The Reason Michael Jackson Wanted To Destroy The Thriller Music Video Before Its Debut

When the groundbreaking album "Thriller" was released on November 30, 1982 (via Billboard), Michael Jackson had already been a long-term veteran of the music industry. Not even including the many albums released with the Jackson 5, Jackson already had five studio albums under his belt as a solo act by April of 1982, when he would team up once again with producer Quincy Jones to record his follow up to 1979's "Off the Wall (via Session Days)."

About half-a-year later, the album "Thriller," was ready to dazzle an unprepared world. The disc would go on to spawn an unheard of seven singles — out of a total of nine tracks on the album — with every one of those singles hitting the top 10 on Billboard's Hot 100 (via Session Days). On November 2, 1983, the album's self-titled song was officially released as a single in the UK (via Discogs) and in the US on January 23, 1984.

Not quite the King of Pop

Between those U.K. and U.S. release dates, the music video for "Thriller" world premiered on December 2, 1983 (via Rolling Stone). Yet another ground breaking feat for the performer, just weeks before its release, Jackson tried desperately to get director John Landis to destroy the whole thing (via The Vintage News).

Born a Jehovah's Witness (via The Sun), Jackson began having conflicts with the church around the time he was recording "Thriller" (via The Vintage News). With their strict views on sex (via Advocate Health), life, and practicing faith, senior members of the religion were horrified with what their most notable devotee was creating as of late, especially when it came to the music video "Thriller." When members of the church learned of Jackson's video, in which the artist transforms into a "monster," talk began earnestly of excommunicating the singer (via The New York Times).

Not thrilled

Michael Jackson clearly heard all the complaints from members of the Jehovah's Witnesses. According to The Vintage News, the singer contacted his then lawyer, John Branca, in a panic just two weeks prior to the world premiere of the "Thriller" video, insisting the video be destroyed. Branca had the "Thriller" production team lock the footage in his office for protection. 

Jackson, meanwhile, continued his downward spiral, locking himself in his room for days, refusing to come out or eat (via The Vintage News. According to the Los Angeles Times, Jackson also took to the pages of Awake — a monthly Jehovah's Witness magazine — to denounce the video "Due to my strong personal convictions, I wish to stress that this film in no way endorses a belief in the occult," he said. "I want to do what is right. A lot of people were offended by it."

With the combined pressure of the church, along with the record company and the world for that matter, John Landis and the singer came up with a compromise: They would put a disclaimer before the video, stating that the views of the video did not actually represent the views of Jackson. This satisfied the singer enough for the video to premiere on MTV on December 2, 1983 (via Billboard). Due to all the continued intense scrutiny and pressure from the Jehovah's Witness, Jackson would go on to publicly leave the church in 1987 (via Los Angeles Times).