|Born||Michael Joseph Jackson
August 29, 1958
Gary, Indiana, U.S.
|Died||June 25, 2009 (aged 50)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Occupation||Singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer, choreographer, actor, businessman|
|Net worth||$236 million (2007)|
|Spouse(s)||Lisa Marie Presley (1994–96)
Debbie Rowe (1996–99)
|Children||Prince Michael Jackson (b. 1997)
Paris Jackson (b. 1998)
Prince Michael Jackson II (b. 2002)
|Parents||Joseph Jackson (father)
Katherine Jackson (mother)
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 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 four decades.
He started a solo career in 1971, having made his debut in 1964 as a member of The Jackson 5. His 1982 album Thriller remains the best-selling album of all time, with four others — Off the Wall (1979), Bad (1987), Dangerous (1991), and HIStory (1995) — among the best selling. He popularized several intricate dance moves, such as the robot and the moonwalk. 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, and has influenced scores of music artists.
Twice inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, his other achievements feature multiple Guinness World Records — including the “Most Successful Entertainer of All Time” — 13 Grammy Awards, 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. He was also a notable philanthropist and humanitarian who donated and raised million 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 and early 1980s, with changes to the shape of his nose and to the color of his skin drawing media publicity. He was accused in 1993 of child sexual abuse, although no charges were brought. He married twice, first in 1994 and again in 1996, and brought up three children, one born to a surrogate mother. In 2005, he was tried and acquitted of child molestation allegations. While preparing for the This Is It concert tour in 2009, Jackson died at the age of 50 in Los Angeles, California, after suffering from cardiac arrest. His memorial service was broadcasted live around the world.
Life and career
1958–75: Early life and The Jackson 5
Michael Jackson was born the seventh of nine 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 five brothers: Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, and Randy.
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. 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”. 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. Joseph acknowledged in 2003 that he regularly whipped Jackson as a child.
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, aired on February 3, 2003 as Living with Michael Jackson, he covered his face with his hands and began crying when talking about his childhood abuse. 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”.
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. 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.
The Jackson 5 recorded several songs, including “Big Boy“, for the local record label Steeltown in 1967, and signed with Motown Records in 1968. 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.” 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.
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.
1975–81: Move to Epic and Off the Wall
The Jackson 5 signed a new contract with CBS Records in June 1975, joining the Philadelphia International Records division, later Epic Records, and renaming themselves The Jacksons. 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“.
In 1978, he starred as the scarecrow in the musical, The Wiz, 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. 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.
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. 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“. It reached number three on the Billboard 200 and eventually sold over 20 million copies worldwide. 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”. 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. In 1980, he secured the highest royalty rate in the music industry: 37 percent of wholesale album profit.
1982–83: Thriller and Motown 25
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. 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’.” Thriller was certified for 28 million shipments by the RIAA, giving it Double Diamond status in the United States. It is the best-selling album of all time, with 110 million copies worldwide. 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. 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.”
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”. The New York Times wrote that, “in the world of pop music, there is Michael Jackson and there is everybody else”.
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. 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.”
1984–85: Pepsi, “We Are the World” and business career
On January 27, 1984, Michael and other members of the Jacksons filmed a Pepsi Cola commercial, overseen by executive Philip Dusenberry, 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. 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”.
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. 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. 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.
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. 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.
1986–87: Appearance, tabloids, Bad, autobiography, and films
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. 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. 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. 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.
He lost weight in the early 1980s because of a change in diet and a desire for “a dancer’s body”. 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. 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. He had a fourth rhinoplasty in 1986, and had a cleft put in his chin. However in the documentary Living with Michael Jackson he stated in an interview that only had two rhinoplasties and no other facial modifications.
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. When Jackson bought a chimpanzee called Bubbles from a laboratory, it was reported as an example of increasing detachment from reality. 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. Although initially he saw these stories as beneficial publicity, he stopped leaking untruths to the press as they became more sensational, so the media began making up their own stories.
These reports became embedded in the public consciousness, inspiring the nickname “Wacko Jacko,” which Jackson came to despise. 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.”
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. With the industry expecting another major hit, Jackson’s first album in five years, Bad (1987), was highly anticipated. 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. As of 2008, the album had sold 30 million copies worldwide.
In 1987, Jackson disassociated himself from the Jehovah’s Witnesses, in response to their disapproval of the Thriller video. The Bad World Tour began on September 12 that year, finishing on January 14, 1989. 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. 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.
1988–90: Autobiography, changing appearance, and Neverland
In 1988, Jackson released his first autobiography, Moon Walk, which took four years to complete and sold 200,000 copies. Jackson wrote about his childhood, The Jackson 5, and the abuse he had suffered. He also spoke of his plastic surgery, saying he had had two rhinoplastic surgeries and the surgical creation of a cleft in his chin. 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. Moon Walk reached the top position on The New York Times best sellers’ list. The musician then released a film called Moonwalker, which featured live footage and music videos that starred Jackson and Joe Pesci. Moonwalker 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.
