On this day in music history: August 10, 1979 – “Off The Wall”, the fifth solo album by Michael Jackson is released. Produced by Quincy Jones, it is recorded at Allen Zentz Recording, Westlake Audio and Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles, CA from December 1978 – June 1979. Following their work together on the film and soundtrack for “The Wiz”, Jones and Jackson begin work on his first solo album for Epic Records. From the outset, the ultimate goal they have in mind is to craft an album that move the singer away his past childhood success, and be regarded as a mature, adult performer. The album features musical support from the cream of L.A. studio talent including Larry Carlton, David Williams, Marlo Henderson, Wah Wah Watson, Phil Upchurch (guitars), Louis Johnson, Bobby Watson (bass), John Robinson (drums), Greg Phillinganes, George Duke, David Foster, Michael Boddicker, Steve Porcaro, David “Hawk” Wolinski (keyboards), Paulinho DaCosta (percussion) and The Seawind Horns (brass & woodwinds). Recorded over a period of six and a half months, Jones cuts the basic tracks in Los Angeles, while Jackson is on the road with his brothers, touring in support of “Destiny”. He comes in off the road during breaks in the tour to record his vocals and oversee the sessions in progress. Buoyed by Jones’ flawless production and Jackson’s outstanding and spirited vocals throughout, it is released to universal praise, surprising the public who are taken aback at Michael Jackson’s stunning musical transformation. A huge commercial success as well, it becomes one of the biggest selling albums of the era, during a time when the music industry is experiencing a major downturn in sales. It spins off four top 10 singles including “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” (#1 Pop and R&B), “Rock With You” (#1 Pop and R&B), “Off The Wall” (#10 Pop, #3 R&B), and “She’s Out Of My Life” (#10 Pop, #46 R&B). “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” wins Jackson his first Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male in 1980, with the album being inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2008. The first CD release includes earlier mixes of “Rock With You” and “Get On The Floor” featured on the first pressing of the album, using the LP gatefold artwork with Jackson’s full body shown. It is remastered and reissued in 2001, featuring interview excerpts with Quincy Jones and Rod Temperton, and the demos of “Don’t Stop” and “Working”. The reissue features amended cover art showing only the lower half of the gatefold with the singers legs and feet. It is remastered and reissued again in 2016 on CD and vinyl, restoring the original artwork, with the CD being released with a DVD or Blu-ray disc with the Spike Lee directed documentary on the making of the album. “Off The Wall” spends sixteen weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number three on the Top 200, and is certified 8x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
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