BIRTHDAY: August 29, 1958
RECORD LABEL: Sony Music
BIGGEST SINGLE: "Billie Jean" (1983)
BIGGEST LP: Thriller (1982)
CONTACT: Michael Jackson, PO Box 9, Los Olivas, CA 93441
If you want to know about those things... read my book. It's in my book. ~ Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson was born in Indiana on August 29, 1958 the seventh of nine children. The FAN-proclaimed "King of Pop" grew up in one of the most popular singing groups in the 70s, became a legendary solo performer in the 80s, and metamorphosized into one of the most controversial and freakish figures of the 90s. Although controversy and rumors persist about Jackson "the man," Jackson "the artist" can be considered no less than a legend in the entertainment field and a genius of musical creativity. For good or bad, few musical artists can claim the achievements Jackson has attained: 16 #1 pop hits (with a total of 37 weeks at #1) and 29 Top 10 pop hits.
At age 5, Jackson was the lead singer of his brother's group, The Jackson 5 . The group became huge in 1970 on the Motown label with several #1 hits on pop and R&B radio. In the early 70s, Jackson also found solo success with his songs "Got To Be There," "Rockin' Robin," and his first solo #1 hit, "Ben" from the LPs, Got To Be There and Ben released in 1972, and Music And Me released in 1973. In 1972, Jackson won 2 Billboard Awards for Singles Artist of the Year and Male Singles Artist of the Year and a Golden Globe Award for "Ben." Throughout the 70s, Jackson continued to sing with his brother as The Jacksons and released Best Of Michael Jackson and another solo LP in 1975, Forever Michael. In 1978, Jackson took a turn at acting when he played the scarecrow in the movie musical The Wiz.
Jackson's solo success began to explode with the release of Off The Wall. Jackson became one of the few artists (at that time) to have 4 Top 10 singles from the same LP. The LP included 2 #1 hits, "Rock With You" and "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough" as well as 2 more Top 10 hits: "Off The Wall" and "She's Out Of My Life." Off The Wall eventually sold over 7 million copies in the U.S. and was Jackson's first major collaboration with Quincy Jones.
Jackson won 3 American Music Awards (Favorite Soul LP for Off The Wall, Favorite Male Soul Artists, and Favorite Soul Single for "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough"), 2 Billboard Awards (Top Black Artist and Top Black Album), and a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance for "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough."
The Best Of Michael Jackson was released containing mostly hits from the early and mid-70s. The same year Jackson won 2 more American Music Awards for Favorite Male Vocalist Soul/R&B and Favorite Album Soul/R&B for Off The Wall.
Jackson released his landmark LP Thriller. The LP became legendary and spawned a record 7 Top 10 hits, including the #1 hits "Billie Jean," "Beat It," and "Thriller."
Thriller spent the majority of 1983 at the top of the LP charts and into 1984 (a total of 37 weeks at #1). Thriller sold over 50 million copies worldwide (25 million in the U.S.) and is the best-selling LP worldwide in history. Thriller also revolutionized the concept of the music video. Jackson was the first major black artist to appear regularly on MTV, and pop/r&b music was now beginning to replace MTV's devotion to heavy metal bands. Jackson's videos were also presented as mini-movies with dazzling and daring contents. Jackson's awards for Thriller began in 1983. He won 13 Billboard Awards, 5 Billboard Video Awards, and was named Rolling Stone magazine's #1 Artists of the Year (Reader's Poll). Also in 1983, Jackson teamed up with Paul McCartney for the #1 hit, "Say Say Say."
The awards for Thriller continued with 8 American Music Awards including a Special Award of Merit. Jackson was also nominated for 12 Grammy Awards and walked home with 8: Album of the Year, Producer of the Year, Record of the Year for "Beat It," Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for "Beat It," Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for "Billie Jean," Best R&B Song for "Billie Jean," Best Male Pop Performance, and Best Recording For Children for E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (which Jackson had narrated). Jackson's video achievements were honored at the MTV Video Music Awards with 3 awards (Best Overall Video, Viewer's Choice Award, and Best Choreography for "Thriller"). Older songs by Jackson were released in 1984 as Farewell My Summer Love.
Jackson won an additional Grammy Award for the video, The Making Of Thriller.
The awards continued for his songwriting contribution on the #1 humanitarian song, "We Are The World." The song won Song of the Year and an Award of Appreciation at the American Music Awards and was named Record and Song of the Year at the Grammy Awards. Throughout both successful solo LP ventures, Jackson continued to tour with his brothers.
When Bad was released in August, Michael toured alone worldwide. The LP gave Michael 5 more #1 hits including "Dirty Diana," "I Just Can't Stop Loving You," and "Man In The Mirror." The LP sold over 8 million copies in the U.S. and was followed with a world tour.
