How a Michael Jackson Duet Became Mick Jagger’s Biggest Solo Hit
There was no figure on the pop landscape in 1984 who was larger than Michael Jackson. Although his monster hit Thriller was then two years old, he was still riding high off its singles. Videos for "Billie Jean," "Beat It" and the title track remained in constant rotation on MTV.
Nonetheless, he returned for a final family recording with his siblings, helping complete the Jacksons' Victory in the summer of 1984. The album was followed by a stadium tour, becoming the group's last platinum effort and its highest-selling non-Motown recording. Michael and company, then known as the Jackson 5, began their career in 1969 on the iconic R&B label, selling 13 million copies over their initial three 1969-70 album releases alone.
Victory ultimately emerged as a half-baked effort, made up of tracks worked out by the Jackson brothers in solo settings, but that meant little to a fan base hungry for any new product from Michael. More curiously, the best-known track from Victory remains "State of Shock," one that found Jackson inviting a famous rock star along for the sessions.
Initially, the duet was scheduled with Queen vocalist Freddie Mercury but, when that recording couldn't be completed, Jackson called on Rolling Stones vocalist Mick Jagger to step in.
Jagger certainly had nothing to prove as a member of the Stones, having remained relevant into a new decade via massive tours and the great critical reception for 1981's Tattoo You. The future of the group was now in doubt, however, so Jagger began looking to establish himself as a solo artist. Still at work on a debut eventually dubbed She's the Boss, Jagger decided to hitch a ride on Jackson's rocket-like trajectory.
Listen to the Jacksons' 'State of Shock'
The plan worked as well as expected when "State of Shock" was released in June 1984. Critics may have panned it for being a manufactured event, simply noteworthy for the duo singing on it, but the public saw things differently. The song reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, Jagger's highest-ever charting solo song. It became the Jacksons' final single to be certified gold.
Decades later, the demos of Jackson's original, aborted collaboration with Mercury were completed by Brian May and Roger Taylor for release on 2014's Queen Forever.
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