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. In 1989, his annual earnings from album sales, endorsements, and concerts was estimated at $125 million for that year alone. Shortly afterwards, he became the first Westerner to appear in a television ad in the Soviet Union.
His success resulted in his being dubbed the “King of Pop.” 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.” President George H. W. Bush presented him with The White House’s special “Artist of the Decade.” 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. Jackson’s live rendition of “You Were There” at Sammy Davis Jr.’s 60th birthday celebration received an Emmy nomination.
1991–93: Dangerous, Heal the World Foundation and Super Bowl XXVII
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. 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. 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. 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. In 1993, Jackson performed the song at the Soul Train Awards in a chair, saying he had suffered an injury in rehearsals. 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.
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 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. He sold the broadcast rights to his Dangerous world tour to HBO for $20 million, a record-breaking deal that still stands. 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.
In a high-profile visit to Africa, Jackson visited several countries, among them Gabon and Egypt. His first stop to Gabon was greeted with a sizable reception of more than 100,000 people in “spiritual bedlam”, some of them carrying signs that read, “Welcome Home Michael”. In his trip to the Ivory Coast, Jackson was crowned “King Sani” by a tribal chief. 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.
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 four songs: “Jam“, “Billie Jean”, “Black or White” and “Heal the World”. It was the first Super Bowl where the audience figures increased during the half-time show, and was viewed by 135 million Americans alone; Jackson’s Dangerous album rose 90 places up the album chart.
Jackson was given the “Living Legend Award” at the 35th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. “Black or White” was Grammy nominated for best vocal performance. “Jam” gained two nominations: Best R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song.
1993: First child sexual abuse allegations
Jackson gave a 90-minute interview to Oprah Winfrey in February 1993, his second television interview since 1979. He grimaced when speaking of his childhood abuse at the hands of his father; he believed he had missed out on much of his childhood years, admitting that he often cried from loneliness. He denied tabloid rumors that he had bought the bones of the Elephant Man, slept in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, or bleached his skin, stating for the first time that he had vitiligo. The interview was watched by an American audience of 90 million, becoming the fourth most-viewed non-sport program in U.S. history. It also increased awareness of vitiligo, a relatively unknown condition. Dangerous re-entered the album chart in the top 10, more than a year after its original release.
In the summer of 1993, Jackson was accused of child sexual abuse by a 13-year-old boy named Jordan Chandler and his father, Evan Chandler, a dentist. A year after Jackson met the boy, under the influence of sodium amytal, a controversial sedative, Jordan told his father that Jackson had touched his penis. The father was tape-recorded discussing his intention to pursue charges, where he said, “If I go through with this, I win big-time. There’s no way I lose. I will get everything I want and they will be destroyed forever … Michael’s career will be over”. He and Jackson engaged in unsuccessful negotiations to reach a financial settlement. The negotiations were initiated by Chandler but Jackson did make several counter offers. Jordan told a psychiatrist and later police that he and Jackson had engaged in acts of kissing, masturbation and oral sex, as well as giving a detailed description of what he alleged were the singer’s genitals.
An official investigation began, with Jordan’s mother adamant that there was no wrongdoing on Jackson’s part. Neverland Ranch was searched; and multiple children and family members denied that Jackson was a pedophile, though his image took a further hit when his older sister, La Toya, accused him of being a pedophile, a statement she later retracted. Jackson agreed to a 25-minute strip search, conducted by police and doctors at his ranch, required to see if a description provided by Jordan of Jackson’s genitals was accurate. Doctors concluded there were strong similarities, but it was not a definitive match. His friends said he never recovered from the humiliation. He described the search in an emotional public statement, and proclaimed his innocence.
The tabloids painted him in an extremely unfavorable light. Complaints about them included bias against Jackson, paying for stories about alleged criminal activity, and buying leaked confidential material from the police investigation. On January 1, 1994, Jackson settled with the Chandlers out of court for $22 million, after which Jordan stopped co-operating regarding criminal proceedings. Jackson was never charged, and the state closed its criminal investigation, citing lack of evidence.
1994: First marriage
Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley (pictured here at Daytona International Speedway in 2005) on May 26, 1994.
In May 1994, Jackson married singer-songwriter Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of Elvis Presley. They had first met in 1975 during one of Jackson’s family engagements at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, and were reconnected through a mutual friend in early 1993. They stayed in contact every day over the telephone. As the child molestation accusations became public, Jackson became dependent on Presley for emotional support; she was concerned about his faltering health and addiction to drugs. Presley explained, “I believed he didn’t do anything wrong and that he was wrongly accused and yes I started falling for him. I wanted to save him. I felt that I could do it.” In a phone call he made to her, she described him as high, incoherent and delusional. Shortly afterwards, she persuaded him to settle the allegations out of court and go into rehabilitation to recover. Jackson proposed to Presley over the telephone towards the fall of 1993, saying, “If I asked you to marry me, would you do it?” They married in the Dominican Republic in secrecy, denying it for nearly two months afterwards. The marriage was, in her words, “a married couple’s life … that was sexually active”. At the time, the tabloid media speculated that the wedding was a ploy to prop up Jackson’s public image. Jackson and Presley divorced less than two years later, remaining friendly.
