Dirty Diana

Album: Bad (1987)
Charted: 4 1


  • Jackson wrote this song, which like his hit "Billie Jean," is about a particularly aggressive groupie. When Jackson was interviewed by Barbara Walters, he explained: "I wrote a song called 'Dirty Diana.' It was not about Lady Diana. It was about a certain kind of girls that hang around concerts or clubs, you know, they call them groupies. I've lived with that all my life. These girls... they do everything with the band, you know, everything you could imagine."

    Recalling a concert in London where Jackson met Princess Diana, he added: "I took it out of the show in honor of her royal highness. She took me away and she said, Are you going to do 'Dirty Diana'? So, I said, 'No I took it out of the show because of you.' She said, 'No! I want you to do it. Do the song. And she told me it was an honor to meet me. And I said, 'It's an honor to meet you.'"
  • This song has a rock edge, which required some serious guitar shredding. Eddie Van Halen was enlisted to play on Jackson's previous guitar-heavy hit, "Beat It," but his producer Quincy Jones needed someone else for this one. Van Halen's producer Ted Templeman was working for Warner Bros. Records, which had recently signed Billy Idol's guitarist Steve Stevens to a solo deal, so Templeman suggested him to Jones (It was Templeman who suggested Eddie Van Halen for "Beat It").

    When Stevens got the call from Jones, it took him a while to believe it was really him, but he was thrilled to get the opportunity. When he played on the track, Stevens was pleasantly surprised. "The song is a lot darker and heavier than I thought I would be playing on, with an underlining current of nastiness to it," he said. "It was great for me - as a guitar player you want to dig in and you want to play aggressively. I was really glad it wasn't like a pop song - it was dark, and it allowed me to dig in to the heavier side of what I do."

    Stevens had a great experience working with Jackson. He said: "Michael was very musical. He understood what I was about and was trying to get the best out of my performance. It was a great session."
  • When this went to #1 in the US, Jackson became the first artist with five #1 hits from the same album. The previous four were "I Just Can't Stop Loving You," "Bad," "The Way You Make Me Feel," and "Man In The Mirror."
  • The video was directed by Joe Pytka, who also did Jackson's clips for "The Way You Make Me Feel" and "Heal The World." (But oddly, not for "P.Y.T. - get it? Because he's Joe PYTka.)

    The video is mostly staged performance footage which was shot in Los Angeles. Steve Stevens is featured in the clip.
  • The model in the video who played Dirty Diana was Lisa Dean, who also appeared in the video for "Round And Round" by Ratt. She passed away in Los Angeles on December 1, 2009 from colon cancer. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jennifer - Malibu, CA
  • In an interview for the special edition release of the Bad album, Jackson's producer Quincy Jones said this song was "in the spirit of 'Killing Me Softly With His Song.'" He says that Jackson's flair for drama comes into play in this song, as he was a very theatrical songwriter and performer.

