As significant a role as MTV played in the success of "Thriller," Epic also rolled out an unprecedented assault on radio. Before "Thriller," labels only promoted three or four singles for most albums. "I remember talking it over at marketing meetings, 'Should we put out another one?' " McCarrell says. "We didn't want to put out a single [unless] it could go top 10. As long as the promo guys thought we could, we kept putting them out."
"Dileo would make it perfectly clear," Warfield says. "'Fight and don't take no for an answer. Get this record on the radio.'"
During a 15-month period, Epic released seven of the nine tracks from "Thriller" as singles, and all landed in the top 10. Even more remarkable, between the release of "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)" and "Thriller," Epic's sister label Columbia put out "Say, Say, Say," a second duet between Jackson and McCartney featured on McCartney's "Pipes of Peace" album that went straight to No. 1 as well.
Ultimately, "Thriller" spent 122 weeks on the Billboard 200, leading Epic to one of its greatest periods of prosperity. Given the decline in album sales, the rise of digital downloads and the lack of an heir apparent to Jackson, it's unlikely another album will ever dominate radio, video or the collective consciousness the way "Thriller" did.
As Garland puts it, "We saw the top of the mountain with 'Thriller.'"