Jackson at the White House with President Ronald Reagan in 1984.
|Birth name||Michael Joseph Jackson|
|Born||August 29, 1958
Gary, Indiana, U.S.
|Genres||Rock, pop, soul, R&B, funk, disco, dance|
|Occupations||Singer-songwriter, record producer, composer, dancer, choreographer, actor, author, businessman, philanthropist|
|Instruments||Vocals, Piano, Keyboard, Guitar, Drums|
|Labels||Motown, Epic, Legacy|
|Associated acts||Jackson 5|
Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 - June 25, 2009) is an American recording artist, entertainer, and philanthropist. Referred to as the King of Pop, Rock and Soul or in abbreviated form as King of Pop, he is recognized as the most successful entertainer of all time, as well as one of the most influential. His contribution to music, dance and fashion, along with a much-publicized personal life, has made him a global figure in popular culture for over four decades. The 7th child of the Jackson family, he debuted on the professional music scene alongside his brothers as a child member of the Jackson 5, and began a solo career in 1971. His album Thriller (1982) is considered a seminal masterpiece and is the best-selling album of all time. His other records are some of the world's best-selling, and include: Off The Wall (1979), Bad (1987), Dangerous (1991), and HIStory (1995).
In the early 1980s, Jackson became a dominant figure in popular music and the first African-American entertainer to amass a strong crossover following on MTV. The popularity of music videos for his songs such as "Beat It", "Billie Jean" and "Thriller"—credited with transforming the music video into an art form and a promotional tool—helped bring the relatively new channel to fame. Videos such as "Black or White" and "Scream" made him a staple on MTV in the 1990s. With stage performances and music videos, Jackson popularized a number of dance techniques, such as the robot and the moonwalk. His distinctive musical sound and vocal style have influenced hip hop, pop, contemporary R&B and rock artists.
Jackson is one of the few artists to have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice. His other achievements include multiple Guinness World Records, 13 Grammy Awards (as well as the Grammy Legend Award and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award), 26 American Music Awards (more than any other solo artist, and including "Artist of the Century") and 13 number-one singles in the United States in his solo career (more than any other male artist in the Hot 100 era), and the estimated sale of over 750 million records worldwide. Jackson won hundreds of awards, which have made him the most awarded recording artist in the history of music. He was also a notable humanitarian, donating and raising hundreds of millions of dollars for beneficial causes and supporting over 39 charities.
Aspects of Jackson's personal life, including his changing appearance, personal relationships and behavior, generated controversy. Though he was accused of child sexual abuse in 1993, the criminal investigation was closed due to lack of evidence and Jackson was not charged. In 2005, he was tried and acquitted of further sexual abuse allegations and several other charges.
Early Life and CareerJackson was born Michael Joseph Jackson in Gary, Indiana on August 29, 1958, the eighth of ten children to an African American working-class family, in Gary, Indiana, an industrial suburb of Chicago. His mother, Katherine Esther Scruse, was a devout Jehovah's Witness, and his father, Joseph Walter "Joe" Jackson, a steel mill worker who performed with an R&B band called The Falcons. Jackson had three sisters: Rebbie, La Toya, and Janet, and six brothers: Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, Brandon (Marlon's twin brother, who died shortly after birth) and Randy.
Jackson had a troubled relationship with his father Joe. He stated that he was physically and emotionally abused during incessant rehearsals, with whippings and name-calling, though also crediting his father's strict discipline with playing a large role in 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 grab his sons and push them with great force against the wall. One night while Michael was asleep, Joseph climbed into his room through the bedroom window, wearing a fright mask and screamed, in hopes to scare him. 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 live around the world. He admitted that he had often cried from loneliness and he would vomit on the sight of his father. Jackson's father was also said to have verbally abused Jackson, saying that he had a fat nose on numerous occasions. In fact, Michael Jackson's deep dissatisfaction with his appearance, his nightmares and chronic sleep problems, his tendency to remain hyper-compliant especially with his father, and to remain child-like throughout his adult life are in many ways consistent with the effects of this chronic maltreatment he endured as a young child. In an interview with Martin Bashir, later included in the 2003 broadcast of Living with Michael Jackson, Jackson acknowledged that his father hurt him when he was a child, but was nonetheless a "genius," as he admitted his father's strict discipline played a huge role in his success. When Bashir dismissed the positive remark and continued asking about beatings, Jackson put his hand over his face and objected to the questions. He recalled that Joseph sat in a chair with a belt in his hand as he and his siblings rehearsed, and that "if you didn't do it the right way, he would tear you up, really get you."
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. When he was eight, Jackson began sharing the lead vocals with his older brother Jermaine, 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, before signing 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.
