Michael Joseph Jackson (Gary, August 29, 1958 – Los Angeles, June 25, 2009) was an American singer-songwriter, dancer, composer, record producer, choreographer, actor, philanthropist and entrepreneur.
Also known as “The King of Pop”, he is considered one of the most significant figures of the twentieth and twenty-first century for his contribution to the world of music, fashion through his live performances and videos has popularized dance techniques such as the moonwalk, toe stand, anti-gravity lean and robot dance, coming to be considered one of the best dancers in history.
He is one of the few global artists to be inducted twice into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, once as a solo artist and once as a member of the Jackson 5; he has also been inducted into 10 other halls of fame, including the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Dance Hall of Fame, the only dancer from the music industry. Jackson has won hundreds of awards, making him the most awarded artist in history. These include 39 certifications in the Guinness Book of World Records, including “Most Successful Entertainer of All Time,” 15 Grammy Awards (including two Lifetime Achievement Grammys) out of 38 nominations, 40 Billboard Awards, 26 American Music Awards, 15 MTV Video Music Awards, 12 Soul Train Music Awards, 6 BRIT Awards He has also been honored as an artist “of the Decade,” “of the Century”
Considered the most commercially successful artist of all time by the Guinness Book of World Records, the estimated sales of all his albums and singles is around one billion copies worldwide, making him one of the best-selling artists in music history. His album Thriller is by far the best-selling album in the world, having surpassed 100 million copies globally, including 34 million in the United States alone, making it the best-selling and most-certified studio album in the country. His other recording projects, including Off the Wall, Bad, Dangerous and HIStory are also listed as the world”s best-selling albums, while Blood on the Dance Floor is listed as the world”s best-selling remix album. During his solo career, Jackson had 14 number one singles in the United States, more than any other male artist on the Hot 100 Era, as well as being the first artist in history to enter the Billboard Hot 100 directly at number one.
As the lead member of the Jackson 5, Jackson became the youngest singer to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100, as well as being one of only three artists in the world, along with Paul McCartney and Phil Collins, to have sold over 100 million copies worldwide as both a solo artist and a band member. In 1997, a popular poll declared him the “most famous man on the planet,” while in 2006, the Guinness Book of World Records declared him “undoubtedly the most famous living human being.” In 2000, the Guinness Book of Records credited him with supporting 39 different charities, more than any other entertainer.
Jackson also boasts some posthumous records: in 2010 he became the most downloaded Internet artist of all time, in 2014 he became the only artist in history to make the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 in five different decades, and in 2016 he became the highest-earning artist, living or deceased, in history, for earning more than $825 million in a single year. Since his death, Jackson has dominated Forbes” list of the world”s richest deceased celebrities for 11 years, the last eight of them consecutively, with earnings in excess of $2.5 billion. In 2021, he became the first artist in history to have singles in the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100 in seven consecutive decades.
Jackson has also made people talk about his private life, including his change of appearance (from black to white due to vitiligo), cosmetic surgery, his personal relationships and allegations of harassment, from which he was later found not guilty in 2005, as well as humanitarian initiatives such as the creation of charities to defend the rights of children and for being a supporter of animal rights.
Michael Jackson died in 2009 at only 50 years of age of a heart attack as a result of acute intoxication caused by the anesthetic propofol administered to him, in an unsuccessful attempt to alleviate his chronic insomnia, by doctor Conrad Murray, who was later convicted of manslaughter.
Childhood and relationship with the father (1958-1964)
Michael Joseph Jackson was born at 7:33 p.m. on August 29, 1958 at St. Mary”s Mercy Hospital in Gary, Indiana; eighth of ten children in a modest African-American family. His mother Katherine Esther Scruse, a saleswoman in a Sears supermarket, had been a devout Jehovah”s Witness since 1963 and used to sing with her children. His father Joseph Jackson was a worker in a United States Steel plant and in his youth had been the guitarist of the Falcons, an amateur R&B group. Michael had three sisters, Rebbie, La Toya, Janet, and six brothers, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, Brandon (Marlon”s twin brother, who died 24 hours after his birth) and Randy. The Jackson family lived for a long time in a small brick house on Bowmont Drive at 2300 Jackson Street.
Michael and his brothers grew up in a family environment where the Bible was the only training tool, whose transgression implied severe punishments: according to several testimonies the Jackson brothers, especially Michael, were often mistreated by their father and forced to incessant tests as well as physical violence. Michael”s relationship with his father will be the focus of media attention throughout his career.
The beginning of the career with the Jackson 5 (1964-1976)
Growing up in a musical family, Michael was exposed to the world of entertainment at an early age. He sang in public for the first time, in front of his classmates and family, during a Christmas pageant performing the song Climb Ev”ry Mountain a cappella in his nursery school. In 1964, at the age of five, he was joined by his father in his brothers” group, which did not yet have a definitive name. Michael was initially the percussionist, but later began to share the vocal part with his brother Jermaine and the group changed its name to The Jackson 5. After participating in various talent shows at the time, the Jackson 5 first signed to Steeltown, a record label owned by Gary, and then were brought to the attention of record producer Berry Gordy, head of Motown Records, who launched them in 1969. When their debut single I Want You Back reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1970, Michael became the youngest singer to ever reach the top spot on the U.S. charts, at the age of 11 years and 5 months. With the release of the next three singles, ABC, The Love You Save and I”ll Be There, the Jackson 5 became the first artists in history to debut four consecutive number one singles on Billboard, and the first group of internationally known teen idols. Following the group”s success, the Jackson family left Gary and moved to Encino, California, in May 1971.
To the enormous success with his brothers the young Michael began to alternate his solo career, and thanks to Motown he was able to record his first four solo studio albums: Got to Be There and Ben in 1972, Music & Me in 1973 and Forever, Michael in 1975, which were quite successful selling more than 20 million copies worldwide. The song Ben, taken from the album of the same name, became the first number one single of his solo career, won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song, being the title track of a film of the same name. Ben”s performance at the 1973 Oscars was one of the first solo performances of his career.
After their contract with Motown expired in 1976, the Jackson 5 signed with Epic Records. However, Motown contested the agreement, filing legal proceedings. In the end, the brothers had to change their name from The Jackson 5 to The Jacksons and lost Jermaine, who wanted to stay with the old label; Randy, the Jackson brothers” youngest son, was called to replace him.
The artistic maturation in the Jacksons and the success as a soloist with Off the Wall (1976-1981)
In 1976, in the album The Jacksons was published the first song written and composed by Michael, titled Blues Away, but it was in 1978 that the singer, in addition to being the frontman of the Jacksons also became the main author, with the collaboration of his brother Randy. For the album Destiny, Epic left for the first time carte blanche to the Jackson brothers, allowing them to write and compose every song, except for the launch single Blame It on the Boogie; the second single, Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground), entered in the Billboard Top 10 and became the most successful single in the history of the group.
The same year he was hired to play the role of the scarecrow in the musical film The Wiz, directed by director Sidney Lumet. The soundtrack of the film was edited by record producer Quincy Jones, who Jackson had the opportunity to meet during the filming of the film, and asked to produce his first solo album for Epic.
Off the Wall was released on August 10, 1979 and was a huge success, becoming the first album in music history to place four singles in the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100: Don”t Stop ”Til You Get Enough, Rock with You, Off the Wall and She”s Out of My Life. In the UK, the album also broke the same record, with four tracks entering the Top 10 of the Official Singles Chart. Off the Wall also reached #3 on the Billboard Albums Chart, remaining in the top 20 for 48 consecutive weeks and selling over 15 million copies in a short period of time, making it the best-selling album by an African-American artist in history at the time. The album to date has sold nearly 10 million copies in the United States and about 30 total worldwide. Jackson also became the first black artist to make it onto a white chart, breaking racial barriers and helping to create unified charts. According to Rolling Stone magazine, with Off the Wall, Jackson:
The album also earned Jackson several awards: in 1980 he won three American Music Awards and a Grammy Award for his interpretation of Don”t Stop ”Til You Get Enough. As stated later in his autobiography, however, despite all this success, Jackson was disappointed by the results obtained from the album, which according to him should have had a greater impact.
After the solo stint, the singer returned to the studio with the brothers to record their new album Triumph. Composed almost entirely by Jackson, and propelled by the singles Lovely One, This Place Hotel and Can You Feel It, it became the group”s first chart-topping album since 1971, and was followed by a successful new national tour. Although the group enjoyed renewed popularity, the comparison with the outstanding results achieved by Off the Wall was obvious, giving a clear signal that by now Jackson was launched towards a solo career.
Worldwide success with Thriller and performance at Motown 25 (1982-1984)
In 1982 Jackson was contacted by director Steven Spielberg, who invited him to take part in the making of an audiobook of the film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, known as E.T. Storybook, for which the singer recorded the song Someone in the Dark and also narrated the story of the film, for which he received a Grammy Award in 1984. The singer then spent much of the year together with producer Quincy Jones at Westlake Recording Studios in Los Angeles recording his new studio album.
On November 30 was released Thriller, the artist”s second solo album for Epic, which became his biggest commercial success. The album reached number one on the Billboard 200 and remained there for 37 weeks, more than any other studio album in the history of the chart, staying in the top ten for another 80 consecutive weeks, setting a second record. It was the first album in history to place 7 singles in the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100: The Girl Is Mine, sung with Paul McCartney, Billie Jean, Beat It, Wanna Be Startin” Somethin”, Human Nature, P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) and the eponymous Thriller, while in the UK it broke the record of Off the Wall, placing five songs in the Top 10. Jackson became the first artist in history to reach #1 on four different U.S. album and singles charts simultaneously, also setting a record for longest charting male artist. With sales of over 20 million copies, Thriller was the best-selling album in the United States in both 1983 and 1984, making it the country”s first best-selling album for two consecutive years.
