Michael Jackson’s Bad Tour!

Michael Jackson’s BAD WORLD TOUR was a true classic! He kicked off the shows over in Japan and it was Michael’s first ever true solo show. The tour was, at the time, the biggest show on the road ever and consisted of 123 performances. The Guinness Book of World Records entered it as the biggest grossing tour as well as a record for attendance. The tour spanned 16 months and grossed over $130 million!

The Bad tour was sponsored by Pepsi who would also go on to sponsor his DANGEROUS WORLD TOUR in 1992. Michael would go on to perform to over 4.5 million of his fans all over the world.

Michael Jackson’s fame, hype and popularity was so great that he was labelled “Typhoon Michael” and is still the biggest star in Japan today….Japan Love the King of pop! Pepsi’s President when presented an award to Michael in the United States said that “Japan would never be the same again”. The usual behaviour of a Japanese audience would be to sit down and listen respectfully… but after Michael’s Bad tour… pure pandemonium!

Michael first touched down in Tokyo to over 600 journalists and thousands of fans. He arrived, along side Bubbles his Chimp with an entourage of over 130 people, a chartered Airplane, over 22 trucks with, staging and tonnes of equipment. The BAD TOUR Billie Jean tracking light was actually first used and created specifically for Michael by his tour staff who wanted to find a way to follow Michael from above, along a track as opposed to a normal follow spot from the front or the standard two lights from above… creating the classic Billie Jean ending which Michael Performed on every tour since!

The Japanese leg of the Bad tour was somewhat experimental, as is seen as his changing of costumes and outfits, especially in his opening “Wanna Be Starting Somethin”, moving from Silver, to Red, to Black and settling on his classic Silver top, with Buckles supplemented by his classic Black Jacket with Buckles. Michael went on to say that he was not ready to perform his classic (new) hits, like “Man in the mirror”, “Smooth Criminal”, “The way you make me feel”, “Dirty Diana”, Another Part of me” but would create new choreography for the second leg that would become the foundation of all of his subsequent tours. Michael would return to Japan with the “new” songs and a brand new show, in the following Christmas.

The first shows in the first leg were completely live and Michael’s voice was amazing and perfectly on point. During the later parts of the tour Michael would begin to experiment with different backing vocals and lip syncing technology which he would later utilise in parts of Smooth Criminal, Man in the Mirror, Bad and The way you make me feel, especially. Michael would also perform songs, only in the first few shows like, Things I do for you, You are my lovely one, Shake your Body (down to the ground) which were replaced by his newer classics.

Michael would (in the first leg) perform 14 concerts in Japan and performed to around 500, 000 people. He also dedicated songs to a young boy called Yoshioka Hagiwara who was kidnapped including “I just can’t stop loving you” and mentioning him in his performance of “Shake your body”.

Michael’s performances had a spontaneous musical quality about them with the band, led by Greg Phillinganes breaking out into “Don’t stop til you get enough” mid Shake your Body and Michael dancing like crazy and really sweating it out! I guess, as this was his first solo tour, he felt that he had something to prove. Interesting that he still kept the theme of his brothers and the Jacksons/J5 running with the inclusion of his 4 Backing dancers and a continuation of many choreographed themes….even to the first few steps of “Wanna Be Starting somethin” are previous steps from his brothers. Travis Payne would go on to say, in his THIS IS IT, preparations that Michael’s philosophy was “Why change a good thing that works?” and I tend to agree! Michael would keep the foundation of many of his songs through the years and rarely change choreography, from the Bad tour through to This is it. They would enhance what they had created which is clearly seen from the Bad tour performances of “Smooth Criminal”, compared to Dangerous, History performances of Smooth Criminal with Lean, with extended Robotics sections, slowed circle slide etc. “The way you make me feel”, Michael would go on to drop the dancers from the first part of the song, bring on the girl later and then bring on the dancers for the main choreographed, “WEST SIDE STORY esque” routine…the climax of the piece.

From Japan, Michael flew over to Australia for 5 concert performances. He was joined by Stevie Wonder for a duet and it is interesting to note that the tone of the concerts were very different as many of the shows were inside covered arenas, and had smaller stages to fit. Later MTV and award show footage was edited with a combination of shows and for some reason; he cancelled 3 shows in New Zealand. He would perform in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Michael would return to Australia and New Zealand for his HIStory world tour.

Michael would totally reenergise and change his show for the second leg. He would include his newer classics, with new choreography as well as include newer songs and drop some of the older ones. He would also include new stage sets (like in Dirty Diana). Whilst rehearsing in Kansas City and featuring in a tour television special (which you can find on youtube) Michael said, “ We are starting again with the American tour, new sets, staging and songs”. He was rehearsing in the Pensacola Civic Centre and you should try and check out the video on youtube because it gives an insight into the band and his dancers… his vocal coach/choreographer? also steps in for a rendition of “The way you make me feel” when Michael failed to make it in on time due to adverse weather conditions in Florida.

