Unknown to the world at that time, Thriller is only a precursor to 4 more of his chart busting studio albums - Off the Wall in 1979, Bad in 1987, Dangerous in 1991 and of course, HIStory in1995. In the early 1980s, MJ went on to become the first African American entertainer to amass a legion of strong crossover fans following on MTV. The popularity of his music videos, such as Beat It, Billie Jean and Thriller transformed the music video from a promotional tool into an art form.
In his heydays, Michael Jackson donated and raised millions of dollars for beneficial and charitable causes through his foundations.
A sad chapter of his life was when he was accused of child sexual abuse in 1993. However, the criminal charges against the singer were dropped due to lack of evidence. Then in 2005, Michael was tried and acquitted of further sexual abuse allegations and several other charges. His life was in a miserable shamble then.
On the professional front, he is one of the very few artists to have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice. His other achievements include multiple Guinness World Records, including one for "Most Successful Entertainer of All Time", 13 Grammy Awards, 13 number one singles in his solo career and the sale of 750 million records worldwide and they are still selling hot as I am writing this article in 2009.
Just prior his death, he was preparing for This Is It concert series of 50 concerts that would have been held in London beginning July 13, 2009 if not for his untimely demise.
Michael Jackson was said to have a very unhappy childhood. Jackson recounted several times that he was physically and emotionally abused by his father from a very young age and was forced to do incessant rehearsals, had whippings and name calling. But he also credited his father's strict discipline as playing a large part in his success as a top notched singer, performer and entertainer.
Jackson first spoke openly about his childhood abuse in a 1993 interview with Oprah Winfrey. He said that during his childhood he often cried from loneliness and would sometimes start to throw up upon seeing his father.
In another high interview, the singer covered his face with his hand and began crying when talking about his childhood abuse. Jackson recalled that Joseph (Michael's father) 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".
In 1979, Jackson broke his nose during a dance routine and had a rhinoplasty surgery done. However, the nose job was not a complete success as he complained of breathing difficulties. He was referred to Dr. Steven Hoefflin, who performed Jackson's second rhinoplasty and other subsequent aesthetic operations.
The singer's biggest moment was during the period of Thriller when his lawyer John Branca negotiated what he proudly announced then as the highest royalty rate ever in the music industry, approximately $2 per album. Meanwhile, MJ raked in more profits from The Making of Michael Jackson's Thriller, a documentary by himself and John Landis which sold over more than 300,000 copies at that time.
Furthermore, he went into merchandising his image in earnest, as Michael Jackson dolls and other novelties hit the world. His frenzied Japanese fans were reported to have snapped up every one of his memorabilia from Tokyo to Hokkaido!
On March 25, 1983, the Moonwalk was born. He debuted this new dance form in live on the Motown 25’s Yesterday, Today, Forever television special, both with The Jackson 5 and on his own singing "Billie Jean". His Moon Walk during the event were seen by more than 47 million viewers during its initial airing and drew comparisons to Elvis Presley's and the The Beatles' appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show.
The New York Times gushed, "The moonwalk that Michael Jackson 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".
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However, the singer hit more bad luck when on January 27, 1984, while filming a Pepsi Cola commercial at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, he suffered second degree burns to his head after pyrotechnics accidentally set his hair on fire. This freak accident happened in front of a full house during a simulated concert, the accident was the subject of heavy media reporting and elicited an outpouring of sympathy.
The man's compassionate golden heart was seen again when he co-wrote the charity single "We Are the World" with Lionel Richie, which was released worldwide to help the poor in Africa and the US. Jackson was also one of 39 music celebrities and singers who performed on the record. The single became one of the best-selling singles of all time, with 20 million copies sold and millions of dollars donated to famine relief.
Another celebrity Jackson worked closely with was Paul McCartney and together, they had two hit singles "The Girl Is Mine" and "Say Say Say". But sadly they fell out after some business disagreements.
In 1986, the media ran a story claiming that Jackson slept in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber to slow down the aging process. However, the report was not true as it was later known that Michael had disseminated the fabricated story himself. He was promoting his upcoming film Captain EO and wanted to promote a science fiction image of himself.
In 1988, some two years after he was diagnosed with vitiligo, Jackson bought and befriended a pet chimpanzee called Bubbles, an act which extended his eccentric persona. In 2003, the singer claimed that Bubbles shared his toilet and cleaned his bedroom. Then it was reported that Jackson bought the bones of The Elephant Man.
Again these were stories that Jackson disseminated to the media. These incredible stories inspired the nickname "Wacko Jacko" although Michael would eventually despise the nickname. Realizing his mistake, he stopped leaking untruths to the press. However due to the profit being made, the media began making up their own stories. What irony, isn't it?
