On this day (September 19) in 1987, “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You by Michael Jackson and Siedah Garrett Became the #1 Song in America. This was the first single released from Michael’s seventh album, Bad. This song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, R&B Singles and Adult Contemporary charts, making it the first in a string of 5 number-one singles from Bad. It was Jackson’s second number-one song on the Adult Contemporary chart after “The Girl Is Mine” with Paul McCartney.
Whitney Houston and Barbra Streisand were asked to sing this with Jackson, but they refused. So Siedah Garrett, who also co-wrote “Man In The Mirror,” another track from Bad, was asked to sing on this track.
Garrett recalled in an interview with SongTalk magazine in the late 1980s how she came to duet with Jackson on this song. “It came as a total surprise. Quincy called me after I had worked with him doing the background vocals for ‘Man In The Mirror’ to come back to the studio to do more work, but when I got there, I was surprised to discover that there was nobody else in the studio but Quincy, Michael and me. And the song they were working on wasn’t ‘Man In The Mirror.’ It was a song that Quincy had given me a tape to learn. But I had no idea – I do lots of vocals on demos for Quincy, so this was nothing unusual.
So Quincy said, ‘You got the tape, right? Did you learn the song?’ I said, ‘Sure, I know the song.’ He said, ‘Well, go in there and sing it.’
I go into the booth: there’s two music stands. Michael Jackson is standing at one of them in front of a microphone and there’s another microphone for me. This is the first time I realized what was happening. On the sheet music it said, ‘Michael, Siedah, Michael, Siedah, etc.’ I said, ‘Wow! I get it.'”
Jackson and Garrett didn’t take the recording entirely seriously. Siedah recalled to SongTalk magazine: “Michael is funny. He has a real keen sense of humor. Which surprised me, because you hear all these stories about how strange he is. I guess he felt relaxed with me because I wasn’t in awe of him when we met. I was kind of, ‘Yo, Michael, what’s up?’ I think he found that refreshing.”
She added: “If I was talking to Quincy and we were serious for some reason, Michael would toss cashews and peanuts at us. I would be talking to Quincy and these peanuts would fly by. [Laughs]
You know, the duet is a very serious love song. And when I was doing my verse, Michael was making these faces at me so that I would mess up. Quincy would say, ‘Siedah – come on! You’re holding up the whole album!’ And I would get in trouble!”
Despite the success, the duet had a relatively short chart run and fell out of the top 40 just five weeks after topping the chart, spending a total of 11 weeks in the top 40, out of a total of 14 weeks on the Hot 100. This was largely due to the quick release of the album title track as the second single (it debuted on the Hot 100 at #40 in the same week that “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” hit number one).
Although Michael Jackson was the king of music videos, there was no music video released for this song. So, it is amazing that it still hit #1.
Here is a short clip of the recording of the song: