Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson
A photograph of Michael Jackson singing into a microphone
Jackson performing at the Praterstadion in Vienna, Austria on June 2, 1988
Michael Joseph Jackson

(1958-08-29)August 29, 1958
DiedJune 25, 2009(2009-06-25) (aged 50)
Cause of deathCardiac arrest induced by acute propofol and benzodiazepine intoxication
Other namesMichael Joe Jackson
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • dancer
Lisa Marie Presley
(m. 1994; div. 1996)

Debbie Rowe
(m. 1996; div. 1999)
Parent(s)Joe Jackson
Katherine Jackson
FamilyJackson family
AwardsList of awards and nominations
Musical career
Years active1964–2009
Associated acts
Michael Jackson signature.svg

Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009) was an American singer, songwriter, and dancer. Dubbed the "King of Pop", he is regarded as one of the most significant cultural figures of the 20th century and one of the greatest entertainers in the history of music. Jackson's contributions to music, dance, and fashion, along with his publicized personal life, made him a global figure in popular culture for over four decades.

The eighth child of the Jackson family, Michael made his professional debut in 1964 with his elder brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, and Marlon as a member of the Jackson 5. He began his solo career in 1971 while at Motown Records, and rose to solo stardom with the critically acclaimed Off the Wall (1979). By the early 1980s, Jackson became a dominant figure in popular music. His music videos, including those for "Beat It", "Billie Jean", and "Thriller" from his 1982 album Thriller, are credited with breaking racial barriers and transforming the medium into an art form and promotional tool. Their popularity helped bring the television channel MTV to fame. Bad (1987) was the first album to produce five Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles.[nb 1] Jackson continued to innovate throughout the 1990s with videos such as "Black or White" and "Scream", and forged a reputation as a touring artist. Through stage and video performances, Jackson popularized complicated dance techniques such as the moonwalk, to which he gave the name. His sound and style have influenced artists of various genres.

Jackson is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, with estimated sales of over 350 million records worldwide;[nb 2] Thriller is the best-selling album of all time, with estimated sales of 66 million copies worldwide. His other albums, including Off the Wall (1979), Bad (1987), Dangerous (1991), and HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I (1995), also rank among the world's best-selling. He won hundreds of awards (more than any other artist in the history of popular music), has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, and is the only pop or rock artist to have been inducted into the Dance Hall of Fame. His other achievements include a record 39 Guinness World Records (including the Most Successful Entertainer of All Time), 15 Grammy Awards (including the Legend and Lifetime Achievement awards), 26 American Music Awards, and 13 Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles (more than any other male artist in the Hot 100 era). Jackson was the first artist to have a top ten single in the Billboard Hot 100 in five different decades. In 2016, Jackson's estate earned $825 million, the highest yearly amount for a celebrity ever recorded by Forbes.

In the late 1980s, Jackson became a figure of controversy for his changing appearance, relationships, behavior and lifestyle. In 1993, he was accused of sexually abusing the child of a family friend. The lawsuit was settled out of court, and Jackson was not indicted. In 2005, he was tried and acquitted of further child sexual abuse allegations and several other charges. In 2009, while preparing for a series of comeback concerts, This Is It, Jackson died from an overdose of sedatives administered by his personal physician, Conrad Murray. Jackson's fans around the world expressed their grief, and his public memorial service was broadcast live. The 2019 documentary Leaving Neverland details child sexual abuse allegations from two former child friends of Jackson, which led to an international backlash against him and drew criticism from his fans and associates.

Life and career

1958–1975: Early life and the Jackson 5

The single-story house has white walls, two windows, a central white door with a black door frame, and a black roof. In front of the house there is a walkway and multiple colored flowers and memorabilia.
Jackson's childhood home in Gary, Indiana, pictured in March 2010 with floral tributes after his death

Michael Joseph Jackson[7][8] was born in Gary, Indiana, near Chicago, on August 29, 1958.[9][10] He was the eighth of ten children in the Jackson family, a working-class African-American family living in a two-bedroom house on Jackson Street.[11][12] His mother, Katherine Esther Jackson (née Scruse), played clarinet and piano, had aspired to be a country-and-western performer, and worked part-time at Sears.[13] She was a Jehovah's Witness.[14] His father, Joseph Walter "Joe" Jackson, a former boxer, was a crane operator at U.S. Steel and played guitar with a local rhythm and blues band, the Falcons, to supplement the family's income.[15][16] His father's great-grandfather, July "Jack" Gale, was a Native American medicine man and US Army scout.[17] Michael grew up with three sisters (Rebbie, La Toya, and Janet) and five brothers (Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, and Randy).[15] A sixth brother, Marlon's twin Brandon, died shortly after birth.[18]

Joe acknowledged that he regularly whipped Michael;[19] Michael said his father told him he had a "fat nose,"[20] and regularly physically and emotionally abused him during rehearsals. He recalled that Joe often sat in a chair with a belt in his hand as he and his siblings rehearsed, ready to physically punish any mistakes.[14][21] Katherine Jackson stated that although whipping is considered abuse in more modern times, it was a common way to discipline children when Michael was growing up.[22][23] Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon have said that their father was not abusive and that the whippings, which were harder on Michael because he was younger, kept them disciplined and out of trouble.[24] In an interview with Oprah Winfrey in 1993, Jackson said that his youth had been lonely and isolated.[25]