Comments: 64

  • Samoel-39 from Parissome songs are masterpiece, like this song
  • Sarah Rogers from ChicagoAlso Tatiana thumbzten was supposed to play Dirty Diana But Frank Dileo Michael Manager Didn't Want the same girl in 2 videos
  • Chi Girl from NigeriaMost likely, the song was about Diana Ross AND other dirty girls he had met.
  • Taylor from NjActually, he most certainly did write this for Diana Ross. She was not only the LOHL, but MOST Of his songs are written to and about her! He wrote this song in 86 right after she left him for Arne Naess. He was furious with her, because he had been planning to marry her since he was youngster. His mom says he had been in love with her since he lived with her as a child and it only got deeper and deeper as he got older. This was a F U song to her because he was hurt (devastated really) and angry. He was so in love with her, and he thought HE was going to be her husband. He spent tons of money buying her homes, cars, trips, diamonds and anything else she wanted. They were ENGAGED in the early 80s (like 83-85) and he was planning to take her to Switzerland and marry her. This was his dream. After they told his mom, Katherine threw a fit, she told Di she was too old for her son and that she was soiling him. SHe called the papers, and reporters began to follow and harrasss Di. Diana got cold feet and ran off with Arne. MJ was devastated badly, and unable to function. His family called Minister Farakon, who told him to put his pain to music and that would help him heal. This is when he began to write lots of love songs and heartbreak songs about Diana. THis is also when he began to put a lot of getting over mountain lines in his songs. Why because di married a mountain climber! Anyway, after awhile he grew angry, he had wasted years of his life and millions of dollars trying to marry her. He lashed out and wrote 2 get even songs about her at this time. Dirty Diana, and Leave me alone. In DD, he talked about how she liked the boys in the band because Diana loved Musicians, and dated Lionel Richie of commodores, Barry Gibb of the bee gees and Gene Simmons of Kiss. In fact, she caused s lifelong fued between Gene and MJ when she slept with Gene and called out MJ's name! Gene blamed him, not her and they were enemies from then on... Back to the song, he really went in on verse 2 and all but called her a hoe. When Quincy Jones heard it, he flipped out! He told MJ that he could not do that to her, and that ppl were smart enough to instantly KNOW it was about her! He begged him to tone it down and change the 2nd verse so it sounded like groupies and they could get away with saying it was about groupies and save her the embarrassment of ppl knowing this THOT song was about her! That's what they did, but Diana still knew, and she was so angry she did not speak to him for weeks because of this song. Later, after they made up, she laughed it off and even used this song in her opening show to show she had no hard feelings...This song and MOST of his songs were about her-she was the love of his life, and even his mom ( who didn't like her) admits that....
  • Monica from TexasFact this song is about Diana Ross and his feelings of being seduced and still attracted to her, despite them breaking up and her marrying another man. The 1st and 3rd verses reflect this. The 2nd verse was added about the groupie at the suggestion of Quincy Jones. He advised Michael the song title and the lyrics are too personal and he run the risk of their secret affair getting exposed. Not to mention Michael would have to explain the meaning of the lyrics when asked about the song. So to have an explanation of the lyrics the 2nd verse was added so that he could simply say the song was about groupie. The truth is in his lyrics and the first and last verse are too personal to be talking about one night stand relations with a stranger. Michael also liked to use double entendres in his songs. He was still angry at Diana for hurting him and he wanted to use this song to hurt her. Look up what the word groupie meant in Motown language and you will understand why Ms Ross was indeed hurt by this and decided to use this intro on one of her albums to show the message was received.
  • Jaya from New Delhi, IndiaIsabelle, montreal, QC: Why are you getting angry? I think Diana was just kidding. What counts is that she loves Michael Jackson.
  • Isabelle from Montreal, QcDiana Trenton from NJ : Oh, who are you to claim this? So you know the man personnaly? Don't come here being a parrot and repeating what you've read in your dirty tabloids. Don't be an ignorant sheep, please.

    You only show your ignorance to the world---and you are humiliating yourself. Judging people and insulting them, including Mr.Jackson, is not just disrespectful : it's stupid. AND irrevelant on this MUSIC site.
  • Paul from Frankfort, IlKaty Perry just recently tied Michael with 5 number 1's from the same album with her 2nd album Teenage Dream. Not that I compare the two albums or artists.
  • Katie from Vienna, AustriaAm I the only one who thinks he stole (lyrics-wise) from "Jane Is A Groupie" by Sly And the Family Stone?

