Michael Jackson collaborator Glen Ballard famously worked on the King of Pop’s studio albums Thriller, Bad and Dangerous, most notably co-writing Man in the Mirror. And now the lyricist and record producer has shared his studio memories of the late star. It all began when Glen was given his big break on Thriller by Quincy Jones and Rod Temperton.
Glen, who was promoting Back to the Future the Musical which he wrote the lyrics and music with Alan Silvestri, shared: “I was just a young songwriter and they liked my songs. Somehow I got involved with them on a George Benson record in 1980 called Give Me the Night.
“I did work on Thriller. I wrote a song for Thriller that didn’t make the album and actually Michael and I did a little demo of it in the studio at Westlake.
“And the next week Michael Jackson came in with two new songs. One was called Billie Jean and the other was called Beat It.
“So they knocked my little song right off the record. But, you know, I never complained because the two songs that knocked it off were so much better!”
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Nevertheless, Glen stuck around for Jackson’s 1987 album Bad and was fortunate to get a Billboard No 1 hit with Man in the Mirror.
The 68-year-old said: “It’s one of the great weeks of my life to have Michael and the choir and we all felt something special was happening on that record.
“I was just lucky to have been there and to have worked with Quincy. I worked as a staff producer with him for three years.
“I was working with the greatest musicians, the greatest singers, the best studios. It was like a dream come true for me.”
And then on working on 1991’s Dangerous, Glen said: “We wrote a song called Keep The Faith and I sat at the piano and Siedah Garrett was there with me and Michael.
“We spent half the time laughing and having fun and just trying to find the easy end for the song.
“It was never like a gun to your head, it was just fun. That’s the Quincy Jones way. We’ve got to have fun while we’ll working.”
While on writing the music and lyrics of Back to the Future the Musical with Alan Silvestri, he said: “We discovered it lends itself perfectly to a two-act musical because we go to the fifties and we go to the eighties. From a musicians’ standpoint, just getting the flavours of those two periods’ music, which are quite different, gave us an opportunity.”
Glen also confirmed that the Back to the Future theme does feature in the show. He continued: “We’re using it extensively throughout because every time you hear a note of his score you’re back in Hill Valley. So we already have a time machine, it’s called Alan Silvestri’s score.
“We just used it in the most strategic and beautiful way, interwoven with new songs and we still have the greats from the movie: Johnny B Goode, Power of Love, Back in Time, Earth Angel.
“We never wanted to dance around it. We wanted to firmly embed them where they belong. For us, it was just a gift.”
Back to the Future the Musical is playing at the Adelphi Theatre in London and tickets can be booked here.