Jackson released his autobiography, Moonwalk, and walked away with an American Music Award for Favorite Single Soul/R&B and 3 Billboard Music Awards. Jackson's video career was also recognized at the MTV Video Music Awards with the MTV Vanguard Award (the Vanguard Award was renamed the "Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award" 3 years later).
In November, Jackson released Dangerous. Hits such as "In The Closet" (with spoken vocals by Princess Stephanie of Monaco), "Black and White," and "Remember The Time" topped the charts as the LP went on to sell over 6 million copies in the U.S. Controversy hit Jackson with the release of the video for "Black and White." The video showed Jackson grabbing his crotch and violently smashing windows with racial slurs, which to many viewers was unnecessary for a performer with so many adolescent fans. Controversy was also continuing about Jackson's gradual "whitening" which was later "explained" by Jackson as a rare skin disorder. A condition called Vitiligo.
Jackson launched his second worldtour in 1992 and continued into 1993.
Also, by 1993, Jackson's personality had already been a tabloid's dream. Rumours of Jackson wanting to buy the Elephant Man's bones and Jackson sleeping in an oxygen chamber were common, and Jackson's kinship with a monkey and his fantasy-theme-park-like home did not help Jackson's image. Even the promotional techniques used for the release of Dangerous were considered self-congratulatory and over -the-top. But in 1993, Jackson was accused of child sexual molestation by a 13 year old boy and the media focused directly on it. It was a nightmare for the performer and in January, 1995, Jackson settled out of court for approximately $20 million. Instead of clearing the air of the accusations, many feel that the settlement was an admission of guilt. Michael has always maitained his innocence, the settlement was in the best interest of all concerned. Awards in 1993 included, American Music Awards for Best Pop/Rock Album for Dangerous and Best Soul/R&B Single for "Remember The Time," and a Grammy Award recognition with the Living Legend Award.
Rolling Stone: "The 100 Top Music Videos" includes "Leave Me Alone" at # 8, "Beat It" at # 12, "Thriller" at # 16, "Billie Jean" at # 27, and "Black Or White" at # 52
In some people's minds, to diminish rumors of Jackson's sexual identity or taste, Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley on May 26, 1994. The consensus of many outside of his fans felt the marriage was a PR attempt to revitalize Jackson's career. An awkward kiss between the two at the MTV Music Awards and a tame interview with Diane Sawyer on TV would show the couple as loving only with their halting comments, and seldom with their body language. The marriage ended 18 months later. Also in 1994, Jackson started his own record label, MJJ Music and has since signed the acts including Brownstone and 3T.
In June of '95, Jackson released HIStory Past Present & Future, a double LP with one disc of hits. The LP contained the duet with sister Janet Jackson, "Scream" and the #1 hit "You Are Not Alone." Controversy erupted with the single "They Don't Care About Us" which contained lyrics blatantly offensive to Jewish people. Jackson apologized, tried to explain his reasons for the lyrics, failed to appease anyone, and released a re-vamped version of the lyrics on future LP pressings. When the time came to record the video for the song, Jackson chose to mouth the original lyrics. The video for "Scream" won 3 MTV Video Music Awards for Best Dance Video, Choreography, and Art Direction. Also in June, 1995, Jackson sat down with his wife and Diana Sawyer for an live interview. Jackson addressed the child molestation claims by saying: "Never, ever. I could never harm a child, or anyone. It's not in my heart, it's not who I am... and it's not what I'm.. I'm not even interested in that." Jackson also stated: "I have never invited anyone into my bed, ever. Children love me, I love them. They follow me, they want to be with me. But... anybody can come in my bed, a child can come in my bed if they want."
Jackson embarked on what was viewed as another PR attempt, but with concerning long-term consequences: Jackson wanted to be a father. Jackson announced that his friend Deborah Rowe was carrying his child and the two were later married. A baby boy was born to the couple in 1997: Prince Michael Jackson, Jr. The couple insist the "union" was natural and Rowe states that she was not artificially inseminated. Jackson and the baby, however, do not share the same home with the wife/mother. Jackson also won an American Music Award for Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist and a Grammy Award for Best Music Video - Short Form for "Scream."
