Oct 27 2010

1345 Carroll Avenue

Category: Photos,VideosSeven @ 7:33 am

1345 Carroll Avenue

1345 Carroll Avenue

Angelino Heights, Los Angeles, California. This is the house where the final scene of ‘Thriller” was shot. Turns out that neighborhood is full of old, spooky Victorian homes which are often used in films, television shows, and videos. I personally love old Victorian homes and castles. I find them fascinating! Not sure I’d spend the night alone in one though! But I am intriqued by them. The theater sequence in “Thriller” was filmed at the Palace Theatre in downtown Los Angeles, and the zombie dance sequence at the junction of Union Pacific Avenue and South Calzona Street in East Los Angeles.

Owners of The Palace Theatre at 630 S. Broadway near the Los Angeles Fashion District paid respect to Michael Jackson by re-creating its marquee as it was in 1983 during filming of Jackson’s “Thriller” video. You can see a photo below.

I thought it would be a special gift for those people to look up at the marquee and to have the realization that you are standing where Michael Jackson once stood while filming the greatest video of all time,” said theater owner Shahram Delijani, whose family owns the Palace, as well as the Los Angeles, State and Tower theaters.

The Palace Theater was built in 1911 as the third Los Angeles home of the Orpheum Vaudeville circuit. It was originally known as the Orpheum and is the oldest remaining Orpheum theater in the world. Renamed the Palace Theatre in 1926, it became a silent-movie house and later added sound.

No one will ever be able to reproduce Vincent Price’s spooky rap in that song. Being well over 40, I remember Price in many spooky films, that mahogany rich voice of his with just the right tinge of accent to lend excellent theatrical value and that oh-so-wicked laugh! Sadly, Vincent Price also died on a 25th, specifically the 25th of October, 1993.

MJ dances with the living dead at Union Pacific Avenue and S. Calzona Street in LA

MJ dances with the living dead at Union Pacific Avenue and S. Calzona Street in LA

For an interesting rundown of 10 facts about Vincent Price’s involvement in the making of  “Thriller“, see this link. I was surprised to learn that Price did the rap in “Thriller” for a flat $20K rather than taking a percentage of the film’s proceeds. He said he did so because his career was well-established and money wasn’t a huge issue. I have to wonder if he ever regretted that or if he was simply trying to help a young Michael along with his own career and if it was payment enough for him to see what a success Michael subsequently became. Of course I want to assume the latter, and from what “Svensk” says below, Price’s own career got a considerable boost from that gig too, so it probably paid off in other ways!

Written by Rod Temperton, it’s also interesting to note that “Thriller” was originally titled “Starlight” and that it had quite different lyrics. “Thriller” was also the first music video to ever be entered into the National Film Registry.

Someone emailed me a while back looking for better shots of the “House of Wax” posters on the Palace Theater’s windows in the film. I have not been able to locate any, nor am I certain whether the last zombie at the end is Price in full ghoul. What do you think?

Owners of The Palace Theatre at 630 S. Broadway near the Los Angeles Fashion District paid respect to Michael Jackson by re-creating its marquee as it was in 1983 during filming of Jackson’s “Thriller” video.

Owners of The Palace Theatre at 630 S. Broadway near the Los Angeles Fashion District paid respect to Michael Jackson by re-creating its marquee as it was in 1983 during filming of Jackson’s “Thriller” video.

Master Sound Engineer Bruce Swedien over at GearSlutz shared this about the making of Vincent Price’s rap part in “Thriller“:

When I begin reminiscing about recording the song “Thriller”, one of the first things that comes to mind is the Vincent Price “Rap”. Quincy’s wife, Peggy Lipton, knew Vincent Price. So Quincy and Peggy got it together and called him. Vincent said he would love to do it. I remember Rod’s idea, at first was that Vincent would just talk some horror talk from the type of lines he would deliver in some of his famous roles.

Well, the night before the session with Vincent Price, I remember Quincy and Rod on the phone, talking excitedly about something to do with Vincent’s part in “Thriller”. I was getting the track ready for Vincent to overdub on for “Thriller”, so I only overheard bits and pieces of Quincy and Rod’s conversation…..

The next day at about 12:00 noon, Quincy shows up at the studio, looking like the ‘Cat That Swallowed The Canary’! Q looked at me and said, “‘Svensk’, (Quincy’s nickname for me… It means, “Swedish Man”, in swedish.) Vincent Price is going to be here at 2:00 pm! Rod is writing Vincent’s ”Rap” lyrics in the taxicab on the way here to the studio!”