Going Solo & Off The WallIn June 1975, the Jackson 5 signed with Epic Records, a subsidiary of CBS Records and renamed themselves the Jacksons. Younger brother Randy formally joined the band around this time, while Jermaine left to pursue a solo career. 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, a box-office disaster. 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 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.
Thriller & Mega-Star StatusIn 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. Later in 1982, just before Christmas, Jackson released what proved to be by far the biggest album of his career, and arguably the biggest pop album ever by any artist: Thriller. It is the best-selling album of all time in the United States, as well as the best-selling album of all time worldwide, with an estimated 110 million copies sold. The album 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'" Thriller was certified for 29 million shipments by the RIAA, giving it Double Diamond status in the United States. 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 his recordings. The videocassette of the documentary The Making of Michael Jackson's Thriller 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." In December 2009, the music video for "Thriller" was selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, "Thriller" is the first music video to ever be inducted.
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."
In March 1983, Jackson reunited with his brothers for a legendary live performance which was taped for the Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever television special. The show aired on May 16, 1983, to an audience of 47 million viewers, and featured the Jacksons and a number of other Motown stars. It is best remembered for Jackson's solo performance of "Billie Jean". Wearing a distinctive black sequin jacket and golf glove decorated with rhinestones, he debuted his signature dance move, The Moonwalk, which former Soul Train dancer and Shalamar member, Jeffrey Daniel had taught him 3 years before. The Jacksons' performance drew comparisons to Elvis Presley's and the The Beatles' appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. Anna Kisselgoff of The New York Times later wrote, "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."
Jackson's Start in Business VenturesOn 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. Jackson never recovered from this injury. Pepsi settled out of court, and Jackson donated his $1.5 million settlement to the Brotman Medical Center in Culver City, California, which now has a "Michael Jackson Burn Center" in honor of his donation.
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 all the funds (around $8 million) raised 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 30 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.
Tabloid Frenzy & BadJackson'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. (His long-term dermatologist Dr. Arnold Klein confirmed this on Larry King Live, after his death.) The treatments he used for his condition further lightened his skin tone, and, with the application of pancake makeup to even out blotches, he could appear very pale. The structure of his face had also changed: several surgeons speculated that he had undergone various nasal surgeries, a forehead lift, thinned lips, and cheekbone surgery — although Jackson denied this and insisted that he only had surgery on his nose. Jackson claimed that he had only two rhinoplasties and no other surgery on his face, although at one point he mentioned having a dimple created in his chin. Jackson 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.
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 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 reporter Randy Taraborrelli:
- "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 single word that comes out of his mouth.""
- ―Michael Jackson
Jackson collaborated with Francis Ford Coppola on the 17-minute 3-D film Captain EO, which debuted in September 1986 at both the original Disneyland and at EPCOT in Florida, and in March 1987 at Tokyo Disneyland. The $30,000,000 movie was the centerpiece of popular attractions at all three parks. A Captain EO attraction was later featured at Euro Disneyland after that park opened in 1992. All four parks' Captain Eo installations stayed open well into the 1990s: Tokyo's was the last one to close, in 1998.In 1987, Jackson disassociated himself from the Jehovah's Witnesses, in response to their disapproval of the Thri
ller video. With the industry expecting another major hit, Jackson's first album in five years, Bad (1987), was highly anticipated. It did not top Thriller as a commercial or artistic triumph— and, probably nothing could have topped the earlier album— but Bad was still a substantial success in its own right.The Bad album spawned seven hit singles in the U.S., five of which ("I Just Can't Stop Loving You", "Bad (single)", "The Way You Make Me Feel", "Man in the Mirror", and "Dirty Diana") reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. This was a record for most number one Hot 100 singles from any one album, including Thriller. Although the title track's video was arguably derivative of the video for the earlier single "Beat It", the "Bad" video still proved to be one of Jackson's iconic moments. It was a gritty but colorful epic set against the backdrop of the New York City subway system, with spectacular costuming and choreography inspired by "West Side Story". As of 2008, the album had sold 30 million copies worldwide.
The Bad World Tour began on September 12th of that year, finishing on January 27th, 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. The Bad Tour turned out to be the last of Jackson's concert tours to include shows in the continental United States, although later tours did make it to Hawaii and Mexico.
Autobiography & Neverland
In 1988, Jackson released his first autobiography, Moonwalk, 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 wrote about his facial appearance, saying he had had two rhinoplastic surgeries and dimple created 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. Moonwalk 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 short films that starred Jackson and Joe Pesci. The film was originally intended to be released to theaters but due to financial issues, the film was released direct to video. It debuted atop the Billboard Top Music Video Cassette chart, staying there for 22 weeks. It was eventually knocked off the top spot by Michael Jackson: The Legend Continues .
