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‘Cause This is Thriller, Thriller Night

You know you’ve made it when your song and video have been referenced on television shows like “South Park” and “The Simpsons,” and when your dance moves have been parodied by the likes of Christopher Walken and ballroom professionals on “Dancing With the Stars.” So, it’s just icing on the cake when the Library of Congress decides to preserve for all time a work of yours.

Thriller album. Album cover: Epic QE 38112. 1982 Herbie Hancock receives Library of Congress Living Legend Award

Michael Jackson’s 1982 album “Thriller,” whose title track of the same name is considered one of Jackson’s signature songs and whose video is listed as the most successful in the Guinness Book of World Records, has been recently named to the National Recording Registry (NRR). His work is one of 25 deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington with guidance from the Library’s National Recording Preservation Board.

Jackson’s second album with legendary producer Quincy Jones attained stratospheric national and international success. Featuring outstanding performances by Paul McCartney on “The Girl is Mine” and a metallic Eddie Van Halen guitar lead on “Beat It,” the album’s influence on the record industry and subsequent popular music is immeasurable. The album won a record-breaking eight Grammy Awards in 1984, including Album of the Year. That same year, Jackson also won eight American Music Awards, including the Special Award of Merit, and three MTV Video Music Awards.

“Thriller” joins other notable works like Harry S. Truman’s speech at the 1948 Democratic National Convention; “Oh, Pretty Woman,” by Roy Orbison; “The Sounds of Earth,” a disc prepared for the Voyager spacecraft to introduce our planet to intelligent life elsewhere; and “Headhunters,” Herbie Hancock’s seminal jazz-fusion album.

For a complete listing of and more information on the new selections, you can read the online press release or visit the registry site, which includes information on all 250 recordings since 2002, as well each individual lists for each year, and background on the NRR board and making nominations.

Herbie Hancock has received other accolades from the Library, as he was named a Living Legend in April 2008. Others joining him in that honor were racing champion Mario Andretti, veteran journalists Bob Schieffer and Cokie Roberts, baseball hall-of-famer Frank Robinson, author David McCullough, civil rights activist Julian Bond and the Library’s own James H. Billington, 13th Librarian of Congress.

Established during its Bicentennial celebration in 2000, the Library of Congress' "Living Legend" award is selected by the Library's curators and subject specialists to honor artists, writers, activists, filmmakers, physicians, entertainers, sports figures and public servants who have made significant contributions to America's diverse cultural, scientific and social heritage. More information on all 91 can be found at the Living Legends Web site. Included are bios, images and a list of related Library resources appropriate for each honoree. You can also find information on the Library’s other awards and honors, such as the Kluge Prize and Poets Laureate.

A. Thriller album. Album cover: Epic QE 38112. 1982. Reproduction Information: Not available for reproduction.

B. Herbie Hancock receives Library of Congress Living Legend Award. Photo by Michaela McNichol. 2008. Reproduction Information: Not available for reproduction.