Michael Jackson was a multi-talented musical entertainer who had a successful career as a member of the Jackson 5 and a solo artist. His songs frequently topped the charts. In 1982, Michael released the album that would become one of the best-selling albums of all time, titled “Thriller.” He also had number-one singles with the songs “Bad” and “Off the Wall.”
Who Was Michael Jackson?
Michael Jackson was an American singer, songwriter, and dancer who sold the most records in history. He was also known as the “King of Pop.” When he was still a child, Michael Jackson had the lead vocal role in his family’s successful Motown group, the Jackson 5. After that, Michael went on to have a phenomenally successful solo career worldwide, with hits from the albums Off the Wall, Thriller, and Bad all reaching number one. In his final years, Michael Jackson was plagued by rumours that he had sexually abused children. In 2009, at 50, he passed away from a heroin overdose just before beginning a return tour.
Michael Jackson Early Life and Family
Michael Joseph Jackson was born in Gary, Indiana, on August 29, 1958. Under his father’s encouragement, Jackson’s career in music began at age 5. Jackson’s mother, Katherine Jackson, was a homemaker and a devout Jehovah’s Witness. His father, Joseph Jackson, had been a guitarist who put aside his musical aspirations to provide for his family as a crane operator. Behind the scenes, Joseph pushed his sons to succeed. He was also reportedly known to become violent with them.
Jackson was one of 10 children; nine Jackson siblings, including Rebbie, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, La Toya, Marlon, Randy and Janet, all made marks in the music industry.
Michael Jackson: The Jackson 5
Joseph Jackson convinced that his children possessed musical ability, began training his children in the early 1960s to perform as a band that would later be known as the Jackson 5.
At first, Jackson’s older brothers Tito, Jermaine, and Jackie were the only members of the Jackson Family Band who performed as a band. Jackson was only 5 years old when he first joined his siblings, but he quickly established himself as the group’s lead vocalist. His ability to communicate complicated emotions impressed listeners, showing incredible range and depth for such a young performer. The Jackson 5 trio included Michael’s older brother Marlon, who joined them.
Jackson and his siblings honed their performance over countless hours spent in rehearsal. The Jackson 5 started by performing at small venues and building a solid fan base in the area. They only released one single under their name, titled “Big Boy.” The record’s flip side was titled “You’ve Changed,” but neither song successfully attracted much attention.
The Jackson 5 later became the opening act for various R&B performers, including Gladys Knight and the Pips, James Brown, and Sam and Dave, among others. The Jackson 5 eventually drew the notice of Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown and signed several of these performers to his famed record label. After being impressed by the band, Gordy brought them on to his label at the beginning of 1969.
After relocating to Los Angeles, Michael Jackson and his siblings resided with Berry Gordy and Diana Ross of the Supremes while they adjusted to their new surroundings. In August of 1969, a special event was held in which the Jackson 5 was presented to the music industry. Subsequently, the group served as an opening act for the Supremes.
Their debut studio album, Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5, was released in December of 1969 and quickly became a commercial success, with the single “I Want You Back” topping the Billboard Hot 100 chart shortly after its release. Soon after that, the artist had a string of chart-topping singles, including “ABC,” “The Love You Save,” and “I’ll Be There.”
Under the direction of Berry Gordy and the rest of the personnel at Motown, Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5 had a busy touring and recording schedule over several years. Because of the band’s skyrocketing popularity, they were also the subject of their very own animated television show, which aired under their name from 1971 to 1972. Around the same period, Jackson began his career as a solo artist.
Despite the significant success the group had achieved, tensions were rising behind the scenes. Gordy and Joseph Jackson’s relationship became strained due to the latter’s management of his children’s professions. The Jackson children desired to have a greater degree of creative control over their work. In 1976, the trio ended their contractual relationship with Motown, although Jermaine continued to record for the label to advance his solo career.