The album was the first to be certified triple diamond by the RIAA for sales of 34 million copies in the United States, more than any other studio album. It is also the best-selling album in music history globally, with over 100 million copies to its credit. The album”s impact on popular music was enormous, changing the recording industry forever and becoming a true cultural phenomenon,
On March 10, 1983, with the airing of the video for Billie Jean, Michael Jackson became the first black artist to be broadcast on MTV, which until then had always refused to feature black artists. The song remained at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for seven consecutive weeks, and for another nine at the top of the Hot R&B Chart, receiving continuous and massive rotation on MTV. Jackson”s popularity was growing steadily, but the peak of his fame was reached on March 25, 1983: that night, the singer and his brothers performed at the concert celebrating 25 years since the birth of Motown, the label that had launched them, entitled Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever. For those who didn”t own cable or watch MTV, that was the first chance to see Jackson perform live. After performing with his brothers in a Jackson 5 medley, Michael stood alone on stage performing Billie Jean. During this performance, the singer launched for the first time the moonwalk, a step with which his dance style will be identified for years to come.
During Jackson”s performance, chaos broke out among the audience in the hall. Journalist Christopher Smith, who was in attendance, wrote:
Another reporter in attendance, Steven Ivory, said:
The next day, Fred Astaire, one of Jackson”s idols, called the singer to congratulate him:
The event was followed on television by about 50 million viewers, ratings that in the United States had not had since the days of the performances of Elvis Presley and the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. The press called Jackson “the new Sinatra” and “as electrifying as Elvis”. After the performance at Motown 25, Thriller”s sales increased exponentially, setting a record never reached before and never exceeded again: after selling 32 million copies in 1983 alone, it was recognized as the best selling album of all time by the Guinness Book of Records in February 1984. At its peak, Thriller went on to sell over a million copies a week; Jackson journalist and biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli said the album reactivated the music industry, which had been in decline since 1978:
October saw the release of Say Say Say, his second duet with Paul McCartney, which stayed at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 for six weeks and became Jackson”s seventh Top 10 single in a year, equaling the record held by the Beatles.
Since 1983 Jackson is also considered as the inventor of modern music videos, intended as a source through which artists could better promote their music, making videos with special effects, Hollywood sets and spectacular choreography, such as the video of Billie Jean, entered the collective imagination for the famous tiles that lit up under his feet, or that of Beat It with its West Side Story style choreography. On December 2, 1983, MTV broadcast the music video for Thriller for the first time in the world. Filmed by John Landis, lasting 13 and a half minutes and costing a million dollars, the video would become a milestone in music history. Les Garland, MTV”s director of programming, said that for the first time in the network”s history there were extraordinary ratings spikes:
In 1989, Thriller was honored by MTV viewers as the “best music video in history”. In the 1999 “100 Greatest Music Videos Ever Made” poll, MTV viewers again voted Thriller the “best music video of all time”. In 2001, VH1 also named it number one on their “100 Greatest Videos of All Time” list. Guinness World Records listed it in 2006 as the “most successful music video of all time”. In 2009, the video was added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in Washington, DC for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant,” becoming the first and only music video to receive this honor and being named the “most famous music video of all time.” In 2010, Thriller was again voted the “most influential video of all time” by Myspace users.
On January 16, 1984 at the American Music Awards, Jackson set a new record of victories, winning 8 awards out of 11 nominations, including the Award of Merit, becoming at only 25 years old the youngest artist to receive the award. On January 29, at the Grammy Awards 1984, Jackson won 8 awards out of 12 nominations, entering again in the Guinness Book of Records as “the artist with the most Grammy Awards won in a single year”. A few weeks later was released the documentary The Making of Thriller, which became at the time the best-selling videotape in history, both in the music and film genres, with sales exceeding 10 million units.
Commercials for Pepsi and Victory Tour, We Are the World and Captain EO (1984-1986)
On January 27, 1984, Jackson and his brothers filmed a commercial for Pepsi-Cola at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. The group was simulating a concert in front of thousands of fans, when Michael”s hair accidentally caught fire due to an unforeseen pyrotechnic failure during the performance of Billie Jean. The singer suffered severe third-degree burns to the scalp and the base of the head that reached up to the skull and was forced to undergo some reconstructive plastic surgery to the latter, in order to hide some scars left after the accident. The singer donated the compensation of one and a half million dollars received from Pepsi to the center for the treatment of burns in which he had been hospitalized. The incident of the accident had huge impact on the media, and especially on Jackson”s health, who had to undergo scalp transplants for the next ten years and continued to suffer from excruciating pain and migraines throughout the rest of his life. According to financial reports at the time, as a result of its partnership with Jackson, Pepsi reported sales of $7.7 billion and an increase in market share in 1984, while its longtime rival Coca-Cola experienced a significant drop in sales. Being under contract with Pepsi, Jackson had to decline the invitation to perform as the main act at the closing ceremony of the XXIII Olympics in Los Angeles, which had been sponsored by Coca-Cola.
On May 14, the singer was invited to the White House by U.S. President Ronald Reagan, to receive an award due to the support he had given to charities in the fight against alcohol and drugs, also granting the use of Beat It in a commercial on these issues. Time described Jackson”s influence at that point as something “that crosses all boundaries of taste, style and color,” while for the New York Times “in the world of music there is Michael Jackson, and then there are all the others.” At that point Jackson had the highest royalty rate in the music industry, about $2 for every album sold, and was making record profits. Dolls, clothing, and gagdets modeled with his image appeared in North American stores in May 1984, flying off the shelves and creating a veritable industry.
In July Victory, the Jacksons” new album, was released, followed by a promotional tour in stadiums across the United States and Canada. The Victory Tour began on July 6 in Kansas City, ending on December 9 of the same year in Los Angeles, with a record six sold out concerts at Dodger Stadium. During the tour, the attention of the public and the press was completely focused on Jackson, whose solo songs from Off the Wall and Thriller made up half of the setlist. The 55 concerts of the tour were attended by 3 million people, with total revenues of 75 million dollars, figures that made it the most successful tour in history at the time, surpassing the previous record of the Rolling Stones. Jackson donated all of his personal income from the tour, $5 million, to charity. At the end of the tour, Michael announced his departure from the Jacksons in order to devote himself permanently to his solo career.
In January 1985 he wrote with Lionel Richie the charity single We Are the World to raise funds for the people of East Africa, hit at that time by a severe famine, recording it with a supergroup of 44 other artists called USA for Africa. In the United States, the song sold more than seven million copies in less than four months, becoming the fastest selling single ever, and remained at number one on Billboard for a month, also entering the rock and country charts. We Are the World became, at the time, the best-selling single in history with over 22 million copies, and raised $80 million. At the 1986 Grammy Awards, the song won four awards. Despite having been invited, Jackson could not participate in Live Aid on July 13, 1985, as he was already busy with previous projects in the recording studio; We Are the World, sung by all the participating artists, closed the concert in Philadelphia.
In August, through his attorney John Branca, Jackson purchased for $47.5 million the ATV Music Publishing catalog, comprising the publishing rights to nearly 4,000 songs, including most of the Beatles” material.
In 1986 Jackson signed a second advertising deal with Pepsi worth $50 million, recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the largest personal sponsorship deal in history. That same year he starred as the lead in the 4D short film Captain EO, produced by George Lucas and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Just 17 minutes long, but costing between $17 and $30 million, the film was made specifically by Disney as an attraction for its theme parks: Walt Disney World screened it at Epcot from September 12, 1986, Disneyland from September 18, 1986, Tokyo Disneyland from March 20, 1987 while Disneyland Paris would launch the attraction when it opened in April 1992. Captain EO returned, for varying periods of time, to all Disneyland parks around the world after the artist”s untimely death.
On August 31, 1987 Bad was released, Jackson”s seventh solo album, third for Epic and last produced by Quincy Jones. Described by the press as “the most anticipated album ever”, Bad became the first album in history to debut at #1 in 25 countries around the world, selling over 7 million copies in its first week of release. In the U.S., it debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 and remained in the Top 5 for 38 weeks, setting a record for the longest stay for an album. Jackson would have liked to interpret the title track with Prince, however the idea was discarded due to the refusal of the Minneapolis rocker. Ten singles were extracted from the album: I Just Can”t Stop Loving You (duet with Siedah Garrett), Bad, The Way You Make Me Feel, Man in the Mirror, Dirty Diana, Another Part of Me, Smooth Criminal, Leave Me Alone, Liberian Girl and Speed Demon; the first five reached number 1 on Billboard, setting a new Guinness record. In the UK, Bad became the fastest selling album of all time, while seven singles entered the Top 10 of the Official Singles Chart, breaking the previous record held by Jackson himself. Bad was a huge commercial success, selling over 30 million copies in a few years and becoming, at the time, the second best selling album in history behind Thriller. To date Bad has sold 45 million copies worldwide, 11 of them in the United States, and is the fifth best-selling album worldwide.
The video of the title track, set in a New York subway station, was filmed by Martin Scorsese: with a duration of 18 minutes and a cost of over 2 million dollars, it surpassed the previous records of the Thriller video. The video also featured actor Wesley Snipes, then making his film debut, while Steven Spielberg, Dan Aykroyd, David Copperfield, Whoopi Goldberg, John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Lou Ferrigno, “Weird Al” Yankovic and other Hollywood celebrities appeared in the video for Liberian Girl.
