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Michael Jackson

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Michael Jackson

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Michael Jackson


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Michael Jackson

At the White House in 1984

Background information
Birth name Michael Joseph Jackson
Born August 29, 1958
Gary, Indiana, United States

Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009), known as the "King of Pop", was an American musician and one of the most commercially successful and influential entertainers of all time. His unique contributions to music and dance, along with a highly publicized personal life, made him a prominent figure in popular culture for over four decades.
Alongside his brothers, he made his debut in 1964 as lead singer and youngest member of The Jackson 5, and began a successful solo career in 1971. His 1982 album Thriller remains the best-selling album of all time, with Off the Wall (1979), Bad (1987), Dangerous (1991), and HIStory (1995) among the best selling. He is widely credited with having transformed the music video from a promotional tool into an art form, with videos for his songs "Billie Jean", "Beat It" and "Thriller" making him the first African American artist to amass a strong crossover following on MTV. With stage performances and music videos, Jackson popularized a number of physically complicated dance techniques, such as the robot and the moonwalk. His distinctive musical sound, vocal style and choreography inspired numerous pop, rock, r&b and hip hop artists, while also breaking down cultural, racial and generational barriers.
One of the few artists to have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, his other achievements feature multiple Guinness World Records—including the "Most Successful Entertainer of All Time"—13 Grammy Awards, 22 American Music Awards (20 only as a solo artist, including one for "artist of the century"), 17 number one singles (including the four as a member of the Jackson 5), and estimated sales between 350 million and 750 million records worldwide.[1] He was also a notable philanthropist and humanitarian who donated and raised millions of dollars through support of 39 charities and his own Heal the World Foundation.
Jackson's personal life generated controversy for years. His changing appearance was noticed from the late 1970s onwards, with changes to his nose and to the color of his skin drawing media publicity. He was accused of child sexual abuse in 1993 though no charges were brought, and in 2005 he was tried and acquitted of further allegations. He married twice, first in 1994 and again in 1996, and brought up three children, one born to a surrogate mother. While preparing for the This Is It concert tour in 2009, Jackson died at the age of 50 after suffering from cardiac arrest. He reportedly had been administered drugs such as propofol and lorazepam, and his death was ruled a homicide by the Los Angeles County coroner. His death triggered an outpouring of grief from around the world with his globally live broadcast memorial service attracting an audience of up to one billion people.[2]
Life and career
Early life and The Jackson 5 (1958–1975)
Michael Jackson was born the eighth of ten children on August 29, 1958 in Gary, Indiana, an industrial suburb of Chicago, to an African American working-class family. His mother, Katherine Esther Scruse, was a devout Jehovah's Witness, and his father, Joseph Walter "Joe" Jackson, a steel mill worker who performed with an R&B band called The Falcons. Jackson had three sisters: Rebbie, La Toya, and Janet, and six brothers: Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, Brandon (Marlon's twin brother, who died shortly after birth)[3] and Randy.[4]
Jackson had a troubled relationship with his father. He stated that he was physically and emotionally abused during incessant rehearsals, whippings, and name-calling, though he credited his father's discipline for his success.[5] In one altercation recalled by Marlon, Joseph held Michael upside down by one leg and "pummeled him over and over again with his hand, hitting him on his back and buttocks".[6] Joseph would also trip or push his sons into walls. One night while Michael was asleep, Joseph climbed into his room through the bedroom window, wearing a fright mask and screaming. He said he wanted to teach the children not to leave the window open when they went to sleep. For years afterward, Jackson said he suffered nightmares about being kidnapped from his bedroom.[6] Joseph acknowledged in 2003 that he regularly whipped Jackson as a child.[7]
Jackson first spoke openly about his childhood abuse in an interview with Oprah Winfrey broadcast on February 10, 1993. He said that he had often cried from loneliness and would sometimes vomit when he saw his father. In an interview with Martin Bashir, later included in the 2003 broadcast of Living with Michael Jackson, Jackson acknowledged that his father hurt him when he was a child, but was nonetheless a "genius." When Bashir dismissed the positive remark and continued asking about beatings, Jackson put his hand over his face and objected to the questions. He recalled that Joseph sat in a chair with a belt in his hand as he and his siblings rehearsed, and that "if you didn't do it the right way, he would tear you up, really get you".[8][9]
He showed talent early in his life, performing in front of classmates during a Christmas recital in kindergarten. In 1964, he and Marlon joined the Jackson Brothers—a band formed by brothers Jackie, Tito, and Jermaine—as backup musicians playing congas and tambourine. Jackson later began performing backup vocals and dancing; at the age of eight, he and Jermaine assumed lead vocals, and the group's name was changed to The Jackson 5.[4] The band toured the Midwest extensively from 1966 to 1968, frequently performing at a string of black clubs known as the "chitlin' circuit", where they often opened stripteases and other adult acts. In 1966, they won a major local talent show with renditions of Motown hits and James Brown's "I Got You (I Feel Good)", led by Michael.[10]
The Jackson 5 recorded several songs, including "Big Boy", for the local record label Steeltown in 1967, and signed with Motown Records in 1968.[4] Rolling Stone magazine later described the young Michael as "a prodigy" with "overwhelming musical gifts," writing that he "quickly emerged as the main draw and lead singer."[11] The group set a chart record when its first four singles ("I Want You Back", "ABC", "The Love You Save," and "I'll Be There") peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100.[4]
Between 1972 and 1975, Jackson released four solo studio albums with Motown, among them Got to Be There and Ben, released as part of the Jackson 5 franchise, and producing successful singles such as "Got to Be There", "Ben", and a remake of Bobby Day's "Rockin' Robin". The group's sales began declining in 1973, and the band members chafed under Motown's strict refusal to allow them creative control or input. Although they scored several top 40 hits, including the top 5 disco single "Dancing Machine" and the top 20 hit "I Am Love", the Jackson 5 left Motown in 1975.[12]