Quincy told me, “I don’t think that Vincent has ever been on a pop record before. This should be interesting…” I get chills just thinking about it!

The next thing I knew, Rod came roaring into the control room with several sheets of paper in one hand, and a Marlboro cigarette with a two-inch ash ready to fall over the floor, in his mouth… Out-of -breath Roddy said to me, “Bruce, quick… He’s here! I saw a car pull up, and it was Vincent Price! He’s on his way in!” He thrust the papers in my hand and said, “Give these to the secretary -Have her photo-copy these quick!”… This was done, we put the ‘Rap” lyrics on the music stand… Vincent walked in, sat down on his chair, off he went, and it was all done in about two hours.

Vincent Price had never used earphones in his work before. He reluctantly put them on, and when the music track for “Thriller” started, he jumped up from his stool with a very startled look on his face. I know he had never heard anything like that before. He asked Rod Temperton to come out in the studio with him and help him by cueing him where to come in and speak his verses.

Rod actually wrote three verses for “Thriller”, for Vincent to do. We recorded all three but only used two. I have that unused verse in my tapes somewhere. Vincent experienced a huge resurgence in his career commensurate with the incredible success of “Thriller”.

About six months after the release of “Thriller”, Vincent appeared on the “Johnny Carson, Tonight” show. He told about being in Paris and walking down the street and having a group of young people recognize him and chase him down the street to get his autograph.

To me, the miraculous thing about the Vincent Price ‘Rap” on “Thriller”, is that Rod Temperton wrote a brilliant … Edger Allan Poe style spiel… in the Taxi-cab on the way to the session! When the chips are down, that’s when you find out what true genius is all about!

Of course, speaking of unquestionable genius… Vincent’s performance was remarkable! Obviously, Vincent Price was in his element on “Thriller”… Timing, inflection… And he did it in two takes! Michael’s vocals’ are more than wonderful as well… What an experience!

-Bruce Swedien

Now, about that rap Vincent Price did:

There are one or at most two rap verses in the various versions of “Thriller” that have been released.  But, three were written by Temperton and recorded. I think I’ve located what seems to be the actual session itself – beginning to end – with both Michael and Vincent. In this session, you can hear all three verses recorded:

HAPPY HALLOWEEN, YA’LL!

13 Responses to “1345 Carroll Avenue”

  1. june says:

    Oh, yes, Seven, I DO think that was Vincent Price at the end, and for all the times I have seen Thriller, that did not occur to me until you posed the question here! What a wonderful piece you have written about this iconic video and a man who was instrumental in its success.

    So timely, too, as I read just yesterday that a film of Thriller is being shopped around with Kenny Ortega proposed to be the director. The MJ estate would have to approve first. Aside from making a “film” of Thriller being a terrible idea IMO (how can one improve on the perfection of the Michael’s short film), with Kenny Ortega a defendant in Katherine Jackson’s lawsuit against AEG, how, in good conscience, if the executors and their attorney even HAVE a conscience (more like a cash register) COULD the estate approve the licensing of a film version of Thriller with him directing?

    To end on a positive note, thank you Seven for your very interesting background on Michael’s Thriller.

  2. Anne Mette Jepsen says:

    Thank you Seven!
    Happy Halloween!
    LOVE and GRATITUDE :)

  3. Seven says:

    @Anne – LOVE you Miss Anne! <3

    @June – Yes, I saw that about their wanting to make a film of “Thriller” – all for the money. Ortega is a rotten taco, IMO. I hope the estate does NOT approve this but if there’s MORE money to be made for them and $ony off it (and there is), they likely will. BUT – you cannot improve on PERFECTION and anything these guys toss out there with MJ’s name on it to make a buck is likely not going to be up to snuff – they will certainly never do as good a job as Michael would (and in fact, already HAS).

  4. Simona says:

    Seven, thank you!
    That rap is a treasure, I had never listened to the recording, mhmhm Michael’s voice totally does it for me, what can I say.

    Personally, I am overwhelmed with thankfulness for being able to say “I was there, I know what it was like back then”, when it comes to Thriller (also the album of course, but right now I’m thinkin’ about the video).
    I am blessed, because I remember those days only too well. The pure, immense joy he gave the world with those 14 minutes of eternal perfection. The feeling that this was something so unique, I believe we all experienced it, anyone was able to recognize the masterpiece that it is.
    Nothing compares to Thriller in terms of what it did for our fruition of the musical medium. Nothing ever.

