Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” Video Debuted 30 Years Ago Today on MTV
Michael Jackson’s Thriller video–or, if you prefer, the short film directed by acclaimed horror director John Landis–got its official premiere on MTV 30 years ago today. We’re thinking that’s also the last time that MTV regularly played music videos on its network. The groundbreaking film that starred the late King of Pop, Playboy-model-turned actress Ola Ray, and the voice of horror movie icon Vincent Price earned itself a strong footing in pop culture music’s history. It took a lot of risks to get made and released at a time when it was unheard of to make a short video let alone a whole movie around the release of a song.
It not only broke all sorts of sales records and helped turn the song and album Thriller into one of the best selling and best loved musical pieces of all time but it almost helped us forget that the person who sang it became a walking disaster area later in life. It’s also set a number of interesting standards for the recording and entertainment industry. According to this well researched feature on the subject, it not only invented the concept of the music video but it’s also responsible for creating the video rental industry.
The Thriller video became so popular that people wanted to see it on VHS and the first business to sell it on video sold over 1 million copies. It’s also the first and currently only music video to be listed in the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry alongside other classic such as Dog Day Afternoon, The Muppet Movie and The Incredible Shrinking Man. That’s some nice immortality for Vincent Price. The record label sure never gave him any extra pay. And in case you wanted to see more of Ola Ray–hey, you’re welcome…