Greg Phillinganes recreates synth parts from Michael Jackson’s Thriller

“The details in Thriller are staggering.”

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Greg Phillinganes

Image: Greg Phillinganes on the Roland Jupiter-8 and ARP 2600/ Michael Jackson Thriller Album Stories In the Room via YouTube

Longtime Michael Jackson collaborator and keyboardist Greg Phillinganes has recreated the synth parts from the 1982 classic Thriller.

Phillinganes appears in the latest episode of the podcast series Michael Jackson’s Thriller Podcast: Stories in the Room, where he puts his synths (and memory) skills to the test more than 40 years after the song’s release.

According to Phillinganes, Thriller — written by 70s hitmaker Rod Temperton — arrived largely completed in terms of composition, with only minor tweaks from the rest of the production team.

“All the parts came from Rod,” he tells synth programmer and host Anthony Marinelli. “What we did was we added occasional nuances and bits of our personalities. Occasional. Tasteful additions. But the essence of the parts — the crux of the parts — were all from Rod”

“He would spend days and nights coming up with just the perfect fit,” Phillinganes explains. “And the nuances, the details in Thriller are staggering.”

“Multiple guitar parts; electric piano; multiple synth parts. And they’re all finely weaved together — it’s fascinating.”

The groovy track also featured a Rhodes electric piano in the mix, though less discerning listeners might not notice its presence all throughout the song.

“You definitely hear it in the verses,” Phillinganes says. “You hear less in the choruses because the pads pile on, but you hear it in the bridge.”

Check out the full demo below.


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