    Don't get me wrong - I love this (both) song(s)...
  • Diana from Trenton, NjThis song was totally about me even though I wasnt born yet.... Its settled, Michael Jackson was a FRIGGIN PSYCIC!
  • Mel from Wiesbaden, GermanyBTW, We have created a MJ/DR Forum in association with different partnersites, about they both together, but also with a big separate Michael and Diana section. We would be glad if you join in ^^
  • John from San Francisco, CaThe following is from a Wikipedia article about the song and video Dirty Diana. "Initial reports at the time suggested the song was inspired by an alleged affair between Jackson and his close friend Diana O'Neal; however this was later denied. In an interview from the special edition of Bad, Jones later confirmed that the song's lyrics were about groupies. Jackson also confirmed this during an interview with Barbara Walters, adding that it was not about Princess Diana, though he was told personally by the Princess that it was her favorite among his songs."
  • John from San Francisco, CaSheryl Crow did play Diana in the topic video, if you don't believe me or the others, you will find the truth in a article at the following url: http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1614755/20090625/jackson_michael.jhtml
  • Michael Jackson from Dallas, Txthis song was made for diana ross point blank
  • T T from Houston, TxI think that this "dirty Diana" and Billie Jean are about the same person and or subject I'm sure he had more than one stalker in his career it's jux the real crazy ones that you don't 4get. He needed a song for the album and went back to the same well so to speak,hey look at the big success "Billie Jean" was this was probably meant to the be "Billie Jean" of this album. but gotta say I like it when he rocks alot of the lyrics in his songs would make real good rock songs.
  • Aliyah from Manchester, United Kingdomomg! MJ was like THE HOTTEST MAN in bad era! My personal fave part of the video Dirty Diana is when he rips his shirt off, i was like, omg do you know how fkn hot u are?? lol and btw, the girl from the video is called Lisa Dean. RIP, King of Pop and of Hotness :)
  • Adana from St.petersbug, Fldiana ross didnt want to marry him.he wanted to marry her.
  • Adana from St.petersbug, FlShe likes the boys in the band,she knows when they come to town,every musican's fan after the curtain comes down,she ways the backstage doors for those who have perstige,who promise fortune and fame,a life thats so carefree.Now thats what I call a groupie!
  • Adana from St.petersbug, FlThis is not about Diana Ross and its not about Diana,Princess of Wales.It's about a groupie.But Princess Diana loved the song.
  • Rhi from Kathmandu, Nepalhottest MJ video... he gives it all..damn. the man was good. RIP king of pop
  • Sarah from Miami, FlThis song is great. Love MJ
  • Abdullaah from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysiafantastic guitar solo....
  • Heilige Bimbam from London, United KingdomAfter reading a couple of MJ biographies, here is my theory.MJ met Ross when he was 10yrs and Ross in her mid twenties. In his mid-teens he had to live with Ross for a long period, while recording for Motown, rest of the brothers stayed in a hotel.MJ, the pubescent teen was infatuated with her.Ms Ross was after Gordy who was married.I believe she took advantage of him, and seduced him. For him it was the first great love, for her just a divertion.He never got over her although he knew,that she was too busy trying to break up Gordy's marriage.
  • Kiarra from St. Charles, MoThis is an excellent song, I loved the outfit he wore when he sang it in one of his concerts, that white open shirt and how he moved his shoulders to the beat. How could you NOT dance to this song? The beat is so catchy....
  • Hannah from Ottawa, OnI heard in a Michael Jackson interview, spoken by MJ himself, that the song was written in reference to all the groupies who stalked and followed him.
  • Kelly from Winder, GaOMG he looks so hot in this video & this is not about Diana Ross its about this girl who stalked him and tried to seduce him.It's just like
    "Billie Jean". Anyways i luvvvvvvvv this freakin song he looks goooooddddddddd and during this time shoot i would have stalked him too LOL but im serious. luvvvv,
  • Ellice from Auckland, New ZealandNot sure if this song is about Diana Ross but i reckon she was the love of his life, he acted so differently around her and they had undeniable chemistry. And why else whould he put her in his will to look after his kids? Deep down he probably wanted her to be the mother of his children.
  • Sasha from Hoboken, Njhey i wanted to know if it was true about him and diana ross?i am kinda obsesed since his death.I wasnt upset at first but then i relized what a loss we had.god need an angel....so he took michael jackson :( RIP
  • Ekristheh from Halath, United States"I loved when he went all rock star on us." ... Me too.
  • Katherine from Montreal, QcThis song is so not about Diana Ross. It's not because it says Diana that it's about Diana Ross, get real! It's about a woman who's a lady of the night and seduces her way into trying to make it big. A groupie if you will. These lyrics sounds nothing like Diana Ross. Sure they may have had a fling of some sort. And while some people claim to have read that Michael Jackson has admitted this to be about Diana Ross, I've heard quite the opposite. I may be wrong about my own theory but I know for sure that it can't be about Diana Ross.

