Let’s take a few moments to talk about Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album which was released in 1982. It was the best selling album in the world, and broke several records with the highest all-time sales throughout the world, winning a whopping 8 Grammy awards and rocketing Jackson to the heights of superstar in the music industry. There isn’t much that we can say about the album that already hasn’t been said, with the exception of one glaring omission. Who is the band that played on the album? The band playing most of the songs on Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” will surprise you.
Working behind the scenes
If you remember the band Toto and their top hit “Africa,” you may recognize their style on the “Thriller” album. You got it! All the members of the band served as the backup musicians for the album. Who would have known though? It’s an odd thing indeed, that Toto didn’t get the press that they deserved for their musical contributions to the majority of the songs on “Thriller.” In addition to their own well-deserved recognition, Toto has played music on more than five thousand albums, but they have not been mentioned in any of the credits. Other musicians who are popular seem to get their share of the credit, but Toto has remained anonymous, despite their significant contribution. Steve Lukather, of Toto acknowledged that he and the other members of the band went without a mention for their efforts. He finds it a bit odd and shared that although he’s not particularly angry about it, he’s not certain why Toto has failed to receive any acknowledgement.
Jackson directed the band in how to proceed
Keyboardist David Paich was one of Toto’s band members who was hired to perform for “Thriller.” Michael Jackson gave all of the musicians involved in the project to “Think of Michealangelo painting the Sistene Chapel.” He also encouraged them to take free license in expressing themselves musically for the album that truly has become a masterpiece. Jackson was going for the tone of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite.
Horror legend is paid peanuts for work on the album
For many fans who don’t know, the horror legend Vincent Price was also a part of the title track. He recorded the portion that he was hired to do in two takes. Although having this veteran movie star on the album was a noteworthy addition, Price wasn’t even paid $1,000 for the work that he did. When “Thriller” became a phenomenal hit, Price was frustrated over the small amount he was paid and his telephone calls to Michael Jackson went unanswered. It was the contribution of Price that helped to lend the eerie tone to the “Thriller” album.
Toto band members did more than provide the instrumentals for “Thriller”
David Paich was charged with working on the song “Human Nature,” and he sent in new demos daily. One day he ran out of cassette tapes so his Toto band mate Steve Porcaro sent in a demo that had one of his own recordings on it and it was this song that Quincy Jones liked the most. Porcaros version the song in its early stages won the day. There were many who went uncredited for their work, but none as much as the band members for the group Toto. There needs to be a reconciliation and although we don’t hear any complaints from them, it’s important that the world knows what an integral part of the album they were.