In 1995, Jackson merged his ATV Music catalog with Sony’s publishing division creating Sony/ATV Music Publishing. Jackson retained half-ownership of the company, earned $95 million upfront as well as the rights to even more songs. He then released the double album HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I. The first disc, HIStory Begins, was a 15-track greatest hits album, and was later reissued as Greatest Hits – HIStory Vol. I in 2001, while the second disc, HIStory Continues, contained 15 new songs. The album debuted at number one on the charts and has been certified for seven million shipments in the US. It is the best-selling multiple-disc album of all-time, with 20 million copies (40 million units) sold worldwide. HIStory received a Grammy nomination for best album.
The first single released from the album was the double A-side “Scream/Childhood“. “Scream” was a duet, performed with Jackson’s youngest sister Janet. The single had the highest debut on the Billboard Hot 100 at number five, and received a Grammy nomination for “Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals”. “You Are Not Alone” was the second single released from HIStory; it holds the Guinness World Record for the first song ever to debut at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It was seen as a major artistic and commercial success, receiving a Grammy nomination for “Best Pop Vocal Performance”. In late 1995, Jackson was rushed to a hospital after collapsing during rehearsals for a televised performance; the incident was caused by a stress related panic attack. “Earth Song” was the third single released from HIStory, and topped the UK singles chart for six weeks over Christmas 1995; it sold a million copies, making it Jackson’s most successful single in the UK. The HIStory World Tour began on September 7, 1996, and finished on October 15, 1997. Jackson performed 82 concerts in 58 cities to over 4.5 million fans. The show, which visited five continents and 35 countries, became Jackson’s most successful in terms of audience figures.
1996–99: Second marriage and fatherhood
During the Australian leg of the HIStory World Tour, Jackson married dermatology nurse Deborah Jeanne Rowe on November 14, 1996 in an impromptu ceremony close to his Sydney hotel room. She gave birth to Michael’s first two children: a son, Michael Joseph Jr., commonly known as Prince, and a daughter, Paris-Michael Katherine. Rowe and Jackson first met in the mid-1980s, when Jackson was allegedly diagnosed with vitiligo. She spent many years treating his illness as well as providing emotional support. They built a strong friendship, then became romantically involved. Originally there were no plans to marry, but following Rowe’s first pregnancy, Jackson’s mother intervened and persuaded them to do so. Jackson later claimed that he was in such a rush to leave the hospital with daughter Paris in 1998 because he was worried to hear any bad news like the time of Prince’s birth when he was told that the baby wasn’t breathing correctly. The couple divorced in 1999, and remained friends, with Rowe giving full custody of the children to Jackson.
In 1997, Jackson released Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix, which contained remixes of hit singles from HIStory and five new songs. Worldwide sales stand at 6 million copies as of 2007, making it the best selling remix album ever released. It reached number one in the UK, as did the title track. In the US, the album was certified platinum, but only reached number 24. Forbes placed his annual income at $35 million in 1996 and $20 million in 1997.
Throughout June 1999, Jackson was involved in a number of charitable events. He joined Luciano Pavarotti for a benefit concert in Modena, Italy. The show was in support of the non-profit organization War Child, and raised a million dollars for the refugees of Kosovo, as well as additional funds for the children of Guatemala. Later that month, Jackson organized a set of “Michael Jackson & Friends” benefit concerts in Germany and Korea. Other artists involved included Slash, The Scorpions, Boyz II Men, Luther Vandross, Mariah Carey, A. R. Rahman, Prabhu Deva Sundaram, Shobana Chandrakumar, Andrea Bocelli and Luciano Pavarotti. The proceeds went to the “Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund”, the Red Cross and UNESCO.
2000–03: Label dispute, Invincible and third child
In October 2001, Jackson released Invincible. This was his first album in six years, and it turned out to be the last album of new material he released while still alive. The release of the album was preceded by a dispute between Jackson and his record label, Sony Music Entertainment.
Jackson had expected the licenses to the masters of his albums to revert to him sometime in the early 2000s. Once he had the licenses, he would be able to promote the material however he pleased and he would also be able to keep all the profits. However, due to various clauses in the contract, the revert date turned out to be many years away. Jackson discovered that the attorney who represented him in the deal was also representing Sony, creating a conflict of interest. Jackson was also concerned about another conflict of interest. For a number of years, Sony had been pushing to buy all of Jackson’s share in their music catalog venture. Jackson feared that Sony might ironically have something to gain from Jackson’s career failing, since if his career did fail he would have to sell his share of the catalog.
Jackson used these conflicts as leverage to exit his contract early. Just before the release of Invincible, Jackson informed the head of Sony Music Entertainment, Tommy Mottola, that he was leaving Sony. As a result, all singles releases, video shootings and promotions concerning the Invincible album were canceled.
