Michael Jackson

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Michael Jackson
Years active 1964–2009
Status Deceased
Origin Gary, Indiana
Music genre(s) Pop music, disco, soul music

Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009) was an American R&B and pop singer, songwriter, entertainer, and actor. One of the most successful musical performers of the rock era, Jackson's 1982 album Thriller is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the highest selling album of all time. He began his career serving as lead singer of the group The Jackson 5 (later The Jacksons) with his elder brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, and Marlon, and later his younger brother Randy. From their debut, Michael was recognized as the standout performer in the ensemble, and he was the first Jackson to enjoy a successful solo career while still a member of the group, releasing gold-selling albums and three popular singles; 'Got to Be There' (1971), 'Ben' (1972), and 'Rockin' Robin' (1972). After a fallout with Motown Records and a change to CBS in 1975, Jackson was given the creative freedom to write for the group, eg. 'Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)', and moved further into a solo career, making his motion picture debut as as the Scarecrow in The Wiz (1978). His album Off the Wall (1979) marked the start of his most successful period, including the singles 'Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough' and 'Rock With You'. With disco on the wane, Jackson recorded Thriller, a harder edged mainstream album compared with his previous releases, and the move payed dividends with ground-breaking exposure on MTV, a slew of hit singles and one of the biggest selling albums of all-time.

On 24 January 1984, Jackson's life changed forever when, during a film shoot for a Pepsi commercial at Los Angeles' Shrine Auditorium, his hair ignited due to a premature pyrotechnic explosion during the sixth take. Jackson suffered second and third degree burns to his face and scalp, which required plastic surgery, and left him relying on wearing wigs to cover his scalp and cosmetic tattoos and makeup to hide his scars.[1] It also left him with a dependence on sedatives and pain killers, which he never fully overcame. Jackson's former security guards told law officials in July 2009, that Jackson consumed as many as forty Xanax pills a day.[2]

In 1985, Jackson purchased ATV Music Publishing from Australian entrepreneur Robert Holmes à Court, which gave him control of over 4000 song titles, including those by the Beatles (Northern Songs catalogue). Paul McCartney had originally considered a joint bid for the songs with Yoko Ono, but this deal fell through when they could not agree on a price. Jackson's purchase had created a rift with McCartney, who he had previously duetted with on a number of recordings.[3] This was further exacerbated in 1987 by Jackson allowing Nike to use the song 'Revolution' in their footwear commercials, which resulted in McCartney, George Harrison and Apple Records suing EMI-Capitol and Nike over the use of the song. In 1989, McCartney had asked Jackson to increase his share of the writer royalties, to which Jackson refused. The music publishing purchase by Jackson would prove to be a shrewd deal and over time turned out to be the entertainer's soundest investment.[4]

During the 1990s, Jackson's career stalled further following a series of allegations of child molestation claims made against him. In 1993, Jackson was accused of sexual abuse by Evan Chandler, father of his then-13-year-old child, Jordan Chandler. Jackson became the subject of intense media scrutiny, resulting in Jackson becoming reclusive, and cancelling his Dangerous world tour. Before the allegations could be legally tested however, on 1 January 1994, Jackson's insurance company settled the civil suit out of court with the Chandler family and its legal team for US$22 million.[5] It seriously damaged his standing with the public, and his music sales subsequently declined. A major source of income, PepsiCo, ceased all promotional activities with Jackson, ending their ten-year commercial partnership. Jackson was also the subject of discrete FBI investigations, which were only made public following his death under FOIA, involving seven sexual misconduct complaints dating back to the early 1990s.[6] Further controversy ensued with the release of the single 'They Don't Care About Us' in 1995, with the lyrics: 'Jew me, sue me, everybody do me / Kick me, kike me, don't you black or white me', Jackson was accused of anti-semitism.[7] By the late 1990s, Jackson had become despondent with his career and began dabbling increasingly in spirituality, learning about Kabbalism and confiding with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. During thirty hours of recorded interviews with Rabbi Boteach, Jackson revealed that he admired Adolf Hitler's showmanship and described him as a genius, and that had he met Hitler in-person, he could 'heal him'.[8] The collected interviews were later published in 2009, under the title The Michael Jackson Tapes: A Tragic Icon Reveals His Soul in Intimate Conversation. In 2003, the allegations of anti-semitism surfaced again with an answerphone message left by Jackson to advisor Dieter Wiesner, in which he referred to Jews as 'leeches'.[9]