Move to Epic and Off the Wall (1975–1981)
The Jackson 5 signed a new contract with CBS Records in June 1975, joining the Philadelphia International Records division, later Epic Records,[12] and renaming themselves The Jacksons.[13] They continued to tour internationally, releasing six more albums between 1976 and 1984, during which Jackson was the lead songwriter, writing hits such as "Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)", "This Place Hotel," and "Can You Feel It".[10]
In 1978, he starred as the scarecrow in the musical, The Wiz,[14] and it was here that he teamed up with Quincy Jones, who was arranging the film's musical score. Jones agreed to produce Jackson's next solo album, Off the Wall.[15] In 1979, Jackson broke his nose during a complex dance routine. His subsequent rhinoplasty was not a complete success; he complained of breathing difficulties that would affect his career. He was referred to Dr. Steven Hoefflin, who performed Jackson's second rhinoplasty and subsequent operations.[16]
Jones and Jackson produced the Off the Wall album together. At the album's pre-release party, Michael, himself, stated that Little Richard had a "huge influence" on him.[17] Songwriters for the album included Jackson, Heatwave's Rod Temperton, Stevie Wonder, and Paul McCartney. Released in 1979, it was the first album to generate four U.S. top 10 hits, including the chart-topping singles "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough" and "Rock with You".[18] It reached number three on the Billboard 200 and eventually sold over 20 million copies worldwide.[19] In 1980, Jackson won three awards at the American Music Awards for his solo efforts: Favorite Soul/R&B Album, Favorite Male Soul/R&B Artist, and Favorite Soul/R&B Single for "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough". That year, he also won Billboard Music Awards for Top Black Artist and Top Black Album and a Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance, also for "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough".[18] Despite its commercial success, Jackson felt Off the Wall should have made a much bigger impact, and was determined to exceed expectations with his next release.[20] In 1980, he secured the highest royalty rate in the music industry: 37 percent of wholesale album profit.[21]
Thriller and Motown 25 (1982–1983)
In 1982, Jackson contributed the song "Someone In the Dark" to the storybook for the film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial; the record won a Grammy for Best Album for Children.[22] That same year Jackson issued his second Epic album, Thriller, which became the most commercially successful album of all time. The album remained in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 for 80 consecutive weeks and 37 of those weeks at the peak position. It was the first album to have seven Billboard Hot 100 top 10 singles, including "Billie Jean", "Beat It," and "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'."[23] Thriller was certified for 29 million shipments by the RIAA, giving it Double Diamond status in the United States. It's the Best Selling Album of All Time in this country.[24] It was, and currently remains, the best-selling album of all time, with 110 million copies worldwide.[25] Jackson's attorney John Branca noted that Jackson had the highest royalty rate in the music industry at that point: approximately $2 for every album sold. He was also making record-breaking profits from sales of CDs and The Making of Michael Jackson's Thriller, a documentary produced by Jackson and John Landis. Funded by MTV, the documentary sold over 350,000 copies in a few months. The era saw the arrival of novelties like dolls modeled after Michael Jackson, which appeared in stores in May 1984 at a price of $12.[26] Biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli writes that, "Thriller stopped selling like a leisure item — like a magazine, a toy, tickets to a hit movie — and started selling like a household staple."[27]