On September 12, 1987 began from Tokyo the Bad World Tour, the first solo tour of Jackson, in Japan alone all 14 concerts were sold out and recorded over 570,000 spectators, beating all previous records in Japan. On June 19, 1988 Jackson performed in front of more than 50.000 fans in West Berlin, in the Reichstag square in front of the Berlin Wall; the Stasi, worried that the concert could gather thousands of GDR citizens near the border, considered it “one of the most threatening moments for the security of East Germany”. In July Jackson performed 7 sold out concerts at Wembley Stadium in London in front of more than 504.000 spectators, obtaining a new record in the Guinness Book of Records for “the most successful series of concerts in history”; the total demand was more than 2 million tickets, enough to make at least 21 sold out concerts. On the last leg of the European tour Jackson performed at Liverpool”s Aintree Racecourse in front of an audience of 225,000, the largest of his career, and the largest ever gathered by a foreign artist in the UK. The tour ended in Los Angeles on January 27, 1989, with a total of 123 concerts in 15 countries, which recorded nearly 4.5 million spectators and receipts in excess of $125 million, figures that made it the most successful tour in music history at the time. In 2019, the Bad World Tour was chosen by Vivid Seats and Consequence as the “best tour of all time” by a solo artist:
In February 1988, Jackson published the autobiography Moonwalk. The book became the best seller of the year, with over 450,000 copies sold in a few days. On March 2, Jackson attended the 1988 Grammy Awards where Bad received 5 nominations including Album of the Year, but won only the award for Best Engineered Recording. Jackson didn”t win any awards, but he stole the show from every other artist present by performing a historic performance, considered one of the best in the history of the Grammys, with The Way You Make Me Feel and Man in the Mirror, where he was accompanied by a gospel choir. A few days later the singer received two honorary degrees in Literature, one from Fisk University and one from the United Negro College Fund; since 1985 he had donated over 450,000 dollars to the foundation, guaranteeing scholarships to more than 130 young African Americans.
Shortly thereafter, the singer purchased for $17 million the Neverland Ranch, which would be his official residence until 2005.
On September 7, Jackson received the MTV Video Vanguard Award with the following citation:
In October, Moonwalker was released. The film was shown in several countries around the world, including Italy, and grossed $67 million, while in the United States it was released exclusively on home video in January 1989. It remained at the top of the charts for 22 weeks, and sold over 800,000 copies in four months, surpassing The Making of Thriller and becoming the best-selling VHS ever in the country. From the film was extracted the video clip of Smooth Criminal, another video that became famous for its gangster setting, its elaborate choreography and its special effects including the scene in which Jackson and his dancers leaned forward at 45 degrees, defying gravity. In 1989 Jackson became the first artist to earn more than 100 million dollars in a year, earning 125 million dollars exclusively from the sale of albums and singles, and the first Western person to appear on state TV in the Soviet Union, where about 150 million people saw his Pepsi commercials. In January, at the American Music Awards, Jackson received a new award in his honor for ”””his contribution and pioneering efforts in the field of music videos”, as well as the first Lifetime Achievement Award for the records achieved by Bad, which became the world”s best-selling album for the third consecutive year, while on April 12 he was honored for the first time with the title of “King of Pop” at the Soul Train Awards, where Elizabeth Taylor and Eddie Murphy presented him with four awards including the Award for Entertainer of the Year calling him “the true King of pop, rock and soul”.
In April 1990 he was received for the second time at the White House, where President George Bush senior presented him with the Artist of the Decade Award: by the end of the 80s, Jackson had sold over 110 million copies with three albums, two of which had become the best-selling ever, and had more number one singles than any other artist during the decade; Vanity Fair magazine called him “the most popular artist in the history of showbusiness”. At the 1990 Grammy Awards he received the award for Best Video of the Year for Leave Me Alone, also becoming the artist with the most Grammys won in the 1980s, an impressive 11.
The same year he became a testimonial for LA Gear for which he also appeared in some commercials.
After the promotion of Bad, Jackson planned to release Decade, a Greatest Hits that would contain his greatest hits until then, and to devote himself mainly to the film career; the singer was contacted by Steven Spielberg, with whom he had already worked on E.T. Storybook, to play the role of Peter Pan in Hook, but both projects were abandoned.
In March 1991, Jackson signed the most lucrative contract in music history with Sony Music, worth $900 million, touted by the media at the time as “the billion-dollar contract.”
On November 26, Dangerous was released, debuting at #1 on the Billboard 200 and in 10 other countries. To date it has sold over 40 million copies, 8 of them in the United States, and is the most successful new jack swing album of all time.
The album”s launch single, Black or White, reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in three weeks, making it the fastest track to reach the top of the chart since 1969; it remained at #1 for seven consecutive weeks, making Jackson the first artist in history to have songs at #1 on Billboard in three different decades, and the first American artist to debut directly at #1 in the UK since 1960, equaling Elvis Presley”s record. The video of the song, 11 minutes long and cost 4 million dollars, was shot again by John Landis, with the participation of the actor Macaulay Culkin and the model Tyra Banks; the debut on TV on November 14, 1991 recorded an audience of over 500 million viewers, making it the music video with the largest audience ever, with a new record in the Guinness Book. On November 27, Jackson performed in the TV special for the 10th anniversary of the birth of MTV in Black or White, accompanied by Slash of Guns N” Roses, and in Will You Be There, accompanied by a gospel choir. Beginning that year, the MTV Video Vanguard Award was renamed the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, in honor of his contributions to music video culture.
In January 1992 was released the second single Remember the Time, accompanied by a video clip set in an imaginary Ancient Egypt, cost 2 million dollars and shot by John Singleton, with the participation of the actor Eddie Murphy, the model and actress Iman and the NBA player Magic Johnson. Followed the one of In the Closet shot by Herb Ritts, where Jackson duet and danced with model Naomi Campbell (in the album the voice was instead that of Princess Stephanie of Monaco) and the one of Jam, in which appeared the basketball player Michael Jordan who played and danced with Jackson, while in the one of Give In to Me appeared Slash, Gilby Clarke and Teddy Andreadis, then members of Guns N” Roses. The video of Gone Too Soon included images of the singer in the company of Ryan White, a young student who became one of the symbols of the fight against HIVAIDS and died in 1990, with whom Jackson had a close friendship. The proceeds of the single were donated to the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. Three more tracks, Who Is It, Heal the World and Will You Be There were taken from Dangerous, for a total of nine singles; seven of them entered the UK Top 10, equaling the record set by Bad.
In February, Jackson traveled to Africa to visit Gabon, Ivory Coast, Tanzania and Egypt, in what he called “a homecoming”. More than 100,000 people welcomed him at Libreville airport, and Gabon”s president Omar Bongo presented him with the Medal of Honor, an honor that until then had been reserved for heads of state, while in the Ivory Coast he was crowned “King of the Sanwi” by the chief of the tribe, with a coronation ceremony.
On June 18 was published in the United States Dancing the Dream, a collection of poems, reflections and stories written by the singer. On June 24, with a press conference organized at London”s Heathrow Airport, Jackson presented the Heal the World Foundation; inspired by the song of the same name, its purpose was to help the most needy, especially children in war-torn areas and the terminally ill. Through the foundation, Jackson immediately sent millions of dollars in humanitarian aid to civil war-stricken Bosnia.
On June 27th the promotional tour for the album, the Dangerous World Tour, started in Munich and it became one of the biggest shows in the history of music. The final date of the European tour, held in Bucharest on October 1st in front of 90,000 fans, and broadcast live on HBO, was followed by over 250 million viewers, the largest audience in the history of cable TV. The TV rights were purchased by HBO for 20 million dollars, the highest amount ever paid for a concert. The tour ended on November 11, 1993 in Mexico City, recording 4 million viewers and $136 million in box office for 69 concerts in 26 countries. All proceeds from the tour were donated to charity through the Heal the World Foundation.
By the end of 1992, Dangerous and Black or White had become the best-selling album and single of the year worldwide, winning two awards at the Billboard Awards; Jackson also won an honorary award as “best-selling artist of the 1980s.”
On January 17, 1993, Jackson participated in the first inaugural ceremony of Bill Clinton”s presidency, performing We Are the World on the National Mall in Washington, DC, accompanied by other artists. Two days later, he performed at the 42nd Presidential Gala, asking the Clinton administration to put more money into supporting charities and HIVAIDS research. Jackson performed Gone Too Soon, dedicating it to Ryan White, and Heal the World, receiving a standing ovation. On January 24, the singer launched the charitable foundation Heal L.A. together with former President Jimmy Carter, aimed at preventing drug use and providing medical and educational services for young people in the most deprived areas of Los Angeles. The following day, at the American Music Awards, he won three awards including the first International Artist Award, which in the following years would bear his name.
On January 31, Jackson performed an iconic performance during the Super Bowl XXVII Halftime Show, setting the record for the largest audience on American television with over 133.4 million viewers in the United States alone. The performance was watched by over 1.3 billion people in 85 other countries, earning Jackson a new Guinness record for “the performance with the largest television audience ever.” The success of his performance then began the NFL”s tradition of inviting the world”s greatest artists to perform at halftime of the finals.
On February 10, he gave an exclusive interview to Oprah Winfrey that was broadcast live from Neverland Ranch worldwide, registering over 100 million viewers and becoming the most watched interview in television history.
On February 24, at the Grammy Awards, he received the Grammy Legend Award presented to him by his sister Janet, becoming at 34 years old the youngest artist to receive the award. On May 12, at the World Music Awards in Munich, he received awards for Best Selling Pop Artist, Best Selling American Artist and an award created in his honor as the World”s Best Selling Artist of the Era. On May 19, at the Guinness World Record Museum in Los Angeles, he received the first and only Lifetime Achievement Award, a lifetime achievement award for his “unprecedented world records in entertainment” and was certified with 8 different world records.