In 1964, Michael and Marlon joined the Jackson Brothers—a band formed by their father which included Jackie, Tito, and Jermaine—as backup musicians playing congas and tambourine.[26][27] Later that year, Michael began sharing lead vocals with Jermaine, and the group's name was changed to the Jackson 5.[28] The following year, the group won a talent show; Michael performed the dance to Robert Parker's 1965 song "Barefootin'" and singing lead to The Temptations' "My Girl."[29] From 1966 to 1968 they toured the Midwest; they frequently played at a string of black clubs known as the "Chitlin' Circuit" as the opening act for artists such as Sam & Dave, the O'Jays, Gladys Knight, and Etta James. The Jackson 5 also performed at clubs and cocktail lounges, where striptease shows were featured, and at local auditoriums and high school dances.[30][31] In August 1967, while touring the East Coast, they won a weekly amateur night concert at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.[32]

Jackson (center) as a member of the Jackson 5 in 1972

The Jackson 5 recorded several songs for a Gary record label, Steeltown Records; their first single, "Big Boy", was released in 1968.[33] Bobby Taylor of Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers brought the Jackson 5 to Motown after the group opened for Taylor at Chicago's Regal Theater in 1968. Taylor also produced some of their early recordings for the label, including a version of "Who's Lovin' You."[34] After signing with Motown, the Jackson family relocated from Gary to Los Angeles.[35] In 1969, executives at Motown decided Diana Ross should introduce the Jackson 5 to the public—partly to bolster her career in television—sending off what was considered Motown's last product of its "production line".[36] The Jackson 5 made their first television appearance in 1969 in the Miss Black America Pageant where they performed a cover of "It's Your Thing."[37] Rolling Stone later described the young Michael as "a prodigy" with "overwhelming musical gifts" who "quickly emerged as the main draw and lead singer".[38]

In January 1970, "I Want You Back" became the first Jackson 5 song to reach number one the US Billboard Hot 100; it stayed there for four weeks. Three more singles with Motown—"ABC", "The Love You Save", and "I'll Be There"—also topped the chart.[39] In May 1971, the Jackson family moved into a large house on a two-acre estate in Encino, California.[40] During this period, Michael developed from a child performer into a teen idol.[41] As he emerged as a solo performer in the early 1970s, he maintained ties to the Jackson 5. Between 1972 and 1975, Michael released four solo studio albums with Motown: Got to Be There (1972), Ben (1972), Music & Me (1973), and Forever, Michael (1975).[42] "Got to Be There" and "Ben," the title tracks from his first two solo albums, sold well as singles, as did a cover of Bobby Day's "Rockin' Robin."[43]

The Jackson 5 were later described as "a cutting-edge example of black crossover artists."[44] They were frustrated by Motown's refusal to allow them creative input.[45] Jackson's performance of their top five single "Dancing Machine" on Soul Train popularized the robot dance.[46]

1975–1981: Move to Epic and Off the Wall

From left, back row: Jackie Jackson, Michael Jackson, Tito Jackson, Marlon Jackson. Middle row: Randy Jackson, La Toya Jackson, Rebbie Jackson. Front row: Janet Jackson (1977)

In 1975, the Jackson 5 left Motown. They signed with Epic Records, a subsidiary of CBS Records,[47] and renamed themselves the Jacksons. Their younger brother Randy joined the band around this time; Jermaine stayed with Motown and pursued a solo career.[48] The Jacksons continued to tour internationally, and released six more albums between 1976 and 1984. Michael, the group's main songwriter during this time, wrote songs such as "Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)" (1979), "This Place Hotel" (1980), and "Can You Feel It" (1980).[49]

In 1978, Jackson moved to New York City to star as the Scarecrow in The Wiz, a musical directed by Sidney Lumet. It costarred Diana Ross, Nipsey Russell, and Ted Ross.[50] The film was a box-office failure.[51] Its score was arranged by Quincy Jones,[52] who later produced three of Jackson's solo albums.[53] During his time in New York, Jackson frequented the Studio 54 nightclub, where he heard early hip hop; this influenced his beatboxing on future tracks such as "Working Day and Night".[54] In 1979, Jackson broke his nose during a dance routine. A rhinoplasty led to breathing difficulties that later affected his career. He was referred to Steven Hoefflin, who performed Jackson's subsequent operations.[55]

Jackson's fifth solo album, Off the Wall (1979), established him as a solo performer and helped him move from the bubblegum pop of his youth to more complex sounds.[41] It produced four top 10 entries in the US: "Off the Wall", "She's Out of My Life", and the chart-topping singles "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" and "Rock with You".[56] The album reached number three on the US Billboard 200 and sold over 20 million copies worldwide.[57] In 1980, Jackson won three American Music Awards for his solo work: Favorite Soul/R&B Album, Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist, and Favorite Soul/R&B Single for "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough".[58][59] He also won a Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for 1979 with "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough".[60] In 1981 Jackson was the American Music Awards winner for Favorite Soul/R&B Album and Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist.[61] Jackson felt Off the Wall should have made a bigger impact, and was determined to exceed expectations with his next release.[62] In 1980, he secured the highest royalty rate in the music industry: 37 percent of wholesale album profit.[63]

1982–1983: Thriller and Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever

Jackson recorded with Queen singer Freddie Mercury from 1981 to 1983, recording demos of "State of Shock", "Victory" and "There Must Be More to Life Than This". The recordings were intended for an album of duets but, according to Queen's manager Jim Beach, the relationship soured when Jackson brought a llama into the recording studio,[64] and Jackson was upset by Mercury's drug use.[65] The songs were released in 2014.[66] Jackson went on to record "State of Shock" with Mick Jagger for the Jacksons' album Victory (1984).[67] In 1982, Jackson contributed "Someone in the Dark" to the storybook for the film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Jackson's sixth album, Thriller, was released in late 1982. It was the best-selling album worldwide in 1983,[68][69] and became the best-selling album of all time in the US[70] and the best-selling album of all time worldwide, selling an estimated 66 million copies.[71] It topped the Billboard 200 chart for 37 weeks and was in the top 10 of the 200 for 80 consecutive weeks. It was the first album to have seven Billboard Hot 100 top 10 singles, including "Billie Jean", "Beat It", and "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' ".[72]

