2 : The 14 minutes short film of Thriller is premiered on MTV.

December 8 : Michael leaves for New York to promote the “Thriller” short film.

Michael & Paul Mac Cartney are on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine (not a photo but a drawing of them)

December 14 : “The Making Of Thriller” is released on VHS and it will become the most biggest selling music video of all time!


Michael launches his own company MJJ PRODUCTIONS with Bill Bray & Miko Brando as first full time employees.

At Hayvenhurst, Michael and LaToya are filmed talking and singing together. This private home movie is sold a few years later.

January 10 : Michael visits the burn center at Brotman Memorial Center Hospital in Los Angeles .

January 11 : At the first annual Black Gold Awards, produced by Dick Clark, Michael wins four awards (but does not attend). Janet is presented with the hottest female newcomer of the year award at the Black Gold Awards in Los Angeles (with a video congratulations from Michael).

January 16 : Michael, Janet & LaToya attend the American Music Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles with Brooke Schields and Emmanuel Lewis.

MJ wins an unprecedented eight awards including the special award of Merit presented by Diana Ross. The ceremony is watched by over sixty millions people.

January 23 : “Thriller”, the seventh and last single from the album is released by Epic. It will peak at #4 on Hot 100 Billboard.

“Thriller” becomes the first album with 7 Top 10 singles on Billboard.

January 24 : Michael & The Jacksons shoot a Pepsi commercial named “Street” directed by Bob Giraldi and featuring the group dancing in the street with a bunch of kids (including Alfonso Ribeiro & Siggy Jackson) on a Pepsi version of Billie Jean.

January 26 : “Somebody’s Watching Me” by Rockwell Gordy featuring Michael on the title track is released by Motown.

January 27 : It is announced that Jackie Onassis will publish Michael’s autobiography.

During the filming of a second Pepsi commercial named “Concert” and directed by Bob Giraldi, a pyrotechnic failure causes an accident. Michael suffers second and third degree scalp burns. He is saved by Miko Brando and is rushed to to Cedar Sinai Medical Center where his arrival causes a media frenzy. All the Jackson family joins him at the hospital. Later, Michael is moved to Brotman Memorial Hospital for treatment at the burn center.

January 28 : Michael is released from the hospital and goes to Emmanuel Lewis’s home to recover from the accident.

February 1 : Michael receives an official letter from US President Reagan wishing him a speedy recovery.

February 5 : Michael makes his first public appearance since his burn injury when he visits the Los Angeles zoo with Emmanuel Lewis.

February 6 : Michael & Emmanuel Lewis are on the cover of Jet magazine.

Michael arrives in NYC and takes a suite at the Hemsley Palace.

Michael befriends Dominic Cascio, a banquet manager at the Hemsley Palace Hotel. Dominic introduces Michael to his wife Connie and children Frank (5) and Eddie (3). Later Michael visits the Cascios at their family home in Hawthorne, New Jersey.

February 7 : Michael goes to the New York Metropolitan Museum of Natural History to receive awards from CBS & The Guineess Book Of World Records to celebrates Thriller as the largest-selling album of all time (25 millions at the time) Among the many guest are Michael’s date for the evening Brooke Schields, & the whole Jackson family (including LaToya, Rebbie & Janet).

February 8 : Michael attends the Tap Dance Kid musical at the Broadhurst Theatre in NYC with Sean Lennon.

February 26 : Katherine, LaToya, Janet & Michael attend the premiere of Pepsi’s Jacksons commercial at a black-tie event for 1000 bottlers at New York City ’s Lincoln Center.

February 27 : Michael & Brooke Schields are on the cover of Jet magazine

The Pepsi commercials are previewed on MTV.

After 3 weeks in NYC, Michael flies back to L.A.

February 28 : In the company of Brooke Schields & Emmanuel Lewis, Michael attends the Grammy Awards ceremony broadcast live from the Shrine Auditorium of Los Angeles.

He wins an unprecedented 8 awards. On stage he shares his triumph with producer Quincy Jones and even invites Janet, LaToya & Rebbie to joins him.

The Jacksons Pepsi commercials are aired during the telecast and become the most popular ads ever!

March : Michael is on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.

“Eat It”, a parody of ‘Beat It’ by “Weird Al” Yankovic is released.

March 19 : Michael is o the cover of TIME magazine with a nine page article.

March 20 : Michael hires Frank Dileo, Vice President of Promotions at Epic as his new manager.

