Michael Jackson (1958-2009), the King of Pop, the Gloved One, was an American singer of pop, R&B and rock music. He sold 750 million records worldwide – only Elvis Presley and the Beatles can even hope to match that – and had the number one album of all time, “Thriller” (1982), which sold 65 million. Janet Jackson is his sister.
He was American, he was black, he was universal. Even Imelda Marcos, she of the many shoes, cried at his death.
He was famous also for his dancing, making moves that no one thought possible, like the moonwalk.
His number one songs on the American R&B chart:
- 1969: I Want You Back (Jackson 5)
- 1969: Who’s Lovin’ You (Jackson 5)
- 1970: ABC (Jackson 5)
- 1970: The Love You Save (Jackson 5)
- 1970: I’ll Be There (Jackson 5)
- 1971: Never Can Say Goodbye (Jackson 5)
- 1974: Dancing Machine (Jackson 5)
- 1979: Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough
- 1979: Rock With You
- 1982: The Girl is Mine (with Paul McCartney)
- 1983: Billie Jean
- 1983: Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’
- 1983: Somebody’s Watching Me (with Maxwell)
- 1985: We Are the World (as part of USA for Africa)
- 1987: I Just Can’t Stop Loving You (with Siedah Garrett)
- 1987: Bad
- 1988: The Way You Make Me Feel
- 1988: Man in the Mirror
- 1988: Another Part of Me
- 1992: Remember the Time
- 1992: In the Closet
- 1995: You Are Not Alone
This does not even list the songs that “merely” made it to the top ten, like “Thriller”, “Ben”, “Got to be There” and “Black or White”.
On top of all that he made music videos into an art form in their own right, thus making MTV’s name. The strange thing is, MTV did not want to play him at first because he was black!
He was on stage by age six, on television coast to coast by age 11. Everyone loved his music, even white people, even then.
But growing up so famous meant he never had a proper childhood. That is why Elizabeth Taylor was one of the few who understood him. Even worse, his father was cruel. In some sense he was never a boy and yet always a boy.
He bought a place north of Los Angeles and called it Neverland Ranch, after the Neverland of Peter Pan. He put in a zoo, a roller coaster and a Ferris wheel. He invited children over, many of them dying of cancer.
Some of the children stayed over night and, sadly, some parents took advantage of that to spread ugly stories about him to take him to court for his millions, in 1994 and 2005.
Nothing was ever proved, but he had become so strange by the early 1990s – he had a pet llama and doctors were slowly turning him white – that many believed it.
He married, twice, first to Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of Elvis, and then Debbie Rowe. He had two children by Rowe, Prince Michael (1997) and Paris Katherine (1998). They divorced and he had a third child by an unknown woman, Prince Michael II (2002), better known as Blanket.
Hoping to make a comeback, Jackson sold out 50 shows in London for 2009, but then died suddenly just weeks before the first show.
- In memoriam: Michael Jackson
- Elizabeth Taylor
- Quincy Jones – the producer for “Thriller”
- beyond black