Michael Jackson's moonwalk debuted 33 years ago today

Posted on Mar 25 2016 - 3:02pm by

It was one small step for man, one giant leap for dance-kind.

Michael Jackson debuted the moonwalk 33 years ago Friday, and it was a thriller.

To the strains of “Billie Jean,” Jackson, in his signature white glove, sequined jacket and black pants — above the ankles to show off the fancy footwork — took the stage.

And he owned it.

That was no mean feat on the epic TV special “Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever.”

Michael Jackson moonwalks during his HIStory tour in December 1996.Phil Dent/Redferns

Michael Jackson moonwalks during his HIStory tour in December 1996.

Sure, he made it look as easy as A-B-C, but there’s a reason he was the King of Pop.

He glided across the stage as if it were ice and his black shoes were skates.

Jackson’s left leg moved as if it had a mind of its own. He did spins in triple time.

Toward the end of the hit song, coming off of a fast turn, it happened.

Jackson launched the moonwalk, which millions have tried to copy since. The move looks deceptively simple: slip backward while appearing to move forward.

Most don’t come close but pop stars including Justin Timberlake and Usher do it well.

Jackson, though, did not invent it. Cab Calloway, the coolest cat in 1932, called it “The Buzz.” Judy Garland and Margaret O’Brien do a far less funky version in 1944’s “Meet Me in St. Louis.”

Over the years, good dancers have been able to incorporate it; James Brown busted it.

Michael Jackson performing in 1984 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.DOUG PIZAC/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Michael Jackson performing in 1984 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

But the sleek, silkiness of the moonwalk is quintessentially Jacko.

Before Jackson’s life was embroiled in child sexual abuse scandals, strange behavior and an untimely death at 50 in June 2009, he had decades where he was mesmerizing.

And the March 23, 1983 “Motown 25” was the perfect example.

That concert had Smokey Robinson, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Dianna Ross and so many others.

Many tore down the house that night.

And Jackson forever danced his way into history — going backward and forward at the same time.

jcutler@nydailynews.com

Music & Arts – NY Daily News

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