In August 1993, while he was engaged in the second part of the Dangerous World Tour, he was accused of alleged sexual molestation of a minor, later settling the charges extra-judicially. Because of the story Jackson was forced to stop the tour early and any promotion of the album Dangerous, including participation in the soundtrack of the film The Addams Family 2, for which he had already composed a song (Is This Scary, later transformed into Is It Scary) and began recording some scenes of the video (later transformed into Ghosts).
On May 26, 1994, in Santo Domingo, he married Lisa Marie Presley, Elvis Presley”s only daughter. On September 8, the couple appeared on stage at the MTV Video Music Awards to open the evening, launching into a kiss that captured the attention of the press, and which became one of the most iconic moments in the history of the award. Will You Be There, the title track of the film Free Willy, won an MTV Movie Award for Best Song.
HIStory e Blood on the Dance Floor (1995-2000)
On June 16, 1995, the double album HIStory: Past, Present and Future – Book I was released, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 and in 19 other countries. The first disc, HIStory Begins, was a Greatest Hits of 15 Jackson hits, while the second, HIStory Continues, contained 15 previously unreleased tracks. HIStory to date has sold 30 million copies (60 million units) worldwide, 8 of them in the United States, figures that make it the best-selling double album of all time.
The first single taken from the HIStory record was the double A-side ScreamChildhood, which debuted at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100, at the time the highest debut in the history of the chart. Scream was a duet between Michael and his younger sister, Janet Jackson; the video of the song, shot in black and white and set in a spaceship, made its debut on ABC in front of 64 million viewers, winning a Grammy for Best Video the following year, and entering the Guinness Book for being the most expensive video clip in history, with over $7 million invested. The second single, You Are Not Alone, surpassed the record of its predecessor, becoming the first song in music history to enter directly at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and in turn being entered into Guinness. This was followed by Earth Song, a dramatic plea for the preservation of the planet, which reached the top of the Official Singles Chart for six consecutive weeks and became Jackson”s most successful single in the UK, selling over a million copies in the country. The next single was They Don”t Care About Us, whose lyrics created some controversy and whose two different videos were shot by Spike Lee, one of them in Brazilian favelas, followed by the ballad Stranger in Moscow, while the last one was the title track HIStory, released as double A-side with Ghosts in 1997. All six singles entered the Top 5 of the Official Singles Chart, making Jackson the first artist in history to have 6 singles from the same album in the top five in the UK; he also became the only artist to have placed 4 or more singles in the Top 10 from 5 consecutive albums.
On September 7, he was honored with his sister Janet at the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards for the video of Scream with awards for Best Dance Video, Best Choreography and Best Art Direction against 11 nominations, a record for a music video; Jackson opened the evening by performing a medley of old and new hits, accompanied by Slash. The performance was voted the best in the history of the awards, winning the MTV VMA”s Best Performance of All Time, Most Iconic VMA Performance and Best VMA Pop Performance awards. In November, Jackson performed on Europe”s largest television show, the German broadcast Wetten Dass?, recording the highest ratings in the program”s history. At the end of the same month he merged his music catalog with Sony”s, creating Sony ATV Music Publishing; the singer earned between $95 and $110 million from the deal and retained ownership of half of the company. On December 6, Jackson collapsed on stage at the Beacon Theater in New York City during rehearsals for an event concert for HBO, titled One Night Only, due to a form of severe dehydration and extremely low blood pressure. According to the doctors who rescued him, Jackson was “15 minutes from death.” While he was still hospitalized, his wife Lisa Marie Presley informed him that she had filed for divorce, which took place in January 1996.
In February, Jackson attended the 1996 Brit Awards, performing Earth Song and sparking some controversy and the storming of the stage by Jarvis Cocker, lead singer of Pulp. After the performance, Jackson received a special Brit Award for Artist of a Generation. The award was presented to him by Sir Bob Geldof, who introduced him with these words:
In May he performed Earth Song again at the World Music Awards in Munich, and set a new record for wins, receiving 5 awards: Best Selling Album Of All Time for Thriller, Best Selling Artist of 1996, Best Selling R&B Artist, Best Selling American Artist and Best Selling Artist Ever.
On July 16, 1996, Jackson was invited to perform in the Sultanate of Brunei by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, then the richest man in the world, as part of his 50th birthday celebrations. The concert, with free admission, was performed in the presence of the royal family and an audience of 60,000 people. The Sultan paid approximately $17 million for Jackson to perform on his birthday, the highest amount ever paid for a private concert. On the return trip, Jackson stopped in South Africa to meet with Nelson Mandela, and in speaking with the singer, the South African president said, “I can see who the world leader is. I”ve never seen so many journalists.”
The HIStory World Tour, the tour in support of the album, began on September 7, 1996 in Prague, in front of 150,000 people, ending on October 15, 1997 in Durban, in the presence of President Mandela. The tour included 82 concerts in 35 countries, for a total of over 4.5 million spectators, and 165 million dollars in box office, results that made it the most successful tour of Jackson”s career and, at the time, even in music history, beating the previous records of his own Bad World Tour. On November 14, 1996, during the Australian leg of the tour, the singer married for the second time, this time with his friend and former nurse Deborah Jeanne Rowe, in an impromptu ceremony in the hotel where they were staying in Sydney. On February 13, 1997, their firstborn son, Prince Michael, was born.
On May 6 in Cleveland, Jackson and his brothers were inducted, as members of the Jackson 5, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Jackson became, at only 38 years old, the youngest artist ever inducted. On May 20, an album of new material accompanied by remixes of singles from HIStory was released entitled Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix, to date the best-selling remix album in history, with over 7 million copies sold. The singles Ghosts and Is It Scary were part of a short film written by the singer and Stephen King entitled Michael Jackson”s Ghosts. Directed by Stan Winston, it boasted remarkable special effects and new choreography, and lasted more than 39 minutes, a Guinness record for a music video; some music critics called the video “the new Thriller”. The project cost 15 million dollars, paid entirely by Jackson. In May, Jackson and Stan Winston presented the short film out of competition at the Cannes Film Festival. At the end of the same year a popular poll and the Guinness Book of World Records declared Jackson “most famous man on the planet”.
In 1998 he devoted himself primarily to business, seeking partners and funds to build an amusement park inspired by his favorite character, Peter Pan, called Peter Pan”s Neverland, and a chain of toy stores called Wonderworld of Toys, both in Japan; other plans included a second theme park with casino in Detroit, called Thriller Theme Park, and another casino in southern Africa. On April 3, his second child, Paris Katherine, was born. In May, Jackson attended the Southern African Economic Summit in Windhoek, Namibia, where he joined African leaders present in an appeal for debt cancellation, also calling for more attention to the plight of the poorest children.
On June 25 and 27, 1999 he organized two benefit concerts in Seoul and Munich, called Michael Jackson & Friends. The concerts, in which a number of international artists participated together with Jackson, were broadcasted live in both countries and raised funds for the victims of the Kosovo War, the Nelson Mandela Children Foundation, the Red Cross and UNESCO. During the show in Monaco, Jackson was involved in a serious accident on stage: the singer was performing on a structure suspended several meters high, when due to a technical failure, it gave way and fell down, crashing on the stage with the singer still on it. Jackson insisted on finishing the show as planned, but when he got backstage he lost consciousness and was rushed to the hospital. As a result of the accident, Jackson would suffer constant back pain for the rest of his life. On October 8, Jackson divorced Debbie Rowe, who left him custody of their two children. That same year he was listed with his sister Janet in the Guinness Book of Records for being the “most successful siblings in music history,” while the RIAA recognized him as “the best-selling pop and R&B artist of the century.”
At the 2000 World Music Awards in Monte Carlo, Prince Albert of Monaco presented him with the “Best Male Artist of the Millennium” award for being “the best-selling male solo artist of all time.” That year, Guinness recognized him with a new record, as “the entertainment person who had donated to charity and supported more charities than anyone else.”
Invincible and Number Ones (2001-2005)
On March 6, 2001 Jackson gave a speech on a humanitarian theme at Oxford University, where he was also awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters and Pedagogy degree. On March 19, in New York, he attended his induction ceremony as a solo artist in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame being introduced by the group Nsync, but could not perform due to a sprained ankle. Jackson not only became one of the few artists to be inducted for a second time, but at 42 years old he was also the youngest solo artist ever inducted.
On September 7 and 10 Jackson organized two special concerts event at Madison Square Garden in New York to celebrate his thirty years of solo career, Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Celebration – The Solo Years where, in addition to Jackson himself and a reunion with his brothers, performed countless other stars of music and film. Tickets for the two concerts were among the most expensive ever; Jackson earned $7.5 million for each of the two nights, over $150,000 per minute. The event was televised on November 13 of the same year by CBS and recorded the best ratings in the history of the network, becoming one of the most watched TV specials in American history, with about 45 million viewers. The morning after the second concert, Jackson was supposed to attend a meeting at the Twin Towers, but tired from the previous evening, did not show up. Following the September 11 attacks, Jackson wrote a benefit song in English and Spanish, What More Can I Give, which he recorded with 30 other internationally renowned artists, and also organized a benefit concert in tribute to the victims, United We Stand.
