Playback Reveals That Michael Jackson May Have Stolen “Billie Jean” From Donna Summer
In his tell-all Vulture interview, Quincy Jones’ first big secret was that Michael Jackson allegedly “stole” his greatest hit, “Bille Jean,” from Donna Summer.
Jones told Vulture, “Michael stole a lot of stuff. He stole a lot of songs. [Donna Summer’s] ‘State of Independence’ and ‘Billie Jean.’ The notes don’t lie, man. He was as Machiavellian as they come.” And new evidence gives some validity to this statement.
Jackson’s biggest hit spent seven weeks at number one on Hot 100 and 24 weeks on the charts in total. Despite his pre-existing stardom, the song inarguably projected the singer to new heights so the public took this claim quite seriously.
TMZ took the liberty of slowing down Summer’s “State of Independence” and found undeniable similarities. The first eight seconds of Summer’s song essentially drove the entirety of “Billie Jean.” Jackson just had the bassline to disguise it.
Jackson may not have “stolen” the song per se. He did write new lyrics and change the tempo but there’s definitely some truth to Jones’ statement. It’s not altogether crazy.
On top of that, MJ was a part of the group of singers who sang backup for the very same song. The song was released in the summer of ’82 and “Billie Jean” was released on the Thriller album that November. While the hit was definitely propelled by “State of Independence,” it’s worth noting that Jones did produce the entire Thriller album.