On March 25, 1983, Jackson reunited with his brothers for Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever, an NBC television special. The show aired on May 16, 1983, to an estimated audience of 47 million, and featured the Jacksons and other Motown stars.[73] Jackson's solo performance of "Billie Jean" earned him his first Emmy Award nomination.[74] Wearing a glove decorated with rhinestones,[75] he debuted his moonwalk dance, which Jeffrey Daniel had taught him three years earlier, and it became his signature dance in his repertoire.[76] Jackson had originally turned down the invitation to the show, believing he had been doing too much television. But at the request of Motown founder Berry Gordy, he performed in exchange for an opportunity to do a solo performance.[77] Rolling Stone reporter Mikal Gilmore called the performance "extraordinary."[41] Jackson's performance drew comparisons to Elvis Presley's and the Beatles' appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show.[78] Anna Kisselgoff of The New York Times praised the perfect timing and technique involved in the dance.[79] Gordy described being "mesmerized" by the performance.[80]

A sparkly jacket and gloves, displayed inside a transparent vertical tube.
The sequined jacket and white glove worn by Jackson at Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever

At the 26th Annual Grammy Awards, Thriller won eight awards, while Jackson also won an award for the E.T. the Extra-Terrestial storybook. Winning eight Grammys in one ceremony is a record he holds with the band Santana.[60] Jackson and Quincy Jones won the award for Producer of the Year (Non-Classical). Thriller won Album of the Year (with Jackson as the album's artist and Jones as its co-producer), and the single won Best Pop Vocal Performance (Male) award for Jackson. "Beat It" won Record of the Year and Best Rock Vocal Performance (Male). "Billie Jean" won two Grammy awards: Best R&B Song and Best R&B Vocal Performance (Male), with Jackson as songwriter and singer respectively.[60] Thriller also won the Grammy for Best Engineered Recording (Non Classical), acknowledging Bruce Swedien for his work on the album.[81] At the 11th Annual American Music Awards, Jackson won another eight awards and became the youngest artist to win the Award of Merit.[82] He also won Favorite Male Artist, Favorite Soul/R&B Artist, and Favorite Pop/Rock Artist. "Beat It" won Favorite Soul/R&B Video, Favorite Pop/Rock Video and Favorite Pop/Rock Single. The album collectively won Favorite Soul/R&B Album and Favorite Pop/Rock Album.[82][83]

Jackson had the highest royalty rate in the music industry at that point, with about $2 for every album sold, and was making record-breaking profits. Dolls modeled after Jackson appeared in stores in May 1984 for $12 each.[84] In the same year, The Making of Michael Jackson's Thriller, a music documentary, won a Grammy for Best Music Video (Longform).[60] 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."[84] The New York Times wrote "in the world of pop music, there is Michael Jackson and there is everybody else."[85]

1984–1985: Pepsi, "We Are the World", and business career

In November 1983, Jackson and his brothers partnered with PepsiCo in a $5 million promotional deal that broke records for a celebrity endorsement. The first Pepsi campaign, which ran in the US from 1983 to 1984 and launched its "New Generation" theme, included tour sponsorship, public relations events, and in-store displays. Jackson helped to create the advertisement, and suggested using his song "Billie Jean", with revised lyrics, as its jingle.[86]

On January 27, 1984, Michael and other members of the Jacksons filmed a Pepsi commercial overseen by Phil Dusenberry,[87] a BBDO ad agency executive, and Alan Pottasch, Pepsi's Worldwide Creative Director, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. During a simulated concert before a full house of fans, pyrotechnics accidentally set Jackson's hair on fire, causing second-degree burns to his scalp. Jackson underwent treatment to hide the scars and had his third rhinoplasty shortly thereafter.[55] Pepsi settled out of court, and Jackson donated the $1.5 million settlement to the Brotman Medical Center in Culver City, California; its Michael Jackson Burn Center is named in his honor.[88] Jackson signed a second agreement with Pepsi in the late 1980s for $10 million. The second campaign covered 20 countries and provided financial support for Jackson's Bad album and 1987–88 world tour. Jackson had endorsements and advertising deals with other companies, such as LA Gear, Suzuki, and Sony, but none were as significant as his deals with Pepsi.[86]

On May 14, 1984, President Ronald Reagan gave Jackson an award for his support of alcohol and drug abuse charities,[89] and in recognition of his support for the Ad Council's and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Drunk Driving Prevention campaign. Jackson allowed the campaign to use "Beat It" for its public service announcements.[90]

President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan present Jackson with an award at the White House on May 14, 1984
Jackson inside the White House with the Reagans

The Victory Tour of 1984 headlined the Jacksons and showcased Jackson's new solo material to more than two million Americans. It was the last tour he did with his brothers.[91] Following controversy over the concert's ticket sales, Jackson donated his share of the proceeds, an estimated $3 to 5 million, to charity.[92] During the last concert of the Victory Tour at the Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, Jackson announced his split from The Jacksons during "Shake Your Body".[93] His charitable work continued with the release of "We Are the World" (1985), co-written with Lionel Richie,[94] which raised money for the poor in the US and Africa.[95] It earned $63 million,[95] and became one of the best-selling singles of all time, with 20 million copies sold.[96] It won four Grammys for 1985, including Song of the Year for Jackson and Richie as its writers.[94] The project's creators received two special American Music Awards honors: one for the creation of the song and another for the USA for Africa idea. Jackson, Jones, and promoter Ken Kragan received special awards for their roles in the song's creation.[94][97][98][99]

Jackson collaborated with Paul McCartney in the early 1980s, and learned that McCartney was making $40 million a year from owning the rights to other artists' songs.[95] By 1983, Jackson had begun buying publishing rights to others' songs, but he was careful with his acquisitions, only bidding on a few of the dozens that were offered to him. Jackson's early acquisitions of music catalogs and song copyrights such as the Sly Stone collection included "Everyday People" (1968), Len Barry's "1-2-3" (1965), and Dion DiMucci's "The Wanderer" (1961) and "Runaround Sue" (1961).