In spite of the uproar preceding its release, Invincible came out in October 2001 to much anticipation. Just before the album’s release, a special 30th Anniversary celebration at Madison Square Garden occurred in September 2001 to mark the singer’s 30th year as a solo artist. Jackson appeared onstage alongside his brothers for the first time since 1984. The show also featured performances by Mýa, Usher, Whitney Houston, ‘N Sync, Destiny’s Child, Monica, Luther Vandross, and Slash, among other artists. In the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Jackson helped organize the United We Stand: What More Can I Give benefit concert at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. The concert was aired on October 21, 2001, and included performances from dozens of major artists, including Jackson, who performed his song “What More Can I Give” as the finale.
Invincible proved to be a hit, debuting atop the charts in 13 countries and going on to sell approximately 10 million copies worldwide. It received double-platinum certification in the US. However, the sales for Invincible were lower than those of his previous releases, due in part to a lack of promotion, no supporting world tour and the label dispute. The album also came out at a bad time for the music industry in general. The album cost $30 million to record, not including promotional expenditures. 
Jackson alleged in July 2002 that Mottola was a “devil” and a “racist” who did not support his African-American artists, using them merely for his own personal gain. He charged that Mottola had called his colleague Irv Gotti a “fat nigger“. Sony refused to renew Jackson’s contract, and claimed that a $25 million promotional campaign had failed because Jackson refused to tour in the United States.
Jackson’s third child, Prince Michael Jackson II (nicknamed “Blanket”) was born in 2002. The mother’s identity is unknown, but Jackson has said the child was the result of artificial insemination from a surrogate mother and his own sperm cells. In November of that year, Jackson brought his newborn son onto the balcony of his room at the Hotel Adlon in Berlin, as fans stood below. Holding him in his right arm, with a cloth loosely draped over the baby’s face, Jackson briefly extended the baby over the railing of the balcony, four stories above ground level, causing widespread criticism in the media. Jackson later apologized for the incident, calling it “a terrible mistake”. Sony released a compilation of Jackson’s hits on CD and DVD. In the US, the album was certified platinum by the RIAA; in the UK it was certified for shipments of at least 1.2 million units.
2003–05: Second child sexual abuse allegations
In a series of interviews with Martin Bashir, broadcast in 2003 as Living with Michael Jackson, Jackson was seen holding hands and discussing sleeping arrangements with Gavin Arvizo, 13, who later accused him of sexual abuse. Shortly after the documentary aired, Jackson was charged with seven counts of child molestation and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent in relation to Arvizo.
Jackson denied the allegations, saying the sleepovers were not sexual in nature. Elizabeth Taylor defended him, saying she had been there when they were in the bed. “There was nothing abnormal about it,” she told Larry King. “There was no touchy-feely going on. We laughed like children and we watched a lot of Walt Disney. There was nothing odd about it.” During the investigation, Jackson was examined by mental health professional Dr. Stan Katz, who spent several hours with the accuser too. Katz said Jackson was a regressed 10-year-old, and did not fit the profile of a pedophile.
During the two years between the charges and the trial, Jackson reportedly became dependent on pethidine (Demerol), and lost a lot of weight. The People v. Jackson began on January 31, 2005, in Santa Maria, California, and lasted five months, until the end of May. On June 13, 2005, Jackson was acquitted on all counts. After the trial, he relocated to the Persian Gulf island of Bahrain, as a guest of Sheikh Abdullah.
2006–09: Final years
Reports of financial problems for Jackson became frequent in 2006 after the closure of the main house on the Neverland Ranch as a cost-cutting measure. One prominent financial issue concerned a $270 million loan secured against his music publishing holdings. After delayed repayments on the loan, a refinancing package shifted the loans from Bank of America to debt specialists Fortress Investments. A new package proposed by Sony would have had Jackson borrow an additional $300 million and reduce the interest rate payable on the loan, while giving Sony the future option to buy half of Jackson’s stake in their jointly owned publishing company (leaving Jackson with a 25% stake). Jackson agreed to a Sony-backed refinancing deal, although details were not made public. Despite these loans, according to Forbes, Jackson was still making as much as $75 million a year from his publishing partnership with Sony alone.
Jackson was awarded the Diamond Award on November 15, 2006, for selling over 100 million albums, at the World Music Awards. Following the death of James Brown, Jackson returned to the U.S. to pay tribute during Brown’s public funeral on December 30, 2006. In late 2006, he agreed to share joint custody of his first two children with ex-wife Debbie Rowe. Jackson and Sony bought Famous Music LLC from Viacom in 2007. This deal gave him the rights to songs by Eminem, Shakira and Beck, among others.
I’ve been in the entertainment industry since I was six-years-old… As Charles Dickens says, “It’s been the best of times, the worst of times.” But I would not change my career… While some have made deliberate attempts to hurt me, I take it in stride because I have a loving family, a strong faith and wonderful friends and fans who have, and continue, to support me.—Michael Jackson
The 25th anniversary of Thriller was marked by the release of Thriller 25, recorded in Ireland, it featured the previously unreleased song “For All Time” and re-mixes. Two remixes were released as singles to moderate success: “The Girl Is Mine 2008” and “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ 2008“. Thriller 25 sold well as a re-issue, peaking at number one in eight countries and Europe. In 12 weeks Thriller 25 sold over three million copies worldwide. To celebrate Jackson’s 50th birthday, Sony BMG released a series of compilation albums called King of Pop. King of Pop did reach the top 10 in most countries where it was issued, and also sold well as an import in other countries.