On January 9, 2002 at the American Music Awards received the award as Artist of the Century, for “his outstanding contributions to the world of music”. On February 21 was born his third child, Prince Michael II “Blanket”, conceived through surrogacy. On April 24 Jackson performed at the Apollo Theater in New York, in a concert organized by former President Bill Clinton, to raise funds to encourage young people to vote. Jackson performed Dangerous, Black or White accompanied by Dave Navarro of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Heal the World, in what was the last official and complete performance of his career. The concert raised nearly $3 million.
In November 2002, Jackson arrived in Berlin to receive a Bambi Award as Pop Artist of the Millennium for being “the greatest living pop icon” as well as for his humanitarian actions. Urged by thousands of his fans who had gathered under his hotel to show off his last-born child Blanket, he decided to please them by briefly holding the 9-month-old baby out of the balcony. This created controversy among the media around the world who aired the images on all the front pages of the news criticizing the artist. Shortly after Jackson sent a letter of apology for the incident in Berlin in which he said that he could never really endanger the life of his son.
In November 2003, Bad, Off the Wall and Thriller made the Rolling Stone 500 Best Albums list at numbers 202, 68 and 20, respectively.
The same month Jackson released a compilation CD and DVD of his most famous songs, Number Ones; in addition to all his singles that reached the number one position in the world, it also contained Break of Dawn from Invincible and the unreleased One More Chance. The album has sold more than 14 million copies.
On November 19, 2003 he was again accused of child molestation, undergoing a trial from which he will be acquitted with full formula from all charges on June 13, 2005.
In November 2004 the collection Michael Jackson: The Ultimate Collection was released, containing several previously unreleased tracks; the same month Jackson was inducted by popular vote into the UK Hall of Fame, becoming one of the founding members as an “iconic artist of the 80s”.
Financial difficulties, last performance at the World Music Awards, Thriller 25 and King of Pop (2006-2008)
Once the trial was over, Jackson left the United States and in January 2006 he settled with his children in Bahrain, guest of Prince Abdu”llah, second son of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
In February, Visionary: The Video Singles was released, containing 20 of his best known singles accompanied by their respective videos. Thanks to the success of the collection, Jackson managed to place 19 singles in the UK Top 40 in 2006, breaking the previous record of 1955 of 5 singles and getting a new record in the Guinness Book of Records, while in Spain 16 singles reached the first position and the last 4 in the second; several songs obtained a position much higher than the original one.
On March 9, representatives of the California government ordered the closure of the Neverland Ranch due to some debts and unpaid wages. Seven days later it was announced that the singer had closed Neverland and laid off some of his employees.
In April, he entered into an agreement with Sony and Fortress Investments: under the pact, Sony and Jackson would share an equal stake in SonyATV Music Publishing. Left without a record deal, the singer signed a contract with Two Seas Records, also announcing the founding of the Michael Jackson Company, Inc. to replace MJJ Productions. In September, the singer dissolved his partnership with the new record company, because the contract was never finalized, thus suspending the release of his charity single for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, From the Bottom of My Heart. In the same period Jackson moved with his children in Ireland, going to live incognito in the county of Westmeath. At Christmas of the same year they returned to the United States, residing in Las Vegas for the next two years.
On November 15, 2006 Jackson participated as guest of honor at the World Music Awards at Earls Court Arena in London. There he received the Diamond Award from Beyoncé, for having sold more than 750 million copies with his albums, while Craig Glenday, editor-in-chief of Guinness World Records, presented him with a special award for Thriller and called him “undoubtedly the most famous living human being”. Journalist Charles Thomson, who was present at the event, described the reaction of the audience:
After the award ceremony, Jackson briefly performed We Are the World, accompanied by a boys” choir. It was his last live performance in front of an audience.
While in London, Jackson visited the headquarters of the Guinness Book of World Records, where he was recognized with eight new world records, including “First artist to officially sell more than 100 million albums outside the United States” and “Most successful entertainer of all time.”
In 2007 Jackson began work on a new studio album. The tracks were recorded partly in Ireland and partly in Las Vegas, and Jackson collaborated among others with Chris Brown, Kanye West, Lenny Kravitz, Rodney Jerkins, Teddy Riley and will.i.am; the Black Eyed Peas frontman defined the record as “an Off the Wall for the new generation, with perfect pop songs”. The album”s release, scheduled for 2008, did not materialize.
On February 11, 2008, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the release of Thriller, was released a special reissue of the album enriched with unreleased material, Thriller 25, which has sold over 5 million copies to date.
In May of that year Jackson sold a share of Neverland Ranch to Colony Capital. That company contacted AEG Live, a company that promotes concerts, to talk about a concrete return of the singer on the scene. Colony Capital was determined to recover the money spent for Neverland, so the CEO of AEG Live, Randy Phillips, contacted Dr. Tohme Tohme, the singer”s manager at the time, a businessman with a history that is far from clear.
On August 29, 2008, the day of Jackson”s 50th birthday, was released a new collection entitled King of Pop, an anthology in which fans themselves had voted to decide the songs to be included, so the album came out with a different compilation for each country. King of Pop was not released in the United States but reached the Top 10 in 17 other countries, selling about 6 million copies. That year, the albums Off the Wall and Thriller were included in the Grammy Hall of Fame, while Rolling Stone magazine included Jackson in 25th place on its list of the 100 best voices of all time and in 35th place on its list of the 100 best artists of all time.
The announcement of This Is It (2009)
To accompany the announcement of the residency there was the publication of Michael Jackson The Collection, released on June 20, 2009, a box set containing the 5 most important albums of his solo career at EpicSony Music: Off The Wall, Thriller, Bad, Dangerous and Invincible. Curiously, HIStory and Blood On The Dance Floor were absent from the collection.
Jackson held concert rehearsals at the Staples Center in Los Angeles under the direction of Kenny Ortega, with whom he had worked on his previous tours.
2009: Sudden death
On June 25, 2009, 18 days before the start of the concerts in London, while he was in a rented villa in Holmby Hills in Los Angeles, Jackson died of a cardiac arrest due to acute intoxication by propofol, a powerful anesthetic administered by a doctor under contract with AEG, the company that produced the concerts in London, Conrad Murray. In recent years the singer suffered from chronic insomnia and some doctors gave him this anesthetic to try in a fallacious way to make him rest, since anesthetics do not induce sleep, as stated by some witnesses at the trial that followed.
Michael Jackson”s death has been called “the biggest media event ever” and many websites crashed under the weight of the continuous searches regarding the artist. The public funeral ceremony held on July 7 at the Staples Center was watched by an estimated 2.5 to 3 billion people worldwide, making it the most watched television broadcast and streaming-online event in history.
The following September 3, a private funeral ceremony was held at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, the celebrity cemetery where Jackson”s body was buried.
Sales of his albums exceeded 8 million copies in the United States and over 30 million worldwide, making Jackson the best-selling artist of 2009.
On October 28, Sony released a documentary film containing rehearsal footage from the planned concerts in London, Michael Jackson”s This Is It. Despite being limited to two weeks (but the deadline was extended in several countries due to the extraordinary turnout), it became the highest-grossing film for a documentary or concert film, grossing over $261 million worldwide.
Jackson”s inheritance (about $1 billion with about $500 million in debt) went to his mother Katherine, his three children and charities. Nothing to his father, due to disagreements between the two.
In 2011, Sony signed a $250 million contract with attorney John Branca and music impresario John McClain, administrators of the singer”s assets. This agreement, described as the second most lucrative in music history (after Jackson himself with Sony in 1991), provided for the distribution until 2017 of at least 10 new projects related to Jackson including the release of unreleased tracks, movies and video games. That contract was renewed in December 2017. As part of the agreement, Sony will collaborate on additional projects that the Estate of Michael Jackson may produce. While the terms of the deal, including its valuation, have not been revealed, some sources say it is extended for another seven years. While the additional projects have not been enunciated, they appear to include the additional posthumous albums implied in the original 10-album deal. That agreement has been criticized by some supporters and family members of the artist, as Jackson in his lifetime wanted nothing more to do with Sony Music, after what happened with Invincible.
Single, album and documentary inspired by This Is It (2009)
On October 12, 2009, almost four months after the singer”s death, an unreleased single was released on the radio that was named after the same tour Jackson was scheduled to undertake in July, namely This Is It. The song actually dated back to 1980. On October 26 was released the collection The Music That Inspired The Movie: Michael Jackson”s This Is It, containing the songs that would be performed during the tour, plus the new song This Is It, three demos and the poem Planet Earth, recited by Jackson himself.
Michael and Xscape (2010-2014)
The singer”s first posthumous album, titled Michael, was released on December 10, 2010. It was composed of ten unreleased tracks recorded by Jackson at different periods of his career. The first single from the album was Hold My Hand, written and sung as a duet with Akon. The song quickly climbed the charts in 13 countries and reached the fourth position of the most downloaded singles of the year. Despite the success of the launch single, the album was not as successful as Sony had hoped; the failure was mainly due to the boycott of this posthumous work by many fans of the artist who accused the record company to speculate on his death and to have published in the album three songs sung by an imitator and not by Jackson. Many of the artist”s family and friends also questioned the authenticity of some of the songs.
The second posthumous album, Xscape, was released on May 14, 2014. The album”s release was preceded by the single Love Never Felt So Good, a duet with Justin Timberlake, which entered the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, making Jackson the only artist in history to enter it in five different decades. The album was a worldwide success, reaching the Top 5 in 14 countries and selling over three million copies in its first two months. It was followed by the singles A Place with No Name and Slave to the Rhythm, which was presented via a “hologram” of Jackson during the 2014 Billboard Music Awards, where Xscape was among the nominees for “Best R&B Album of the Year.”
