BAD 25 Shines Light on Michael Jackson’s Most Underrated Album, Era, And Competitive Obsessions

Music

You guys were playing stadiums that held 70,000 plus people. Did you ever look out onto that massive crush of people, shit your pants and say, “This is insane”?
Jon: Kind of…I did…yes [laughs].

Vince: I forgot how it looked when Michael threw his hat out in the audience and when there was that quick shot of these people I thought, “Oh, my God…they are gonna rip each other’s arms off!”

Jon: I never shit my pants when I looked out into the crowd [laughs]. But I will tell you that you will never know what it feels like to see 70,000 people swaying while you are playing “Man In The Mirror.”

Greg: It’s like watching the movie Saving Private Ryan. When they are storming the beach and there’s not a word spoken, you just hear bullets and screams. My first experience on the Bad tour in Tokyo when those airplane lights opened, it was like Saving Private Ryan. You didn’t hear anything…you just saw. I saw Michael’s eyes looking at me and he came over. It was just a surreal moment. I can’t express it to you. It was all in slow motion.

Michael was really known as the ultimate competitor. He looked at other artists in terms of what they did musically and performance wise and wanted to top them. During the Bad era who was the one person that Mike looked at and said, “Oh, I have to raise my game to another level”?
Jon: That had to be Prince [laughs]. During the Thriller and Bad eras, it what just those two guys—Michael and Prince. And they both knew it. Everyone has read about that infamous summit that Quincy put together. Only Quincy could bring Michael and Prince together in one house and try to convince them to do “Bad.” But Prince [decided not to be a part] of the song. You could see the friendly rivalry between those two, even on their tours and in their videos. Michael would tend to hone in on some of things Prince was doing. They were both amazing and brilliant.

Imagine those conversations…
Greg: Crazy. But the craziest thing is at the Wembley shows I personally set out to make a statement. During the band solos I would play tunes from artists that I would find out were in the audience. So I had heard Prince was at the show. So I did a whole separate section of “It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night” by Prince. I’m talking about the groove, the breakdown and everything! We stepped down to the front of the stage and got the audience to clap on the four. We wore that shit out [laughs]. And I still don’t know if Prince was really in the audience. But the bad news is that session will not be included in this DVD because Prince decided not to give us the rights. And I wish he would change his mind.

Jon: And you know what, it was just an homage to him.

Greg: And that’s the irony…

Vince: There was a mantra that Michael had always said for as long as I’ve ever known him. He would pull you aside and say, “We gotta do something that the world has never seen before. I want to give something to the people out there that loves us that they’ve never seen before.” That was Michael’s goal…to constantly break the boundaries. And that goes for anything he was doing whether it was an album, a live tour or a short film. That’s why Michael was so competitive. That was his drive.

Looking back at Michael Jackson’s Bad album, what is the overall legacy of that work?
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Greg: Bad showed off his solo artistry because Michael was more involved production wise and songwriting wise. Yes, he worked with Quincy…but it was not quite as much as Off The Wall and Thriller. You saw the transition of Michael becoming more of a solo force behind the scenes and away from the Jacksons. By the time he went into Dangerous, Quincy was no longer there. Michael started bringing in different producers to express his musical ideas. I think Bad is the most definitive expression of Michael’s craft.