It’s one of the most recognizable songs in music history, but are there facts about Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” that the average listener doesn’t know?
In a word, yes.
NME published a list of 30 lesser-known tidbits about the mega-single. Here are ten things you probably didn’t know:
- Quincy Jones hated the song’s bassline.
- 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.
- Jones also didn’t want the song to appear on “Thriller.”
- Jackson recorded the song by singing into a six-foot cardboard tube.
- He only needed one take to record the vocals for the track.
- “Billie Jean” was mixed down 91 times before it hit the airwaves.
- Jackson performed his first moonwalk when he sang ‘Billie Jean’ on the TV show Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever
- The UPC barcode on the album cover contained seven digits that were rumored to be Jackson’s telephone number.
- Billie Jean is based on the groupies that used to hang around Jackson and his brothers when they were in The Jackson 5. Here’s MJ:
“Billie Jean is kind of anonymous. It represents a lot of girls. They used to call them groupies in the ’60s…They would hang around backstage doors, and any band that would come to town they would have a relationship with, and I think I wrote this out of experience with my brothers when I was little. There were a lot of Billie Jeans out there. Every girl claimed that their son was related to one of my brothers.”
- Rolling Stone placed “Billie Jean” at No. 58 on its list of the 500 Best Songs of All Time. The single also earned Jackson two of his record eight Grammys at the 1984 awards.
Source: Huffington Post and NME