In 1984 Robert Holmes à Court announced he was selling the ATV Music Publishing catalog comprising the publishing rights to nearly 4000 songs, including most of the Beatles' material.[100] In 1981, McCartney had been offered the catalog for £20 million ($40 million).[95][101] Jackson submitted a bid of $46 million on November 20, 1984.[100] When Jackson and McCartney were unable to make a joint purchase, McCartney did not want to be the sole owner of the Beatles' songs, and did not pursue an offer on his own.[102][101] Jackson's agents were unable to come to a deal, and in May 1985 left talks after having spent more than $1 million and four months of due diligence work on the negotiations.[100] In June 1985, Jackson and Branca learned that Charles Koppelman's and Marty Bandier's The Entertainment Company had made a tentative offer to buy ATV Music for $50 million; in early August, Holmes à Court contacted Jackson and talks resumed. Jackson's increased bid of $47.5 million was accepted because he could close the deal more quickly, having already completed due diligence.[100] Jackson also agreed to visit Holmes à Court in Australia, where he would appear on the Channel Seven Perth Telethon.[103] Jackson's purchase of ATV Music was finalized on August 10, 1985.[95][100]

1986–1987: Changing appearance, tabloids, and films

Jackson's skin had been medium-brown during his youth, but from the mid-1980s gradually grew paler. The change drew widespread media coverage, including speculation that he had been bleaching his skin.[104][105][106] Jackson's dermatologist, Arnold Klein, said he observed in 1983 that Jackson had vitiligo,[107] a condition characterized by patches of the skin losing their pigment, and sensitivity to sunlight. He also identified discoid lupus erythematosus in Jackson. He diagnosed Jackson with lupus that year,[107] and with vitiligo in 1986.[108] Vitiligo's drastic effects on the body can cause psychological distress. Jackson used fair-colored makeup,[109] and possibly skin-bleaching prescription creams,[110] to cover up the uneven blotches of color caused by the illness. The creams would have further lightened his skin, and, with the application of makeup, he could appear very pale.[111] Jackson said he had not purposely bleached his skin and could not control his vitiligo, adding, "When people make up stories that I don't want to be who I am, it hurts me."[112] He became friends with Klein and Klein's nurse Debbie Rowe. Rowe later became Jackson's second wife and the mother of his first two children.[113]

In his autobiography and the 1993 interview with Winfrey, Jackson said he had had two rhinoplasty surgeries and a cleft chin surgery but no more than that. He said he lost weight in the early 1980s because of a change in diet to achieve a dancer's body.[114] Witnesses reported that he was often dizzy, and speculated he was suffering from anorexia nervosa. Periods of weight loss became a recurring problem later in his life.[115] After his death, his mother Katherine told Winfrey that he first turned to cosmetic procedures to remedy his vitiligo, because he did not want to look like a "spotted cow." She said her son had received more than the two cosmetic surgeries he claimed and speculated that he was addicted to them.[116]

In 1986, tabloids reported that Jackson slept in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber to slow aging, and pictured him lying in a glass box. The claim was untrue, and tabloids reported that he spread the story himself.[117] It was also reported, by the tabloids, that Jackson took female hormone shots to keep his voice high and facial hair wispy, proposed to Elizabeth Taylor and possibly had a shrine of her, and had cosmetic surgery on his eyes. Jackson's manager Frank DiLeo denied all of them, except for Jackson having a chamber. DiLeo added "I don't know if he sleeps in it. I'm not for it. But Michael thinks it's something that's probably healthy for him. He's a bit of a health fanatic."[118]

When Jackson took his pet chimpanzee Bubbles to tour in Japan, their public appearances caused a stir in the media. They portrayed Jackson as an aspiring Disney cartoon character who befriended various animals.[119] Meanwhile, it was also reported that Jackson had offered to buy the bones of Joseph Merrick (the "Elephant Man").[120] In June 1987, the Chicago Tribune reported Jackson's publicist bidding $1 million for the skeleton to the London Hospital Medical College on his behalf. The college maintained the skeleton was not for sale. DiLeo said Jackson had an "absorbing interest" in Merrick, "purely based on his awareness of the ethical, medical and historical significance."[121]

These tabloid stories inspired the name "Wacko Jacko," which Jackson came to despise.[8][122] According to music journalist Joseph Vogel, the demeaning name first appeared in British tabloid The Sun in 1985. The name's origins come from Jacko Macacco, the name of a famous monkey used in monkey-baiting matches at the Westminster Pit in the early 1820s. "Jacko" was subsequently used in Cockney slang to refer to monkeys in general, hence a racist connotation behind the name.[123]

In 1987, Rolling Stone described Jackson as "the flighty-genius star-child, a celebrity virtually all his life, who dwells in a fairy-tale kingdom of fellow celebrities, animals, mannequins and cartoons, who provides endless fodder for the tabloids.... But it’s the same child in Michael who inspires the artistry that fuels all the subsidiary industries, who turns his primal fears and fantasies into wondrous, hyperkinetic and emotional music."[119]

