|Music genre(s)||Pop music, disco, soul music|
Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009) was an American R&B and pop singer, songwriter, entertainer, and actor. One of the most successful musical performers of the rock era, Jackson's 1982 album Thriller is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the highest selling album of all time. He began his career serving as lead singer of the group The Jackson 5 (later The Jacksons) with his elder brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, and Marlon, and later his younger brother Randy. From their debut, Michael was recognized as the standout performer in the ensemble, and he was the first Jackson to enjoy a successful solo career while still a member of the group, releasing gold-selling albums and three popular singles; 'Got to Be There' (1971), 'Ben' (1972), and 'Rockin' Robin' (1972). After a fallout with Motown Records and a change to CBS in 1975, Jackson was given the creative freedom to write for the group, eg. 'Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)', and moved further into a solo career, making his motion picture debut as as the Scarecrow in The Wiz (1978). His album Off the Wall (1979) marked the start of his most successful period, including the singles 'Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough' and 'Rock With You'. With disco on the wane, Jackson recorded Thriller, a harder edged mainstream album compared with his previous releases, and the move payed dividends with ground-breaking exposure on MTV, a slew of hit singles and one of the biggest selling albums of all-time.
On 24 January 1984, Jackson's life changed forever when, during a film shoot for a Pepsi commercial at Los Angeles' Shrine Auditorium, his hair ignited due to a premature pyrotechnic explosion during the sixth take. Jackson suffered second and third degree burns to his face and scalp, which required plastic surgery, and left him relying on wearing wigs to cover his scalp and cosmetic tattoos and makeup to hide his scars. It also left him with a dependence on sedatives and pain killers, which he never fully overcame. Jackson's former security guards told law officials in July 2009, that Jackson consumed as many as forty Xanax pills a day.
In 1985, Jackson purchased ATV Music Publishing from Australian entrepreneur Robert Holmes à Court, which gave him control of over 4000 song titles, including those by the Beatles (Northern Songs catalogue). Paul McCartney had originally considered a joint bid for the songs with Yoko Ono, but this deal fell through when they could not agree on a price. Jackson's purchase had created a rift with McCartney, who he had previously duetted with on a number of recordings. This was further exacerbated in 1987 by Jackson allowing Nike to use the song 'Revolution' in their footwear commercials, which resulted in McCartney, George Harrison and Apple Records suing EMI-Capitol and Nike over the use of the song. In 1989, McCartney had asked Jackson to increase his share of the writer royalties, to which Jackson refused. The music publishing purchase by Jackson would prove to be a shrewd deal and over time turned out to be the entertainer's soundest investment.
During the 1990s, Jackson's career stalled further following a series of allegations of child molestation claims made against him. In 1993, Jackson was accused of sexual abuse by Evan Chandler, father of his then-13-year-old child, Jordan Chandler. Jackson became the subject of intense media scrutiny, resulting in Jackson becoming reclusive, and cancelling his Dangerous world tour. Before the allegations could be legally tested however, on 1 January 1994, Jackson's insurance company settled the civil suit out of court with the Chandler family and its legal team for US$22 million. It seriously damaged his standing with the public, and his music sales subsequently declined. A major source of income, PepsiCo, ceased all promotional activities with Jackson, ending their ten-year commercial partnership. Jackson was also the subject of discrete FBI investigations, which were only made public following his death under FOIA, involving seven sexual misconduct complaints dating back to the early 1990s. Further controversy ensued with the release of the single 'They Don't Care About Us' in 1995, with the lyrics: 'Jew me, sue me, everybody do me / Kick me, kike me, don't you black or white me', Jackson was accused of anti-semitism. By the late 1990s, Jackson had become despondent with his career and began dabbling increasingly in spirituality, learning about Kabbalism and confiding with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. During thirty hours of recorded interviews with Rabbi Boteach, Jackson revealed that he admired Adolf Hitler's showmanship and described him as a genius, and that had he met Hitler in-person, he could 'heal him'. The collected interviews were later published in 2009, under the title The Michael Jackson Tapes: A Tragic Icon Reveals His Soul in Intimate Conversation. In 2003, the allegations of anti-semitism surfaced again with an answerphone message left by Jackson to advisor Dieter Wiesner, in which he referred to Jews as 'leeches'.
