Hills audio
MJ's first single in 1965. Photo of the single and of the royalty check is in the video. Thanks to Chris for remastering it!


In college, he entered a nationwide talent contest sponsored by Columbia Records and WGN radio in Chicago. One of the judges was Judy Collins, who has since become a great influence and good friend. 

He moved through local, regional and national competition and won the whole thing. The prizes were a week's booking in the It's Here coffeehouse in Chicago and a record on Columbia subsidiary Epic Records. 

"I was in my sophomore year and walked out of college during finals, never to return," he said. "Then I learned that it was a privilege to play at the It's Here so they didn't pay me. And the record, called 'Hills' after my one and only original composition till then, sold 23 copies. I got a royalty check for 11 cents, which I still have. Columbia wrote me weekly for three years asking me to cash it so they could bring their records up to date, but I'll cash it when I need it." 

The painful-to-remember lyrics of that first song went along the lines of "Rolling hills with purple hue/silver clouds caressed with blue." He's at pains to point out that his writing style, like his fingering technique, has matured.
Cindy McArthur, Webmaster
So this is where it all began. Thank you for posting Cindy. Another treasure

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