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Musings on Michael Jackson’s Thriller by Jamie Portee

In a nutshell Thriller is the most influential record of my time. I grew up in a very strict, religious home & Thriller was the only “secular” album my mom would allow me to have.

The year was 1983: The Jackson Five are performing at Motown’s 25th anniversary, and I’m glued to the TV. Toward the end of there performance, I hear my mom yell “GO TO BED”. What happened next changed my life forever: The “Billie Jean” drums start, and I can’t move. I’m torn between my mom telling me to go to bed and this music that’s changing my life. I decided in that moment that a spanking was well worth what my ears were hearing. Good thing my mom was too tired to get up. That was the first time I heard “Billie Jean,” which led to a quest to get the record. My mom finally agreed to purchase the album for me (I bugged her for months). Before I even knew what credits were, I would read the names of the people involved in making this record and felt like we were connected, from Temperton to Phillinganes to Quincy.

The feeling that I got every time I played the record was unmatched with anything that I had ever experienced. Soon I realized how powerful the compositions were and still are. I played the hell out of the album (literally) until it would play no longer and my mom had to go and purchase another copy. Without any doubt this record has shaped my approach to music as a producer, artist, musician, writer, arranger and mix engineer (and I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way).

-Jamie Portee

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