MJ IS MISUNDERSTOOD
Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009) was an American singer, dancer, and entertainer. Referred to as the King of Pop, he is recognized as the most successful entertainer of all time and one of the most influential. His contributions to music, dance and fashion, and a much-publicized personal life made him a global figure in popular culture for over four decades.
Jackson made his debut in 1964 as lead singer and youngest member of The Jackson 5 alongside his brothers. His solo career started in 1971 and he produced ten studio albums. The 1982 album Thriller remains the best-selling album of all time, having sold more than 110 million copies. Four of his other albums rank among the world's best-sellers. Jackson is credited with having elevated the music video from a mere promotional tool into an art form. His videos for Billie Jean, Beat It and Thriller made him the first African American artist to amass a strong crossover following on MTV. He popularized a number of complicated dance techniques, such as the robot and the moonwalk. His distinctive musical style, vocal style, and choreography continue to transcend generational, racial and cultural boundaries.
Jackson has been inducted into twelve music halls of fame, more than any other act. He is one of the few artists to have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice. Other achievements include several Guinness World Records (including the Most Successful Entertainer of All Time); 15 Grammy Awards (including the Living Legend Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award); 26 American Music Awards (more than any other artist, and including recognition as Artist of the Century); 17 number-one singles in the US (including four as a member of The Jackson 5); and estimated global sales of over 780 million records, making him one of the best-selling recording artists ever. Jackson's personal life and relationships generated controversy for years. His changing appearance was noticed from the late 1970s onwards, as changes to his nose and skin color caused much media speculation. In 1993 he was accused of child sexual abuse, though no formal charges were brought. In 2005 he was tried and acquitted of similar allegations.
Jackson died on June 25, 2009 from a drug overdose, amidst preparations for his This Is It concert series. Before his death, Jackson had reportedly been administered drugs such as propofol and lorazepam. The Los Angeles County Coroner reported its conclusion that his death was a homicide. Prosecutors formally charged his personal physician with involuntary manslaughter. Jackson's death triggered a global outpouring of grief. It was estimated that as many as a billion people around the world may have watched his public memorial service on live broadcast television. On March 16, 2010, Sony Music Entertainment signed a record-breaking $250 million deal with Jackson's estate to retain distribution rights to his recordings until 2017 and release seven posthumous albums over the next decade.
* 1 Life and career
o 1.1 Early life and The Jackson 5 (1958–1975)
o 1.2 Move to Epic and Off the Wall (1975–1981)
o 1.3 Thriller and Motown 25 (1982–83)
o 1.4 Pepsi, "We Are the World" and business career (1984–85)
o 1.5 Appearance, tabloids, Bad, autobiography and films (1986–87)
o 1.6 Autobiography, changing appearance and Neverland (1988–1990)
o 1.7 Dangerous, Heal the World Foundation and Super Bowl XXVII (1991–93)
o 1.8 First child sexual abuse allegations and first marriage (1993-94)
o 1.9 HIStory, second marriage and fatherhood (1995–99)
o 1.10 Label dispute, Invincible and third child (2000–03)
o 1.11 Second child sexual abuse allegations (2003–05)
o 1.12 Final years (2006–09)
o 1.13 Posthumous works
* 2 Death and memorial
* 3 Artistry
o 3.1 Influences
o 3.2 Musical themes and genres
o 3.3 Vocal style
o 3.4 Music videos and choreography
o 3.5 Fashion
* 4 Legacy and influence
* 5 Discography
* 6 Filmography
* 7 Tours
* 8 See also
* 9 References
o 9.1 Other references
* 10 Further reading
* 11 External links
Life and career
Early life and The Jackson 5 (1958–1975)
Michael Jackson was born 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 he admitted his father's strict discipline played 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 from 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." 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; at the age of eight, he and Jermaine assumed lead vocals, 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, and signed 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.
Move to Epic and Off the Wall (1975–1981)
The Jackson 5 signed a new contract with CBS Records in June 1975, joining the Philadelphia International Records division, later Epic Records, and renaming themselves The Jacksons. 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, himself, 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 and Motown 25 (1982–83)
In 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. That same year Jackson issued his second Epic album, Thriller, which surprisingly became the most commercially successful album of all time with nearly no promotion. The album remained in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 for 80 consecutive weeks and 37 of those weeks at the peak position. 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. It is the best-selling album of all time in the United States. It was, and currently remains, the best-selling album of all time, with 110 million copies worldwide. 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 CDs and The Making of Michael Jackson's Thriller, a documentary produced by Jackson and John Landis. Funded by MTV, the documentary 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."
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".
Jackson's popularity would soar further. On March 25, 1983, he performed live on the Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever television special, both with The Jackson 5 and on his own singing "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. His performances during the event were seen by 47 million viewers, and drew comparisons to Elvis Presley's and the The Beatles' appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. Anna Kisselgoff of the The New York Times said, "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." Ian Inglis, author of Performance and Popular Music: History, Place and Time (2006) noted Jackson had created a pivotal turning point in the history of popular music "in that [his performance] marked the shift of emphasis from musical performance to visual presentation. In stark contrast to the other, live, performances of Motown 25, Jackson performed to a pre-recorded soundtrack, lip-syncing to his multi-layered pre-recorded voice, thus indicating that the visual reenactment of music video imagery had become an integral, and perhaps dominant, part of live performance."
Pepsi, "We Are the World" and business career (1984–85)
On 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.
Appearance, tabloids, Bad, autobiography and films (1986–87)
See also: Michael Jackson's health and appearance
Jackson'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.
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. Some medical professionals have further speculated that he was suffering from body dysmorphic disorder, a psychological condition whereby the sufferer dislikes his appearance and has no concept of how he is viewed by others. 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.
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."