Fortress Investments threatened to foreclose on Neverland Ranch, which Jackson used as collateral for loans running into many tens of millions of dollars. However, Fortress opted to sell Jackson’s debts to Colony Capital LLC. In November, Jackson transferred Neverland Ranch’s title to Sycamore Valley Ranch Company LLC, which was a joint venture between Jackson and Colony Capital LLC. This deal cleared Jackson’s debt, and he reportedly even gained an extra $35 million from the venture. At the time of his death, Jackson still owned a stake in Neverland/Sycamore Valley, but it is unknown how large that stake was.
In September 2008, financial concerns prompted Jackson to enter negotiations with Julien’s Auction House to display and auction a large collection of memorabilia amounting to approximately 1390 lots. The auction was scheduled to take place between April 22 and April Though an exhibition of the lots opened on 9900 Wilshire Blvd between April 14 and 25, the auction was eventually cancelled at Jackson’s request.
In March 2009 Jackson announced at London’s O2 arena that he would perform again in major comeback concerts titled This Is It at the venue. The shows were to be Jackson’s first major series of concerts since the HIStory World Tour finished in 1997, and had been cited as one of the year’s most important musical events with over one million people attending in total. Jackson suggested possible retirement during after the shows; in his own words it would be his “final curtain call”. Although initially a 10 date concert, it was increased to 50 dates after record breaking ticket sales. The concerts would have commenced on July 13, 2009 and finished on March 6, 2010. Less than three weeks before the first show was due to begin and with all concerts being sold out, Jackson died of a cardiac arrest.
AEG Live, the concert promoters, released a promotional video that took up an entire commercial break, setting a record for ITV. Randy Phillips, president and chief executive of AEG Live, stated that the first 10 dates alone would have earned the singer approximately £50 million. According to Jackson’s website, ticket sales for the concerts broke several records. Randy Phillips, president and chief executive of AEG Live stated that the first 10 dates alone would earn the singer approximately £50 million. It has now been confirmed that Columbia Pictures are to make a feature documentary concert-film from the rehearsal and pre-recorded footage. The contract for the film stipulates that a cut of the film must be screened for Jackson’s estate, which stands to receive 90 percent of the profits. A final cut is due October 30, 2009, for a limited 2 week run in theatres worldwide.
Death and memorial
On June 25, 2009, Jackson collapsed at his rented mansion at 100 North Carolwood Drive in the Holmby Hills district of Los Angeles. Attempts at resuscitating him by his personal physician were unsuccessful. Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics received a 911 call at 12:22 p.m. (PDT), arriving three minutes later at Jackson’s location. He was reportedly not breathing and CPR was performed. Resuscitation efforts continued en route to the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, and for an hour after arriving there at 1:13 p.m. (20:13 UTC). He was pronounced dead at 2:26 p.m. local time (21:26 UTC).
The memorial was held on July 7, 2009, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, preceded by a private family service at Forest Lawn Memorial Park’s Hall of Liberty. Jackson’s casket was present during the memorial but no information was released about the final disposition of the body. While some unofficial reports claimed a worldwide audience as high as one billion people  the U.S. audience was estimated by Nielson to be 31.1 million, an amount comparable to the estimated 35.1 million that watched the 2004 burial of President Ronald Reagan, and the estimated 33.1 million Americans who watched the 1997 funeral for Princess Diana.
Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, Mariah Carey, John Mayer, Jennifer Hudson, Usher, Jermaine Jackson, and Shaheen Jafargholi performed at the event. Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson gave eulogies, while Queen Latifah read, “We had him,” a poem written for the occasion by Maya Angelou. The Reverend Al Sharpton received a standing ovation when he told Jackson’s children, “Wasn’t nothing strange about your Daddy. It was strange what your Daddy had to deal with. But he dealt with it anyway.” Jackson’s 11-year-old daughter, Paris Katherine, cried as she told the crowd, “Ever since I was born, Daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine … I just wanted to say I love him … so much.” Michael Jackson will be buried on September 3, 2009.
On August 24, multiple news outlets quoted anonymous sources as stating that the Los Angeles coroner had decided to treat Jackson’s death as a homicide. At the time of death, Jackson had been administered propofol, lorazepam and midazolam. Law enforcement officials are currently conducting a manslaughter investigation of his personal physician, Conrad Murray.
Musical style and performance
Jackson’s music genre takes roots in R&B, Motown‘s music, pop and soul. He had been influenced by the work of contemporary musicians such as Little Richard, James Brown, Jackie Wilson, Diana Ross, Fred Astaire and the Bee Gees. He was also an admirer of performers from the English music hall tradition, such as Benny Hill and Charlie Chaplin.
While Little Richard had a huge influence on Jackson, James Brown was for him and since early childhood, his greatest inspiration: “the master” or “a genius” especially when he was playing with its group, the Famous Flames, qualifying its performance of “phenomenal”. He declared: “Ever since I was a small child, no more than like six years old, my mother would wake me no matter what time it was, if I was sleeping, no matter what I was doing, to watch the television to see the master at work. And when I saw him move, I was mesmerized. I had never seen a performer perform like James Brown, and right then and there I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life because of James Brown.”
At first, the young Michael Jackson owes his vocal technique in large part to Diana Ross. In October 1969, it was decided that Michael lived with Diana Ross. Not only a mother figure to him, he often observed her in rehearsal as an accomplished performer. He later confessed: “I got to know her well. She taught me so much. I used to just sit in the corner and watch the way she moved. She was art in motion. I studied the way she moved, the way she sang – just the way she was.” He told her: ‘I want to be just like you, Diana’. She said: ‘You just be yourself.’” But Michael especially owned his oooh’s from Diana Ross. At first, Michael almost always punctuated his verses of oooh. Not a long oooh but rather a sudden exclamation. Diana Ross used this effect on many of the songs recorded with the The Supremes, and young Michael was delighted to take ownership.
Themes and genres
Steve Huey of Allmusic said that, throughout his solo career, Jackson’s versatility allowed him to experiment with various themes and genres. As a musician, he ranged from Motown’s dance fare and ballads to techno and house-edged new jack swing to work that incorporates both funk rhythms and hard rock guitar.
Unlike many artists, Jackson did not write his songs on paper. Instead he would dictate into a sound recorder; when recording he would sing from memory. Several critics observed Off the Wall was crafted from funk, disco-pop, soul, soft rock, jazz and pop ballads. Prominent examples include the ballad “She’s out of My Life“, and the two disco tunes “Workin’ Day and Night” and “Get on the Floor”.
According to Huey, Thriller refined the strengths of Off the Wall; the dance and rock tracks were more aggressive, while the pop tunes and ballads were softer and more soulful. Notable tracks included the ballads “The Lady in My Life”, “Human Nature” and “The Girl Is Mine“; the funk pieces “Billie Jean” and “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’“; and the disco set “Baby Be Mine” and “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)“. With Thriller, Christopher Connelly of Rolling Stone commented that Jackson developed his long association with the subliminal theme of paranoia and darker imagery. Allmusic’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine noted this is evident on the songs “Billie Jean” and “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’”. In “Billie Jean”, Jackson sings about an obsessive fan who alleges he has fathered a child of hers. In “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’” he argues against gossip and the media. The anti-gang violence rock song “Beat It” became a homage to West Side Story, and was Jackson’s first successful rock cross-over piece, according to Huey. He also observed that the title track “Thriller” began Jackson’s interest with the theme of the supernatural, a topic he revisited in subsequent years. In 1985, Jackson co-wrote the charity anthem “We Are the World“; humanitarian themes later became a recurring theme in his lyrics and public persona.
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In Bad, Jackson’s concept of the predatory lover can be seen on the rock song “Dirty Diana“. The lead single “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” is a traditional love ballad, while “Man in the Mirror” is an anthemic ballad of confession and resolution. “Smooth Criminal” was an evocation of bloody assault, rape and likely murder. Allmusic’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine states that Dangerous presents Jackson as a stark paradoxical individual. He comments the album is more diverse than his previous Bad, as it appeals to an urban audience while also attracting the middle class with anthems like “Heal the World“. The first half of the record is dedicated to new jack swing, including songs like “Jam” and “Remember the Time“. The album is Jackson’s first where social ills become a primary theme; “Why You Wanna Trip on Me”, for example, protests against world hunger, AIDS, homelessness and drugs. Dangerous contains sexually charged efforts like “In the Closet“, a love song about desire and denial, risk and repression, solitude and connection, privacy and revelation. The title track continues the theme of the predatory lover and compulsive desire. The second half includes introspective, pop-gospel anthems such as “Will You Be There“, “Heal the World” and “Keep the Faith”; these songs show Jackson finally opening up about various personal struggles and worries. In the ballad “Gone Too Soon“, Jackson gives tribute to his friend Ryan White and the plight of those with AIDS.
HIStory creates an atmosphere of paranoia. Its content focuses on the hardships and public struggles Jackson went through just prior to its production. In the new jack swing-funk-rock efforts “Scream” and “Tabloid Junkie”, along with the R&B ballad “You Are Not Alone“, Jackson retaliates against the injustice and isolation he feels, and directs much of his anger at the media. In the introspective ballad “Stranger in Moscow“, Jackson laments over his “fall from grace”, while songs like “Earth Song“, “Childhood“, “Little Susie” and “Smile” are all operatic pop pieces. In the track “D.S.“, Jackson launched a verbal attack against Tom Sneddon. He describes Sneddon as an antisocial, white supremacist who wanted to “get my ass, dead or alive”. Of the song, Sneddon said, “I have not — shall we say — done him the honor of listening to it, but I’ve been told that it ends with the sound of a gunshot”. Invincible found Jackson working heavily with producer Rodney Jerkins. It is a record made up of urban soul like “Cry” and “The Lost Children”, ballads such as “Speechless”, “Break of Dawn” and “Butterflies” and mixes hip hop, pop and rap in “2000 Watts”, “Heartbreaker” and “Invincible”.