Jackson worked with George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola on the 17-minute $30 million 3D film Captain EO, which ran from 1986 at Disneyland and Epcot, and later at Tokyo Disneyland and Euro Disneyland.[124] After having been removed in the late 1990s, it returned to the theme park for several years after Jackson's death.[125] In 1987, Jackson disassociated himself from the Jehovah's Witnesses.[126] Katherine Jackson said this might have been because some Witnesses strongly opposed the Thriller video.[127] Jackson had denounced it in a Witness publication in 1984.[128]

1987–1990: Bad, autobiography, and Neverland

A man is singing into a microphone under a spotlight. He wears a blue open-neck shirt over a white T-shirt, and dark pants. There are two colorfully-dressed men on either side of him.
Jackson (center) performing in 1988

Jackson's first album in five years, Bad (1987), was highly anticipated, with the industry expecting another major success.[129] It became the first album to produce five US number-one singles: "I Just Can't Stop Loving You", "Bad", "The Way You Make Me Feel", "Man in the Mirror", and "Dirty Diana". Another song, "Smooth Criminal", peaked at number seven.[56] Bad won the 1988 Grammy for Best Engineered Recording – Non Classical and the 1990 Grammy Award for Best Music Video, Short Form for "Leave Me Alone".[60][81] Jackson won an Award of Achievement at the American Music Awards in 1989 after Bad generated five number-one singles, became the first album to top the charts in 25 countries and the best-selling album worldwide in 1987 and 1988.[130][131] By 2012, it had sold between 30 and 45 million copies worldwide.[132][133]

The Bad world tour ran from September 12, 1987 to January 14, 1989.[134] In Japan, the tour had 14 sellouts and drew 570,000 people, nearly tripling the previous record for a single tour.[135] The 504,000 people who attended seven sold-out shows at Wembley Stadium set a new Guinness world record.[136]

A black jacket with five round golden medals on its left and right shoulders, a gold band on its left arm sleeve, and two belt straps on the right bottom sleeve. Underneath the jacket is a golden belt, with a round ornament in its center.
Jackson wore a gold-plated military style jacket with belt during the Bad era

In 1988, Jackson released his autobiography, Moonwalk, with input from Stephen Davis and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.[137] It sold 200,000 copies,[138] and reached the top of the New York Times bestsellers list.[139] Jackson discussed his childhood, the Jackson 5, and the abuse from his father.[140] He attributed his changing facial appearance to three plastic surgeries, puberty, weight loss, a strict vegetarian diet, a change in hairstyle, and stage lighting.[141][114] In October, Jackson released a film, Moonwalker, which featured live footage and short films starring Jackson and Joe Pesci. In the US it was released direct-to-video and became the best-selling video cassette.[142][143] The RIAA certified it as Platinum.[144]

In March 1988, Jackson purchased 2,700 acres (11 km2) of land near Santa Ynez, California, to build a new home, Neverland Ranch, at a cost of $17 million.[145] He installed a Ferris wheel, a carousel, a movie theater and a zoo.[145][146][147] A security staff of 40 patrolled the grounds.[146] Shortly afterwards, he appeared in the first Western television advertisement in the Soviet Union.[148]

Jackson became known as the "King of Pop", a nickname that Jackson's publicists embraced.[21][149][150] When Elizabeth Taylor presented him with the Soul Train Heritage Award in 1989, she called him "the true king of pop, rock and soul."[151] President George H. W. Bush designated him the White House's "Artist of the Decade".[152] From 1985 to 1990, Jackson donated $455,000 to the United Negro College Fund,[153] and all profits from his single "Man in the Mirror" went to charity.[154] His rendition of "You Were There" at Sammy Davis Jr.'s 60th birthday celebration won Jackson a second Emmy nomination.[74]

1991–1993: Dangerous, Heal the World Foundation, and Super Bowl XXVII halftime show

In March 1991, Jackson renewed his contract with Sony for $65 million, a record-breaking deal,[155] beating Neil Diamond's renewal contract with Columbia Records.[156] In 1991, he released his eighth album, Dangerous, co-produced with Teddy Riley.[157] It was certified seven times platinum in the US, and by 2008 had sold 30 million copies worldwide.[158][159] In the US, the first single, "Black or White", was the album's highest charting song; it was number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks and achieved similar chart performances worldwide.[160] The second single, "Remember the Time" peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.[161] At the end of 1992, Dangerous was the best-selling album of the year worldwide and "Black or White" the best-selling single of the year worldwide at the Billboard Music Awards. Jackson was also the best-selling artist of the 1980s.[162] In 1993, he performed "Remember the Time" at the Soul Train Music Awards in a chair, saying he twisted his ankle during dance rehearsals.[163] In the UK, "Heal the World" made No. 2 on the charts in 1992.[164]

Jackson during the Dangerous World Tour in 1993

Jackson founded the Heal the World Foundation in 1992. The charity brought underprivileged children to Jackson's ranch to use the theme park rides, and sent millions of dollars around the globe to help children threatened by war, poverty, and disease. That July, Jackson published his second book, Dancing the Dream, a collection of poetry. The Dangerous World Tour ran between June 1992 and November 1993 and grossed $100 million; Jackson performed for 3.5 million people in 70 concerts, all of which were outside the US.[165] Part of the proceeds went to Heal the World Foundation.[166] Jackson sold the broadcast rights of the tour to HBO for $20 million, a record-breaking deal that still stands.[167]

Following the death of HIV/AIDS spokesperson and friend Ryan White, Jackson pleaded with the Clinton administration at Bill Clinton's inaugural gala to give more money to HIV/AIDS charities and research[168][169] and performed "Gone Too Soon", a song dedicated to White, and "Heal the World" at the gala.[170] Jackson visited Africa in early 1992; on his first stop in Gabon he was greeted by more than 100,000 people, some of them carrying signs that read "Welcome Home Michael".[171] During his trip to Ivory Coast, Jackson was crowned "King Sani" by a tribal chief. He thanked the dignitaries in French and English, signed documents formalizing his kingship, and sat on a golden throne while presiding over ceremonial dances.[171]