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 afterward, he became the first Westerner to appear in a television ad in the Soviet Union.
Dangerous, Super Bowl XXVII, & King of Pop
In March 1991, Jackson renewed his contract with Sony for $100 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. The Dangerous album was co-produced by Teddy Riley, one of the pioneers of "new jack swing" and it turned out to be the best-selling album associated with that movement. 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, poverty, and disease. In the same year Jackson published his second book, the bestselling collection of poetry, Dancing the Dream. While it was a commercial success and revealed a more intimate side to Jackson's nature, the collection was mostly critically unclaimed at the time of release. In 2009, the book was republished by Doubleday and was more positively received by some critics in the wake of Jackson's untimely death. The Dangerous World Tour grossed $100 million. The tour began on June 27, 1992, and finished on November 11, 1993. Jackson performed to 3.5 million people in 67 concerts. 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/A
IDS, 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 and enthusiastic reception of more than 100,000 people, some of them carrying signs that read, "Welcome Home Michael." In his trip to Côte d'Ivoire, 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 performance 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.
His success resulted in him 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. It was also around this time that Michael struck up a friendship with child actor Macaulay Culkin, a friendship that would last until his death.
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. 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. According to biographer Randy Taraborelli, Dr. Chandler alleged that his son had told him (while under the influence of the sedative sodium amytal) that Jackson had touched his penis. The Chandler family demanded payment from Jackson, and the singer initially refused. Jordan Chandler eventually told the police that Jackson had sexually abused him, and he gave a detailed description of the singer's genitals. Dr. Chandler was tape-recorded discussing his intention to pursue charges, saying, "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". Jordan's mother was, however, adamant that there had been no wrongdoing on Jackson's part. Jackson later used the recording to argue that he was the victim of a jealous father whose only goal was to extort money from the singer.
Neverland Ranch was searched during an extensive investigation; Jackson even agreed to a 25-minute strip search. Doctors concluded there were strong similarities between Jackson's genitals and Jordan Chandler's description, 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. Jackson's older sister, La Toya, accused him of being a pedophile, but other family members and friends defend.
d him. On January 1, 1994, against his will, Jacksons insurance carrier settled with the Chandlers out of court for $22 million, after which Jordan stopped co-operating with the criminal investigation. In the end, no charges were filed.
In May 1994, Jackson married singer-songwriter Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of Elvis Presley. They had first met in 1975, when a seven-year-old Presley attended 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." She eventually 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 afterward. 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. The marriage lasted less than two years later, ending in an amicable divorce settlement.
Fatherhood & HIStory
In 1995, Jackson merged his ATV Music catalog with Sony's music 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 Album of the Year.
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 song fights against the media, mainly for what the media made him out to be during his 1993 child abuse allegations. 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 track "They Don't Care About Us" became controversial when the Anti-Defamation League and other groups criticized its allegedly anti-Semitic lyrics. Jackson quickly put out a revised version of the song without the offending lyrics.
The album was promoted with the successful HIStory World Tour. The 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, and grossed up a total of $165 million. The show, which visited five continents and 35 countries, became Jackson's most successful in terms of audience figures. 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 named 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 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. Recent claims by a male dermatology assistant that he and Jackson were sexually involved have drawn fury from those close to Jackson. Originally, there were no plans to marry, but following Rowe's first pregnancy, Jackson's mother intervened and persuaded them to do so. The couple divorced in 1999 but remained friends, and Rowe gave 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, it is 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, Andrea Bocelli and Luciano Pavarotti. The proceeds went to the "Nelson Mandela Children's Fund", the Red Cross and UNESCO.
Invincible & Third Child
In October 2001, Jackson released Invincible. This was his first full-length album in 6 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. 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 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.
These conflicts were utilized by the entertainer to leverage an early exit to his contract. 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 13 million copies worldwide. It received double-platinum certification in the U.S. 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. Invincible spawned three singles, "You Rock My World", "Cry" and "Butterflies", the latter without a music video. 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. On November 20 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. The baby was briefly extended over a railing, 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 triple platinum by the RIAA; in the UK it was certified 6 times platinum for shipments of at least 1.2 million units.
Second Abuse Claim
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.
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, in a highly publicized relocation he moved to the Persian Gulf island of Bahrain, as a guest of Sheikh Abdullah.