Jackson debuts the moonwalk during his performance on Motown 25
Time described Jackson's influence at that point as "Star of records, radio, rock video. A one-man rescue team for the music business. A songwriter who sets the beat for a decade. A dancer with the fanciest feet on the street. A singer who cuts across all boundaries of taste and style and color too".[26] The New York Times wrote that, "in the world of pop music, there is Michael Jackson and there is everybody else".[28]
Jackson's popularity would soar further. On March 25, 1983, he performed live on the Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever television special, both with The Jackson 5 and on his own singing "Billie Jean". Wearing a distinctive sequined glove, he debuted his signature dance move, the moonwalk, which former Soul Train dancer and Shalamar member, Jeffrey Daniel had taught him 3 years before. His performances during the event were seen by 47 million viewers, and drew comparisons to Elvis Presley's and the The Beatles' appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show.[29] Anna Kisselgoff of the The New York Times said, "The moonwalk that he made famous is an apt metaphor for his dance style. How does he do it? As a technician, he is a great illusionist, a genuine mime. His ability to keep one leg straight as he glides while the other bends and seems to walk requires perfect timing."[30] Ian Inglis, author of Performance and popular music: history, place and time (2006) noted Jackson had created a pivotal turning point in the history of popular music "in that [his performance] marked the shift of emphasis from musical performance to visual presentation. In stark contrast to other, live, performances of Motown 25, Jackson performed to a pre-recorded soundtrack, lip-syncing to his multi-layered pre-recorded voice, thus indicating that the visual reenactment of music video imagery had become an integral, and perhaps dominant, part of live performance."[31] From this performance emerged the origin of music video as the primary source through which artists promote popular music.
Pepsi, "We Are the World" and business career (1984–85)
On January 27, 1984, Michael and other members of the Jacksons filmed a Pepsi Cola commercial, overseen by executive Philip Dusenberry,[32] at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. In front of a full house of fans during a simulated concert, pyrotechnics accidentally set Jackson's hair on fire. He suffered second-degree burns to his scalp. Jackson underwent treatment to hide the scars on his scalp, and he also had his third rhinoplasty shortly thereafter.[16] Jackson never recovered from this injury. Pepsi settled out of court, and Jackson donated his $1.5 million settlement to the Brotman Medical Center in Culver City, California, which now has a "Michael Jackson Burn Center" in honor of his donation.[33]


Jackson at the White House South Portico with President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan, 1984
On May 14, 1984, Jackson was invited to the White House to receive an award from President Ronald Reagan for his support of charities that helped people overcome alcohol and drug abuse.[34] Jackson won eight awards during the Grammys that year.
Unlike later albums, Thriller did not have an official tour to promote it, but the 1984 Victory Tour, headlined by The Jacksons, showcased much of Jackson's new solo material to more than two million Americans. He donated his $5 million share from the Victory Tour to charity.[35] He also co-wrote the charity single "We Are the World" in 1985 with Lionel Richie, which was released worldwide to aid the poor in the U.S. and Africa. It became one of the best-selling singles of all time, with nearly 20 million copies sold and millions of dollars donated to famine relief.[36]
In 1985, ATV Music, a music publishing company owning thousands of music copyrights, including the Northern Songs catalogue that contained the majority of the Lennon/McCartney compositions recorded by The Beatles, was put up for sale.[37][38] Jackson had become interested in owning music catalogs after working with Paul McCartney in the early 1980s: Jackson had learned McCartney made approximately $40 million a year from other people's songs. McCartney's attorney assured Jackson's attorney that McCartney was not interested in bidding on ATV: McCartney reportedly said "It's too pricey". However, McCartney later changed his mind and tried to persuade John Lennon's widow Yoko Ono to join him in a joint bid. Ono declined, and McCartney pulled out. Jackson eventually beat the rest of the competition in negotiations that lasted 10 months, purchasing the catalog for $47.5 million.[37][39]
Appearance, tabloids, Bad, autobiography and films (1986–1987)
See also: Michael Jackson's health and appearance
Jackson's skin had been a medium-brown color for the entire duration of his youth, but starting in the mid 1980s, it gradually grew paler. The change gained widespread media coverage, including rumors that he was bleaching his skin.[40] According to J. Randy Taraborrelli's biography, in 1986, Jackson was diagnosed with vitiligo and lupus; the vitiligo partially lightened his skin, and the lupus was in remission; both illnesses made him sensitive to sunlight. (His long-term dermatologist Dr. Arnold Klein confirmed this on Larry King Live, after his death.) The treatments he used for his condition further lightened his skin tone, and, with the application of pancake makeup to even out blotches, he could appear very pale.[41] The structure of his face had also changed: several surgeons speculated that he had undergone multiple nasal surgeries, a forehead lift, thinned lips, and cheekbone surgery.[42]
Jackson lost weight in the early 1980s because of a change in diet and a desire for "a dancer's body".[43] Witnesses reported that he was often dizzy and speculated that he was suffering from anorexia nervosa; periods of weight loss would become a recurring problem later in life.[44] Some medical professionals have said he was suffering from body dysmorphic disorder, a psychological condition whereby the sufferer dislikes his appearance and has no concept of how he is viewed by others.[41] Jackson claimed that he had only two rhinoplasties and no other surgery on his face, although at one point he mentioned having a dimple created in his chin.[43]


