The Best-Selling Album Of All Time Was Released On This Date In 1982

It’s a giddy and glamorous sound, Hands clap, horns blare. A carnival of percussion erupts. Electric guitars chatter like a corps of African talking drums. A voice gasps and then chants a chorus. So go the first few seconds of “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ ” six minutes of musical frenzy from a new Epic album called “Thriller.” The show-stopping style could come from only one star — Michael Jackson.

For nearly 14 years Jackson has been making his own breathless brand of show-business history. He first burst into view in 1969, as the 10-year-old dancing dynamo who dipped, spun and sang for the Jackson 5, a quintet of buoyant young brothers. Over the next decade he helped sell more than 90 million records, both with that group and as a solo artist. Heir to a great tradition of black stagecraft, he has become a whirling dervish of the modern recording studio. In 1979 he helped bring black music into the ’80s with “Off the Wall,” a luminous set of high-tech dance hits, including four Top 10 singles — the most from any one album by any solo performer in the history of recorded music.

Supercharged: Now, at 24, Jackson seems poised for another surge. He wrote and produced Diana Ross’s recent Top 10 hit, “Muscles.” He narrated and sang a song for the storybook album of “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.” And for “Thriller,” his long-awaited sequel to “Off the Wall,” he has fashioned a supercharged pop classic for the ’80s — flashy, futuristic, floridly upbeat.

Newsweek January 10, 1983