Jackson's had medium-brown skin color during his youth, but from early 1980s, his skin gradually grew paler. This change gained widespread media coverage, including rumors that Jackson was bleaching his skin.
Then in the mid 1980s, Jackson was diagnosed with vitiligo and lupus, the latter was in remission in Jackson's case, and both illnesses made him sensitive to sunlight. The treatments he used for his condition further lightened his skin color and with the application of pancake makeup to even out blotches, he could appear very pale.
The structure of his face changed as well with many surgeons speculating that Jackson had undergone multiple nasal surgeries, a forehead lift, thinned lips and a cheekbone surgery. Changes to his face were, in part, due to periods of significant weight loss.
Jackson lost a lot of weight in the early 1980s because of a change in diet and a desire for "a dancer's body". Some of his colleagues also reported that Jackson was often dizzy and speculated that he was suffering from anorexia nervosa.
Some medical professionals even have publicly stated their belief that the singer had body dysmorphic disorder, a psychological condition whereby the sufferer has no concept of how he is perceived by others.
Michael dismissed these rumor mongers by saying, "Why not just tell people I'm an alien from Mars. Tell them I eat live chickens and do a voodoo dance at midnight. They'll believe anything you say, because you're a reporter. But if I, Michael Jackson, were to say, 'I'm an alien from Mars and I eat live chickens and do a voodoo dance at midnight,' people would say, 'Oh, man, that Michael Jackson is nuts. He's cracked up. You can't believe a damn word that comes out of his mouth.'"
In 1992, Michael Jackson founded the "Heal the World Foundation". The charity organization brought underprivileged children to Jackson's ranch, to go on theme park rides that Jackson had built on the property after he purchased it. The foundation also sent millions of dollars around the globe to help children threatened by war and disease. The Dangerous World Tour began on June 27, 1992, and finished on November 11, 1993.
The entertainer with the golden heart performed to 3.5 million people in 67 concerts. All profits from the concerts went to the "Heal the World Foundation", raising millions of dollars in relief.
In a high-profile visit to several African countries, his first stop to Gabon was greeted with a reception of more than 100,000 people in "spiritual bedlam", some of them carrying signs that read, "Welcome Home Michael". In the Ivory Coast, Michael was crowned "King Sani" by a tribal chief. He then thanked the dignitaries in French and English, signed official documents formalizing his kingship and sat on a golden throne while presiding over ceremonial dances.
One of Jackson's most acclaimed performances came during the halftime show at Super Bowl XXVII. As the performances began, Jackson was catapulted onto the stage as fireworks went off behind him. As he landed on the canvass, 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.
The entertainer 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.
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In May 1994, Jackson married singer-songwriter Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of the other "King", Elvis Presley. They had first met in 1975 during one of Jackson's family engagements at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, and were reconnected through a mutual friend in early 1993.
As child molestation accusations became public, Jackson became dependent on Lisa Marie for emotional support; she was concerned about his faltering health and addiction to drugs. Lisa Marie 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."
Jackson proposed to Lisa Marie over the telephone towards the late part of 1993, "If I asked you to marry me, would you do it?" Presley and Jackson were subsequently married in the Dominican Republic in secrecy. At the time, the tabloid media speculated that the wedding was a ploy to prop up Jackson's public image in light of prior sexual abuse allegations.
Their marriage failed when Jackson and Lisa divorced less than two years later. However, they remained of friendly term.
Michael kept a low profile in most of 1990s and pleasantly surprised the world with the released of Invincible in October 2001. To promote the new album, a special 30th Anniversary celebration at Madison Square Garden occurred in September 2001 to mark the Jackson's 30th year as a solo artist.
The singer appeared onstage alongside his brothers for the first time since 1984. The mega celebration also featured performances by Mýa, Usher, Whitney Houston, 'N Sync, and Slash, alongside other celebrities.
In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Michael 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 21st October 2001, and included performances from dozens of celebrity entertainers, including Michael himself who performed his song "What More Can I Give" as the finale.
His album, Invincible was a huge commercial success, debuting at the top the charts in 13 countries and going on to sell more than 10 million copies worldwide. This album also received double-platinum certification in the US.
However, the sales for Invincible were notably lower as in comparison to his previous releases, due in part to a diminishing pop music industry, the lack of promotion, no supporting world tour because of a commercial dispute.
Jackson's third child, Prince Michael Jackson II (also known as Blanket) was born in 2002. The mother's identity was never known because he said the child was the result of artificial insemination from a surrogate mother and his own sperm cells.
