Michael Jackson (born 29.8.1958)
The seventh child of the Jackson family, Michael Jackson begun his career aged 11, as a member of the family pop group, Jackson 5. He later went on to become one of the most successful solo performers of all time. Both his career and turbulent personal life have been a dominant part of pop culture since the 1970s. Guiness World Records have cited him as the "Most Successful Entertainer of All Time" and his album Thriller holds the record for the best-selling album ever. In 1984, Michael Jackson won 8 Grammy Awards in a single night and he has charted 13 number one singles in the Billboard Hot 100.
Michael Jackson's changing appearance and controversial behaviour, however, have affected his album sales, which have declined since the 1990s.
Michael Jackson's Childhood
In 1964, Michael Jackson joined his brothers, playing congas for their group. He later became their background singer and occasional dancer before eventually climbing to the position of lead singer when he was eight years old.
The band toured Indiana and won a local talent show, which then led to them playing a string of professional gigs, many of which were in black clubs known as the 'chitlin' circuit.'
They signed a contract with Motown Records and their first four singles ('I Want You Back', 'ABC', 'The Love You Save' and 'I'll Be There') shot them to stardom. Jackson released four solo studio albums on Motown whilst still a member of the group.
Following a name-change to The Jacksons, due to legal wranglings with Motown, Michael was the lead songwriter from 1976 to 1984 and during this time, he made acquaintance with Quincy Jones, who agreed to produce Jackson's first solo album in four years
Michael Jackson's solo albums: Off The Wall - Invincible
Off the Wall (1979)
This album made music history by being the first ever to contain four top ten hits. Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney both have writing credits on the album. The album eventually sold over 20 million copies worldwide.
Thriller is the best selling album of all time and sent Jackson's fame global. It also became the first album in history to contain seven top-ten hits on the Billboard Hot 100. The video for 'Billie Jean' was the first video by a black artist to receive regular MTV airplay, whilst the 13-minute video for 'Thriller' was revolutionary for its time and became the best-selling music home video ever, when it was packaged with the featurette Making Michael Jackson. Whilst performing 'Billie Jean' in 1983, he debuted his signature dance move, the 'Moonwalk.'
Bad received over two million advance orders before it was released and was his final album to be produced by Quincy Jones, who forced him to cut the 30-strong collection of Michael Jackson songs down to 11. The album generated more Billboard number 1 hits than any other album ever released. His accompanying tour had record-breaking attendance figures, playing 123 concerts to over 4.4 million fans. The level of fame that he now enjoyed drew parallels to The Beatles and Elvis Presley.
The anticipation of Dangerous was marked by the theft of 30,000 copies of the album being stolen at Los Angeles International Airport before it was officially released. The biggest hit from the album was 'Black or White', which was accompanied by a controversial video, which featured several scenes which were construed as having a sexual and violent nature. The 14 minute video was edited to remove the offending scenes. The video was premiered in 27 countries simultaneously and had the largest ever viewing figures for a music video (around 500 million)
HIStory received four Grammy nomination and won one Grammy. It sold over 18 million copies worldwide, which earned it the title of the biggest selling multiple disc album of all time by a solo artist. More than four and a half million people attended the accompanying promotional tour. The first disc was a greatest hits package, whilst the second contained fifteen new numbers. At the Brit Awards, Michael Jackson was awarded the title Artist of a Generation, but his performance at the ceremony was interrupted by Jarvis Cocker, singer of the band Pulp, who leapt onstage and made rude gestures. Cocker was arrested on suspicion of assault but released without charge.
Debuting at number one in 13 countries, Invincible went on to sell nearly eight million copies worldwide. Shortly before the album's release, Michael Jackson told Tommy Mottola, the head of Sony Music Entertainment, that he would not be renewing his contract with them. All subsequent single releases, video shoots and promotions for the album were then cancelled. This led to Jackson tagging Mottola as a 'devil' who did not support African American Artists, and used black artists for his own personal gain. His increasingly eccentric image and the lack of promotion for the album conspired to make this album less successful than his previous releases.
