by Jillian McClain
On February 28, 1984, music fans worldwide held their breath as history unfolded before their eyes. At the 26th Annual GRAMMY Awards in Los Angeles, magic and reality melded seamlessly into a crown of glory for superstar Michael Jackson. That night, he carried home an unprecedented 8 GRAMMY’s, giving him the distinction of the most awards ever received by a single artist in one night—an unmatched record to this day. Barely sixteen months earlier Jackson had released his second solo album, the mega-hit machine, Thriller. Still honored as the best-selling album of all time, it remained on the charts for a whopping 37 weeks and launched seven iconic hits, each one reaching the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. Three of these, “Billie Jean”, “Beat It”, and “Thriller”, were accompanied by boundary-crushing short films that not only spotlighted the luster of Jackson’s music but also his killer dance moves through brilliant choreography.
Broadcast across the globe by then-fledgling MTV, Jackson danced his way deeper into the hearts of countless millions, forever raising the bar from the standard blasé music videos of the day to a virtual work of art. In the process, he helped pry open doors of opportunity previously rusted shut with prejudice and blaze an overdue path for many aspiring artists.
Over the decades, much has been published about this one man and his well-known influence in the music world. Adding to this, here are some less publicized but important facts. Test your knowledge!
Did you know?
• Michael Jackson was a published poet, self-taught illustrator, and author of two books, Moonwalk (1988), and Dancing the Dream (1992).
• Besides holding 38 additional Guinness World Records, Jackson is the pop artist credited for having given the most money to charity.
• In 2008, the US Library of Congress deemed “Thriller” as one of 25 "culturally significant" recordings.
• Shortly following his death in 2009, the Lunar Republic Society named a Moon crater after him. (Consider this the next time you view la bella luna!)
• Last November, Jackson became the only solo artist in history to have Top 20 hits spanning six consecutive decades (1970s-2020s).
(After the single "Thriller" saw a recent resurgence, the song landed at #19 on Billboard's Hot 100, with former and new listeners breathing fresh life into the namesake album. It listed at #73 on the 2021 year-end Billboard Top 200 Album charts)
• Jackson still reigns as the most award-winning recording artist in the annals of popular music
On June 25, 2009, a radiant light for this world went out when Michael Jackson passed from this realm into another. Yet his unparalleled legacy lives on far beyond his talent as a creative musician. It lives on through the wisdom of his own insightful heart, inspiring anyone who slows to listen:
"A star can never die. It just turns into a smile and melts back into the cosmic music, the dance of life.”
“…when I create my music, I feel like an instrument of nature. I wonder what delight nature must feel when we open our hearts and express our God-given talents. The sound of approval rolls across the Universe, and the whole world abounds in magic…”
“To live is to be musical, starting with the blood dancing in your veins. Everything living has a rhythm. Do you feel your music?"
A grateful world thanks you, Michael! We give thanks for the love you shared through your music and words, for the sheer excitement and pure wonder you inspired within our eager souls, and for showing each of us how to dance our own dreams.