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The Bad Era years, 1986-1989, would confirm Michael Jackson’s super-stardom and popularity and prove him to be the entertainer of the 1980’s.
Starting a new and exciting era, Michael Jackson broke another world record in 1986. In February, Pepsi-Cola Corporation signed a 3 year deal with Michael Jackson for a whopping $15 million. The endorsement deal would include two Pepsi commercials and the sponsorship of Michael’s first solo tour. It was the largest endorsement deal of its kind in history.
|Michael Jackson’s first major project for 1986 would be a 3D movie called “Captain Eo”, directed by Francis Ford Coppola and produced by George Lucas. Michael wrote and recorded two songs for the 17 minute epic; “We Are Here to Change the World” and “Another Part of Me”.
In the movie, Michael plays Captain Eo; a young man on a quest to transform a miserable planet and its evil Supreme Ruler (played by Angelica Huston) into a peace loving nation through the power of song and dance. The movie took almost a year to produce and estimated costs were between $17- $30 million, making it the most expensive movie ever made, minute for minute.
“Captain Eo” was released at Disneyland in California and the Epcot Center in Florida on September 12 September 1986. Michael also helped create a “Captain Eo” ride for Disneyland. The movie was extremely successful and ran for 8 years at Disneyland and 10 years at Epcot. It was also released at Tokyo Disneyland where it ran for 9 years and Disneyland Park in Paris where it ran for 6 years.
|Michael began recording demos for the follow up to the Thriller album just after the end of the Victory Tour in 1984. Michael took on a massive task of writing over 60 numbers for the new album and recording approximately 30. The recording of the Bad album took place between January 5 - July 9, 1987 (except for “Another Part of Me” which was recorded for “Captain Eo” in 1986).
Once again, Michael teamed up with Quincy Jones as producer. Michael wrote nine of the eleven tracks himself; “Bad”, “The Way You Make Me Feel”, “Speed Demon”, “Liberian Girl”, “Another Part of Me”, “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”, “Dirty Diana”, “Smooth Criminal” and “Leave Me Alone”. Contributions from other songwriters and musicians were “Just Good Friends”, (written by Terry Buttan and Graham Lyle) which was sung as a duet with Stevie Wonder, and “Man In The Mirror” (Written by Siedah Garrett and Glen Ballard), which was recorded with The Andre Crouch Choir. Steve Stevens contributed a killer guitar solo for the rock-infused “Dirty Diana”.
The first single from the Bad album was a duet with Siedah Garrett called “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”, released on July 27, 1987. It travelled to number 1 on the US, UK and other European charts. The song became the highest debuting single of 1987.
The highly anticipated Bad album was released worldwide on August 31, 1987. Bad sold 500,000 copies within five days in the UK; a first for any artist in the UK. It debuted at number one in both the US and UK and many other countries around the world.
The album’s title track “Bad” was released on 31st August 1987 (the same day as the Bad album) with an amazing 18 minute long short film, directed by Martin Scorsese. The film was shot on location in New York and starred Wesley Snipes. It reportedly took six weeks to make with an estimated budget of $2 million. The reaction to the short film and single was massive: it shot to number 1 in the U.S. and many other countries around the world.
|In September 1987, Michael kicked off his “Bad World Tour” in Tokyo, Japan on September 12th. The show included a 90-member crew, state of the art light show, special effects and massive video screens. The show reportedly cost $500,000 per week to create. Michael had said at the beginning of the tour that it would be his “first and final” tour and that all proceeds from the shows would be donated to charity. In addition, at every stop on the tour, Michael set aside a portion of free tickets for under-privileged youths who would not otherwise be able to attend his concerts.
The tour in Japan was greeted with mass hysteria and the Japanese press dubbed Michael Jackson “Typhoon Michael”. He played nine sold out shows to thousands of fans and grossed approximately $20 million. His concert on the 26th of September at Yokohama Stadium was filmed by Nippon Television and later televised in Asia. While in Japan, a young boy called Yoshiaki was kidnapped and murdered. Michael was so moved by the story that he donated $20,000 to the family of the boy and also dedicated his entire Japanese tour to the child’s memory. He also donated millions of dollars to schools, hospitals and charities in Japan.
The reaction and demand was so impressive that Michael returned to Japan a year later to play nine more sold out shows.
The tour moved onto Australia in November where Michael played five sold out shows. Stevie Wonder, also on tour in Australia, joined Michael onstage in Sydney where they treated fans to a special performance of the duet “Just Good Friends”.
The third single from the Bad album, ‘The Way You Make Me Feel”, was released on November 21, 1987. The 9 minute short film featured beautiful model, Tatiana Thumbtzen as Michael’s love interest. The single shot to number 1 and stayed in the top 10 for 6 weeks in the US. It became the third number one single from the Bad album.
The forth single, “Man in the Mirror”, was released in January 1988 and became the forth consecutive number one single from the Bad album.
|By February 1988, the Bad album sales were at approximately 7 million copies and it was number one in 21 different countries.
After a short break for rehearsals, Michael took his Bad World Tour to the United States, starting in Kansas, Missouri on February 23rd, 1988. The Bad show was now bigger than ever with several new songs, new choreography and a new stage. The reviews of the show were glittering and music and movie stars flocked to the see the show along with adoring fans.
Also in February, Michael’s much anticipated autobiography, “Moonwalk”, hit book stores. The book was dedicated to Fred Astaire and featured an introduction by Jacqueline Onassis. “Moonwalk” made the New York Times Best Seller List by May of 1988.
On March 2nd, 1988, Michael performed at the Grammy Awards at Radio City Hall in Los Angeles. He had also received four nominations for the Bad album. It was his first televised performance in five years, since Motown 25. Despite not taking home any Grammy wins, his performances of “The Way You Make Me Feel” and “Man in the Mirror” were truly moving and he received a standing ovation. Some have said that it was one of the greatest performances in the history of the Grammy awards.
Michael received many other awards and honours in 1988 including four Billboard Awards, three NAACP Awards, two Soul Train Awards and the MTV Video Vanguard Award for “Outstanding Contribution to Music Video Production”.
On the 3rd of March, 1988, Michael performed a private concert at Madison Square Garden in New York. With Pepsi, Michael presented a cheque for all the proceeds of the special concert, $600,000, to the United Negro College Fund. The UNCF had created the Michael Jackson Scholars program four years earlier while Michael was on the Victory Tour. By 1988, 78 students had received Michael Jackson scholarships. Michael also received an Honorary Doctorate Of Humane Letters Degree from Fisk University and the Frederik D. Patterson Award in recognition of his contribution to the UNCF. The concert also generated media attention when Tatiana Thumbtzen kissed Michael onstage during a performance of “The Way You Make Me Feel”.
The same month, March 1988, Michael finalised the purchase of his new home, the 2,700 acre Neverland Valley Ranch on 5225 Figueroa Mountain Road, Los Olivos, California. Michael had previously been there to film the music video for “Say Say Say” with Paul McCartney in 1983. Originally called Sycamore Ranch, Michael purchased the property for $17 million. Michael promptly built a zoo and amusement park on the property and officially opened Neverland Valley at the end of 1988.
The Bad album’s fifth single, “Dirty Diana”, was released in April 1988, with a music video that was filmed in front of a live audience. It went to number one in the US and became the fifth consecutive number one single from the Bad album. Michael Jackson became the first artist in history to have five consecutive number one singles from an album.
In May 1988, Michael embarked on his European leg of the Bad World Tour, selling out shows at most venues in Italy, Sweden, Germany, Austria and other countries. Michael broke all existing attendance records when he played seven sold out shows at London’s 72,000-seat Wembley Stadium in July and August. 504,000 fans attended these shows in total and Michael was presented with a special award from Wembley Stadium.
The third Wembley show on the 16th of June was attended by Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Prior to taking the stage, Michael presented the Prince and Princess with a ₤300,000 cheque for the proceeds of the Wembley concerts for the Prince’s Trust, a charity that supports disadvantaged children. Michael also presented Princess Diana with two custom made Bad World Tour jackets; one each for her young sons, Prince William and Prince Harry.
The sixth single from the Bad album, “Another Part of Me”, was released in July 1988, peaking at number 11 on the US chart. The music video to accompany the single was a compilation of footage from Michael’s performances of the song at London and Paris.