The Final Years: This Is It
In March 2006, the main house at the Neverland Ranch was closed as a cost-cutting measure. There were numerous reports around that time that Jackson was having financial problems. Jackson had been delinquent on his repayments of a $270 million loan secured against his music publishing holdings, even though those holdings were reportedly making him as much as $75 million a year. The Bank o f America sold the debt to Fortress Investments. Sony reportedly proposed a restructuring deal which would give them a 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 in April 2006, although the exact details were not made public. Jackson did not have a recording contract in place with Sony or any other major record label at the time.
In the spring of 2006, there was an announcement that Jackson had signed a contract with a Bahrain-based start-up called Two Seas Records. However, nothing ever came of that deal, and the CEO of Two Seas, Guy Holmes, later stated that the deal had never been finalized. Throughout 2006, Sony repackaged 20 singles from the 1980s and 1990s as the Michael Jackson: Visionary series, which subsequently became a boxed set. Most of those singles returned to the charts as a result. In September 2006, Jackson and his ex-wife Debbie Rowe confirmed reports that they had settled their long-running child custody suit. The terms were never made public. Jackson continued to be the custodial parent of the couple's two children. In October 2006, Fox News entertainment reporter Roger Friedman said that Jackson had been recording at a studio in rural Westmeath, Ireland. It was not known at the time what Jackson might be working on, or who might be paying for the sessions, since his publicist had recently issued a statement claiming that he had left Two Seas.
In November 2006, Jackson invited an Access Hollywood camera crew into the studio in Westmeath, and MSNBC broke the story that he was working on a new album, produced by Will.i.am of the Black-Eyed Peas. Jackson performed at the World Music Awards, in London on November 15, 2006, and accepted a Diamond Award for selling over 100 million records. Jackson returned to the United States after Christmas 2006 to attend James Brown's funeral in Augusta, Georgia. He gave one of the eulogies, saying that "James Brown is my greatest inspiration." In the spring of 2007, Jackson and Sony teamed up to buy yet another music publishing company: Famous Music LLC, formerly owned by Viacom. This deal gave him the rights to songs by Eminem, Shakira, and Beck, among others. Jackson recorded extensively during this period in New York with songwriter and producer Will.i.am and also in Las Vegas with producers Akon and RedOne. In March 2007, Jackson gave a brief interview to the Associated Press in Tokyo, where he said:
- "I've been in the entertainment industry since I was six-years-old, and as Charles Dickens would say, "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
In September 2007, Rolling Stone broke the exact same story news MSNBC and Access Hollywood had broken a year earlier: i.e., that Jackson was working with Will.i.am on a new album. That album was apparently never completed. However, in 2008, Jackson and Sony released Thriller 25 to mark the 25th anniversary of the original Thriller. This album featured the previously unreleased song "For All Time" (an out-take from the original sessions) as well as re-mixes, where Jackson collaborated with younger artists who had been inspired by his work. Two of the remixes were released as singles with only modest success: "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' 2008" (with Akon) and "The Girl Is Mine 2008" (with will.i.am.) The second single was based on an early demo version, without Paul McCartney. The album itself was a hit, however. In anticipation of Jackson's 50th birthday, Sony BMG released a series of greatest-hits albums called King of Pop. Slightly different versions were released in various countries, based on polls of local fans. King of Pop reached the top 10 in most countries where it was issued, and also sold well as an import in other countries (such as the United States.)
In the fall of 2008, 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, Jackson entered 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 25.
An exhibition of the lots opened as scheduled on April 14, but the actual auction was eventually canceled at Jackson's request.In March 2009, Jackson held a press conference at London's O2 arena and announced a series of comeback concerts titled "This Is It". The shows would be Jackson's first major series of concerts since the HIStory World Tour finished in 1997. Jackson suggested possible retirement after the shows; he said it would be his "final curtain call". The initial plan was for a 10 concerts in London, followed by shows in Paris, New York City and Mumbai. Randy Phillips, president and chief executive of AEG Live, stated that the first 10 dates alone would earn the singer approximately £50 million. The London residency was increased to 50 dates after record breaking ticket sales: over 1,000,000 were sold in less than 2 hours. Jackson rehearsed in Los Angeles in the weeks leading up to the tour under the direction of choreographer Kenny Ortega. Most of these rehearsals took place at the Staples Center, which was owned by AEG.
- Got to Be There (1972)
- Ben (1972)
- Music & Me (1973)
- Forever, Michael (1975)
- Off the Wall (1979)
- Thriller (1982)
- Bad (1987)
- Dangerous (1991)
- HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I (1995)
- Blood on the Dance Floor : HIStory in the Mix (1997)
- Invincible (2001)
- Michael (2010)
- Immortal (2011)
- Icon (2012)
- Bad 25 (2012)