From the time Michael Jackson solidified himself as the king of pop and your favorite artist’s favorite artist, the Indiana native found melodies and moves to set himself apart from the masses. One of those iconic gestures was the moonwalk, which continues to stand the test of time and a staple in pop today.
The origin of the moonwalk was presumably implemented by dancer-artist Jeffrey Daniel. In a passage published on TIME, the former Shalamar group member says he taught Jackson the backsliding move which he debuted in 1983 at Motown’s 25th-anniversary special. Now, another R&B veteran is taking credit for teaching the “You Rock My World” artist the move.
“I had a few moves that was just super. Plus, I was the first one in Orchard Park to do the moonwalk,” he said. “So the moonwalk was one of my signature moves… I had brought it up from down South. It was something that just killed the game once I brought it up the East Coast.”
The New Edition member went on to recall the moment the “Dirty Diana” singer saw him practicing the moonwalk in Jackson’s home. Other NE members were invited as well. “We were popping, he was watching us pop. He saw me do the moonwalk,” Brown said before revealing that Jackson asked him, “What is that?” From there, Brown did the move again, and Jackson “just started doing it.”
As for how Brown learned the dance, an unidentified man from Alabama introduced him to it before it was called the moonwalk.