Recording engineer Bruce Swedian: “I recorded the drums, (played by drummer Leon ‘Ndugu’ Chancler) with as tight, and powerful a drum sound as I could come up with. Of course I put Ndugu’s drum set on my plywood drum platform. Also at this time, I had a special kick drum cover made that covers the whole front of the kick drum. There’s a slot with a zipper in it that the mic fits through. When the kick drum mic is in place, in the slot in my drum cover, I zip the opening tightly shut around the mic. In my estimation, the result of the song ‘Billie Jean’, is a perfect example of what I call ‘Sonic Personality’. I don’t think there are many recordings, where all you need to hear is the first few drums beats, and you instantly know what song it is. Great albums always start with great songs. ‘Billie Jean’ is just such a superb song! Of course, Michael wrote “Billie Jean”.
Performance notes: In the late ’70s and ’80s, a drum recording technique that was frequently used was the recording
of the drumset tracks first, with the drummer playing a basic timekeeping track. Then fill and crash overdubs were
overdubbed later. Lionel Richie and Steely Dan did this, as well as Michael Jackson, here on “Billie Jean.”