Jackson sang from childhood, and over time his voice and vocal style changed noticeably. Between 1971 and 1975, Jackson’s voice descended from boy soprano to high tenor. Jackson first used a technique called the “vocal hiccup” in 1973, starting with the song “It’s Too Late to Change the Time” from the Jackson 5‘s G.I.T.: Get It Together album. Jackson did not use the hiccup technique— somewhat like a gulping for air or gasping— fully until the recording of Off the Wall: it be seen in full force in the “Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)” promotional video. 
With the arrival of Off the Wall in the late 1970s, Jackson’s abilities as a vocalist were well regarded. At the time, Rolling Stone compared his vocals to the “breathless, dreamy stutter” of Stevie Wonder. Their analysis was also that “Jackson’s feathery-timbred tenor is extraordinarily beautiful. It slides smoothly into a startling falsetto that’s used very daringly”. 1982 saw the release of Thriller, and Rolling Stone were of the opinion that Jackson was then singing in a “fully adult voice” that was “tinged by sadness”.
The release of “Bad” in 1987 displayed gritty lead vocals on the verse and lighter tones employed on the chorus. A distinctive deliberate mispronunciation of “come on”, used frequently by Jackson, occasionally spelt “cha’mone” or “shamone”, is also a staple in impressions and caricatures of him. The turn of the 1990s saw the release of the introspective album Dangerous. The New York Times noted that on some tracks, “he gulps for breath, his voice quivers with anxiety or drops to a desperate whisper, hissing through clenched teeth” and he had a “wretched tone”. When singing of brotherhood or self-esteem the musician would return to “smooth” vocals.
When commenting on Invincible, Rolling Stone were of the opinion that—at the age of 43—Jackson still performed “exquisitely voiced rhythm tracks and vibrating vocal harmonies”. Nelson George summed up Jackson’s vocals by stating “The grace, the aggression, the growling, the natural boyishness, the falsetto, the smoothness—that combination of elements mark him as a major vocalist”.
Music videos and choreography
Steve Huey of Allmusic observed how Jackson transformed the music video into an art form and a promotional tool through complex story lines, dance routines, special effects and famous cameo appearances; simultaneously breaking down racial barriers. According to director Vincent Paterson, who collaborated with the singer on several music videos, Jackson conceptualized many of the darker, bleak themes in his filmography.
Before Thriller, Jackson struggled to receive coverage on MTV, allegedly because he was African American. Pressure from CBS Records persuaded MTV to start showing “Billie Jean” and later “Beat It”, leading to a lengthy partnership with Jackson, also helping other black music artists gain recognition. MTV employees deny any racism in their coverage, or pressure to change their stance. MTV maintains that they played rock music, regardless of race. The popularity of his videos on MTV helped to put the relatively young channel “on the map”; MTV’s focus shifted in favor of pop and R&B. Short films like Thriller largely remained unique to Jackson, while the group dance sequence in “Beat It” has frequently been imitated. The choreography in Thriller has become a part of global pop culture, replicated everywhere from Indian films to prisons in the Philippines. The Thriller short film marked an increase in scale for music videos, and has been named the most successful music video ever by the Guinness World Records.
In the 19-minute music video for “Bad“—directed by Martin Scorsese—Jackson began using sexual imagery and choreography not previously seen in his work. He occasionally grabbed or touched his chest, torso and crotch. While he has described this as “choreography,” it garnered a mixed reception from both fans and critics; Time magazine described it as “infamous”. The video also featured Wesley Snipes; in the future Jackson’s videos would often feature famous cameo roles. For “Smooth Criminal“, Jackson experimented with an innovative “anti-gravity lean” in his performances, for which he was granted U.S. Patent No. 5,255,452. Although the music video for “Leave Me Alone” was not officially released in the US, in 1989, it was nominated for four Billboard Music Video Awards, winning three; the same year it won a Golden Lion Award for the quality of the special effects used in its production. In 1990, “Leave Me Alone” won a Grammy for Best Music Video, Short Form.
The MTV Video Vanguard Artist of the Decade Award was given to Jackson to celebrate his accomplishments in the art form in the 1980s; the following year the award was renamed in his honor. “Black or White” was accompanied by a controversial music video, which, on November 14, 1991, simultaneously premiered in 27 countries with an estimated audience of 500 million people, the largest viewing ever for a music video. It featured scenes construed as having a sexual nature as well as depictions of violence. The offending scenes in the final half of the 14-minute version were edited out to prevent the video from being banned, and Jackson apologized. Along with Jackson, it featured Macaulay Culkin, Peggy Lipton and George Wendt. It helped usher in morphing as an important technology in music videos.