Immortal, Bad 25 and Off The Wall re-release (2011-2016)
On November 21, 2011, the compilation Immortal was released, the soundtrack of Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour by Cirque du Soleil, a Jackson tribute tour in the biggest arenas in the world, which debuted on October 2, 2011 in Montréal and ended on August 31, 2014 in Guadalajara. The tour became the most profitable production in Cirque du Soleil”s history and one of the ten most successful musical tours in history, with more than $371 million in box office and an audience of more than 3.7 million over 501 dates.
On September 18, 2012 Bad 25 was released, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Bad album. In addition to the re-release of the album, a DVD was released containing the concert that Jackson held at Wembley Stadium in London on July 16, 1988 during the Bad World Tour. Director Spike Lee, Jackson”s friend and former collaborator, also made Bad 25, a documentary about the creation of the album.
On February 26, 2016, the Off the Wall album was re-released as a special edition, along with a documentary again made by Spike Lee, titled Michael Jackson”s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall.
Thriller 3D, Scream, and Other Activities (2017-ongoing)
On September 4, 2017, at the 74th edition of the Venice Film Festival, John Landis” restored and reproduced 3D video of Thriller was presented, accompanied by the documentary Making Michael Jackson”s Thriller.
On September 29, Scream is released, a compilation consisting of 13 songs by Jackson with a Halloween theme. The CD also contains a poster that gives access to an AR (augmented reality) experience through the Shazam application downloadable on smartphones. Also in celebration of the Halloween holiday, on October 27, the CBS television network aired a CGI cartoon film called Michael Jackson”s Halloween, inspired by the singer.
On July 6, 2018, Drake”s single Don”t Matter to Me was released, containing some samples from an unreleased Jackson song. On August 29 of the same year, however, in celebration of the artist”s 60th birthday, a mash-up of various Jackson songs by Mark Ronson was released entitled Michael Jackson X Mark Ronson: Diamonds Are Invincible.
In 2020, a Broadway musical, directed by Christopher Wheeldon and starring Ephraim Sykes (later replaced by Myles Frost) as Jackson, has been announced that will chronicle the singer”s life and career and will be titled MJ: The Musical. The first date was originally scheduled for July 6, 2020 but was later postponed to December 6, 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Michael Jackson has been married twice: the first marriage was to Lisa Marie Presley, Elvis Presley”s only daughter, in May 1994, from whom he divorced in January 1996. The two returned to dating between 1997 and 1999.
In November 1996, he remarried Deborah Jeanne Rowe, commonly known as Debbie. The couple divorced in 1999 and the two remained on good terms.
Michael Jackson has three children: the firstborn Prince Michael Jackson was born on February 13, 1997; about a year later, on April 3, 1998, came to light Paris Michael Katherine Jackson; Jackson had both children by Deborah Rowe. On February 21, 2002 he had his third child, Prince Michael Jackson II, whom he nicknamed Blanket”, conceived through in vitro fertilization. Jackson has never declared the identity of the surrogate mother.
His first girlfriend was actress Tatum O”Neal, and over the years he has also been credited with flirtations with singers Diana Ross and Whitney Houston, with model and actress Brooke Shields, and, despite the age difference, with actress Liz Taylor, who was actually simply the singer”s best friend.
As for Diana Ross, Jackson himself declared in his autobiography, to have had a platonic love for the singer since he was a child. Moreover, in his will, the artist arranged for Diana Ross to become the guardian of his children, in case their mother Katherine passed away.
To Jackson has also been attributed the paternity of his other alleged children, the most famous among them is Omer Bhatti, actually of Pakistani father and Norwegian mother, close family friend and protégé of Jackson, who attended the funeral sitting next to the family of the artist.
Jackson was also an activist and philanthropist. He entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the artist who supported the most charities and is estimated to have donated over $400 million to charity. He has also received many other humanitarian awards, including two honorary Doctor of Letters degrees from Fisk University and the United Negro College Fund in 1988, and an honorary Doctor of Letters and Pedagogy degree from Oxford University in 2001.
In 1984, after suffering third-degree burns while filming a Pepsi commercial, the singer decided not to sue and donated his compensation, estimated at around 1.5 million dollars, to Brotman Medical Center in Culver City asking that a burn center be created, which was named Michael Jackson Burn Center in honor of the singer”s donation. Also that same year, he donated all of his personal earnings from the Victory Tour, over $5 million, to charity. In 1986, Jackson donated $1.5 million to establish the Michael Jackson Scholarships at the United Negro College Fund, helping hundreds of students attend college. Because of this, in 1988 UNCF honored the artist during their 44th annual gala with the highest honor, the Fredrick D. Patterson Award.
Throughout the 1980s, the artist continued to donate to many charities including UNESCO, the NAACP, the Ronald McDonald Children”s Foundation and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. On July 16, 1988, before a concert at Wembley Stadium, Jackson met the Prince of Wales and his wife Princess Diana Spencer and presented them with a check for £ 150,000 for The Prince”s Trust and one for £ 100,000 for the Great Ormond Street Children”s Hospital.
In 1992 he founded the Heal the World Foundation, a non-profit organization that worked to fight poverty, hunger, violence, disease and pollution around the world; the entire proceeds of the Dangerous World Tour were donated to the foundation. Its activities were numerous: donations of supplies and gift packs for the children of Sarajevo affected by the war, distribution of vaccines, distribution of thousands of dollars in toys, food and supplies in various hospitals, funding for a liver transplant to a Hungarian child. In Italy we remember the donation made by the association to the Partita del Cuore of the National Singers. Many donations remain unknown.
In 1993 he founded with former President Jimmy Carter Heal L.A., an association aimed at preventing drug use and running medical and educational services for young people in the most deprived areas of Los Angeles.
In 1999 he organized two benefit concerts, the Michael Jackson & Friends, to raise money for the victims of the Kosovo War, the Red Cross, the Nelson Mandela Children Foundation and UNESCO.
In 2001, with the help of the rabbi and writer Shmuley Boteach, he founded Heal the Kids, an association that aimed to help children in need and their families. In October of the same year he organized the benefit concert United We Stand, for the families of the victims of the September 11 attacks.
Jackson also wrote several songs whose proceeds went to charity; We Are the World in 1985 for the starving people of East Africa, Heal the World in 1991 and Earth Song in 1995, whose profits went to the Heal the World Foundation, and What More Can I Give in 2001 for the families of the victims of the September 11 attacks.
Other charitable projects remained unfinished, however, such as the songs From the Bottom of My Heart, written to raise funds for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and I Have This Dream, or the charity Go For Your Dreams created in 2003 and whose project was abandoned when new allegations of harassment arrived.
In his will he also left an unspecified amount of money in favor of several charities.
Jackson has also been an animal rights activist. In 1983, he rescued a dozen monkeys from experiments. One of them, Bubbles, went to live with him in the Encino mansion first and in Neverland later, along with dozens of other animals. He also won two Genesis Awards for his efforts in raising awareness about animal issues, in 1988 for the video of Man in the Mirror and in 1996 for the video of Earth Song, respectively.
The autopsy performed at the time of the singer”s disappearance definitively confirmed that Jackson suffered from vitiligo, a disease that causes the loss of skin color, making the epidermis of the individual lighter spots and that came to almost completely destroy his pigmentation. Having whitened most of his body, since 1984 Jackson underwent a number of skin evening therapies (depigmentation via monobenzone or hydroquinone) with his trusted dermatologist, Dr. Arnold Klein. Jackson also suffered from systemic or possibly discoid lupus erythematosus. These diseases cause high photosensitivity to sunlight (to protect himself from sunlight he often went around with an umbrella, with sunglasses, gloves and surgical mask) and skin damage (especially lupus), especially to the face, as well as alopecia. The other diseases that were attributed to him have always been denied. In addition, the second and third degree burns to the scalp, suffered during the incident on the set of the Pepsi commercial, caused him pain that afflicted him for life, leading him to use painkillers for a long time, becoming dependent for many years, and undergo surgery such as scalp tissue expansion. In 1999 he had an accident on stage while performing Earth Song on top of a bridge-like structure, raised several feet off the ground, which quickly crashed and caused him back problems that would persist for the rest of his life. During the tours and the trial Jackson also suffered from stress and insomnia. It was to try to cure his insomnia, which had become chronic, that he agreed to be given several benzodiazepines and propofol, the anesthetic that caused his death in 2009.