In November 2002, Jackson brought his newborn son onto the balcony of his hotel room in Berlin, as fans stood below. Holding him in his right arm, Jackson briefly extended the baby over the railing of the balcony, four stories above ground level, causing widespread panic and criticism in the media. Michael later regretted and apologized for the incident, calling it "a terrible mistake".
In 2003, Sony released a compilation of Jackson's hits on CDs and DVDs which peaked at number 13 in the US charts and was certified platinum by the RIAA.
Then in a 2003 Granada Television documentary "Living with Michael Jackson", he was seen holding hands and discussing sleeping arrangements with a boy named Gavin Arvizo, who would later accuse him of child sexual abuse.
In the this documentary Jackson was observed spending large amounts of money in frivolously. Shortly after the documentary aired, Jackson was charged with seven counts of child sexual abuse and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent in order to commit that felony. All charges involved the same boy, Gavin Arvizo, who was under 14 at the time of the alleged crimes.
Michael Jackson denied the sexual abuse allegations vehemently, saying that the sleepovers were in no way sexual in nature. His good friend, Elizabeth Taylor defended him on Larry King Live, saying that she had been there when they were in the bed, watching television and reiterated that there was nothing wrong about watching TV together.
During the investigation, Jackson's profile was examined by mental health professional Dr. Stan Katz. Dr. Katz spent several hours with the accuser too. The assessment made by Katz was that Jackson had become a regressed 10-year-old and did not fit the profile of a pedophile.
The trial came two years after Jackson was originally charged. During this period, Michael became dependent on morphine and Demerol, a dependency which he subsequently overcame. He also suffered from stress-related illnesses and severe weight loss that would alter his appearance. The intensely watched trial lasted five months and the singer was finally acquitted in May 2005.
In 2006, reports of Jackson's financial crisis became more and more frequent after the closure of the main house on the Neverland Ranch as a cost-cutting measure. One prominent financial issue for him concerned a $270 million loan secured against his music publishing holdings. After several delayed repayments on the loan, a refinancing package shifted the loans from Bank of America to debt specialists Fortress Investments.
A new package proposed by Sony would have had Jackson borrow an additional $300 million and reduce the interest rate payable on the loan, while giving Sony the future option to buy half of Jackson's stake in their jointly owned publishing company. Michael agreed to a Sony backed refinancing option, but the details of the deal were not made public.
To celebrate Jackson's 50th birthday, Sony BMG released a compilation album called King of Pop in many countries. These albums included tracks from Jackson's group and solo career, all voted for by fans. The albums had different tracklists, according to how the fans of each country voted. Although it was not released in the US, the King of Pop reached the top 10 in the charts of the countries where it was released.
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During this time, Fortress Investments considered a foreclosure sale of Neverland Ranch to service a loan Jackson owed on the property, but ultimately sold the loan to Colony Capital LLC. In November, Jackson transferred the title of Neverland Ranch to Sycamore Valley Ranch Company LLC.
Michael Jackson was supposed to make a major comeback and had been scheduled to perform 50 sold-out concerts to over a million people at 02 Arena in London from July 13 to March 6, 2010.
During a publicity press conference, he had made suggestions of possible retirement after the concert series. Randy Phillips, president and chief executive of AEG Live, had publicly stated that the first 10 concerts alone would have earned the singer about £50 million sterling pounds.
Phillips said that the promotion company had a three and a half year plan to work with Jackson, including a possible world tour, the release of new music and a 3D film based on Jackson's groundbreaking album, song and music video, Thriller. Apparently, these plans were unable to take of due to Jackson’s untimely death.
Then it happened. On June 25th 2009, Michael collapsed at his rented mansion at North Carolwood Drive in the Holmby Hills area of Los Angeles. Pending confirmation from toxicology reports, he was allegedly administered Demerol shortly before he stopped breathing. Attempts at resuscitating him by his personal physician were unsuccessful.
Resuscitation efforts continued during the emergency trip to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. He was noted to have been in a cardiac arrest by the paramedics who attended him at his house.
The King Of Pop, Michael Jackson was pronounced dead at approximately 2:25 p.m. local time. Rumors and news of Jackson's death broke internet web records triggering a cyberspace traffic jam giving Google, Twitter, Facebook and Yahoo their highest traffic on record.
Perhaps, the best summary of the late singer's life is the way he described it himself. "I've been in the entertainment industry since I was six-years-old. As Charles Dickens puts it, "It's been the best of times, the worst of times." But I would not change my career. While some have made deliberate attempts to hurt me, I take it in stride because I have a loving family, a strong faith and wonderful friends and fans who have and continue to support me." — Michael Jackson, the compassionate King Of Pop.
This Michael Jackson Story was researched and posted by Chris Chew on 1st July 2009.