    Anyway all in all, I friggen love this song! Amazing guitar, amazing videoclip, have loved it since I was a kid! RIP
  • Carolyn from Monterey Park, Cai love this man MICHAEL JACKSON he is my everything.he also is my inspiration i learned so much from him.i love you michael...
    ...REST IN PEACE...
    ..In Heaven
  • Juliette81 from Dusseldorf, GermanyI just have liked this song since ever... but now i got curious what it was talking about since Micheal died (I'm very obsessed by his death), yesterday I watched an amazing video which made me cry and smile a lot. Monaco 2006 during WMA Micheal is looking at Diana singing amazingly and he's completly in adoration for her, his look is ipnotised at her... they are talking with eyes. Then she got closer to him and she sat on his legs and they hugged so intensivly. Then she looked at him and she sand "if you miss me, just call my name, wherever I am, just call my name, I will be there for you..." It's an amazing scene. Michel started to cry... After that I would like to know more about this special friendship. I really hope the real truth about him will come. I miss him a lot and this song is one FAB
  • Marilyn from Boston, FlMichael Jackson was very much in love with Diana Ross in fact he adored her. She was his one true love. You can see the chemistry they had together. But Diana was realistic. She knew a public love affair with Michael would ruin their careers. However, Michael was not ashamed to let the world know through his actions how he felt about Diana--the way he held her in his arms, looked at her and kissed her. When she went out his life, he was never the same.
  • Theresa from Murfreesboro, TnOne of my favorite Michael Jackson songs, I loved when he went all rock star on us.
  • Brittany from Cleveland, Ohi love this song it is a great song and it shows michaels bad side

    r.i.p.michael jackson
  • Maki from Moses Lake, WaI love this song! It's so hot on so many levels!! Michael really shows his rough side in this song, not to mention a range of sensual emotion.
    I love Steve Stevens, who is the video as the guitarist, clad in black leather with the huge, huge hair and he kicked some ass himself in Billy Idol's Rebel Yell!
    I cannot believe that is Sheryl Crow playing "Dirty Diana" in the film! That is awesome, too.
  • Dan from Winthrop, MaThe girl is none other than Sheryl Crow who used
    to sing back up for Jackson and Don Henley.
  • Shalena from Hamilton, OnThis amazing song is clearly about a groupie that was absest with MJ but he obviously used the name Diana not because the song descibes her but because Diana was a huge part of his life.
  • Renne from Portmore, Jamaicaat first i though that it was about a girl who wants to seducing him to sleep with him but anyways the song is the best song an artist can sing about a girl
  • Donni from Turda, RomaniaI Want To Know how is the girl (modell) in the video clip of Michael Jakson "DIRTY DIANA"??
    She have a very hot legs and body.. but how is she???
  • Matt from Des Moines, IaWhat does he keep repeating at the end?