In January 1993, Jackson performed at the Super Bowl XXVII halftime show in Pasadena, California. The NFL sought a big-name artist to keep ratings high during halftime following dwindling audience figures.[172][173] It was the first Super Bowl whose half-time performance drew greater audience figures than the game. Jackson played "Jam", "Billie Jean", "Black or White", and "Heal the World". Dangerous rose 90 places in the album chart after the performance.[104]

Jackson gave a 90-minute interview to Winfrey on February 10, 1993. He spoke of his childhood abuse at the hands of his father; he believed he had missed out on much of his childhood, and said 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, and stated for the first time that he had vitiligo. Dangerous re-entered the album chart in the top 10, more than a year after its release.[21][104]

In January 1993, Jackson won three American Music Awards: Favorite Pop/Rock Album (Dangerous), Favorite Soul/R&B Single ("Remember the Time"), and was the first to win the International Artist Award of Excellence.[174][175] In February, he won the "Living Legend Award" at the 35th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.[60] He attended the award ceremony with Brooke Shields.[176] Dangerous was nominated for Best Vocal Performance (for "Black or White"), Best R&B Vocal Performance ("Jam") and Best R&B Song ("Jam"), and Swedien and Riley won the award for Best Engineered – Non Classical.[81]

1993–1995: First child sexual abuse accusations and first marriage

In August 1993, Jackson was accused of child sexual abuse by a 13-year-old boy, Jordan Chandler, and his father, Evan Chandler.[177] Jordan said he and Jackson had engaged in acts of kissing, masturbation and oral sex.[178] Jordan's mother initially told police that she did not believe Jackson had molested her son; however, her position wavered a few days later.[179][180] Evan was recorded discussing his intention to pursue charges, which Jackson used to argue that he was the victim of a jealous father trying to extort money.[180] Jackson's older sister La Toya accused him of being a pedophile, which she later retracted.[181] Police raided Jackson's home in December and found books and photographs featuring young boys with little or no clothing. The books were legal to own, and Jackson was not indicted.[182] Jordan Chandler gave police a description of Jackson's genitals. A strip search was made, and the jurors felt the description was not a match.[183][184][185] In January 1994, Jackson settled with the Chandlers out of court for $25 million.[186] The police never pressed criminal charges.[187] Citing a lack of evidence without Jordan's testimony, the state closed its investigation on September 22, 1994.[188]

Jackson had been taking painkillers for his reconstructive scalp surgeries, administered due to the Pepsi commercial accident in 1984, and became dependent on them to cope with the stress of the sexual abuse allegations.[189] On November 12, 1993, Jackson canceled the remainder of the Dangerous Tour due to health problems, stress from the allegations and painkiller addiction. He thanked close friend Elizabeth Taylor for support, encouragement and counsel. The end of the tour concluded his relationship with Pepsi-Cola which sponsored the tour.[190]

In late 1993 Jackson proposed to Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of Elvis Presley, over the phone.[191] They married in La Vega, Dominican Republic in May 1994 by civil judge Hugo Francisco Alvarez Perez.[192] The tabloid media speculated that the wedding was a publicity stunt to deflect Jackson's sexual abuse allegations and jump-start Presley's career as a singer.[193][192] Their marriage ended little more than a year later, and they separated in December 1995.[194] Presley cited "irreconcilable differences" when filing for divorce the next month and only sought to reclaim her maiden name as her settlement.[193][195] After the divorce, Judge Perez said, "They lasted longer than I thought they would. I gave them a year. They lasted a year and a half."[192]

1995–1997: HIStory, second marriage, and fatherhood

In June 1995, Jackson released the double album HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I. The first disc, HIStory Begins, is a greatest hits album (reissued in 2001 as Greatest Hits: HIStory, Volume I). The second disc, HIStory Continues, contains 13 original songs and two cover versions. The album debuted at number one on the charts and has been certified for seven million shipments in the US.[196] It is the best-selling multi-disc album of all time, with 20 million copies (40 million units) sold worldwide.[160][197] HIStory received a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year.[60] The New York Times reviewed it as "the testimony of a musician whose self-pity now equals his talent".[198]

The first single from HIStory was "Scream/Childhood". "Scream", a duet with Jackson's youngest sister Janet, protests the media's treatment of Jackson during the 1993 child abuse allegations against him. The single made number five on the Billboard Hot 100,[161] and received a Grammy nomination for "Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals".[60] The second single, "You Are Not Alone", holds the Guinness world record for the first song to debut at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[199] It received a Grammy nomination for "Best Pop Vocal Performance" in 1995.[60]

In 1995 the Anti-Defamation League and other groups complained that "Jew me, sue me, everybody do me/ Kick me, kike me, don't you black or white me", the original lyrics of "They Don't Care About Us", were antisemitic. Jackson released a version with revised words.[200][201]

In late 1995, Jackson was admitted to a hospital after collapsing during rehearsals for a televised performance, caused by a stress-related panic attack.[202] In November, Jackson merged his ATV Music catalog with Sony's music publishing division, creating Sony/ATV Music Publishing. He retained ownership of half the company, earning $95 million up front as well as the rights to more songs.[203][204]

"Earth Song" was the third single released from HIStory, and topped the UK Singles Chart for six weeks over Christmas 1995.[164] It became the 87th-best selling single in the nation.[205] At the 1996 Brit Awards, Jackson's performance of "Earth Song" was disrupted by a drunken Jarvis Cocker and his Pulp band-mate Peter Mansell, who were protesting what Cocker saw as Jackson's "Christ-like" persona. Jackson said the stage invasion was "disgusting and cowardly".[206][207]

