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Music

Why Mick Jagger is indebted to Michael Jackson

@josephtaysom

There simply wasn’t a more famous person on the planet than Michael Jackon in the mid-1980s. He’d successfully transcended music by this point and had become an entity that was on a different level of notoriety to anyone else in the entertainment industry. He was, plain and simple, the right King of Pop.

Unlike other musicians such as Mick Jagger from The Rolling Stones, Jackson never had the privilege of growing up in private, and being in the public eye was all he ever knew. Understandably, this came with many issues which arose later in life, but for Jackson, the insanity that followed him was simply normal.

Following the stratospheric success of Off The Wall and Thriller, Jackson could simply do no wrong in the eyes of millions. He didn’t need to work with anybody else to boost his profile, and when he did collaborate, it was usually with an older star trying to piggyback from his name.

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Remarkably, Michael was also still a member of The Jacksons in 1984 despite his obscene solo fame, and Victory was his final act with the group before bowing out. The lead single from that album, ‘State of Shock’, was initially rumoured to feature Freddie Mercury, but, in the end, it was Mick Jagger who stepped up to become an honorary member of The Jacksons.

In truth, it’s not one of their most exemplary efforts, but the sheer spectacle of these two titans colliding on the same track was enough to capture the imagination of the public, and ‘State of Shock’ was a chart success. In the States, it climbed to number three in the Billboard Hot 100 and remains the most successful track for Jagger as a solo artist.

While Jagger should be grateful to Jackson for asking him to collaborate, his experience of the recording session was a memory he’d rather forget. Speaking to the New York Times, The Stones singer recounted: “He had the two of us practice scales for two hours and then we recorded the vocals in two takes.

“When he sent the finished track to me later I was kind of disappointed in the production and the mix. But I think he’s a really good singer,” Jagger added.

According to Mick: The Wild Life and Mad Genius of Jagger by Christopher Andersen, Jackson also shared similar feelings of discontent towards the project. He wrote: “As for the collaboration itself, neither star was impressed with the other. Jackson accused Jagger of singing off-key (‘How did he ever get to be a star’).”

While it’s far from being the opus of either talent involved with ‘State of Shock’, it remains Jagger’s highest-charting non-Stones track, and because of this, their careers will forever be intertwined.