How Drum Machines Were Used on the Song ‘Thriller’

In a fascinating clip from Stories in the Room, musician Anthony Marinelli showed fellow keyboardist Greg Phillinganes how he programmed the unique drum soundtrack for the iconic Michael Jackson song “Thriller”.

In this episode, Anthony shows how the beat and groove for “Thriller” was programmed on the LinnDrum machine and that special sound chips were made especially for the song.

Marinelli further explained how a childhood friend helped him create the song from the bottom up.

We recreated Thriller from zero. From the bottom up. Yeah, the drum sound had like a lot of different instruments and it was it was a drum machine. I had a friend from high school named Brad Cox and he he worked at LinnDrum and I went there at night during Thriller and he would burn these chips for me.

The full interview is part of an ongoing podcast about making the Thriller album.

Here’s how some of the spooky sounds were created.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.