Jackson two years after he was diagnosed with vitiligo, here in the early stages of the disease
He became the subject of increasingly sensational reports. In 1986, the tabloids ran a story claiming that Jackson slept in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber to slow the aging process; he was pictured lying down in a glass box. Although the claim was untrue, Jackson had disseminated the fabricated story himself.[45][46] When Jackson bought a chimpanzee called Bubbles from a laboratory, it was reported as an example of increasing detachment from reality.[47] It was reported that Jackson had offered to buy the bones of Joseph Merrick (the "elephant man") and although untrue, Jackson did not deny the story.[45][46] Although initially he saw these stories as publicity, he stopped leaking untruths to the press as they became more sensational, so the media began making up their own stories.[46][48][49]
These reports became embedded in the public consciousness, inspiring the nickname "Wacko Jacko," which Jackson came to despise.[50] Responding to the gossip, Jackson remarked to a reporter:
Why not just tell people I'm an alien from Mars. Tell them I eat live chickens and do a voodoo dance at midnight. They'll believe anything you say, because you're a reporter. But if I, Michael Jackson, were to say, "I'm an alien from Mars and I eat live chickens and do a voodoo dance at midnight," people would say, "Oh, man, that Michael Jackson is nuts. He's cracked up. You can't believe a damn word that comes out of his mouth."[51]


Jackson wore a gold-plated military style jacket with belt in the Bad era
Jackson starred in the 3-D film Captain EO, directed by Francis Ford Coppola. It was the most expensive film produced on a per-minute basis at the time, and was later hosted in Disney theme parks. Disneyland featured the film in its Tomorrowland area for nearly 11 years, while Walt Disney World screened the film in its Epcot theme park from 1986 to 1994.[52] With the industry expecting another major hit, Jackson's first album in five years, Bad (1987), was highly anticipated.[53] It had lower sales than Thriller, but was still a substantial commercial success, spawning seven hit singles in the U.S., five of which ("I Just Can't Stop Loving You", "Bad", "The Way You Make Me Feel", "Man in the Mirror" and "Dirty Diana") reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, more than any other album.[54] As of 2008, the album had sold 30 million copies worldwide.[55]
In 1987, Jackson disassociated himself from the Jehovah's Witnesses, in response to their disapproval of the Thriller video.[56] The Bad World Tour began on September 12 that year, finishing on January 14, 1989.[57] In Japan alone, the tour had 14 sellouts and drew 570,000 people, nearly tripling the previous record of 200,000 in a single tour.[58] He broke a Guinness World Record when 504,000 people attended seven sold-out shows at Wembley Stadium. He performed a total of 123 concerts to an audience of 4.4 million people, and gained a further Guinness World Record when the tour grossed him $125 million. During the trip he invited underprivileged children to watch for free, and gave donations to hospitals, orphanages, and other charities.[57]
Autobiography, changing appearance and Neverland (1988–1990)