In 1996, Jackson won a Grammy for Best Music Video, Short Form for "Scream" and an American Music Award for Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist.[60][208]

Jackson promoted HIStory with the HIStory World Tour, from September 7, 1996 to October 15, 1997. He performed 82 concerts in five continents, 35 countries and 58 cities to over 4.5 million fans, his most attended tour. It grossed $165 million.[134] During the tour, in Sydney, Australia, Jackson married Debbie Rowe, a dermatology nurse, who was six months pregnant with his first child.[209] Michael Joseph Jackson Jr. (commonly known as Prince) was born on February 13, 1997; his sister Paris-Michael Katherine Jackson was born a year later on April 3, 1998.[210] Jackson and Rowe divorced in 1999, and Rowe conceded custody of the children, with an $8 million settlement. In 2004, after the second child abuse allegations against Jackson, she returned to court to reclaim custody. The suit was settled in 2006.[211]

In 1997, Jackson released Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix, which contained remixes of singles from HIStory and five new songs. Worldwide sales stand at 6 million copies, making it the best-selling remix album of all time. It reached number one in the UK, as did the title track.[212] In the US, the album reached number 24 and was certified platinum.[158]

1997–2002: Label dispute and Invincible

Close-up of a pale skinned Jackson with black hair. He is wearing a black jacket with white designs on it.
Jackson at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival for the Michael Jackson's Ghosts music video premiere

From October 1997 to September 2001, Jackson worked on his tenth solo album, Invincible, which cost $30 million to record.[213] In June 1999, Jackson joined Luciano Pavarotti for a War Child benefit concert in Modena, Italy. The show raised a million dollars for refugees of the Kosovo War, and additional funds for the children of Guatemala.[214] Later that month, Jackson organized a series 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, Andrea Bocelli, and Luciano Pavarotti. The proceeds went to the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, the Red Cross and UNESCO.[215] From August 1999 to 2000, he lived in New York City at 4 East 74th Street.[216] At the turn of the century, Jackson won an American Music Award as Artist of the 1980s.[217] In 2000, Guinness World Records recognized him for supporting 39 charities, more than any other entertainer.[218]

In September 2001, two 30th Anniversary concerts were held at Madison Square Garden to mark Jackson's 30th year as a solo artist. Jackson performed with his brothers for the first time since 1984. The show also featured Mýa, Usher, Whitney Houston, Destiny's Child, Monica, Liza Minnelli, and Slash. The first show was marred by technical lapses, and the crowd booed a speech by Marlon Brando.[219] Almost 30 million people watched the television broadcast of the shows in November.[220] After 9/11, Jackson helped organize the United We Stand: What More Can I Give benefit concert at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. on October 21, 2001. Jackson performed "What More Can I Give" as the finale.[221]

The release of Invincible 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 in the early 2000s, after which he would be able to promote the material however he pleased and keep the profits, but clauses in the contract set the revert date years into the future. Jackson sought an early exit from his contract.[222] Invincible was released on October 30, 2001. It was Jackson's first full-length album in six years, and the last album of original material he released in his lifetime.[222] It debuted at number one in 13 countries and went on to sell 6 million copies worldwide, receiving double-platinum certification in the US.[158][160]

On January 9, 2002, Jackson won his 22nd American Music Award for Artist of the Century.[223][224] Later that year, an anonymous surrogate mother gave birth to his third child, Prince Michael Jackson II (nicknamed "Blanket"), who had been conceived by artificial insemination.[225] On November 20, Jackson briefly held Blanket over the railing of his Berlin hotel room, four stories above ground level, prompting widespread criticism in the media. Jackson apologized for the incident, calling it "a terrible mistake."[226] On January 22, promoter Marcel Avram filed a breach of contract complaint against Jackson for failing to perform two planned 1999 concerts.[227] In March, a Santa Maria jury ordered Jackson to pay Avram $5.3 million.[228][229] On December 18, 2003, Jackson's attorneys dropped all appeals on the verdict and settled the lawsuit for an undisclosed amount.[230]

In July 2002, Jackson called Sony Music chairman Tommy Mottola "a racist, and very, very, very devilish," and someone who exploits black artists for his own gain, at Al Sharpton's National Action Network in Harlem. The accusation prompted Sharpton to form a coalition investigating whether Mottola exploited black artists.[231] Jackson also charged that Mottola had called his colleague Irv Gotti a "fat nigger".[232] Responding to those attacks, Sony issued a statement calling them "ludicrous, spiteful, and hurtful" and defended Mottola as someone who had championed Jackson's career for many years.[231] Sony ultimately refused to renew Jackson's contract and claimed that a $25 million promotional campaign had failed because Jackson refused to tour in the US for Invincible.[213]

2002–2005: Second child sexual abuse allegations, trial, and acquittal

Jackson's mug shot in 2003

Beginning in May 2002, a documentary film crew led by Martin Bashir followed Jackson for several months.[226] The documentary, broadcast in February 2003 as Living with Michael Jackson, showed Jackson holding hands and discussing sleeping arrangements with a 12-year-old boy.[20][233] He also said that he saw nothing wrong with having sleepovers with minors and sharing his bed and bedroom with various people, which aroused controversy. He insisted that the sleepovers were not sexual and that his words had been misunderstood.[234][235]

On December 18, 2003, Santa Barbara authorities charged Jackson with seven counts of child molestation and two counts of intoxicating a minor with alcoholic drinks.[236] Jackson denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty.[237] The People v. Jackson trial began on January 31, 2005, in Santa Maria, California, and lasted until the end of May. Jackson found the experience stressful and it affected his health. If convicted, he would have faced up to 20 years in prison.[238] On June 13, 2005, Jackson was acquitted on all counts.[239] After the trial, he became reclusive[240] and moved to Bahrain as a guest of Sheikh Abdullah.[241] Jermaine Jackson later said the family had planned to send Jackson there had he been convicted, unbeknownst to Jackson.[242]