In September 2001, Usher, Whitney Houston, 'N Sync, the Jacksons and Slash performed at Jackson's 30th Anniversary celebration at Madison Square Gardens.
Michael Jackson's Private Life
Jackson's father, Walter was a strict disciplinarian and many of the Jackson family have stated that they were spanked and whipped by their father for misbehaving.
In 1994, Michael Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of Elvis Presley. They divorced less than two years later, amid rumours that their marriage was a sham and had not been consummated.
Michael Jackson then went on to marry his dermatologist's nurse, Deborah Jeanne Rowe, with whom he had a son, Michael Joseph Jackson Jr. (also known as Prince) and a daughter, named Paris Katherine Jackson. The couple divorced in 1999. Jackson's third child, Prince Michael Jackson II (also known as Blanket) was born in 2002.
Michael Jackson attracted a media frenzy when he was pictured holding his baby outside a hotel window, with a cloth draped over the child's head. He was accused of being an irresponsible father, to which he responded "I love my children.I was holding my son tight."
Jackson's physical appearance has also garnered much press attention over the years. Throughout his youth, his skin was a medium-brown colour but in 1982, his skin started to become gradually paler. Some elements of the media claim that he was bleaching his skin, though he dismissed these claims on The Oprah Winfrey Show, stating that he had the disease vitiligo. The physical structure of his face also changed amid speculations that he has undergone several cosmetic procedures.
Child molestation charges were brought against Michael Jackson when he was reported to be allowing children to sleep over at his Neverland ranch. In 1993, Jordan Chandler, represented by a civil lawyer accused Jackson of child sexual abuse. The case was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum, rumoured to be US$20 million. The family then dropped the charges against Jackson.
Later in 2003, Jackson was charged with seven counts of child molestation and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent, all regarding one boy, named Gavin Arvizo, who was under 14 at the time of the incidents. Jackson was acquitted on all counts.
Michael Jackson's Finances
In 1985, Michael Jackson purchased ATV Music Publishing, which owns the publishing rights to The Beatles' songs, among others. In 1995, Sony Music Publishing merged with Jackson to create Sony-ATV. Jackson's 50% share is rumoured to be worth US$500 million. He also owns all of his own publishing, called MiJac which contains all of his own music catalogue and that of Sly & The Family Stone.
In 2006, state labor officials from California closed Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch. He was fined US$ 69,000 for failing to provide employment insurance. He is also liable for up to 10 days pay for the 69 employees who are now no longer allowed to report to Neverland for work. Thirty Neverland employees have sued Michael Jackson for unpaid wages, totaling $US 306,000
Also in 2006, a federal judge allowed a $48 million claim against Jackson for unpaid fees and breach of contract, relating the refinancing of Jackson's debts and claiming a larger stake in the library of Beatles songs.
Michael Jackson's Death
On 25th June 2009, it was announced that Michael Jackson had died of a cardiac arrest. He had been at his rented home in Los Angeles when he stopped breathing. His personal physician was with him and attempted to resuscitate him but to no avail. He was pronounced dead at around 2:25 pm local time.
The incident happened less than a month before Michael Jackson was set to undertake a mammoth 50-date residency at the O2 arena in London.
A memorial was held for Michael Jackson on 7th July 2009 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Amongst the performers were Mariah Carey, John Mayer, Jennifer Hudson, Usher, Stevie Wonder and Lionel Ritchie.
The Trial of Conrad Murray
Michael Jackson's physician, Dr. Conrad Murray was charged with involuntary manslaughter in February 2010. The trial began at the end of September 2011 and one of the key pieces of evidence used against Dr. Murray was that he instructed Jackson's bodyguards to hide evidence of his medical drug intake before he instructed them to call the emergency services.
The guilty verdict arrived on 7th November 2011. Murray was later sentenced to four years' imprisonment, though it is unlikely that he shall serve the full term, due to over-crowding in the prisons.
LaToyah Jackson, Michael's sister, revealed her delight at the verdict, via her Twitter page.