    Happy Halloween to all, much L.O.V.E.

  5. BGG says:

    Great post, thanks for all the info! Vincent Price had done a ‘pop’ (well, rock) recording before. He did the wonderfully creepy entry speech for “The Black Widow” on Alice Cooper’s 1975 album, Welcome to My Nightmare. (I used to LOVE this as a child. Talk about feeling old, lol.) Happy Halloween, everyone!

  6. Ali says:

    wasn’t there a different verse from the original in the TII version of Thriller? it struck me it seemed different but i could be imagining it. if so, is it this third one? i’ll check tomorrow.

    a film of Thriller??!! what a crass idea! there can’t be a film of Thriller without Michael in it! i sure hope they re-think that one.

  7. Seven says:

    @Ali,

    I don’t know! Let me know what you find out.

  8. David says:

    Seven, there is a book that recently came out called “Michael Jackson: The Making of Thriller”. It was written by the only two journalists who were given permission to be on the set of the video, and it’s essentially a coffee table book with oversized, glossy photos with commentary. I skimmed through it at my local bookstore, and I was impressed. There are a lot of never before seen photos from every scene of the video, as well as MJ in the makeup chair.

    The only bad thing -which I’m sure you’ve heard by now- is that one of the journalists, Nancy Griffin, wrote a few comments in the foreword that many fans (including me!) took issue with. Here are a few of them:

    1. “Whether he was victim or perpetrator in his later years we may never know.”

    (Well Nancy, if you don’t know, then why don’t you do any research? You know, that thing that journalists like you are paid to do!)

    2. “Thriller” marked the most incandescent moment in Jackson’s life, his apex creatively as well as commercially. He would spend the rest of his career trying to surpass it

    (That’s only half true! Sure, no other subsequent record sold as much, but artistically many fans feel he became a better songwriter with deeper lyrics later on in his career.)

    She wasn’t malicious towards him, and it was just a matter of laziness on her part, but nevertheless she shouldn’t have said those things. Other than that, the book was great!

    http://www.amazon.com/Michael-Jackson-Making-Thriller-Days/dp/193323198X

  9. David says:

    @ Ali and Seven

    I just popped in “This Is It”, and the second verse that was removed from the album is what is played in the movie.

  10. Jeanne says:

    I know the creator will go
    But his work survives
    That is why to escape death
    I attempt to bind my soul to my work.

    And though you fight to stay alive your body starts to quiver
    For No mere mortal can resist the evil of ,,,,,,,, The Thriller Aha hah hah hah

    Rod wrote this at the last minute ,, wow . I have heard some people do their best work when under pressure .

    I am not sure a remake or redo or a revision of this master piece would work . Michael and many others bound their soul to this work . And I love it just like it is . What a thriller it was indeed . Happy Holloween.

  11. june says:

    Today, I ordered the book The Making of Thriller. If it’s full of pictures that’s what i want to see. We should all discount Ms. Griffin’s introduction, so who is she and would we ever know her were it not for this book. Let’s not give her any say. I’ll let Amazon.com know what I think of her after I have read the book.

  12. David says:

    Here is Douglas Kirkland, the author of that book, giving his top 5 reasons for buying the book.

    http://www.sohh.com/2010/10/5_reasons_why_you_should_buy_my_book_-_d.html

  13. Seven says:

    Christy, a friend of mine, recommends a different book:

    ‎”Thriller: The Musical Life of Michael Jackson” by Nelson George. She says:

    George is a very respected music journalist. He agrees with TINI’s view of TII, but also thinks that Michael’s dancing in TII shows that he is “actually a better, more complex dancer than earlier in his life.” Not as athletic as his dancers but “he appears to hear several kinds of rhythm…watching Michael move recalls listieing to a skilled drum circle…Jackson dances like that master drummer…with his feel for time”….(p. 212).

    I heard him speak at that Harlem conference on MJ last June. He wrote a biography of Michael back in the day. This is better b/c it’s music criticism, memoir, and a bit of cultural criticism. He’s interviewed ppl like Teddy Riley many times. I don’t agree with all of George’s analyses of Michael’s personal life, but some of them are insightful. His commentary on each song and his music in general is the meat of the book. I thought his take on TII was great. And it’s very telling that George – who was the black music editor at Billboard, an Exec Prod at BET, and has worked with MANY industry people – thinks that TINI “is more right than wrong” in their assessments about AEG et al. More fans may want to know that his words on that are published in a book (by Penguin, IIRC)!

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