On November 18, 2003, Sony released Number Ones, a greatest hits compilation. It was certified triple platinum by the RIAA, and six times platinum in the UK, for shipments of at least 1.2 million units.[158][243]

2006–2009: Closure of Neverland, final years, and This Is It

Jackson is wearing an overcoat and walking from left to right. His face is obscured by his hair. His son is wearing a mask and a baseball cap. Two men are with them; a third person is holding an umbrella over the Jacksons.
Jackson and his son Blanket in Disneyland Paris, 2006

In April 2006, Jackson agreed to use a piece of his ATV catalog stake as collateral against his $270 million worth of loans to Bank of America. The catalog was worth about $1 billion at the time. Bank of America had sold the loans to Fortress Investments, an investment company that buys distressed loans, the year before. As part of the agreement, Fortress Investments provided Jackson a new loan of $300 million with reduced interest payments. Sony Music would have the option to buy half of his stake, or about 25% of the catalog, at a set price. Jackson's financial managers had urged him to shed part of his stake to avoid bankruptcy.[204][244] The main house at Neverland Ranch was closed as a cost-cutting measure, while Jackson lived in Bahrain at the hospitality of Sheik Abdullah, the ruler's son. At least 30 workers had not been paid on time and were owed $306,000 in back wages; Jackson also had to pay $100,000 in penalties.[245][204]

In early 2006, it was announced that Jackson had signed a contract with a Bahrain-based startup, Two Seas Records; nothing came of the deal, and Two Seas CEO Guy Holmes later stated that it had never been finalized.[246][247] That October, Fox News entertainment reporter Roger Friedman said Jackson had been recording at a studio in County Westmeath, Ireland. It was not known at the time what Jackson was working on, or who had paid for the sessions; his publicist had stated that he had left Two Seas by then.[247][248]

In November 2006, Jackson invited an Access Hollywood camera crew into the studio in Westmeath, and MSNBC reported that he was working on a new album, produced by will.i.am.[160] During his period in Ireland he sought out Patrick Treacy for cosmetic treatment after reading about his experience with hyaluronic acid (HLA) fillers and his charitable work in Africa.[249] Treacy became Jackson's personal dermatologist soon afterward.[250] On November 15, 2006, Jackson performed at the World Music Awards in London and accepted the Diamond Award honoring the sale of over 100 million of his records.[160][251] He returned to the US in December 2006 to attend James Brown's funeral in Augusta, Georgia, where he gave a eulogy calling Brown his "greatest inspiration."[252]

In 2007, Jackson and Sony bought another music publishing company, Famous Music LLC, formerly owned by Viacom. This deal gave him the rights to songs by Eminem and Beck, among others.[253][254] In March 2007, Jackson gave a brief interview to the Associated Press in Tokyo, in which he said he had no regrets about his lifelong career despite difficulties and "deliberate attempts to hurt [him]."[255] That month, Jackson visited a US Army post in Japan, Camp Zama, to greet over 3,000 troops and their families.[256][257]

In September 2007, Jackson was still working on his next album, which he never completed.[258] In 2008, Jackson and Sony released Thriller 25 to mark the 25th anniversary of the original Thriller. Two remixes were released as singles: "The Girl Is Mine 2008" (with will.i.am), based on an early demo version of the song without Paul McCartney, and "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' 2008" with Akon.[259] For Jackson's 50th birthday, Sony BMG released a series of greatest hits albums titled King of Pop. Different versions were released in various countries, based on polls of local fans.[260]

A view from above of a large property in a semi-desert. The landscape is pale with clumps of vegetation. The property shows circular structures between the buildings.
An aerial view of part of Jackson's 2,800-acre (11 km2) Neverland Valley Ranch near Los Olivos, California, showing the rides

In 2008, Fortress Investments threatened to foreclose on Neverland Ranch, which Jackson had used as collateral for his loans. Fortress sold Jackson's debts to Colony Capital LLC.[261][262] In November, Jackson transferred Neverland Ranch's title to Sycamore Valley Ranch Company LLC, a joint venture between Jackson and Colony Capital LLC. The deal earned him $35 million.[263] Jackson arranged to sell a large collection of his memorabilia (more than 1,000 items) through Julien's Auction House. The auction was scheduled to take place between April 22 and 25, 2009. On the eve of the first public exhibit in March, Jackson filed a legal action to block the auction. Darren Julien, CEO of Julien's Auctions, was baffled by Jackson's sudden change of heart. Jackson changed his mind after pocketing between $200 million to $300 million of initial sales from a series of concerts to be held in London.[264][240]

In March 2009, at a press conference at The O2 Arena, Jackson announced a series of comeback concerts titled This Is It amid speculation about his finances and health.[265] The shows were to be his first major tour since the HIStory World Tour that ended in 1997. Jackson suggested he would retire after the shows. The initial plan was for 10 concerts in London, followed by shows in Paris, New York City and Mumbai. Randy Phillips, president and chief executive of AEG Live, predicted the first 10 dates would earn Jackson £50 million.[266] The London residency show increased to 50 dates after record-breaking ticket sales; over one million sold in less than two hours.[267] The concerts were to run from July 13, 2009 to March 6, 2010. Jackson rehearsed in Los Angeles in the weeks leading up to the tour under the direction of choreographer Kenny Ortega, whom he worked with during his previous tours. Most rehearsals took place at the Staples Center owned by AEG.[268]

Other Languages
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