On this day in music history: November 7, 1982 – “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” (aka “The E.T. Storybook”) is released. Produced by Quincy Jones, it is recorded at Westlake Audio in Los Angeles, CA from June – August 1982. In early 1982, director Steven Spielberg and record producer Quincy Jones meet while Spielberg is in post production on the film “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial”. The director approaches Jones who at the time is working with Michael Jackson on “Thriller”, to record a song for an audio storybook version of “E.T.”. Inviting Jones and Jackson to see the film prior to its opening, they enthusiastically accept Spielberg’s offer. Quincy Jones pairs songwriter Rod Temperton with lyricists Marilyn and Alan Bergman to write “Someone In The Dark”, which is sung by Michael. Blown away by Jackson’s affecting and highly emotional vocal performance, Spielberg asks them to also record the narration, condensing the film into a forty minute long record for release on MCA Records. Though they are under a very tight deadline to finish “Thriller” for a pre-Christmas release, they work on both concurrently. When word gets back to CBS president Walter Yetnikoff, he is furious. Yetnikoff threatens to block the release, feeling that it is keeping Jackson from completing “Thriller” on time, and that MCA and Universal had not obtained permission for him to do the project. Jones’ friend and Tabu Records founder Clarence Avant acts as an intermediary, brokering a deal to allow E.T. to be released. MCA agrees to pay CBS $1 million to release the album with certain caveats. It is limited to a million copies manufactured worldwide, they are not allowed to release a single, and must wait until after Christmas of 1982 so as not to be in direct competition with either “Thriller” and its first single “The Girl Is Mine”, then climbing the charts. MCA agrees, then almost immediately violates the terms by not only releasing E.T. three and a half weeks before “Thriller”, but also issuing “Someone” as a promotional single to radio. The lavish boxed package list priced at $11.98 features a twenty page booklet, also comes with a 22" x 22" poster of MJ with E.T.. CBS is successful in having the album withdrawn from record stores shortly after its release, and does not re-appear again until nearly five years later when the label is allowed to sell off the remaining stock. CBS also winds up keeping the money MCA pays them, paying neither Jackson or Jones for their work on the project. In spite of this, the record is nominated for and wins the Grammy Award for Best Recording For Children in 1984. Of the eight Grammys Jackson receives that night, he states that the one for “E.T.” is the one he is most proud of. Though the storybook album has never been reissued, “Someone In The Dark” appears as a bonus track on the 2001 special edition release of “Thriller”, and on the 2004 box set “Michael Jackson – The Ultimate Collection”.
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