Matt Groening Finally Explained How Michael Jackson's Simpsons Appearance Happened

Leon Kompowsky Michael Jackson The Simpsons Fox

It's hard to say which episodes of The Simpsons are among the series' best, although it's safe to say "Stark Raving Dad" is a contender. The episode wasn't the funniest of the early Simpsons episodes, although it did feature an uncredited guest-starring role by Michael Jackson that went unconfirmed for so long that some fans still don't know it really was him. Matt Groening recently broke down how the rumors the voice work wasn't actually the singer may have gotten started and also explained how Jackson ended up being on the iconic episode, noting on TV,

You don't have to put it in quotes. We really did have him. Yeah, but here's the weird thing. I was sitting in the office late at night, the phone rings and I pick it up. 'Hello.' 'Hi, this is Michael Jackson.' Approximately. And I said 'click' right? And [he] calls back, 'No, it really is, don't hang up.' Because he has a voice like someone doing a Michael Jackson bit. And he said that he loved Bart and wanted to be on the show.

It's easy to understand why fans still doubt the cameo to this day, as even Matt Groening didn't believe Michael Jackson wanted to be on The Simpsons. Once the team finally found out this was a legitimate opportunity, they got to work on constructing a mysterious role for Jackson that was something bigger than the program's typical celebrity cameo. Instead of using his likeness, The Simpsons had the pop singer voice a giant middle-aged asylum patient named Leon Kampowsky who believed he was Jackson.

As for how the rumors that it wasn't actually Michael Jackson started, Groening told The Weekly those started popping up due to the King of Pop's request not to be credited for his appearance. Others had pointed to the classic song "Lisa It's Your Birthday," which, while good, was not quite the vocal quality of the typical Michael Jackson song. Groening explained there were some legal issues with Jackson singing on the program, as he was under contract with a record label, so he brought in an impersonator to sing the song for him. While he didn't lend his voice to the classic Simpsons song, Groening did say Michael Jackson was in the studio for the performance and supervised the guy he brought in to record the track. Groening also added Jackson seemed to get a kick out of the performer and said Jackson giggled watching the impersonator recreating his voice for the segment, which you can check out, below.

As for The Simpsons these days, the show kicks off Season 30 on Fox on Sunday, September 30 at 8:00 p.m. ET. For a look at what else is coming to television in the near future, be sure to visit and bookmark our fall premiere guide. For more on The Simpsons, be sure to check out our breakdown of Simpsons and Futurama references in Matt Groening's new Netflix series Disenchantment.

Mick Joest
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