After critically acclaimed performances all over the United States, Michael flew to Europe and then onto London and Wembley! Michael’s ticket sale was over 504,000 which was a world record, 7 sold out Wembley’s! The demand for Tickets to see the eagerly anticipated Bad tour was over 1.5 million and it was predicated that Michael could have sold out Wembley for over 20 nights! Michael received the Guinness World Record for the most sold out nights at Wembley and it remains unbroken to this day! Michael would tour the UK and perform his biggest concert of the tour in Aintree, LIVERPOOL….over 125, 000 people!

Michael would go on to perform 41 concerts and then return to the United States. He would be know as the King of Pop forever and the Bad tour had a massive cultural impact around the world and cemented Michael’s reputation as the greatest entertainer in the world.


Dancers: Lavelle Smith, Eddie Garcia, Randy Alaire, and Dominic Lucero.

The Band: Greg Phillinganes, Rory Kaplan, Christopher Currell, Ricky Lawson, Jennifer Batten and David Williams.

Backing Vocals: Kevin Dorsey, Dorian Holley, Darryl Phinnesse and Sheryl Crow


Michael’s tour list did change and he added lot’s of newer songs in the second leg. This is the second leg complete list. Underneath some I’ve made a few notes, fun stuff and comments about the songs, stuff and dance:

1. “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin'”

Michael’s voice! Clean! Also, interesting to note the speed and tempo…very fast compared to later Dangerous and History tours. His dancing was pretty quick and the dancers were very close to him compared to later tours.

2. “Heartbreak Hotel”

He used the silhouette shadow introduction which he would later use in the smooth criminal love introduction. Don’t ask me what that voice is chatting about because I haven’t a clue! I guess it adds to the atmosphere, so it’s all good! An amazing live performance (especially after the explosion) Classic MJ!

3. “Another Part of Me”

Wembley televised version, you can really get a sense of this song…completely sung live!

4. “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”

He actually performed this with Sheryl Crow who would go on to world wide fame herself. Her voice was very distinctive in the songs… not my thing, but it worked!

5. “She’s Out of My Life”

6. J5 Medley
“I Want You Back”
“The Love You Save”
“I’ll Be There”

Very fast performance…high tempo, a happy MJ…I suppose he had to perform these classics…

7. “Rock with You”

Televised in the US on MTV and a lot of European dates… what a vocal and foot tapping introduction…No body moves like Michael!

8. “Human Nature”

9. “Smooth Criminal”

He introduced this song later in the tour. Very strong pre recorded slap base. New choreography for the live show, No lean until the Dangerous tour and a more diagonal form to the main dance… a shorter version and more Backing dancer based. Michael was also using a handheld microphone which obviously impedes his ability to dance and perform some moves which he would later go on to do. Michael brought in live vocals on the second half of the song….a classic!

10. “Dirty Diana”

Only song where he really uses a “set”…. Probably most theatrical “musical” performance…quite dark, use of spotlight was great.

11. “Thriller”

I loved this… Michael performed this completely live but I have one comment….who on earths idea was it to TURN OFF THE LIGHTS DURING THE MOST FAMOUS PIECCE OF CHOREOGRAPHY EVER????? I love the change of jackets and the lights flicking around, but not in the middle of the Thriller dance! At least on the Wembley dates and northern Europe you can see the dance due to the sun setting late and the light. (By the way…when you’re at the concert and they’re taking there time before MJ comes on….they are not only waiting for Michael to get those socks and that glove on  They are waiting for the sun to set behind the stage so that the whole stadium can have a unrestricted view of the stage. (I’ll go into that a bit more for the History tour post). The second leg intro to Thriller was great…..MJ flying in on a Rope with the mask! Have a look at the youtube version of Thriller in Wemley….that is a superstar in action!

12. “Workin’ Day and Night”

13. “Beat It”

14. “Billie Jean”

A classic, as always. The same classic performance which went unchanged until the end.

15. “Bad”

Great song. He should have performed this in every tour! Interesting that he only sang this totally live in the first leg of the tour and only the second half in the second part of the tour. Have a search for his Bad performance in Osaka (or Tokyo) where he forgets to introduce the band at the end…the one where he flicks his towel and runs through the audience! I don’t think he could have done that safely in Wembley, no way!

16. “The Way You Make Me Feel”

More fun version. Dancers on stage and MJ and the boys checking out the girl…. I think he got this perfect with the History tour. I’m very surprised that he ever dropped this from his setlist, but I guess that when you have too many hits, what are you going to do?

17. “Man in the Mirror”

Moonwalker version is a classic….slightly speeded up…. See the full version, about 10 minutes long. What an ending!

Dance style:

I’ll go through this in detail in the History tour post.

The next tour was the DANGEROUS WORLD TOUR in 1992. Onwards and upwards!

DVDs! How To Dance Like Michael Jackson! anthony-king.com

By Anthony King ©

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