After signing a recording contract with Epic Records, the band will release new music under the Jacksons moniker. The brothers had already established themselves as excellent songwriters by the time their third album for the company, titled Destiny, was released in 1978.
The Jacksons as a group benefited from the extremely favourable reception given Michael Jackson’s solo album “Off the Wall,” which was released in 1979. In 1980, the brothers went on an extensive tour to support the recording of their album Triumph, which had sold more than one million copies at the time. While this happened, Jackson kept looking at other avenues to strike off.
1983 marked the beginning of Jackson’s farewell tour, which he did alongside his siblings in promoting the album Victory. The only song from the session to become a significant hit was Jackson’s collaboration with Mick Jagger titled “State of Shock.”
The Jackson 5: Songs and Albums
‘Got to Be There’ (1971)
In addition to his work with the Jackson 5, Michael Jackson began a solo career when he was 13. He debuted on the charts in 1971 with the song “Got to Be There,” which was taken from the album of the same name.
Ben, the album that Jackson’s released in 1972, contained the ballad with the same name, which was about a rat. This song became Jackson’s first solo single to reach number one on the charts.
‘Music and Me’ (1973)
His third solo album, Music and Me, was his least successful release.
‘Forever, Michael’ (1975)
Michael Jackson parted ways with Motown recordings after the release of his fourth solo album.
‘Off the Wall’ (1979)
Jackson wowed the music world with his infectious blend of pop and funk on the album Off the Wall, released in 1979. The album featured the single “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” which won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year, along with other hits such as “Rock with You,” “She’s Out of My Life,” and the album’s title track.
Thriller, Michael Jackson’s sixth solo album, was released in 1982 and has become the best-selling album of all time. It spawned seven singles that peaked in the top ten. The album was in the charts for 80 weeks and was at the top for 37 weeks.
In addition to its unprecedented success on the commercial front, Thriller set records for the number of Grammy Awards nominations it received (12) and the number of awards it won (8). His successes highlighted the many different aspects of Jackson’s work. Because of his songwriting skill, he was awarded a Grammy for “Billie Jean” in the best rhythm and blues song category. Additionally, he was recognized for his work on the tracks “Beat It” and “Thriller,” which won the award for best pop vocal performance by a male (best rock vocal performance, male). Jackson was awarded a share of the prize for best album of the year along with his co-producer Quincy Jones.
In 1982, Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson collaborated on a duet titled “The Girl Is Mine,” which came extremely close to topping the various music charts.
Jackson created a detailed music video for the album’s title tune, which was released as a single. The video, which had elements of horror to it and was directed by John Landis, featured intricate dance sequences, spectacular effects, and a voiceover by the actor Vincent Price. The “Thriller” music video was such a huge hit that it helped raise sales of Michael Jackson’s popular record.
During a television special that was shown in 1983 to honour Motown, Michael Jackson performed his number one single “Billie Jean” and made the first appearance of his now-iconic moonwalk dance style. At this point, Jackson, already a seasoned performer, came up with this move on his own and choreographed the dance routines for the music video of “Beat It,” the album’s other number-one hit single.
‘We Are the World’ (single, 1985)
In 1985, Michael Jackson demonstrated his charitable nature by contributing to the writing of “We Are the World,” a charity single that the USA released for Africa. A genuine who’s who of music stars, such as Lionel Richie, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Bruce Springsteen, and Tina Turner, participated in the project.
Jackson’s album Bad (1987), which was released as a follow-up to Thriller, reached the top of the charts, with a record five No. 1 hits, including “Man in the Mirror,” “The Way You Make Me Feel,” and the title track, which a video directed by Martin Scorsese supported. Bad was released as a follow-up to Jackson’s album Thriller.
Jackson performed in concert venues worldwide to promote the album for more than a year. Even though it was successful, Bad could not match Thriller’s amazing sales.