Jackson released the album Invincible in 2001, which reportedly cost US$30 million dollars to produce however it faired poorly sales wise. In a bid to revive his public profile, Jackson agreed to a do a special interview for Granada Television with journalist Martin Bashir in early 2003, entitled Living with Michael Jackson. The interview however turned into a public relations disaster with Jackson admitting he composed songs by writing the lyrics, but not the music as it 'wrote itself', and that there was nothing wrong with sleeping in the same bed with young boys, as it was what 'the whole world should do'. In 2005, cancer survivor Gavin Arvizo, who was 13 years old at the time of alleged sex crimes, filed complaints with the Los Angeles police and Jackson was indicted for four counts of molesting a minor, four counts of intoxicating a minor, one count of abduction, and one count of conspiring to hold the boy and his family captive at his 2,700-acre Neverland Ranch. On 13 June 2005, Jackson was found not guilty by jury verdict.
While preparing for his comeback concert series in London titled This Is It, Jackson died suddenly on 25 June 2009, the cause cardiac arrest due to an overdose of benzodiazepines and the intravenous surgical sedative propofol. His personal doctor, Conrad Murray, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in November 2011. His lawyers appealed but failed. Murray maintains Jackson had self-administered the fatal dose of propofol without his knowledge. He was sentenced to the maximum four years, and released on 28 October 2013 with time already served. On 3 October 2013, a twelve-person jury panel rejected a US$1.6 billion lawsuit by the Jackson family against promoters AEG Live over the death of Jackson.
In June 2013, choreographer and former child dancer Wade Robson claimed he was sexually assaulted by Jackson for a number of years, and announced he intended suing the Jackson estate. A trial date was set for 2 June 2014 in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Music producer Quincy Jones filed a US$10 million lawsuit against the Michael Jackson estate on 25 October 2013, over unpaid production royalties for the Off the Wall, Thriller, and Bad albums. On 9 May 2014, former child actor James Safechuck filed suit against the Jackson estate claiming between the ages of 10 and 15, he was molested at the singer's Neverland Ranch. Safechuck had appeared with Jackson in two Pepsi commercials during 1988.
Michael Jackson is buried at the Holly Terrace in the Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn cemetery, Los Angeles. Commenting on his brother, Tito Jackson proclaimed Michael 'bigger than the Beatles'.
Personal life and family
Liberace's former partner Scott Thorson told The National Enquirer in April 2004 that Michael Jackson and himself had casual sex in 1979, in the home of female impersonator Danny La Rue, and later pursued a six-year affair into the 1980s. Jackson's lawyers denied Thorson's claim. Jackson married the daughter of Elvis Presley, Lisa Marie Presley, in May 1994 in a private ceremony, but divorced two years later on 18 January 1996. Both Presley and Jackson had exchanged love letters, with Jackson using the epithet 'Turd'. Although both had much in common at the start of their relationship, their marriage ended with disputes over raising children, and the child sex allegations. On 14 November 1994, Jackson married dermatology assistant Debbie Rowe, who unlike Presley, remained out of public view. Rowe gave birth to Prince Michael Jackson on 13 February 1997, and Paris Michael Katherine Jackson on 3 April 1998, allegedly through artificial insemination. Rowe however became increasingly unhappy with her arrangement with Jackson and divorced on 8 October 1999. Jackson's youngest son Prince Michael II (nicknamed by the media as 'Blanket'), was born to an unknown mother in February 2002. Jackson attracted criticism in November 2002, when he dangled Prince Michael II out of a fourth-floor balcony of a hotel room in Berlin, Germany, shocking the crowd in the street below.
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