Vincent Price appeared in more than 90 movies, from 1938’s “Service de Luxe” to “Edward Scissorhands” in 1990. He starred and guested on dozens of TV shows, maintained a regular spot on The Hollywood Squares, and hosted the PBS show Mystery! throughout the 1980s. He was a noted art collector with well-respected taste, and his gourmet skills in the kitchen even led him to host the cookery TV show Cooking Pricewise.
We as Michael Jackson
fans probably remember Vincent Price best for one of his shortest works: the eerie rap on Michael Jackson
’s hit single “Thriller.” Here are a few facts about his work on “Thriller.”
“Thriller” was written for Michael Jackson
by songwriter Rod Temperton, who originally titled the song “Starlight” (with the hook “Starlight, starlight sun” instead of “Thriller, thriller night”). After settling on a horror-show theme for the song, Temperton envisioned, in his own words, “a talking section at the end,” but he couldn’t figure out where to go with the idea.
Temperton finally narrowed down his “talking section” idea to a vocal provided by “somebody, a famous voice, in the horror genre.” Peggy Lipton, wife of Jackson
’s producer Quincy Jones, knew Vincent Price and suggested him for the role.
Vincent Price told Johnny Carson that when he agreed to do the voice work, he was given a choice between taking a percentage of the album proceeds or being paid a flat $20,000. He chose the $20K; his career was well-established and money wasn’t a huge issue. When Carson suggested that Price could have done a lot better if he had chosen album proceeds, he laughed amiably and said “How well I know!” Considering that more than 110 million copies of Thriller have been sold to date, Carson was spot-on.
Once Vincent Price was booked and the song’s recording session was scheduled, the rap still needed to be written. Temperton penned the rhyme in the taxi on the way to the studio for the recording session.
A recording engineer noted that while Price was delighted to contribute his vocals to the song, he was startled by the headphones when he arrived at the studio, never having used them before for work. When he reluctantly put them on, he jumped out of his chair in surprise upon hearing the funky music track he was to speak over. He ultimately needed a little help with his cues to speak over the music, but he ended up nailing it.
Price recorded his portion of the song in two takes. Quincy Jones noted that recording voiceover work is notoriously difficult, and he praised Price’s work and accuracy as “fabulous.”
If you purchased the 7” single, you were deprived of the rap and spooky laugh as the song had to be shortened.
Temperton wrote a much longer version of the rap. Price recorded it, but it was cut to the above verses in the original versions of the song. However, the full version can be heard on the 2001 remaster of Thriller, along with some brief conversation between Price and Jackson
. A portion of the extended version is also included on the 2008 Thriller 25 reissue. https://youtu.be/dgDSXlXkJv4.
As for the famous, groundbreaking, award-winning video? Price had his moment there too. When Michael Jackson
and his girlfriend, played by Ola Ray, leave the movie theater, we see that the marquee reads “Vincent Price THRILLER,” a fictional film. On the wall outside the theater, a poster for Price’s real film, House of Wax, is displayed. AND rumor has it that the zombie in the very last frames, after all the credits have rolled, is an uncredited Vincent Price himself in full gory makeup!!Whether or not it's true, I dont know, maybe you should watch the video again, and decide for yourself!