The album Dangerous was published by Michael Jackson in 1991 and featured the smash song “Black or White.” Macaulay Culkin had a cameo appearance in the music video for this song, directed by Landis and produced by Landis. In the film’s last minutes, Jackson displayed certain sexual gestures and acted aggressively, which sparked controversy. Many people were shocked to witness Jackson, who was often compared to Peter Pan, behave in such a way.
In the years that followed, Michael Jackson’s music maintained a high level of broad popularity. In 1993, he gave memorable performances on several significant occasions, including the halftime show for Super Bowl XXVII.
‘HIStory: Past, Present, and Future, Book I’
The album HIStory: Past, Present, and Future, Book I, which featured some of Jackson’s older hits as well as new material and received a mediocre reaction in 1995, marked the beginning of the collapse of Jackson’s career in the music industry. This album was responsible for two major singles: “You Are Not Alone” and “Scream,” a duet performed by him and his sister Janet.
The music video for “Scream,” which included a spaceship as its primary setting and cost a record-setting $7 million, was nominated for a Grammy Award for its innovative visual effects.
The song “They Don’t Care About Us,” also included on the album, was the source of much criticism directed towards Jackson for using an anti-Semitic phrase.
After almost ten years without releasing a full album of new material, Michael Jackson returned to the studio in 2001 to record the album Invincible.
The posthumous album Michael was published in December 2010, and it was met with debate regarding whether or not the singer performed some of the tracks on the album. According to The New York Times, the Jackson estate has denied the assertions that the tapes are not legitimate, even though Brother Randy was one of the individuals who questioned the legitimacy of the recordings.
In May of 2014, a further posthumous album titled Xscape was made available. At the iHeartRadio Music Awards in the same month, R&B superstar Usher, who Jackson trained, performed the band’s debut hit, “Love Never Felt So Good.” The album features eight songs released by Jackson between 1983 and 1999, debuting at No. 2 on Billboard’s Top 200 Album chart.
Wives and Kids
Jackson announced in August of 1994 that he had married Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of rock and roll legend Elvis Presley. A joint television interview with Diane Sawyer was conducted with the couple, although the marriage did not last very long. In 1996, they got a divorce. Some people believed that Jackson’s marriage was only a publicity stunt to help rehabilitate his image after the allegations of child molestation.
In the latter part of that same year, Michael Jackson married nurse, Debbie Rowe. In 1999, the couple finalized their divorce.
Through the process of artificial insemination, Jackson and Rowe were able to have two children: a son named Michael Joseph “Prince” Jackson Jr., who was born in 1997, and a daughter named Paris Michael Katherine Jackson, who was born in 1998. As a result of Rowe and Jackson’s divorce, Michael is now alone and responsible for raising their two children. Jackson would eventually conceive a third child, Prince Michael “Blanket” Jackson II, with a surrogate whose identity was never revealed.
According to the provisions of Jackson’s will, after his passing in June 2009, his children were given custody of their grandmother Katherine. Prince, Paris, and Blanket were mostly hidden from public view out of deference to the preferences of their late father. They first addressed attendees at their father’s funeral in 2009 to thank them for their support. They then returned to the podium in January 2010 to accept a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammy Awards on their father’s behalf.
After a member of Katherine Jackson’s family mistakenly claimed that she was missing, a judge in July 2012 temporarily revoked her guardianship of Prince, Paris, and Blanket for the duration of the investigation. TJ Jackson, son of Tito, was awarded interim custody of the children during this time. Katherine’s “disappearance” occurred not long after a dispute between her and several members of the Jackson clan, who questioned the legality of Jackson’s will, pointed the finger of blame at the Jackson matriarch, and demanded that the executors of Jackson’s estate step down from their positions. Katherine’s “disappearance” occurred shortly after this conflict.
It wasn’t long before authorities realized that the elderly woman hadn’t gone missing; she had only travelled to Arizona. On August 2, 2012, a judge reinstated Katherine Jackson as the primary guardian of Prince, Paris, and Blanket. The judge also approved a plan to allow T.J. Jackson co-guardianship of the children. This decision was made public on August 2.