“Remember the Time” was an elaborate production, and became one of his longest videos at over nine minutes. Set in ancient Egypt, it featured groundbreaking visual effects and appearances by Eddie Murphy, Iman and Magic Johnson, along with a distinct complex dance routine. The video for “In the Closet” was Jackson’s most sexually provocative piece. It featured supermodel Naomi Campbell in a courtship dance with Jackson. The video was banned in South Africa because of its imagery.
The music video for “Scream“, directed by Mark Romanek and production designer Tom Foden, is one of Jackson’s most critically acclaimed. In 1995, it gained 11 MTV Video Music Award Nominations—more than any other music video—and won “Best Dance Video”, “Best Choreography”, and “Best Art Direction”. The song and its accompanying video are a response to the backlash Jackson received from the media after being accused of child molestation in 1993. A year later, it won a Grammy for Best Music Video, Short Form; shortly afterwards Guinness World Records listed it as the most expensive music video ever made at a cost of $7 million.
“Earth Song” was accompanied by an expensive and well-received music video that gained a Grammy nomination for Best Music Video, Short Form in 1997. The video had an environmental theme, showing images of animal cruelty, deforestation, pollution and war. Using special effects, time is reversed so that life returns, wars ends, and the forests re-grow. Released in 1997 and premiering at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival, Ghosts was a short film written by Jackson and Stephen King and directed by Stan Winston. The video for Ghosts is over 38 minutes long and holds the Guinness World Record as the world’s longest music video.
Jackson is known to have recorded and worked on a large amount of music and video material which has never been released. Apart from his last original single “One More Chance” released in 2003 and the out-takes and remixes on the 2008 Thriller 25 package, he released no new songs after the Invincible album came out in 2001. However, Jackson did spend considerable time in the studio during the last several years of his life.
Filming for a “One More Chance” video began on November 18, 2003 for but was suspended after police raids on Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. MTV replaced the video with a video montage sourced from throughout Jackson’s career.
“Dangerous” , the title track of Michael Jackson’s eighth solo studio album released in November 1991, was planned as the tenth single from the album. These plans were canceled, after allegations of child sexual abuse were made against Jackson in August 1993. A “Dangerous” video was filmed in 1992 by avant-garde director David Lynch, and considered a rarity among collectors.
After his death, Jackson’s estate and his record label, Epic Records, have both stated that many recordings will be released in the future. His unreleased music includes out-takes from his many albums as well as newer material.
In July 2009, the celebrity news blog TMZ.com posted a 25-second excerpt of a song entitled “A Place With No Name.” The song is based on “A Horse with No Name” by the band America. Jim Morey (both Jackson’s and America’s former band manager) has stated that “America was honored that Michael chose to do their song and they hope it becomes available for all Michael’s fans to hear.” The song is the only posthumous material published in a mainstream venue, although a number of other tracks have been leaked unofficially. These have purportedly included recent material as well as out-takes from the Dangerous album.
Legacy and influence
Jackson transformed the art of the music video and paved the way for modern pop music in his own country. Jackson’s work, distinctive musical sound and vocal style have influenced scores of hip hop, pop and R&B artists, including Mariah Carey, Usher, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and R. Kelly. For much of his career, he had an “unparalleled” level of worldwide influence over the younger generation through his musical and humanitarian contributions.
Michael Jackson was inducted onto the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1984. Throughout his career he received numerous honors and awards, including the World Music Awards‘ Best-Selling Pop Male Artist of the Millennium, the American Music Award‘s Artist of the Century Award and the Bambi Pop Artist of the Millennium Award. He was a double-inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, once as a member of The Jackson 5 in 1997 and later as a solo artist in 2001. Jackson was also an inductee of the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002. His awards include multiple Guinness World Records (eight in 2006 alone), 13 Grammy Awards, 13 number one singles in his solo career—more than any other male artist in the Hot 100 era—and the sale of between 350 and 750 million records worldwide, making him the world’s best selling male solo pop artist.
He was characterized as “an unstoppable juggernaut, possessed of all the tools to dominate the charts seemingly at will: an instantly identifiable voice, eye-popping dance moves, stunning musical versatility and loads of sheer star power”. In the mid-1980s, Time described Jackson as “the hottest single phenomenon since Elvis Presley“. By 1990, Vanity Fair had already cited Jackson as the most popular artist in the history of show business. Daily Telegraph writer Tom Utley called him an “extremely important figure in the history of popular culture” and a “genius”. In late 2007, Jackson said the following of his work and future influence, “Music has been my outlet, my gift to all of the lovers in this world. Through it, my music, I know I will live forever.”
His total lifetime earnings from royalties on his solo recordings and music videos, revenue from concerts and endorsements have been estimated at $500 million; some analysts have speculated that his music catalog holdings could be worth billions of dollars. This speculation however is contradicted by financial documents obtained by the Associated Press, which showed that as of March 31, 2007, Jackson’s 50 percent stake in the Sony/ATV Music Publishing catalog (his most prized asset) was worth $390.6 million and Michael Jackson’s net worth was $236 million. As one of the world’s most famous men, Jackson’s highly publicized personal life, coupled with his successful career, made him a part of popular culture for four decades.