Michael performed on his 30th birthday at Leeds, England, on August 29th 1988, where 90,000 adoring fans sang him “Happy Birthday”.
|While on tour in Japan in December 1988, the musical movie spectacular, “Moonwalker”, was released to an unsuspecting public. It enjoyed a theatrical release in Japan and Europe and a home-video release in the United States, where it sold 500,000 copies within two weeks. A top secret project in production for almost three years, “Moonwalker” was a 94 minute, 8 part movie documenting Michael Jackson’s career with stunning footage, a junior version of “Bad” (titled “Badder”) four video clips, and a 40-minute centrepiece with awesome special effects. The film cost approximately $27 million to make and starred Joe Pesci. In the centrepiece of the film, Michael Jackson plays a man trying to save his young friends from “Mr Big” (played by Joe Pesci), a drug lord who is trying to sell drugs to youngsters. The movie also featured the short film to “Smooth Criminal”, a ten minute 1930’s-style dance loaded clip. The single for “Smooth Criminal” was released around the same time, reaching number 7 in the US.
On 27 January, 1989, Michael played his final show of the Bad World Tour at the Sports Arena in Los Angeles. The Bad World Tour had finally come to an end after 16 months. The Tour was the largest any entertainer had undertaken- with 123 shows in 15 countries on 4 continents and played to approximately 4.4 million fans. The Tour grossed an amazing $125 million, with all proceeds going to charities around the world.
“Leave Me Alone” was the eighth single released from the Bad album in January 1989. It was only released in Australia and Europe and reached number 1 in the UK. The short film, included on “Moonwalker”, won the 1990 Grammy Award for “Best Short Form Music Video”.
On February 13 1989, Michael Jackson announced that he and manager Frank DiLeo were parting ways.
Prior to shutting down the Bad album campaign, the ninth and final single, “Liberian Girl”, was released in July 1989. The song was dedicated to Michael’s good friend, Elizabeth Taylor. The short film starred thirty-five of Michael’s celebrity friends and the single went to number one in the UK.
On November 13, 1989, Michael performed at the Sammy Davis Jr 60th Anniversary TV Special. He wrote and performed a special song he had written, called “You Were There”. The reaction to the moving performance was so strong that Michael Jackson was nominated for an Emmy Award for composing the song.
By this time, the Bad album had sold an incredible 17 million copies and had become the second biggest selling album of all time. It is also the ninth largest-selling album in British history. Today, the Bad album has sold over 32 million copies worldwide. Michael Jackson had also become the first (and still only) artist to generate five consecutive US number one singles from one album. He had taken music videos a step further again and in recognition, he received several awards for his contribution to music video production in 1988 and 1989. Also, in 1989 at the Soul Train Awards, Michael received the first annual Sammy Davis Jr Award and Heritage Award, where Elizabeth Taylor named him “The true King of pop, rock and soul”.
Michael Jackson had certainly proved himself to be the greatest entertainer of the 1980’s and the biggest selling artist of all time. He’d had the two biggest tours of the 1980’s and the two biggest selling albums in the history of music. He had also broken six world records, which he still holds today: Most Successful Music Video for “Thriller”, The Biggest Selling Album of all Time for “Thriller”, Most Weeks at the Top of the US Albums Chart for “Thriller”, Highest Paid Entertainer of All Time, First Entertainer to Earn More Than 100 million Dollars in a Year and Largest Ever Endorsement for Product Promotion.
Next read about the Dangerous Era, 1990 - 1994, when Michae lreturns with a new sound. Or read about the previous Thriller era.
Moonwalk By Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson: The Magic and the Madness by J. Randy Tarraborelli
Michael Jackson The Man In The Mirror by Todd Gold
Michael Jackson Live by James Manning & Susan Black
"Captain Eo" Movie
"The Making of Captain Eo"
“Another Part of Me” Bad Tour Special presented by MTV
“The Making of Moonwalker” presented by MTV
"Bad Tour Special 1987-1988" presented by Nippon Television.
"Bad Tour Around The World" presented by MTV
"Michael Jackson: The Legend Continues" presented by Motown
Also viewed: Bad Tour concert footage from Japan, Australia and Europe, news footage and interviews with Michael Jackson, Frank DiLeo and Bad Tour Crew from Japan, Australia, America and Europe
(Websites used for consultation and confirmation of official dates and official award titles only)
Article written solely for allmichaeljackson.com by Marni Carlsson.