Rock 'N Roll Hall Of Fame's 500 Songs That Shaped Rock And Roll includes "Beat It" and "Billie Jean"
The 1997 began for Jackson being inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame as part of the Jackson 5. In May, 1997, Jackson released a dance remix LP with some new tunes, Blood On The Dance Floor - History In The Mix. There was not elaborate hype to support the LP's release. It was a re-mix LP Jackson did have success overseas with the single "Blood On The Dance Floor." "Blood On The Dance Floor" was the highest selling re-mix LP in HIStory. In August, a mental patient who escaped from a hospital reported attempted to set fire to a stage where Jackson was to perform in Finland. The man was caught after allegedly pouring gasoline on the stage and as he was ready to light the structure. The concert went on as scheduled after it was determined the man acted alone. In a rare interview, Jackson talked with 20/20's Barbara Walters in September about the recent death of Princess Diana and subsequent controversy over paparazzi. Jackson stated, "I've been running for my life like that..." referring to the recent death of Princess Diana. Jackson cancelled his concert appearance the night of the news, and dedicated his next two concert performances to Princess Diana. Jackson said he heard of Princess Diana's death when "...my doctor gave me the news... and I fell back down in grief ... and I started to cry." Jackson also stated that he had a feeling another death was also coming soon, and he feared it would be him: "I said, 'There's another one... real soon... I feel it coming ... there's another one ... it's another one coming and I pray it's not me... please don't let it be me'" Jackson also stated that he sold his own pictures of his son to tabloids to thwart other's efforts to obtain pictures and to stop others from profiting from fake photos: "There were some illegal pictures out... someone had taken pictures of a baby for millions of dollars and said 'here's Michael's son'... so I took pictures of the baby" (and received over $3 million from various tabloids including the National Enquirer. Most likely, the money was donated to charity). In November, '97, Jackson could be found in the latest issue of Life magazine sporting shots of him and his son, Prince Michael Joseph Jackson, Jr. The magazine also reveals the godparents of Jackson's son: Elizabeth Taylor and Macaulay Culkin. After many rumors, and Jackson himself strongly hinting in a Life magazine photo spread, Jackson's wife confirmed she is indeed pregnant with their second child. Debbie Rowe said the child is expected in May and the baby is a girl. The couple also have a name picked out already: Paris Michael Katherine Jackson. Rowe stated: "I wanted to name her Michael after Michael, but Michael said 'no.' So we decided Paris because that's where she was conceived (quick, was Jackson in Paris recently?), Michael because I really wanted Michael's name in her name, and Katherine after his mom."
Ranked # 40 on VH-1's GREATEST ROCK 'N ROLL ARTISTS POLL (and # 21 on Rock On The Net's Poll)
Jackson found some good news in January relating to a court case that has been plaguing him since 1992. The suit was filed in Italy by a singer claiming Jackson's "Will You Be There" was actually a version of his song, "Swans Of Balaka." Jackson testified in his own defense last year. This January, judges ruled in favor of Jackson. In February, it was reported that Jackson is once again focusing his attention on children. Jackson is planning a benefit concert to be held in October in South Korea with profits going to the children of North Korea. A list of performers is reportedly in the making and plans also have the concert being broadcast in over 120 countries. Also, in February, it was discovered that Jackson, a long-time fan of the animated television show The Simpsons, wrote the hit song "Do The Bartman" for The Simpsons' 1991 CD The Simpsons Sing The Blues. Also in February, it was reported that Jackson may find a legal fight in his future again. Jackson still owns the rights to some Beatles songs and may be talking business with Volkswagen to use some of these songs for an ad campaign. If it happens, look for the 3 remaining Beatles to put up a fight against him. A source from the Apple Records stated: "The 3 of them categorically refuse to let the songs be used for (advertisements) but the trouble with Jackson is he has just ignored them in the past." On April 3rd, Jackson became a father once again. His wife, Debbie Rowe, gave birth to a baby girl, Paris Michael Katherine Jackson in Beverly Hills. A week later, Jackson received more good news when he won a slander suit against a free- lance writer who had told Hard Copy that he had a video of Jackson and a 13 year-old boy having sex. Jackson was awarded $2.7 million and his lawyer said "...jurors told us that they not only wanted to compensate Mr. Jackson... but to send a message that they are tired of tabloids lying about celebrities for money." In November, Jackson won a lawsuit against the U.K.'s Mirror who had ran a pictorial story in '92 representing Jackson as "horribly disfigured" by plastic surgery. Also in November, the details about Jackson's settlement with a young boy's family alleging sexual misconduct were reported by The New York Post to the tune of $18 million.
Best Of Michael Jackson
Off The Wall
US: 7x Platinum
includes: "Rock With You," "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough," "Off The Wall," and "She's Out Of My Life"
US: 25x Platinum
includes: "The Girl Is Mine," "Billie Jean," "Beat It," "Human Nature," "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'," "PYT (Pretty Young Thing)," and "Thriller"
Released: August, 1987
US: 8x Platinum
includes: "I Just Can't Stop Loving You," "Bad," "The Way You Make Me Feel," "Man In The Mirror," "Dirty Diana," and "Smooth Criminal"
Released: November, 1991
US: 6x Platinum
includes: "Black Or White," "Remember The Time," "In The Closet," "Will You Be There," and "Jam"
HIStory Past Present & Future
Released: June, 1995
US: 6x Platinum
includes: "Scream" "Earth Song," "They Don't Care About Us," and "You Are Not Alone"
Blood On The Dance Floor - History In The Mix
Released: May, 1997
includes: "Blood On The Dance Floor"