Beat It By Michael Jackson: Was It Sampled?
Anthony Marinelli has been captivating audiences with a series of enlightening YouTube videos revealing the intricate process behind assembling famous keyboard parts, particularly for Michael Jackson’s groundbreaking Thriller album, on which he collaborated on multiple tracks. Marinelli is a renowned synth expert and musician, who boasts an extensive career working with some of the biggest names in the music industry. His talents have been showcased on albums by other renowned artists such as Kenny Loggins and Lionel Richie. In a recent post, Marinelli collaborates with Synclavier expert Kevin Maloney to uncover the origins of the intro to Jackson’s famous track, “Beat It.”
Maloney displays a rare blue vinyl demonstration record titled ‘The Incredible Sounds of the Synclavier 2’. According to Maloney, it appears that Michael Jackson drew inspiration from the record. The intro sound was eventually recreated from a Synclavier preset programmed by Denny Jaeger. Astonishingly, it seems Jaeger never received proper credit for his contribution, even though the similarity between the demo record and the “Beat It” intro is strikingly evident.
This is not the first time such a revelation has surfaced. Back in 2009, Bruce Swedien, the engineer on the Thriller album, shared a similar story about the intro to “Beat It.” The synth sound was a stock patch, easily reproducible on any Synclavier. Although the team initially intended to craft a wholly unique sound, Michael Jackson was taken with it and insisted on its inclusion. Regarding Denny Jaeger’s credit for the distinctive seven-note riff, the story becomes somewhat ambiguous in legal terms. As the original record was a demo, there are uncertainties about its copyright status, similar to contemporary sample collections where sounds can be used without copyright concerns. While there are varying accounts of what transpired next, some sources claim that Jaeger did receive credit for his work and was even allowed to work on Jackson’s album Bad. Some evidence of this lies in Jaeger’s Synclavier credits on tracks like “Dirty Diana” and “Smooth Criminal“ from the Bad album. Nevertheless, the question remains unanswered regarding Jaeger’s official credit on the track “Beat It.”
Have a listen below and decide for yourself!
Image credit: Vicki L. Miller/Shutterstock.com
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