Michael Jackson and the history of the Moonwalk: YouTube explains it all!

Though millions thought they were seeing it for the first time when Michael took those four (only four!) liquid steps on Motown's 25th Anniversary Special back in 1983, the Moonwalk actually has a long and storied history in dance.

Watch this YouTube clip below, which distills the evolution of the move from archived clips of the last century, including platinum-level fancy-footers Fred Astaire, Sammy Davis Jr., and Bill Bailey, then see Michael carry on the legacy — and take it iconically next-level — when he debuted it in '83 (if you want to see just that, skip ahead to about 3:38, and again at 4:30):

How many of you spent countless hours on rec-room carpets and parqueted kitchen floors attempting to replicate those steps with just one sequined-sock percent of MJ's dazzling ability? And how many of you succeeded?

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  • harry

    wow!!!!

  • susan

    I actually heard on one of the biography’s of MJ that he saw street performers doing the moonwalk and asked his choreographer to teach it to him. Thats how it came to be for him.

    • Silverio Vieira

      What was the name of the Biography?

  • Amy

    Michael Jackson made moonwalking a household name. No different than when Madonna brought Vogue-ing into the mainstream. She did far from invent the dance. Every generation has their celebrities. BTW– Cat from Japan has other great UTube videos. Taken a bunch of MJ’s songs and put them to old movies — really fun to watch!

  • stella

    I love MJ a lot but watching the oldies do their struts was awesome! what moves!

  • em

    I remember being in the 3rd grade in 1976, and watching a pantomime act perform in the school auditorium. One of them did the moonwalk (I don’t think we had a name for it at the time), and we were all blown away by this maneuver. After the show, we all tried to do it and failed miserably. Decades later, I would hear ppl in the media talk about MJ inventing the moonwalk, and I’d be like, “No he didn’t! Check your facts!”

  • More Youtube research

    EW, what’s up with your video selections? I was waiting for you to mention street dancing and Jeffrey Daniel in your chronicle of the moonwalk’s development and MJJ’s contribution to the dance.
    1.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ij802zpxLxM&feature=quicklist
    2.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhORApox81M&feature=quicklist
    3.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FuAp4p2_PHE

  • More Youtube research

    EW, what’s up with your video selections? I was waiting for you to mention street dancing and Jeffrey Daniel in your chronicle of the moonwalk’s development and MJJ’s contribution to the dance.
    1.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ij802zpxLxM&feature=quicklist
    2.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhORApox81M&feature=quicklist
    3.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FuAp4p2_PHE

  • Kenny

    That’s exactly right! Michael acknowledged that he learned the moon walk after wathing young kids doing it on a street corner one day. Bothers me a bit that he is constantly credited with inventing the moon walk. Those of you familiar with the street dance popping/locking certainly know that it was being done in the early 70’s. Please get your facts straight!!!

  • James

    I don’t think anyone seriously thinks MJ invented the moonwalk w/ no influences from anyone else…he’s constantly talked about how the greats like Fred Astaire and James Brown were major influences on his dancing, and also kids dancing on the corners in the ghettos. So if the story of MJ inventing the moonwalk was going around, it wasn’t started by him. Like most entertainers, he was influenced by someone else, and took it to another level and put his own unique stamp on it. Nobody can dispute MJ’s power and talent as a dancer. And now you can see all the MJ lite dancers- Justin Timberlake, Neyo, Usher, etc…just keeeping the tradition going.

  • Briana

    Actually my MOM taught me how to moonwalk !!! of course she was one of MJ’S biggest fans and turning me into one at an early age!!!!

  • Boyfresh

    Okay MJ did not invent the MoonWalk………….SO WHAT?????????????????????WHO THE HECK CARES? Let him get whatever glory he gets. Creator or not theres way more serious things to worry about, like your education, and the way you treat people, and your image, and who influences your life, be it loser rappers who brag about girls, money, clubbing, big rims, and girls leaving their beds wet, or people of stature, and character, and good morals. Be the best you can be, live your life. Focus on important things than sitting here discerning the creator of the moonwalk.

  • Tinka

    actualy i think he got it from his idol charlie chaplin, see this clip on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nt5haV2VuyU
    But to be honest there was no one who did it so great as MJ and he made it look so smooth and easy.
    im still trying and fall over lol

  • Marie

    The Jeffrey Daniel backslide/moonwalk video is awesome and he did a lot more than 4 steps.

  • RJJM

    Did it back in 1981 a Bishop McDevitt H.S. in 1981 PBCS show. Just hate that Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan, Run and others from our generation never looked back and gave credit. They were from that “ME GENERATION”. Gave Fred Astare props but not us. Never liked MJ for that. Always said he stole our moves to make that “Pop” money. R.I.P., MJ

  • Robert Jr. James McClendon

    You all can give Fredastare, Jeffrey Daniels, Bugaloo, Shabadoo, the Lockers or whoever credit, but it wasn’t until 20-20 aired their special on Hip-hop in New York City back in about 1980 is when “everybody” started popping and moonwalking. California created it, New York was taking it, and Mike just kept faking it – M.J. is over. New York put the ’80’s generation in touch with popping and moonwalking. By that time many of our generation had stop watching “Soul Train” to learn how to dance. “Bounce, Rock, Skate, Rol…_

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