My 5 Favorite Live Performances by Michael Jackson

The Iconic Entertainer Was Peerless With His Art

Deante L. Young


Michael Jackson.
Courtesy of Flickr.

The short films of the great Michael Jackson have long been the stuff of legend. He was most definitely a pioneering artist of epic proportions and it always showed in his work.

His concert tours were also phenomenal and were among the most successful and acclaimed in the history of show business. In between all that were MJ’s one-off live performances for television.

He did many in his long career, most during his adolescence as a member of The Jackson 5 and later, The Jacksons. But there were several that he did as an adult solo artist that blew the roof off the venues in which they took place.

Here, I list my 5 favorite live performances by MJ, not counting his world tours of course. They are listed here in chronological order.

1. Motown 25: Yesterday, Today and Forever (Airdate: May 16, 1983) — For all intents and purposes, this spellbinding performance was when MJ first became the biggest star in the world. When it initially aired on NBC, Jackson was in the midst of the stratospheric success of his Thriller album.

At 24, he was a cultural phenomenon as kids and teens all across America tried to emulate his inimitable style. During this show, MJ performed his then number one hit single, “Billie Jean” in front of a packed show biz crowd at the Pasadena Civic auditorium.

He lip synced the lyrics, but the true power and magnetism of his appearance was in his mesmerizing dance moves. Wearing a black sequin jacket, rhinestone shirt and black pants cropped at the ankles, Michael looked every bit like the supernova that he was.

He began by pulling a fedora over his eyes, thrusting his hips to the beat, then threw the hat into the crowd as he mimed combing his hair. Moving his feet constantly, it was a decadent treat to watch Jackson’s stunning fluidity and sense of theater; his white socks adorned with sequins matched his single white glove as he glided through the lush melody of his ultra popular song.

He unveiled what would become his signature dance step, the moonwalk during this seminal moment. When it was over, everything about him, his greatness and his…



Deante L. Young

Personal Development Writer | Deante Unlimited podcast, Host | Deante: Under Construction web series, Star | Deante Young Enterprises, Chief Creative Architect