Immediately after the great success of Thriller, several unfounded rumors and gossips about the singer”s private life began to circulate; among the first ones there were those that Jackson was taking hormones to maintain his boyish voice, that he had been castrated and that he was even undergoing a sex change operation: this last rumor began to circulate in 1977. In 1985, Jackson bought ATV Music Publishing, which held the publishing rights of about 250 Beatles songs. Days before, Paul McCartney had unsuccessfully asked Yōko Ono to join their financial forces to buy it. Being an auction, Jackson won the catalog; according to newspapers this compromised his friendship with Paul McCartney, while Jackson wrote in his autobiographical book Moonwalk that it was McCartney himself who gave him the idea. Some time later there were rumors that Jackson slept in a hyperbaric chamber and that he had tried to buy the skeleton of Joseph Merrick, the elephant man, news always denied by the artist. The news, apparently, had been spread by his manager at the time, Frank Di Leo, who was then fired at the end of the promotion of Bad. In the same period, Jackson began to fill his villa in Encino with exotic animals and mannequins that, as stated by the singer himself to Rolling Stone magazine, helped him to overcome loneliness. These rumors caused quite a stir among the media of the time, and the British tabloids gave him the nickname “Wacko Jacko” (Jacko the crazy), soon detested by the singer. The color of Jackson”s skin, black for the entire duration of his youth, began to lighten year by year, starting in the early ”80s and in 1986 he was diagnosed with a rare and acute form of vitiligo but Jackson will not declare it publicly until 1993, during the famous interview with Oprah, and for this reason the media of the time criticized Jackson for the alleged desire to “whiten” his skin creating this urban legend that will accompany him throughout his life. Rolling Stone magazine at the time branded many of these scandals as “publicity stunts”:
The 1993 charges
On August 23, 1993, while Jackson was in Bangkok for a leg of the Dangerous World Tour, he was accused for the first time of child molestation: Evan Chandler, a Beverly Hills dentist, accused him of sexually abusing his son Jordan (called Jordie or Jordy), then thirteen years old. Chandler formalized the accusation in civil, not criminal, court, with the aim of obtaining monetary compensation from Jackson. Following the accusations, Pepsi-Cola, at the time sponsor of the singer, terminated the contract for the negative media impact that had overwhelmed the image of Jackson, who was forced to cancel half of the dates of the Dangerous World Tour and then suspend it altogether. A few days after the tour ended, Jackson admitted that he had become addicted to painkillers and decided to go to a rehabilitation clinic. On December 22, Jackson replied via satellite from Neverland declaring himself “totally innocent”. On January 25, 1994 the accuser was paid an unspecified amount of money, estimated at around 20 million dollars. The singer did not denounce the Chandlers for extortion, but demanded that his total extraneousness to the facts for which he was accused was put in black and white in the document that was later filed in court. The extra-judicial resolution of the civil case in no way prevented the family from proceeding with a further criminal case. Only later it was learned of phone calls that proved Jackson”s innocence: in them Evan Chandler spoke with his lawyer saying that he wanted to destroy his wife, a friend of the singer, and Jackson himself because he had not lent him money, also declaring that he did not care about the impact that this action could have on his son. In the following years Jordan Chandler himself denounced his father for attempted murder, even obtaining a restraining order against him in 2005 after refusing to testify against Jackson in the process that involved him at the time. According to some never-confirmed rumors and according to testimonies reported in the 2019 documentary, Square One, the boy himself would admit to some college friends, following the second accusations made against Jackson by the Arvizo family, that he had never experienced molestation by the artist, praising Jackson and stating that he never believed the singer could ever hurt a child. On November 5, 2009, five months after Jackson”s death, the boy”s father was found lifeless after shooting himself with a gun in his New Jersey apartment.
The 2003 charges and the trial
Since May 2002, Michael Jackson allowed a television crew led by British journalist Martin Bashir to follow him wherever he went. In February 2003 was aired Living with Michael Jackson: in a scene, you could see Jackson hand in hand with Gavin Arvizo, then thirteen years old with cancer, in which the singer admitted to have shared with him the bedroom, but not the bed.
This caused some outcry among Jackson”s detractors because of previous accusations. Jackson felt betrayed by the editing that Bashir gave to the documentary and accused him of showing it in a distorted way. This was also demonstrated during the trial that the singer had to undergo for child molestation, as the clips cut by Bashir were shown in the courtroom.
After the documentary aired, the Santa Barbara County Attorney”s Office began a criminal investigation. The Los Angeles Police Department and the Child Protective Services (DCFS) concluded that the allegations of molestation were unfounded. The FBI came to the same conclusion and opened an investigation. Initially the family of the young man involved in the documentary defended Jackson; later they told investigators that the singer had behaved inappropriately but, according to them, only after and not before the airing of the documentary, causing some doubt about the veracity of the accusations.
However, on November 19, 2003, while Jackson was in Las Vegas shooting the video for the unreleased One More Chance, Santa Barbara police searched the Neverland Ranch and sent the singer a warrant for his arrest for alleged child sexual abuse. Jackson was arrested on seven counts of alleged child molestation and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent to Arvizo.
The trial of Michael Jackson began on January 31, 2005 in Santa Maria, California, and lasted until the end of the following May. On June 13, 2005 Jackson was acquitted with full formula from all charges. During the proceedings it was discovered that Janet Arvizo, Gavin”s mother, had already been sued in court for tax fraud against the state. There were numerous witnesses who showed how the woman had tried to extort money from the state, insurance companies and other famous people. On November 15, 2001, the woman applied for a welfare check, saying she had no source of income. Ten days earlier, however, the woman and her family had collected $152,000 from JC Penney, following a complaint for mistreatment initiated against the department store chain, during which Gavin Arvizo had already perjured himself under oath. After Jackson”s trial and acquittal, Janet Arvizo was tried and convicted of tax fraud.
Leaving Neverland (posthumous accusation)
In January 2019, the documentary Leaving Neverland directed by British filmmaker Dan Reed was presented at the Sundance Film Festival. In it, Wade Robson, James Safechuck, and their families described their relationships with Jackson. Despite their past testimony that Jackson was innocent, Safechuck and Robson recanted, accusing the singer of having sexually abused them when they were children; however, no material evidence was presented that Jackson had actually abused them. The alleged abuse allegedly occurred at Jackson”s Neverland Ranch residence and at his in Century City, both in California.
The documentary caused a stir around the world and many controversies between innocent and guilty: it generated a negative wave, on the one hand against Jackson, on the other against the channels that had broadcasted the documentary. This caused a re-examination of his artistic legacy and as a human being, but also with a return of interest in him: many of his songs and albums returned in some charts of the world.
Since the airing of the documentary, many inconsistencies have emerged that would cast doubt on the veracity of the facts and the credibility of Jackson”s accusers.
Jackson co-produced all of his solo albums of adulthood, from Off the Wall in 1979 onward, and in the early 1990s founded his own record label, MJJ music, through which he co-produced all of his albums from 1991 onward and the soundtracks for the 1993 and 1995 films Free Willy and Free Willy 2, on which he had collaborated. He also produced the debut album of the group formed by his nephews, 3T, entitled Brotherhood in 1995, his sister Rebbie Jackson entitled Yours Faithfully and singer Tatyana Ali entitled Kiss the Sky, both in 1998.
Known primarily as a pop singer, Jackson, during his solo career, has been an interpreter of various musical styles. Initially inspired by Motown soul, he then cultivated other genres such as rhythm and blues, funk, dance, rock, new jack swing, contributing through his works to the diffusion of black music to a wide audience. His eclectic approach to various styles can already be seen from his first album as an adult, Off the Wall, produced by Quincy Jones, which ranges from funk and disco pop of Don”t Stop ”Til You Get Enough, Workin” Day and Night and Get on the Floor, to soul, soft rock, jazz, rhythm and blues and ballads such as She”s Out of My Life or Girlfriend.
With the album Thriller, also produced by Jones, Michael fine-tuned the musical insights of Off the Wall; the dance, rock and funk songs (Baby Be Mine, P.Y.T., Billie Jean, Wanna Be Startin” Somethin”) were characterized by a greater interpretative strength, while the pop songs and ballads (The Lady in My Life, Human Nature, The Girl Is Mine) were lighter and more introspective. In Billie Jean Jackson sang about a fan who claimed to have had a child by him, while in Wanna Be Startin” Somethin” he criticized the pressures of media and gossip. The song Beat It, dedicated to street violence, was also one of the first rockpop crossovers to climb the charts, while the title track Thriller was dedicated to the supernatural, a theme that would go on to characterize songs in later times. In 1985, Jackson co-wrote the charity song We Are the World with Lionel Richie. From that date, humanitarian themes would also be at the center of his lyrics and his artistic activity.
In Bad, third and last album with Quincy Jones as producer, the musical mixture of Thriller was revisited, but inserting songs that could better climb the pop charts individually. In Dirty Diana, another song contaminated by rock, Jackson imagined facing a “cursed” love; then there was the love ballad I Just Can”t Stop Loving You, while Man in the Mirror resumed the themes of altruism and charity already present in We Are the World; Smooth Criminal evoked an imaginary episode of kidnapping and murder in noir style, a style already used by Jackson in the song Heartbreak Hotel of the album Triumph.
With the album Dangerous, released in 1991, Jackson was able to capture wider slices of the public, with songs dedicated mostly to social issues. The first tracks of the album are songs of new jack swing imprint, including Jam and Remember the Time. Why You Wanna Trip on Me talks about issues such as world hunger, disease, poverty and drugs, while Black Or White rails against all forms of racism. However, there are also more daring songs such as In the Closet, a song dedicated to love, desire, loneliness and private life, while the song Dangerous dealt again with the theme of damned love already present in Dirty Diana. Other songs such as Will You Be There, Heal the World and Keep the Faith instead are closer to the gospel and are dedicated to both humanitarian and personal problems of the same Jackson, and finally Gone Too Soon is a ballad dedicated to a young friend of the singer, Ryan White, a victim of AIDS. In the album Dangerous are obvious incursions of rap and hip hop music, whose popularity was growing.
The double album HIStory focuses on Jackson”s issues with audiences and press, and according to Joe Vogel, an expert on Jackson”s work, the album encompasses a whirlwind of emotions, from the passionate anger of Scream to the vulnerability of Childhood. With the new jack swing-funk-rock pieces Scream, D. S, This Time Around and Tabloid Junkie and with the R&B ballad You Are Not Alone, Jackson criticizes the injustices and isolation that his success has brought him and takes it out on the media in particular, as he had already done with the song Leave Me Alone; in the song They Don”t Care About Us, he talks about the problems related to racism, violence and injustice; in the ballad Stranger in Moscow he talks about loneliness and the media persona he has been turned into; the song Earth Song is a dramatic appeal to save the planet from destruction. Other tracks include the ballads Childhood, which talks about lost childhood, Little Susie, which talks about the death of a little girl caused by loneliness, and Smile, a cover in homage to Michael”s idol, Charlie Chaplin. Music critic Joe Vogel calls the title track History an epic and grandiose piece, where all the injustices and tragedies of life are amended and redeemed by the power of music.