In the 1980s, Michael Jackson constructed a ranch in Southern California called Neverland, a dream getaway for a shy, introverted singer who was never completely comfortable with media attention and rarely conducted interviews. Jackson created Neverland as a place where he could get away from it all.
On the property of 2,700 acres in size, Jackson was known to keep exotic animals as pets, including a chimpanzee named Bubbles. In addition, he built rides similar to those seen in amusement parks and occasionally hosted events geared at children at the ranch. The property includes a lake that is four acres in size, as well as a pool house, three guest houses, and six bedrooms.
In 2015, the mansion was posted for sale for $100; however, at the beginning of 2019, it was re-listed for $31 million. In December 2020, billionaire Ron Burkle paid $22 million for the property, which was then sold to him.
Plastic Surgery and Vitiligo
Jackson suffered burns to his face and scalp while working on a commercial for PepsiCo in 1984, and the incident left him with serious injuries. At the pinnacle of his career, both creatively and commercially, Jackson had inked an endorsement agreement with the beverage giant that was worth $5 million the year prior. It is thought that Michael Jackson began experimenting with plastic surgery after undergoing surgery to repair his injuries caused by accident. In the years to follow, he would experience a significant transformation to his face, most noticeably to his nose.
In the late 1980s, allegations began to spread that Michael Jackson was bleaching the colour of his skin to appear whiter and sleeping in a special chamber to extend the length of his life. To end the speculations, Michael Jackson gave Oprah Winfrey one of only a handful of broadcast interviews in 1993. He claimed that the change in his skin tone resulted from a skin ailment known as vitiligo, and he disclosed that his abusive relationship with his father was the cause of the condition.
Child Molestation Allegations
The first allegations of child molestation against Jackson surfaced in 1993 when a youngster of the same age alleged that the pop singer had fondled him when he was a toddler. It was common knowledge that Michael Jackson had sleepovers at his Neverland Ranch for young boys, but this was the first time that any accusation of impropriety was made public. The authorities thoroughly examined the ranch, but they did not uncover any proof that would substantiate the accusation. The next year, Jackson reached a confidential settlement with the boy’s family on the case. Jackson was the subject of other allegations, but he always maintained his innocence.
The British journalist Martin Bashir spent several months with the musician Michael Jackson to make the documentary Living with Michael Jackson, aired in 2003 on television. Bashir was successful in getting Jackson to address his relationships with his children. Jackson admitted that he continued to have children sleep over at his ranch, even after the claims were made in 1993, and that, on occasion, he slept with the youngsters in his bed. He also stated that he continued to have children sleep over at his property. “Why is it that you won’t let me share your bed? Sharing your bed with another person is one of the kindest things you can do for them, “Jackson explained to Bashir.
In 2003, Michael Jackson was arrested on allegations linked to incidents involving a youngster who was 13 years old. These crimes were alleged to have occurred with Jackson. He was charged with ten crimes, the most serious of which were lewd conduct with a minor, attempted lewd conduct, administering alcohol to facilitate molestation, conspiracy to commit child abduction, false imprisonment, and extortion. He was facing all of these charges simultaneously.
The subsequent case tried in 2005 was a media circus, with supporters, opponents, and camera teams surrounding the courthouse. Over one hundred and thirty witnesses, including Culkin, gave their testimony. The actor testified before the court that he had known Michael Jackson since they were both young teenagers and had never had any difficulties while residing at the Neverland Ranch.
In addition, Jackson’s accuser appeared in a videotaped statement in which he detailed how he had been given alcohol and assaulted by Jackson. On the other hand, the jury noticed inconsistencies in his testimony and that of his mother. On June 14, 2005, a judge ruled that Jackson should be acquitted of all counts.
