posted by: Shomore in Shoe History Corner on June 26th, 2009
In tribute to the late Michael Jackson, I figured a shoe history corner post would be appropriate because Jackson’s work was so legendary and really defined my generation’s music.
I remember growing up to Michael Jackson’s songs in the 80s. In fact, he was so popular that my grandmother, who lived with us at the time and didn’t speak much english, could even say “Billy Jean” and “Beat It”. One of my favorite MTV videos came from the hit “Smooth Criminal”. I remember thinking how cool Michael Jackson was when he defied gravity with his dancers in the 45 degree lean. Here’s a snapshot of this move and the music video.
How did Jackson achieve the lean? He patented special shoes which gave him the appearance of defying the normal laws of physics:
A system for allowing a shoe wearer to lean forwardly beyond his center of gravity by virtue of wearing a specially designed pair of shoes which will engage with a hitch member movably projectable through a stage surface. The shoes have a specially designed heel slot which can be detachably engaged with the hitch member by simply sliding the shoe wearer’s foot forward, thereby engaging with the hitch member.
Michael Jackson was an artist, singer, writer, dancer, and a few other things. But I never realized he was also a shoe inventor!
Source: Google Patents
Update: Here’s a live video of “Smooth Criminal”. You can see that the dancer on the right had a little trouble detaching the shoe from the hitch at the 3:53 mark.