Michael Joseph Jackson – Born from 29th Aug 1958 to 25th Jun 2009 – Love him or hate him, Michael Jackson or MJ as he was affectionately known was the indisputable King of Pop and was one of the greatest, if not the greatest singer, dancer and entertainer the world has ever known.
Born as Michael Joseph Jackson in Gary, Indiana, The world first got a glimpse of this superstar when MJ appeared on TV with his siblings, then known as The Jackson Five in 1968.
Although still a member of The Jackson five, he launched his solo career in 1971. His popularity as a great singer and dancer kept on spreading until in his 1982 album, Thriller became the world’s best selling album of all time.
Actually, the Thriller was only a precursor to 4 more of his chart busting albums – Off the Wall in 1979, Bad in 1987, Dangerous in 1991 and of course, HIStory in1995.
In the early 1980s, Michael went on to become the first African American entertainer to amass a legion of strong crossover fans following on MTV. The popularity of his music videos, such as Beat It, Billie Jean and Thriller transformed the music video from a promotional tool into a a truly professional art form.
In his heydays, Michael Jackson donated and raised millions of dollars for beneficial and charitable causes through his foundations.
A sad chapter of his life was when he was accused of child sexual abuse in 1993. However, the criminal charges against the singer were dropped due to lack of evidence. Then in 2005, MJ was tried and acquitted of further sexual abuse allegations and several other charges. His life was a miserable shamble then.
Michael Jackson was said to have a very unhappy childhood. Jackson recounted several times that he was physically and emotionally abused by his father from a very young age and was forced to do incessant rehearsals, had whippings and name calling. But he also credited his father’s strict discipline as playing a large part in his success as a top notched singer, performer and entertainer.
Michael Jackson first spoke openly about his childhood abuse in a 1993 interview with Oprah Winfrey. He said that during his childhood he often cried from loneliness and would sometimes start to throw up upon seeing his father.
In another high interview, the singer covered his face with his hand and began crying when talking about his childhood abuse. Jackson recalled that his father, Joseph Jackson sat on a chair with a belt in his hand as he and his siblings rehearsed and that “if you didn’t do it the right way, he would tear you up, really get at you”.
The entertainer’s biggest moment was during the period of Thriller when his lawyer John Branca negotiated what he proudly announced then as the highest royalty rate ever in the music industry, approximately per album. Meanwhile, MJ raked in more profits from The Making of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, a documentary by himself and John Landis which sold over more than 300,000 copies at that time.
March 25, 1983, gave birth to the Moonwalk dance routine. He debuted this new dance form in live on the Motown 25’s Yesterday, Today, Forever television special, both with The Jackson 5 and on his own singing “Billie Jean”. His Moon Walk during the event were seen by more than 47 million viewers during its initial airing and drew comparisons to Elvis Presley’s and the The Beatles’ appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show.
MJ’s compassionate golden heart was seen when he co-wrote the charity single “We Are the World” with Lionel Richie, which was released worldwide to help the poor in Africa and the US. Jackson was also one of 39 music celebrities and singers who performed on the record. The single became one of the best-selling singles of all time, with 20 million copies sold and millions of dollars donated to famine relief.
Another celebrity Jackson worked closely with was Paul McCartney and together, the duo had two hit singles “The Girl Is Mine” and “Say Say Say”. But unfortunately, this partnership fell through after some business disagreements.
In 1986, the media ran a story claiming that Jackson slept in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber to slow down the aging process. However, the report was not true as it was later known that Michael had disseminated the fabricated story himself. He was promoting his upcoming film Captain EO and wanted to promote a science fiction image of himself.
In 1988, some two years after he was diagnosed with vitiligo, Jackson bought and befriended a pet chimpanzee called Bubbles, an act which extended his eccentric persona. In 2003, the singer claimed that Bubbles shared his toilet and cleaned his bedroom. Then it was reported that Jackson bought the bones of The Elephant Man.
Again these were stories that Jackson disseminated to the media. These incredible stories inspired the nickname “Wacko Jacko” although Michael would eventually despise the nickname. Realizing his mistake, he stopped leaking untruths to the press. However due to the profits raking in from these sensational stories, the media and the began making up their own stories.
Michael was born with medium-brown skin, but from early 1980s, his skin gradually grew paler. This change gained widespread media coverage, including rumors that Jackson was bleaching his skin.
Then in the mid 1980s, Jackson was diagnosed with vitiligo and lupus, the latter was in remission in Jackson’s case, and both illnesses made him sensitive to sunlight. The treatments he used for his condition further lightened his skin color and with the application of pancake makeup to even out blotches, he could appear very pale.
The structure of his face changed as well with many surgeons speculating that Jackson had undergone multiple nose surgeries, a forehead lift, thinned lips and a cheekbone surgeries. Some of his colleagues also reported that Jackson was often dizzy and speculated that he was suffering from anorexia nervosa.
In 1992, MJ founded the “Heal the World Foundation”. The charity organization brought underprivileged children to Jackson’s ranch, to go on theme park rides that Jackson had built on the property after he purchased it. The foundation also sent millions of dollars around the globe to help children threatened by war and disease. The Dangerous World Tour began on June 27, 1992, and finished on November 11, 1993.