Jackson released the album Invincible in 2001, which reportedly cost US$30 million dollars to produce however it faired poorly sales wise. In a bid to revive his public profile, Jackson agreed to a do a special interview for Granada Television with journalist Martin Bashir in early 2003, entitled Living with Michael Jackson. The interview however turned into a public relations disaster with Jackson admitting he composed songs by writing the lyrics, but not the music as it 'wrote itself', and that there was nothing wrong with sleeping in the same bed with young boys, as it was what 'the whole world should do'.[10] In 2005, cancer survivor Gavin Arvizo, who was 13 years old at the time of alleged sex crimes, filed complaints with the Los Angeles police and Jackson was indicted for four counts of molesting a minor, four counts of intoxicating a minor, one count of abduction, and one count of conspiring to hold the boy and his family captive at his 2,700-acre Neverland Ranch. On 13 June 2005, Jackson was found not guilty by jury verdict.[11]

While preparing for his comeback concert series in London titled This Is It, Jackson died suddenly on 25 June 2009, the cause cardiac arrest due to an overdose of benzodiazepines and the intravenous surgical sedative propofol.[12] His personal doctor, Conrad Murray, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in November 2011. His lawyers appealed but failed. Murray maintains Jackson had self-administered the fatal dose of propofol without his knowledge.[13] He was sentenced to the maximum four years, and released on 28 October 2013 with time already served. On 3 October 2013, a twelve-person jury panel rejected a US$1.6 billion lawsuit by the Jackson family against promoters AEG Live over the death of Jackson.[14]

In June 2013, choreographer and former child dancer Wade Robson claimed he was sexually assaulted by Jackson for a number of years, and announced he intended suing the Jackson estate.[15] A trial date was set for 2 June 2014 in the Los Angeles County Superior Court.[16] Music producer Quincy Jones filed a US$10 million lawsuit against the Michael Jackson estate on 25 October 2013, over unpaid production royalties for the Off the Wall, Thriller, and Bad albums.[17] On 9 May 2014, former child actor James Safechuck filed suit against the Jackson estate claiming between the ages of 10 and 15, he was molested at the singer's Neverland Ranch.[18] Safechuck had appeared with Jackson in two Pepsi commercials during 1988.

Michael Jackson is buried at the Holly Terrace in the Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn cemetery, Los Angeles. Commenting on his brother, Tito Jackson proclaimed Michael 'bigger than the Beatles'.[19]

Personal life and family

Liberace's former partner Scott Thorson told The National Enquirer in April 2004 that Michael Jackson and himself had casual sex in 1979, in the home of female impersonator Danny La Rue, and later pursued a six-year affair into the 1980s.[20] Jackson's lawyers denied Thorson's claim. Jackson married the daughter of Elvis Presley, Lisa Marie Presley, in May 1994 in a private ceremony, but divorced two years later on 18 January 1996. Both Presley and Jackson had exchanged love letters, with Jackson using the epithet 'Turd'.[21] Although both had much in common at the start of their relationship, their marriage ended with disputes over raising children, and the child sex allegations. On 14 November 1994, Jackson married dermatology assistant Debbie Rowe, who unlike Presley, remained out of public view. Rowe gave birth to Prince Michael Jackson on 13 February 1997, and Paris Michael Katherine Jackson on 3 April 1998, allegedly through artificial insemination.[22] Rowe however became increasingly unhappy with her arrangement with Jackson and divorced on 8 October 1999. Jackson's youngest son Prince Michael II (nicknamed by the media as 'Blanket'), was born to an unknown mother in February 2002. Jackson attracted criticism in November 2002, when he dangled Prince Michael II out of a fourth-floor balcony of a hotel room in Berlin, Germany, shocking the crowd in the street below.[23]