Around the turn of the century, Jackson was becoming more and more well-known for his peculiarities, one of which was the public display of a surgical mask. When Michael Jackson performed at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2002, he gave a confusing performance that garnered much attention. When he was meeting fans in Berlin, Germany, in 2002, he dangled his infant son Blanket over a balcony, which drew a great deal of criticism. In a subsequent interview, Jackson elaborated, “We were waiting for thousands of admirers down below, and they were yelling that they wanted to see my child, so I was generous enough to let them see her. I was acting in some way out of pure naivety.”
Following his conviction in 2005 for the sexual assault of a child, Michael Jackson’s reputation was irreparably damaged, and the singer’s financial situation was in shambles. Soon after, he sought safety in his friendship with Bahrain’s Prince Salman Bin Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa, who assisted the pop artist in paying his legal and utility costs and offered to visit Bahrain as a guest. He found refuge in this bond quickly.
The prince in Bahrain provided the musician with financial support and a recording facility specifically created for him. In return, Jackson supposedly pledged to write an autobiography, produce a stage play, and participate in the creation of a new album for Al-record Khalifa’s company. However, the promised finished job was never delivered, and Jackson’s friend promptly filed a lawsuit against him for breach of contract of $7 million.
In 2008, when Jackson’s financial situation was even more precarious, he failed to make payments on a loan of $24.5 million due on his Neverland Ranch. Because he could not bear the idea of parting with beloved mementoes, such as the crystal gloves he wore on stage, Michael Jackson filed a lawsuit the next year to prevent the auction of some of his things in his residence.
Around the same time, the mainly reclusive Jackson announced that he would be giving a series of concerts as his “last curtain call.” These concerts were to be his last public performances. Jackson remained a figure of enormous interest despite all the charges and stories of unusual behaviour, as indicated by the strong response to his performance preparations. This was the case even though the allegations and stories of odd behaviour were widely publicized.
Jackson’s “This Is It” tour was so popular that all of the tickets were purchased within just four hours of going on sale. Jackson was scheduled to make his first appearance on July 8, 2009, at the O2 Arena in London, England. Since he passed away in June of that same year, Michael Jackson could never witness the success predicted for his comeback tour.
Jackson suffered a heart arrest in his home in Los Angeles on June 25, 2009, ultimately leading to his passing at 50. Attempts to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation were unsuccessful, and he was transported to the hospital, where he passed away later that morning. An acute propofol intoxication, sometimes known as a fatal overdose on a prescription medicine cocktail that also included the sedatives midazolam, diazepam, and lidocaine, was determined to be the cause of Michael Jackson’s death in an official investigation that was released in February of 2010.
Jackson had been using sedative medications, with his physician’s assistance, Dr Conrad Murray, to assist him in falling asleep at night. Murray shared with the police his belief that Michael Jackson had developed a specific addiction to propofol, which Jackson referred to as his “milk.” Murray also shared this belief with the police. According to reports, Murray gave the pop star propofol through an IV in the evenings at quantities of 50 milligrams and attempted to wean him off the drug right before he passed.
An inquiry by the police determined that Murray did not have a valid license to prescribe most of California’s banned substances. The actions he had taken to save Jackson were also called into question, as the evidence presented demonstrated that the standard of care for the administration of propofol had not been met. The recommended equipment for patient monitoring, precision dosing, and resuscitation was absent. Consequently, the steps that he had taken in an attempt to save Jackson were called into question.
As a direct consequence of this, a verdict of homicide was rendered in Jackson’s case. On November 7, 2011, Murray received a conviction for involuntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum penalty of four years in jail.
Funeral and Memorial
A memorial service for admirers of the “King of Pop” was conducted at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles on July 7, 2009, and was broadcast live on television. A lottery was held to award 17,500 admirers with free tickets to the memorial. However, it is estimated that one billion viewers watched the tribute on television or online.
The passing of Michael Jackson has prompted an outpouring of grief and sympathy from members of the public. There have been memorials built in his honour worldwide, including one near the venue where he was scheduled to perform and another at the house where he spent his boyhood in Gary, Indiana.