March 23 : Michael appears on the cover of Jet magazine.

March 29 : The Jackson family selects Frank Russo to run the Victory Tour in association with Danny’O Donovan.

April : Jermaine Jackson’s first album for Arista contains a new duet with Michael titled “Tell Me I’m Not Dreamin” but Epic does not give permission to Arista to release it as a single.

April 9 : David Smithee, a terminally ill child is invited to visit Michael at the Encino family house thanks to the Make A Wish Foundation.

Liza Minnelli accompanies Michael to Swifty Lazar’s Oscar Night Party but after a short stay, they go on to visit Liza’s father director Vincente Minnelli.

April 14 : Michael attends a Martell foundation dinner.

April 17 : Michael undergoes reconstructive scalp surgery at Brotman Memorial Hospital by his plastic surgeon Dr Steven Hoeffin.

Late April : The rehearsals for the Jacksons ’ Victory Tour begins at the Zoetrope Studios in Los Angeles.

May : Michael is on the cover of Ebony magazine.

Motown releases the album “Farewell My Summer Love” a collection of old material from Michael’s solo studio sessions at Motown.

Frank Russo files a $20 millions lawsuit against the Jacksons for going back on their verbal agreement to make him manager of the Victory Tour.

May 4 : The whole Jackson family gather to host a surprise party to honour Katherine at the Bistro Garden in Beverly Hills . Michael offers her a Rolls Royce!

May 8 : Michael attends a performance of “Cats” musical at Winter Garden Theatre in Broadway, New York.

May 11 : Michael attends a Kool and The Gang concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City accompanied by Tatum O’Neal heavily disguised in a beard and afro wig!

May 12 : Michael visits Shirley Maclaine backstage after her performance in Broadway.

May 14 : President Reagan presents a Special Achievement Award to Michael in a garden ceremony at the White House in Washington D.C.

May 21 : The Jacksons are on the cover of Jet magazine.

June : Michael meets with other supporters of Camp Good Times in Malibu such as OJ Simpson, Dustin Hoffman, David Soul, Neil Diamond & Richard Chamberlain.

June 5 : The Victory Tour contract is signed by Don King, Chuck Sullivan and Joe & Katherine Jackson.

“State Of Shock”, the first single from the “Victory” album, , a duet between Michael & Mick Jagger, is released. It’s an instant success even though no video is shot for the song. It will peak at #3 on Hot 100 Billboard.

June 9 : Michael attends the unveiling of a wax statue of himself at The Guinness Museum of World Records in San Francisco .

June 22 : When Enid finds out that Jackie cheated on her with Paula Abdul, she drives over him which causes a knee injury and prevents him for participating to the Victory Tour.

June 26 : Michael and his brothers arrive in Birmingham for secret pre-tour rehearsals.

June 29 : During Victory Tour rehearsals in Atlanta , Michael & his brothers greet a crowd of several thousands fans.

July 1 : The Jackson have a full dress rehearsal of the “Victory” show at BJCC Colisuem in Birmingham.

July 2 : The album “Victory” is released by Epic. For the first time, the 6 brothers are reunited with the return of Jermaine. It will peak at #4 on Billboard 200.

July 5 : On the eve of Victory’s Tour first concert and after a controversy over the selling of tickets, Michael holds a major press conference in Kansas City with his brothers to announce a change in the tour’s organisation. He announces hat the whole of his share of the proceeds from the Victory Tour will be donated to charity.

July 6+7+8 : The Jacksons kick off the Victory Tour at the arrowhead stadium in in Kansas City (Missouri)

The whole Jackson family + Reverend Jesses Jackson attend the concerts.

July 13+14+15 : Concerts at the Texas Stadium in Irving, (Dallas county) attended by Prince & Emmanuel Lewis among others. During the second concert in Dallas , Eddie Van Halen joins Michael on stage to play his solo guitar on Beat It

July 16 : Michael is on the cover of Newsweek.

July 20 : Publicity of the Michael Jackson doll begins.

July 21+22+23 : Concerts at the Gator Bowl stadium in Jacksonville.

July 29+30+31 : Concerts at the Giants stadium in East Rutherford (New Jersey) attended by Katherine, Janet, Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon, Dominic, Connie, Frank & Eddie Cascio among others.

August 4+5 : Concerts at the Madison Square Garden in New York City attended by many celebrities such as Andy Warhol, Mayor Koch, Cyndi Lauper, Brooke Schields, Bette Midler or Emmanuel Lewis. During his stay in New York , Michael has dinner with Katherine Hepburn at her city townhouse.