  1. Parker, Nick, Steve Kennedy. The shock findings of the Michael Jackson autopsy, The Sun, News Group Newspapers, 29 June 2009. Retrieved on 31 October 2013.
  2. Tippetts, Cher. Michael Jackson Took Up to 40 Sleeping Pills a Night, According to Former Employees, EntertainmentWise, Giant Digital, 10 July 2009. Retrieved on 31 October 2013.
  3. Michaels, Sean. Paul McCartney 'not devastated' over Michael Jackson will, The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 9 July 2009. Retrieved on 13 October 2013.
  4. Gandel, Stephen (1 July 2009). Michael Jackson's Estate: Saved by the Beatles. Time. Time Inc. Retrieved on 13 October 2013.
  5. Desborough, James, David Gardner. Michael Jackson paid £23MILLION buying silence of at least TWO DOZEN young boys he abused over 15 years, The Daily Mirror, Trinity Mirror, 30 June 2013. Retrieved on 31 October 2013.
  6. Federal Bureau of Investigation: Michael Joseph Jackson. FBI. Retrieved on 31 October 2013.
  7. Weinraub, Bernard. In New Lyrics, Jackson Uses Slurs, The New York Times, 15 June 1995. Retrieved on 31 October 2013.
  8. Wardrop, Murray. Michael Jackson: 'Hitler was a genius', The Daily Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 25 September 2009. Retrieved on 31 October 2013.
  9. Staff writer. Jackson 'has anti-Semitic streak', BBC News, British Broadcasting Corporation, 24 November 2005. Retrieved on 19 May 2013.
  10. Staff writer. Michael Jackson confesses: 'I sleep with boys', WND, World Net Daily, 4 February 2003. Retrieved on 31 October 2013.
  11. Bone, James. Celebrity factor to blame for defeat, says prosecutor, The Times, Times Newspapers, 14 June 2005. Retrieved on 31 October 2013.
  12. Thompson, Jody. Michael Jackson: Coroner's official report documents, The Daily Mirror, Trinity Mirror, 10 February 2010. Retrieved on 5 October 2013.
  13. Press Association. Jackson 'injected propofol himself', The Daily Express, Northern and Shell Media Publications, 28 October 2011. Retrieved on 31 October 2013.
  14. AFP-Reuters. Jury rejects family lawsuit in wrongful death trial for Michael Jackson, ABC News, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 3 October 2013. Retrieved on 3 October 2013.
  15. Desborough, James. Michael Jackson 'victim' Wade Robson claims leaked FBI files proves he told the truth about child molestation, The Daily Mail, Associated Newspapers, 2 July 2013. Retrieved on 5 October 2013.
  16. Bucktin, Christopher. Wade Robson: Michael Jackson sex assault case goes to trial, The Daily Mirror, Trinity Mirror, 30 September 2013. Retrieved on 5 October 2013.
  17. Bowes, Peter. US music producer Quincy Jones sues Jackson estate, BBC News, British Broadcasting Corporation, 26 October 2013. Retrieved on 26 October 2013.
  18. Collman, Ashley. Married father-of-two who appeared in 80s Pepsi commercial with Michael Jackson claims singer molested him at the age of 10 in latest child abuse lawsuit, The Daily Mail, Associated Newspapers, 13 May 2014. Retrieved on 19 May 2014.
  19. Bang Showbiz. Michael Jackson Bigger Than The Beatles, Contactmusic, 17 July 2009. Retrieved on 31 October 2013.
  20. Eby, Margaret. Liberace's ex-lover Scott Thorson: Michael Jackson and I had a 6-year romance, New York Daily News, 7 June 2013. Retrieved on 26 October 2013.
  21. Larkin, Mike. Lisa Marie Presley has personal letter from Michael Jackson removed from auction, The Daily Mail, Associated Newspapers, 31 May 2012. Retrieved on 31 October 2013.
  22. Graham, Caroline. 'No, I didn't kill Michael. He did it himself… with a massive overdose using his own stash': What really happened the night Jackson died, The Daily Mail, Associated Newspapers, 24 November 2013. Retrieved on 25 November 2013. “Dr Murray says he knows Michael Jackson is not the biological father to any of his three children and that he never had sex with Debbie Rowe, mother of Prince Michael and Paris”
  23. Staff writer. Jackson: Baby stunt was 'mistake', BBC News, British Broadcasting Corporation, 20 November 2002. Retrieved on 31 October 2013.