It was written and composed by Jackson and produced by Jackson and Quincy Jones.

Jackson stated several times that "Billie Jean" was based on the groupies he and his brothers encountered while part of The Jackson 5. "Billie Jean is kind of anonymous. It represents a lot of girls. They used to call them groupies in the '60s." He added: "They would hang around backstage doors, and any band that would come to town they would have a relationship with, and I think I wrote this out of experience with my brothers when I was little. There were a lot of Billie Jeans out there. Every girl claimed that their son was related to one of my brothers."[4] The reason for this was due to the fame of the Jackson 5, and wanting to have their money in order to have a way of living.

Jackson's biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli promoted the theory that "Billie Jean" was derived from a real life experience the singer faced in 1981. The Magic & The Madness documents how a young woman wrote Jackson a letter, which informed the singer that he was the father of one of her twins. Jackson, who regularly received letters of this kind, had never met the woman in question and ignored it. The woman, however, continued to send Jackson more letters, which stated that she loved him and wanted to be with him. She wrote of how happy they would be if they raised the child together. She pondered how Jackson could ignore his own flesh and blood. The letters disturbed the singer to the extent that he suffered nightmares

Following the letters, Jackson received a parcel containing a photograph of the fan, as well as a letter and a gun. Jackson was horrified; the letter asked that the pop singer kill himself on a certain day and at a specific time. The fan would do the same once she had killed their baby. She wrote that if they could not be together in this life, then they would be in the next. To his mother's dismay, Jackson had the photograph of the woman framed and hung above the dining room table of their family home. Afterwards, the Jacksons discovered that the fan had been sent to a psychiatric hospital


Production
Michael Jackson wrote "Billie Jean" with his female fans in mind, and later stated that when he wrote the song, he knew it would be a success: "A musician knows hit material. Everything has to feel in place. It fulfills you and it makes you feel good. That's how I felt about 'Billie Jean'. I knew it was going to be big when I was writing it." The singer explained that he was so absorbed by the song that, in one instance, he did not notice that his car had caught fire as he drove down a freeway with a friend until a passing motorcyclist informed him. Jackson noted: "The kid probably saved our lives


Music video: The short film for "Billie Jean" is considered the video that brought MTV, until then a fairly new and unknown music channel, into mainstream attention. It was one of the first videos by a black artist to be aired regularly by the channel, as the network's executives felt black music wasn't "rock" enough.[37] Directed by Steve Barron, the video shows a photographer who follows Jackson. The paparazzo never catches the singer, and when photographed Jackson fails to materialize on the developed picture. The entertainer dances his way to Billie Jean's hotel room and as he walks along a sidewalk, each tile lights up at his touch.
After he performs a quick spin, Jackson jumps and lands, freeze framed, on his toes.


Motown 25: Motown 25
On March 25, 1983, Michael Jackson performed "Billie Jean" to critical and popular acclaim. Staged at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever was a celebration of Motown Records' twenty-fifth anniversary (despite the fact that Motown, launched in 1959, was only 24 years old in 1983). Organized by Suzanne de Passe, the event was to feature all of the most popular Motown acts, both past and present. The Motown stars were to reunite for one evening, to pay tribute to Berry Gordy and acknowledge his effect on their lives. Jackson initially refused the invitation, but reconsidered after a personal visit from Gordy, for whom the singer had great respect. It was decided that the singer would perform "Billie Jean".

Following performances by Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, and Mary Wells, The Jacksons took to the stage for their first group performance together in eight years. The brothers sang a medley of their old hits. After they finished with "I'll Be There", they left Michael alone on stage. He addressed the audience and then went into his routine. He wore black pants, leather penny loafers, a black sequined jacket, and a single white rhinestone glove. To begin his performance, Jackson snapped a fedora to his head and struck a pose—his right hand on his hat and his left leg bent. During a musical interlude, the singer executed a move that many believe to have sealed his status as a pop icon. Jackson glided backwards to perform the moonwalk, before he spun on his heels and landed en pointe. It was the first time Jackson had performed the moonwalk in public; he had practiced it in his kitchen prior to the show.

Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever was watched by 50 million people and Jackson's routine earned him an Emmy nomination. With the performance, Jackson reached a new audience and increased the sales of Thriller, which eventually became the best-selling album of all-time. The day after the show aired, Jackson was called by his childhood idol Fred Astaire, who commended the singer. Another childhood idol, Sammy Davis, Jr., had admired Jackson's black sequined jacket during the performance and later received it as a gift.

Jackson stated at the time that he was disappointed in his performance; he had wanted to remain on his toes longer than he had. Jackson subsequently said that "Billie Jean" was one of his favorite songs to perform live, but only when he did not have to do it the way he had on Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever. "The audience wants a certain thing—I have to do the moonwalk in that spot," he later said. "I'd like to do a different version."


Pepsi commercial:

In 1984, Pepsi sponsored the Jacksons' Victory Tour. In return, Michael and his brothers were to star in two commercials for the company. Jackson had reworked "Billie Jean" for the commercial and entitled it "Pepsi Generation". The song was used as the official jingle for the commercials and released as a 7" promo single. The launch of "The Choice of a New Generation" campaign in February 1984 was attended by 1,600 people who were issued with a programme and the 7" single.During the filming of the second commercial, a firework in the rear of the set was prematurely detonated, setting Jackson's hair ablaze. The incident left the singer in need of reconstructive surgery. The commercials were premiered at the Grammy Awards, the same night he collected a record eight awards.

Live performances:

Along with "Thriller", "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'", and "Beat It", "Billie Jean" was performed for all of Michael Jackson's tour concerts. After the ending chorus, the drum solo is always extended for a period of time as Jackson dances under one spotlight. The song almost always ends with Jackson singing "Billie Jean is not my lover" and throwing his hat towards the audience. Exceptions are some of the concerts in the Victory Tour, where he held his hat up and threw it afterwards. Since the Victory Tour, the performance has evolved in terms of dance moves and overall song length.

From Victory Tour, Bad tour and Dangerous World Tour, the song was sung live, and from HIStory World Tour the song was lipsynced.

Victory Tour – Performance just over six minutes in length; only about 30–45 seconds in the spotlight dance ending.

Bad tour – Flashing lights and sounds transition Beat It to Billie Jean. The first and second leg performances are considerably different, as the first leg was more like the "Victory Tour", and Jackson did more dance moves in the second leg and the ending was therefore longer in the second leg, around seven minutes in length.
In the Dangerous World Tour, an illusion was made for Jackson to appear on the upper floor the moment "Thriller" ended through the use of a masked dancer posing as Jackson who he had switched with in the middle of the song. Jackson performed the song at a slightly slower speed than the Victory and Bad tours, but still faster than the studio version.

1993 Super Bowl – Jackson performed a part of Billie Jean consisting of only the first refrain, second chorus and instrumental bridge where he did the moonwalk before ending with a pose.

1995 MTV VMA & 1999 MJ & Friends – Shortened studio remix performed as part of a medley during the 1995 MTV Awards. Snares from "Why You Wanna Trip On Me" were added in the solo, in addition to the Billie Jean Bassline.

Royal Brunei Concert 1996 – Similar tempo and instrumentation to the HIStory Tour. and the snare sample from "Why You Wanna Trip On Me" is repeatedly played throughout the spotlight ending along with the main drumbeat, but there is no bassline.
HIStory World Tour – Performances of the song were usually eight minutes with some up to nine minutes, always preceded by the two- or three-minute "suitcase" intro, in which Jackson pulls his jacket, glove and hat out from a suitcase. Similar tempo and arrangement to the studio version.

Madison Square Garden – Very similar to the HIStory Tour in instrumentation and vocal mixing, but some verses before the moonwalk are sung live and switches back and forth with playback. The "suitcase" intro is seen here as well.

This Is It – One of these rehearsals was filmed completely and shown in the film This Is It. Here, the song is approximately 6 minutes in length.
Performances of the song are available on the HIStory on Film, Volume II, HIStory World Tour, Live in Bucharest: The Dangerous Tour, and Live at Wembley July 16, 1988 video albums.