Everyone and his brother will be blogging tributes to Michael Jackson today. It clearly doesn't fit in as "something you wouldn't know," but I want to store this material for future re-viewing.
The topmost video is the music video that aired on MTV in 1982. (embedding for other copies of this has been disabled, so this one may not last long either). Many people believe that it was this video that helped bring MTV from relative cable obscurity into the awareness of the general public.
The second video is a stage performance at Pasadena in 1983 for Motown's 25th anniversary. Michael looks young, but the performance has already acquired impressive polish, and I believe it was during this performance that he first showed the world the "moonwalk."
The third version is also undated, but to me he appears older and the performance is about eight minutes in length (one can't fault him for lip-synching these songs when so much dancing is involved).
When I first encountered "Billie Jean" (on MTV), I didn't understand the lyrics...
Billie Jean is not my lover...and I never tried to figure it out, because Michael Jackson music videos tend to be as much a visual experience as an auditory one. It wasn't until I began researching this blog post that I encountered the backstory. Reportedly, the lyrics were inspired by a real-life experience in which a young woman wrote a series of letters to Michael Jackson, insisting that he was the father of ONE of her TWINS (??). Finally she sent him a gun, asking him to kill himself and indicating that she would kill herself after she killed their baby.
She's just a girl who claims that I am the one
But the kid is not my son...
If all you want to see is the moonwalk, here's a shorter excerpt from a different performance, isolating that famous component:
I heard on the radio today that after viewing the MTV 25th anniversary show, Fred Astaire remarked that Michael Jackson was the first dancer he had ever seen who made him jealous!