On September 3, 2009, the immediate family members of Michael Jackson attended a private memorial service at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. The service was open to a total of 200 people. Elizabeth Taylor and Lisa Marie Presley, previously married to Michael Jackson, were among the famous mourners.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The Jackson family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in 2013 against AEG Live, the entertainment firm that advertised Michael Jackson’s planned comeback series in 2009. The complaint was filed in 2013. They believed that the recording corporation had not provided adequate protection for the artist while he was in the custody of Conrad Murray.
In the opening statements of the trial, which took place on April 29, 2013, one of their attorneys, Brian Panish, highlighted the alleged malfeasance of AEG: He stated that their goal was to achieve first place at any cost. We are not appealing for anyone’s compassion; we are searching for the truth and justice.
In October 2013, a jury decided that AEG was not liable for the singer’s death and dismissed the family’s lawsuit against the concert promoter. The lawsuit sought damages of up to $1.5 billion, an estimation of what Jackson could have earned up to that time. A lawyer for the corporation, Marvin S. Putnam, stated that while Michael Jackson’s passing was a sad tragedy, it was not a catastrophe that AEG Live was responsible for creating.
Since the singer’s passing, Michael Jackson has been the subject of numerous biographies and has been the impetus behind the production of two Cirque du Soleil productions. His children, Paris and Prince Michael, accepted the 2018 Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation Legacy Award for Humanitarian Service on his behalf after he passed away. This distinction was given to him posthumously by the foundation.
Because of Jackson’s earlier investment in the Sony/ATV Music catalogue, his financial obligations have been satisfied. This investment allowed Jackson to acquire the publishing rights to songs written by prominent figures in the music industry, such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Taylor Swift. In 2016, the Jackson estate earned $750 million for selling its investment in Sony/ATV, and in 2018, the estate received another $287.5 million for its ownership of EMI Music Publishing. Both transactions took place in 2016.
In addition, the King of Pop demonstrated an earning power that lasted long beyond the days he was physically present. Forbes revealed in October 2017 that Michael Jackson had earned a staggering $75 million after his death, placing him at the top of the publication’s list of the highest-earning dead celebrities for the fifth year.
‘This Is It’ Documentary
This Is It is the title of a documentary released in October 2009 and chronicles Michael Jackson’s preparations for his final tour. The movie, a compilation of interviews, rehearsals, and backstage footage of the film’s lead, generated $23 million in its first weekend. It immediately ascended to the top spot at the box office. This Is It would eventually earn a total of $261 million worldwide.
Michael Jackson’s Final Curtain Call was played on A&E on June 25, 2018, the ninth anniversary of the artist’s untimely death. The event was held in memory of the artist’s passing. On that day, many of Michael Jackson’s followers posted tributes to the “King of Pop” on various social media platforms. Brooke Shields and Naomi Campbell were among the celebrities who recalled their former friend.
‘Michael Jackson: One’ in Las Vegas
Fans of Michael Jackson gathered in August 2018 at the Mandalay Bay resort in Las Vegas to celebrate the Michael Jackson Diamond Celebration, which included a performance of Michael Jackson: One by Cirque du Soleil.
‘Leaving Neverland’ Documentary
The documentary Leaving Neverland, which was first shown at the Sundance Film Festival and then on HBO, sparked new allegations of sexual misconduct against Michael Jackson at the beginning of 2019. In the course of the four-hour documentary, two men discuss their recollections of how the pop star enticed them into his orbit when they were boys, winning the trust of their parents in the process and then forcing them to engage in sexual activities in hotel rooms and at his Neverland Ranch compound.
Both men had previously testified that there was never any abuse, and Jackson’s defenders pointed out in the documentary that this contradicts what they had said. While this was going on, the estate of Michael Jackson referred to the two accusers as “serial perjurers” and filed a lawsuit against HBO for $100 million.