Why He's a Thriller

Michael Jackson's songs, steps and sexy aura set a flashy beat for the decade

Snap question, no time to think: Which one is Michael Jackson?

The svelte young man with black curls and two-lane grin who steps out of a Mercedes into the glitz and glare of Los Angeles' Melrose Avenue, wearing a bright red leather jacket with chain-mail yoke and 27 zippers, as, trailed by mother and manager, he goes shopping for clothes?

Or the young man in the tie and sweater holding a copy of the Watch tower, who stands at the door of an apartment in suburban Thousand Oaks, 40 miles and several dozen life-styles northwest of Melrose, fixing the uninterested girl...