2 December

Pick a Day

2 DECEMBER

In Music History

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2014 Bobby Keys, whose saxophone can be heard on Rolling Stones tracks "Can't You Hear Me Knocking?" and "Tumbling Dice," dies at age 70.

2013 Reggae star Junior Murvin dies at age 67.

2011 Police in Arkansas find the country singer Mindy McCready hiding in a closet two days after she kidnapped her 5-year-old son from her mother, who was living with the child in Florida. McCready, who did not have custody of her son, was seven months pregnant with twins at the time.

2011 Soul singer Howard Tate, original performer of the Janis Joplin hit "Get It While You Can," dies at age 72 from complications of multiple myeloma and leukemia.

2009 Scottish singer-songwriter Eric Woolfson (of The Alan Parsons Project) dies of kidney cancer at age 64.

2008 Odetta Holmes, known by the mononym Odetta, dies of heart disease at age 77. The blues singer was often called "The Voice of the Civil Rights Movement."

2006 Glam rocker Dave Mount (drummer for Mud) dies at age 59.

2002 Richard Dangle, lead guitarist of the Fabulous Wailers, dies.

1991 The US Supreme Court rules that The Shirelles, Gene Pitney and B.J. Thomas are owed $1.2 million in unpaid royalties.

1991 Morten Harket accepts a BMI Award in London on behalf of his band a-ha for achieving one million radio plays of their hit "Take On Me" in America.

1986 Jerry Lee Lewis checks into the Betty Ford Clinic for addiction to painkillers.

1986 Desi Arnaz, Cuban-born musician and I Love Lucy star, dies of lung cancer at age 69.

1983 Jana Kramer is born in Michigan. She stars in the TV series One Tree Hill before launching a career as a country singer.

1982 Folk singer-songwriter David Blue, writer of the Eagles' "Outlaw Man," dies of a heart attack at age 41 while jogging in New York City.

1981 The Broadway musical Dreamgirls, which is based on The Supremes, opens on Broadway. It is later made into a hit movie starring Beyoncé and Jennifer Hudson.

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"Thriller" Video Debuts On MTV

1983

Michael Jackson's 14-minute "Thriller" video debuts on MTV. Directed by John Landis, the short film shows Michael Jackson turning into a werewolf and leading a dance routine with various undead creatures.

Who knew Michael Jackson could be scary? In the video, when he tells his date, "I'm not like other guys" and makes his gruesome transformation, it's genuinely terrifying. We learn it's just a movie, but get another scare when he joins the ranks of the undead after getting a little too close to a haunted graveyard. But these zombies can dance: the combination of costumes and choreography is stunning, with every detail on point. Those 14 minutes cost about $500,000 to make and are financed through deals with Showtime and MTV, which get the rights to air it. The Thriller album has been out for over a year but its sixth single, "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)" is still climbing the charts, as is Jackson's Paul McCartney duet "Say Say Say." This is where Michael Jackson fatigue should be setting in, but the "Thriller" video keeps his remarkable run going. After airing the full version of the video, MTV usually runs a 5-minute edit, but the longform version is sold on VHS and Beta with a "making of" feature. A bargain at $24.95, it becomes a popular stocking stuffer and goes on to sell nearly 10 million copies. It also sends the album back to #1, where it hasn't been since September 10. This time, it stays at the top for 17 weeks straight, giving it a total of 37 weeks at the top, making it the best-selling album of both 1983 and 1984. The "Thriller" single isn't released until January 23, 1984, two weeks after "P.Y.T." falls out of the chart. Like the previous six Thriller singles, it cracks the Top 10, reaching #4 in March. When the song drops out of the countdown on May 19, it ends a spectacular run of hits from the album that started when "The Girl Is Mine" entered on November 6, 1982. Group dance scenes were already popular in music videos, but you probably don't know the moves to Lionel Richie's "All Night Long (All Night)" or Donna Summer's "She Works Hard For The Money." Everyone knows at least the basics of the "Thriller dance" though, and in the age of viral videos, it becomes more popular than ever, with Guinness introducing a record for "Largest Thriller Dance" in 2006 that is blown away in 2009 following Jackson's death when 13,597 people in Mexico City, most dressed as zombies, perform it in tribute.

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