The groundbreaking moment came at the end of his performance of "Billie Jean" for the Motown 25th anniversary special, which aired on NBC March 25, 1983. Although he wasn't the originator of the dance move — James Brown is among those who'd performed a variation — and Jackson's moonwalk lasted only seconds, it captivated the world.
Jackson's electrifying performance, with his single sparkly glove and black sequined jacket, helped elevate him to another level.
Initially reluctant to appear on the special, Jackson only agreed to play his old Jackson 5 Motown hits with his brothers if he was allowed to perform "Billie Jean," then the country's No. 1 song, afterward.
His singular performance overshadowed not only the Jackson 5 performance but those by the reunited Diana Ross and the Supremes, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder.
His album "Thriller," which had been out for four months, went on to become the biggest selling of all time.
"Thirty years ago the greatest album ever made was released and it still stands the test of time," Jackson biographer Stacy Brown told ABCNews.com in November, on the 30th anniversary of "Thriller."
Copyright 2013 by ABC News
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