On the remix album Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix, a collection containing five previously unreleased tracks and eight remixes, the pieces range from themes of revenge, as in the title track, to drug addiction in Morphine and again to the distortion of Jackson”s image by the media, a theme also addressed in the video that accompanies Ghosts, a short film in which Jackson challenges the society that had labeled him as a monster and eccentric. In the film, kids are able to overcome appearances and labels much faster than adults who judge without knowing the truth.
L”album Invincible contiene brani soul come Cry e The Lost Children, dance come You Rock My World, ballate come Speechless, Whatever Happens, Break of Dawn e Butterflies e brani R&B come Unbreakable, 2000 Watts, Threatened, Heartbreaker e Invincible, dove si mescolano hip hop, pop e rap.
Michael Jackson has been a source of inspiration and influence for numerous other internationally renowned artists Beyoncé, George Michael, Rita Ora, Justin Bieber, Coldplay, Bruno Mars, Anastacia, Usher, Alicia Keys, Ne-Yo, Chris Brown, Jason Derulo, Omarion, Ciara, Jaden Smith, BTS
Ballet dancers such as Michail Barysnikov and Roberto Bolle repeatedly praised Jackson and called him “inimitable” and “a benchmark for ballet as well,” while Fred Astaire repeatedly praised Jackson for his dance moves and called him “the greatest dancer of all time” and pointed to him as his “moral heir.”
He is considered the inventor of the music video clip. Videos of several of his songs, including Billie Jean, Beat It, and Thriller, turned music videos into a form of short film and a promotional tool. Their popularity also led to the success of the music network MTV.
In 1984, Time music critic Jay Cocks wrote:
That same year, New York Times music critic Jon Pareles also praised Jackson, writing:
On July 13, 2009, in an interview with Corriere della Sera, Jon Pareles himself stated that:
According to BET, Jackson:
Steve Huey of AllMusic described Jackson as:
In 2003 Tom Utley, music critic for the Daily Telegraph described him as “extremely important” and a “genius”.
In 2009, the Baltimore Sun published an article titled “7 Ways Michael Jackson Changed the World.” Author Jill Rosen wrote that:
On July 7, 2009, during Jackson”s funeral, Motown founder Berry Gordy proclaimed him “the greatest entertainer who ever lived,” while actress Queen Latifah called him “the greatest star on Earth.” Danyel Smith, editor of Vibe, also called Jackson “The Greatest Star.”
On June 25, 2009, the day of Jackson”s death, paleontologists discovered in Navarre the fossil of an unknown species of lobster, named “Mesoparapylocheles michaeljacksoni” in honor of the singer. In July, the Lunar Republic Society, which promotes exploration on the Moon, named a crater “Michael Jackson.”
In May 2010, two U.S. librarians discovered that Jackson”s influence extended to university studies, with references to him in studies covering music, popular culture, chemistry, medicine, law, psychology, and engineering.
On December 19, 2014, the British Council of Cultural Relations called Jackson”s life “one of the 80 most important cultural moments of the 20th century.”
Throughout his career, Michael Jackson was influenced by several great artists, including Little Richard, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Bob Fosse, Charlie Chaplin, Smokey Robinson, Judi Garland, Vincente Minnelli, and Stevie Wonder.
As stated many times, however, his greatest inspiration and undisputed idol was the Godfather of Soul James Brown (who, in turn, considered Michael his heir). In 2003, during the BET Awards ceremony, Jackson had the opportunity to give Brown the prestigious BET Lifetime Archievement Award, a special recognition for personalities who have changed the way people think about music, talking about his idol:
Michael Jackson had absolute pitch. He could sing bass, baritone, and tenor, but he wanted to sing tenor; he could go down to low C with a vibrato, and then he would go up to G above high C. His range was at least three and a half octaves. Jackson was also a beatboxer, as demonstrated in several tracks on the albums Dangerous, HIStory, Blood on the Dance Floor, Invincible and Michael, during some interviews (including those with Oprah Winfrey in 1993, where he performed the beatboxes of the song Who Is It, and Diane Saywer in 1995, where he performed those of Tabloid Junkie) and in live performances with Billie Jean of the HIStory World Tour.
Another thing that made Michael Jackson famous was his own dance style, which has spawned thousands of imitators, parodies and flash mobs. Some steps invented by Jackson date back to the early seventies, when he was still performing with the Jackson 5, and later perfected, such as the robot dance invented at the age of 15 years, in 1974, for the song Dancing Machine. Some moves, which he later improved, were taught to him by James Brown. At the beginning of the eighties, he perfected a technique that allowed him to perform fast pirouettes on his heels by using the centrifugal force of his arms, with which he was able to perform three to eight pirouettes. This dance step was used in numerous live performances, especially during the performances of Billie Jean, Smooth Criminal, Man in the Mirror, Dirty Diana and Scream.
In 1983, on the occasion of the performance at the television program Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever, he launched his iconic step on the tips of the toes that later became his logo (the toe stand), and the dance step that would make him famous worldwide: the moonwalk presented on the notes of Billie Jean. Many consider the artist as the inventor of the move, even if, as Jackson himself said, it is inspired by a technique used by black street boys in the ghettos; it was also brought on stage in the thirties by Cab Calloway. Over the years he perfected the moonwalk more and more, until he improved it on his tours. The last time Jackson performed this step was in 2001, during the two concerts of the Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Special.
Also in 1983 he choreographed Thriller, making famous the step that imitates the movement of zombies. He then invented the Sidewalk, which is a side step based on the same principle of the moonwalk reworked. Jackson will perform the sidewalk together with the moonwalk in several of his choreographies already in the Victory Tour of 1984, where he also presented a fusion between the two, creating a circular movement based on the same moonwalk.
In 1988 he gave another proof of his skills as a choreographer and dancer with the Antigravity Lean, the anti-gravity movement of the video of Smooth Criminal, in which the singer leaned forward 45 degrees. In the video he used ropes, while to do the whole thing in live performances he used modified shoes, of which he held the patent, which allowed a hook that came out from under the stage to hook the heel of his moccasins. As for the moonwalk, Jackson was not the inventor of the step, which is in fact possible to see in a film by Buster Keaton in 1927 entitled Yours forever, and in the film The Wizard of Oz in 1939, but it was he who improved it and made it famous.
** (only the most popular media are reported, leaving out the less popular ones such as Laserdisc and VCD)
(*) In the episode in question (Pa-pazzo da legare) Jackson does not appear, but in the original version he plays Leon Kompowsky, who introduces himself to Homer Simpson with the name of the famous artist, revealing only at the end his true identity. In the credits he is credited under the pseudonym John Jay Smith.
In the Italian versions of his films, Michael Jackson was voiced by:
As a voice actor he is replaced by:
A partial list of the artist”s most famous and iconic television performances as a solo artist. A more detailed list can be found in the Michael Jackson Videography entry.
Michael Jackson inspired tours
A number of video games inspired by Michael Jackson have been produced, the first three in particular being based on the movie Moonwalker:
Jackson also makes a cameo near the end of the game Space Channel 5 (1999) as Space Michael and appears as an unlockable protagonist in its sequel Space Channel 5: Part 2 (2002). In addition to lending his voice to the character, he also wrote a song with his own beatboxes danceable in the game.
In 2000 he appeared as an unlockable character in Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2. Jackson, as revealed by Emmanuel Valdez, one of the game”s developers, worked assiduously with the developers to render his virtual counterpart, even lending the moves to the character thanks to the motion capture technique.
In 1993 Jackson appeared as the protagonist in a rare film for a SEGA flight simulator called Advanced Star Fighter Training that was supposed to be released the same year for the Sega Mega Drive console but was eventually cancelled upon the arrival of the first allegations.
According to conflicting sources, Jackson composed part of the soundtrack of the Sonic the Hedgehog 3 game for Mega Drive; many of the tracks in the game are in fact similar to some of his songs: the one in the IceCap Zone level is very similar to Smooth Criminal and Who Is It, the one in Carnival Night Zone to Jam, and the final track to Stranger in Moscow. His name, however, does not appear in the credits. Roger Hector, director of SEGA”s development division, stated that Jackson did indeed compose part of the soundtrack, but the company decided to cancel the project in progress due to accusations of pedophilia received by the artist at the time. The keyboardist Brad Buxer, who collaborated with Jackson to write the music for the game, said instead that it was Jackson himself who asked not to be included in the credits, because he was dissatisfied with the sound produced by the console: “At the time, console games did not allow for optimal sound reproduction, and Michael found this frustrating. He didn”t want to be associated with a product that devalued his music.”
Jackson has won a total of over 800 awards, making him the most awarded artist in music history.
Awards received include 13 Grammy Awards out of 38 nominations, plus the Grammy Legend Award and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, for a total of 15; 16 World Music Awards, including the Chopard Diamond Award (for selling over 100 million copies with his albums), the Legend Award, the Best Selling Male Artist of the Millennium Award and the Best Selling Artist Ever; and 26 American Music Awards, including the Artist of the Century Award and the Artist of the 1980s Award. Jackson also holds 40 Guinness World Records including the first and only Lifetime Achievement Award for his “unprecedented world records in entertainment” and the records for “First entertainer to sell more than 100 million albums outside the United States” and “Most successful entertainer of all time”. His name is also included in the Young Hollywood Hall of Fame, both individually and as a member of the Jackson 5.
Other books authorized by the artist