The entertainer with the compassionate heart performed to 3.5 million people in 67 concerts. All profits from the concerts went to the “Heal the World Foundation”, raising millions of dollars in relief.
In a high-profile visit to several African countries, his first stop to Gabon was greeted with a reception of more than 100,000 people in “spiritual bedlam”, some of them carrying signs that read, “Welcome Home Michael”.
In the Ivory Coast, Michael was crowned “King Sani” by a tribal chief. He then thanked the dignitaries in French and English, signed official documents formalizing his kingship and sat on a golden throne while presiding over ceremonial dances.
One of MJ’s most acclaimed performances came during the halftime show at Super Bowl XXVII. As the performances began, Jackson was catapulted onto the stage as fireworks went off behind him. As he landed on the canvass, he maintained a motionless “clenched fist, standing statue stance”, dressed in a gold and black military outfit and sunglasses, he remained completely motionless for several minutes while the crowd cheered.
The entertainer then slowly removed his sunglasses, threw them away and began to sing and dance. His routine included four songs – Jam, Billie Jean, Black or White and Heal the World. It was the first Super Bowl where the audience figures increased during the half-time show, and was viewed by 135 million Americans alone.
In May 1994, Jackson married singer-songwriter Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of the other “King”, Elvis Presley. They had first met in 1975 during one of Jackson’s family engagements at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, and were reconnected through a mutual friend in early 1993.
As child molestation accusations became public, Jackson became dependent on Lisa Marie for emotional support. She was concerned about his faltering health and addiction to drugs. Lisa Marie explained, “I believed he didn’t do anything wrong and that he was wrongly accused and yes I started falling for him. I wanted to save him. I felt that I could do it.”
Jackson finally proposed to Lisa over the phone towards the late part of 1993, “If I asked you to marry me, would you do it?” Lisa Marie Presley and Jackson were subsequently married in the Dominican Republic in secrecy. At the time, the tabloid media speculated that the wedding was a ploy to prop up Jackson’s public image in light of prior sexual abuse allegations.
Their marriage felled through when Jackson and Lisa divorced less than two years later. However, they remained as good friends.
Michael then kept a low profile in most of 1990s and pleasantly surprised the world with the released of Invincible in October 2001. To promote the new album, a special 30th Anniversary celebration at Madison Square Garden occurred in September 2001 to mark the Jackson’s 30th year as a solo artist.
Michael appeared onstage alongside his siblings for the first time since 1984. The mega celebration also featured performances by Mya, Usher, Whitney Houston, ‘N Sync, and Slash, alongside other celebrities.
In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Michael helped organize the United We Stand: What More Can I Give benefit concert at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. The concert was aired on October 21st October 2001, and included performances from dozens of celebrity entertainers, including Michael himself who performed his song “What More Can I Give” as the finale.
Jackson’s third child, Prince Michael Jackson II (also known as Blanket) was born in 2002. The mother’s identity was never known because he said the child was the result of artificial insemination from a surrogate mother and his own sperm cells.
In November 2002, Jackson brought his newborn son onto the balcony of his hotel room in Berlin, as fans stood below. Holding him in his right arm, Jackson briefly extended the baby over the railing of the balcony, four stories above ground level, causing widespread panic and criticism in the media. Michael later regretted and apologized for the incident, calling it “a terrible mistake”.
Then in a 2003 Granada Television documentary “Living with Michael Jackson”, he was seen holding hands and discussing sleeping arrangements with a boy named Gavin Arvizo, who would later accuse him of child sexual abuse.
MJ denied the sexual abuse allegations vigorously, saying that the sleep overs were in no way sexual in nature. His good friend, celebrity Elizabeth Taylor defended him on Larry King Live, saying that she had been there when they were in the bed, watching television and reiterated that there was nothing wrong about watching TV together.
During the investigation, Jackson’s profile was examined by mental health professional Dr. Stan Katz. Dr. Katz spent several hours with the accuser too. The assessment made by Katz was that Jackson had become a regressed 10-year-old and did not fit the profile of a pedophile.
The trial came two years after Jackson was first charged. During this period, Michael became dependent on morphine and Demerol, a dependency which he subsequently overcame. He also suffered from stress-related illnesses and severe weight loss that would alter his appearance. The intensely watched trial lasted five months and MJ was finally acquitted in May 2005.
Michael was supposed to make a spectacular comeback and had been scheduled to perform 50 sold-out concerts to over a million people at 02 Arena in London from July 13 to March 6, 2010. During a publicity press conference, he had made suggestions of possible retirement after the concert series.
However, on June 25th 2009, Michael Jackson collapsed at his rented mansion at North Carolwood Drive in the Holmby Hills area of Los Angeles. Pending confirmation from toxicology reports, he was allegedly administered Demerol shortly before he stopped breathing. Attempts at resuscitating him by his personal doctors were unsuccessful.
The King Of Pop, Michael Jackson was pronounced dead at approximately 2:25 p.m. local time. Rumors and news of Jackson’s death broke internet web records triggering a cyberspace traffic jam giving Google, Twitter, Facebook and Yahoo their highest traffic on record.