Jackson performing "The Way You Make Me Feel."
In 1988, Jackson released his first autobiography, Moon Walk, which took four years to complete and sold 200,000 copies.[59] Jackson wrote about his childhood, The Jackson 5, and the abuse he had suffered.[60] He also wrote about his facial appearance, saying he had had two rhinoplastic surgeries and dimple created in his chin.[43] He attributed much of the change in the structure of his face to puberty, weight loss, a strict vegetarian diet, a change in hair style, and stage lighting.[43] Moon Walk reached the top position on The New York Times best sellers' list.[61] The musician then released a film called Moonwalker, which featured live footage and music videos that starred Jackson and Joe Pesci. It debuted atop the Billboard Top Music Video Cassette chart, staying there for 22 weeks. It was eventually knocked off the top spot by Michael Jackson: The Legend Continues.[62]
In March 1988, Jackson purchased land near Santa Ynez, California to build Neverland Ranch at a cost of $17 million. He installed Ferris wheels, a menagerie, and a movie theater on the 2,700-acre (11 km2) property. A security staff of 40 patrolled the grounds. In 2003, it was valued at approximately $100 million.[11][63] In 1989, his annual earnings from album sales, endorsements, and concerts was estimated at $125 million for that year alone.[64] Shortly afterwards, he became the first Westerner to appear in a television ad in the Soviet Union.[62]
His success resulted in him being dubbed the "King of Pop."[65][66][67][68] The nickname was popularized by Elizabeth Taylor when she presented him with the Soul Train Heritage Award in 1989, proclaiming him "the true king of pop, rock and soul."[69] President George H. W. Bush presented him with The White House's special "Artist of the Decade."[70] From 1985 to 1990, he donated $500,000 to the United Negro College Fund, and all of the profits from his single "Man in the Mirror" went to charity.[71][72] Jackson's live rendition of "You Were There" at Sammy Davis Jr.'s 60th birthday celebration received an Emmy nomination.[62]
Dangerous, Heal the World Foundation and Super Bowl XXVII (1991–1993)
In March 1991, Jackson renewed his contract with Sony for $65 million, a record-breaking deal at the time, displacing Neil Diamond's renewal contract with Columbia Records.[63] He released his eighth album Dangerous in 1991. As of 2008, Dangerous had shipped seven million copies in the U.S. and had sold 32 million copies worldwide; it is the most successful new jack swing album of all time.[73][74][75] In the United States, the album's first single "Black or White" was its biggest hit, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and remaining there for seven weeks, with similar chart performances worldwide.[76] The album's second single "Remember the Time" spent eight weeks in the top five in the United States, peaking at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.[77] In 1993, Jackson performed the song at the Soul Train Awards in a chair, saying he had suffered an injury in rehearsals.[78] In the UK and other parts of Europe, "Heal the World" was the biggest hit from the album; it sold 450,000 copies in the UK and spent five weeks at number two in 1992.[77]
Jackson founded the "Heal the World Foundation" in 1992. The charity organization brought underprivileged children to Jackson's ranch to enjoy theme park rides that Jackson had built on the property. The foundation also sent millions of dollars around the globe to help children threatened by war, poverty, and disease. The Dangerous World Tour began on June 27, 1992, and finished on November 11, 1993. Jackson performed to 3.5 million people in 67 concerts. All profits from the concerts went to the "Heal the World Foundation", raising millions of dollars in relief.[77][79] He sold the broadcast rights to his Dangerous world tour to HBO for $20 million, a record-breaking deal that still stands.[80] Following the illness and death of Ryan White, Jackson helped draw public attention to HIV/AIDS, something that was still controversial at the time. He publicly pleaded with the Clinton Administration at Bill Clinton's Inaugural Gala to give more money to HIV/AIDS charities and research.[81][82]
In a high-profile visit to Africa, Jackson visited several countries, among them Gabon and Egypt.[83] His first stop to Gabon was greeted with a sizable and enthusiastic reception of more than 100,000 people, some of them carrying signs that read, "Welcome Home Michael."[83] In his trip to the Ivory Coast, Jackson was crowned "King Sani" by a tribal chief.[83] He then thanked the dignitaries in French and English, signed official documents formalizing his kingship and sat on a golden throne while presiding over ceremonial dances.[83]
One of Jackson's most acclaimed performances came during the halftime show at Super Bowl XXVII. As the performances began, Jackson was catapulted onto the stage as fireworks went off behind him. As he landed on the canvas, he maintained a motionless "clenched fist, standing statue stance", dressed in a gold and black military outfit and sunglasses; he remained completely motionless for several minutes while the crowd cheered. He then slowly removed his sunglasses, threw them away and began to sing and dance. His routine included

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