    Is he saying Heartbreaker?
  • Rasa Bihari Das from Tamworth, Uk, EnglandBEST SONG OPENING EVER!
  • Aishah from Cheter,, PaPersonally I do think the song is about Diana Ross. My dad who live through it all brought it to my attention. If you pay attention carefully it's true. Micheal Jackson and Diana Ross was suppose to get married when Michael turned 18 but she uesd him If you read Michael's autobiography you'll catch on.Michael was never the same again and it's all because of her. But like my dad said the truth will never come out
  • Chris from Claremont, CaI heard on VH1 about michael jackson or someone else, Princess Diana said that was one of her favorite songs that she wanted jackson to sing, but he hesitated
  • Shea from New York, NyIf you listen to the lyrics, how could this be about either Diana's? This song is about a groupie. Princess Diana probably would not appreciate a song about her trying to seduce someone, let alone invite it to be sung at her birthday. Diana Ross would not need to seduce someone to be a star. "I'll be the freak you can taunt and I don't care what you say I want to go too far I'll be your everything if you make me a star." This is clearly about a groupie. The name might not even be real.
  • Janie from Atlanta, GaWould you believe Michael and Diana Ross had an affair? I didn't either, but then I thought about it. Remember Michael back in his prime? He was a god. He had the sweetest most beautiful soul.Hard for anyone to not want him for their own. Including Ms. Ross. Dirty Diana was about Diana Ross.
  • Benjy from Bonn, GermanyJackson said he would never play it again live after Diana´s death.
  • Tyler from New Orleans, LaFirst off I love this song, I don?t care about all the bad press, I think the ?Jackson stigma? is too overrated, Michael rocks and you have to love him. But for some more trivia: I saw Michael in an interview after Princess Diana died and he said he did a performance once for Diana on her birthday and before the show she asked if he would be including "Dirty Diana" in his set that evening. He said no, he took it out in respect for her and she told him that she loves that song and he had to perform it for her as her birthday gift.
  • Ann from Fairway, KsThis song kicks ass.
  • Sarah Floyd from Bloomingdale, Ili think he didnt like the girl because i have the video and stuff. and at the end he is surprised that he sees diana and i think he doesnt like her at all. he also rips his shirt off in the video. i think hes hott when he ripped off his shirt. i saw his chest. god was that sexy. oh also dreamy!!!
  • Matthew from Dalton, PaWhat Michael said in this song is true. It is not about Diana Ross or Princess Diana. It was about a groupie named Diana.
  • Lala from Anywhere, Mtmichael says that this is about all the groupies he has come in contact with thru out his life. Once princess diana came to his concert and asked him if he was going to do this song, and he said no. he told her that he took it off because she was there ans he didnt want to offend her. Princess diana shocked him and told him that Dirty Diana was her fav. song.
  • Kirsty from Bournemouth, Englandi love michel song he's a great singer his just misuderstood bless him i think he's the king of music but i want him to bring something new out - make a come back:)
  • Federica from Los Angeles, NvI know his history. I know that he had an unhappy childhood like me, and I know how he feel. His songs are magic and fantastic. I think Michael is very romantic. He really loves children and he helps all the children. I like Neverland. I think it's great. I hope he come back to Neverland becouse Neverland can't existing without Michael...
  • Sarah Floyd from Bloomingdale, Ili like this song and i have the video and when i saw the video thought the gutarist was a guy. and i like love songs. the songs will make me think about guys and we will be together and i might be sining to the songs and i wasnt scared at all.
  • Dawson from Draper, UtI love this song. I used to listen to it like, 5 times a day. Good song!
  • Joshua from Niagara Falls, CanadaOne of my favorite Michael Jackson songs. It rocks!!!!
  • Angela from Philadelphia, Pathis is thw worlds greatest strip tease
  • Jam Kemal from Lindua, South AfricaEverone says he wrote it as a tribute(?) to Diana Ross but I thinks it's just a name like Billie Jean. His greatest rock anthem. Video is way cool too. Live at Bad World Tour(1988/89) is one of a kind!
  • Kieran from Harlow, United StatesWritten about Diana Ross the Princess of Wales Diana was apparently a big fan of this song.
  • Diana from Winnipeg, Canadahaha this song is hilarious, accept for the fact that my name is Diana and whenever I meet someone new they'll be like has anyone ever called you dirty diana? but other than that this song kicks ass!
  • Annabelle from Eugene, OrWhen I listened to this song, someone told me the guitar solo was played by a girl. When I heard it on TV, someone said Michael Jackson was trying to show his Dirty Side towards Princess Diana.
  • Kurt from Downers Grove, IlI thought it was about an obsessed fan who seduced Michael into sleeping with her.
  • Tony from San Francisco, CaPossibly about his feelings of abandonment when Diana Ross got married for the second time in the mid eighties.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Judas Priest

Judas PriestSongwriter Interviews

Rob Halford, Richie Faulkner and Glenn Tipton talk twin guitar harmonies and explain how they create songs in Judas Priest.

Classic Metal

Classic MetalFact or Fiction

Ozzy, Guns N' Roses, Judas Priest and even Michael Bolton show up in this Classic Metal quiz.

Mark Arm of Mudhoney

Mark Arm of MudhoneySongwriter Interviews

When he was asked to write a song for the Singles soundtrack, Mark thought the Seattle grunge scene was already overblown, so that's what he wrote about.

John Doe of X

John Doe of XSongwriter Interviews

With his X-wife Exene, John fronts the band X and writes their songs.

Creedence Clearwater Revival

Creedence Clearwater RevivalFact or Fiction

Is "Have You Ever Seen the Rain" about Vietnam? Was John Fogerty really born on a Bayou? It's the CCR edition of Fact or Fiction.

Bryan Adams

Bryan AdamsSongwriter Interviews

What's the deal with "Summer of '69"? Bryan explains what the song is really about, and shares more of his songwriting insights.