August 7+8+9+10+11+12 : Concerts at the Neyland Stadium in Knoxville.

August 17+18+19 : Concert at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac (Michigan).

Michael is staying with his friend, former child star Spanky McFarland of the Our Gang movies.

Michael films a home video at Pontiac City Hall, Michigan with a troop of police officers.

August 20-24 : Michael visits Disneyworld with Emmanuel Lewis, Sean Lennon & Jonathan Spence in Orlando (Florida).

August 25+26 : Concerts at the Buffalo Rich Stadium in Orchad Park.

September : Michael is on the cover of Life magazine.

September 1+2 : Concerts at the John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia (Pennsylvania) attended by Sly Stone & Bruce Springsteen.

September 5 : Frank Dileo holds a press conference to read a statement on behalf of Michael to set the record straight about many rumors.

September 7 : While the Jackson family is on tour, Janet & her boyfriend James DeBarge secretly elope in Grand Rapids (Michigan). Janet only reveals her secret marriage to LaToya but soon the press reveals the wedding. James moves into Hayvenhurst in Janet’s bedroom.

September 7+8 : Concerts at the Mile High Stadium in Denver (Colorado). Michael visits Elton John.

September 11 : The single “Centipede” by Rebbie Jackson is released on Colombia Records. The song is written and produced by Michael who also sings backing vocals. It will peak at #24 on Hot 100 Billboard. Rebbie shoots a music video but Michael does not appear in it.

September 14 : Michael wins three awards at the first annual MTV Video Music Awards but does not attend the ceremony.

September 15 : Michael goes shopping with Quincy Jones in Montreal.

September 16 : Michael attends Sunday service at the Kingdom Hall in Montreal .

September 16+17+18 : Concerts at the Canada Montreal Olympic Stadium in Montreal (Canada). During the last song, Jackie joins the brothers on stage for the first time during the tour.

September 21+22 : Concerts at the United States RFK Stadium in Washington D.C.

While in Washington , Michael visits the Kennedy Center Opera House to see Anthony Quinn and Lila Kedrova in the touring production of Zorba.

September 28+29 : Concerts at the John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia (Pennsylvania).

September 30 : The single “Torture” is released by Epic. It’s a duet between Michael & Jermaine but none of them participates to the video! It will peak at #17 on Hot 100 Billboard.

October 5+6+7 : Concerts at the Exhibition Stadium in Toronto, Canada.

October 10 : Rebbie’s debut album titled “Centipede” is released.

October 12+13+14 : Concerts at the Comiskey Park in Chicago.

October 19+20 : Concerts at the Municipal Stadium in Cleveland.

October 29+30 : Concerts at the Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta.

November : Michael is on the cover of People Extra.

November 2+3 : Concerts at the Orange Bowl in Miami.

November 9+10 : Concerts at the Houston Astrodome in Houston (Texas).

Michael sits for Madame Tussauds sculptor Jim Mathieson.

November 16+17+18 : Concerts at the BC Place in Vancouver, Canada.

November 18 : Michael is made an honorary member of the new West Minister Police Department while in British Colombia.

November 20 : 5000 fans turn out to see Michael at the unveiling of his Hollywood Boulevard Star on the Walk Of Fame.

November 21 : The single “Body” is released as the 4th and final single from “Victory” by Epic. Michael does not appear in the video. It will peak at #47 on Hot 100 Billboard.

November 30 + December 1+ 2 : Concerts at the Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

December : Michael is on the cover of Ebony and magazines.

Michael appears in the video LA is my lady produced by Quincy Jones for Frank Sinatra.

Michael visits Steven Spielbeg on the set of The Goonies movie and befriends the young actor Corey Feldman.

December 6 : Michael is in Chicago to testify in court that he did write the song  “The Girl Is Mine”.

December 7+8+9 : The Jacksons play their last Victory Tour concerts at the Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles . During the last song of the last concert, Janet, LaToya & Rebbie join the group on stage with all the nieces and nephews to dance all together.

Michael announces on stage that this concert is the “last curtain call” from The Jacksons.

During 55 concerts attended by over 2 million people, the tour grossed a record $75 million!

December 13 : Michael returns to the Brotman Memorial.

Previous era : Destiny/Off The Wall/Triumph : 1978-1981

Next era : Captain Eo/Bad years : 1985-1989

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