Today (Aug. 31) marks 30 years since Michael Jackson released Bad, a diamond-selling album that cemented his status as the King of Pop. In the late 1980s, Michael Jackson was at his absolute peak; Bad was everywhere--from MTV to Disneyland. For those who may have forgotten or who were too young to have experienced it firsthand, here are five examples of how Michael Jackson dominated pop culture around the time of Bad's release.
The "Bad" videoAugust 1987
Michael Jackson tapped the legendary Martin Scorsese to direct this mini-movie. Telling the story of a quiet kid who comes back to the hood, only to be confronted by bullies, the video cast a then-unknown Wesley Snipes as the main antagonist. MJ got to flex some of his tough guy muscle in what became the first major video event of his Bad era.
MJ was cast as the lead in this George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola project that was screened at Disney theme parks starting in 1986. It predates the Bad album by about a year, but was still a popular attraction throughout the Bad campaign. It was the kind of thing that seemed completely outside the realm of pop stardom. MJ in space? What's not to like?
MoonwalkerReleased Oct. 29, 1988
Moonwalker was a television event in the United States and a theatrical one in several other countries. Michael Jackson's past, present and sci-fi future played out in the ambitious project, which was part documentary, part long-form video, and part sci-fi epic. With appearances by Sean Lennon and Joe Pesci, it was unlike anything anyone had attempted in the MTV era.
The Bad World TourSept. 12, 1987 - Jan. 27, 1989
It was massive. Seriously--IT WAS MASSIVE. Michael Jackson had unbelievably never gone on a solo tour before late 1987, when he embarked on a 16 month world tour that was sponsored by Pepsi and included 123 concerts. It affirmed what most people already knew: Michael Jackson was the biggest superstar in the world.
Neverland RanchMarch 1988
It came to symbolize so much good and bad in Michael Jackson's legacy, and in 1988, MJ purchased the land on which he'd build his fantasy world. He'd first seen the ranch while visiting Paul McCartney during his stay there, and MJ turned it into his backyard playground--complete with ferris wheels, roller coasters, animals and a train. It would be Jackson's homebase for the next 20 years, until he sold it after his acquittal on child molestation charges in 2005 and amidst rumors of financial trouble.