Michael Jackson

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Michael Jackson in 1992.
Michael Jackson in 1992.
The cover of Jackson's Thriller: Special Edition
The cover of Jackson's Thriller: Special Edition
For other people with the same name, see Michael Jackson (disambiguation)

Michael Joseph Jackson (born August 29, 1958 in Gary, Indiana) is an American musician, singer, dancer, songwriter, record producer, and philanthropist. He began his career as the lead singer of the Motown act, The Jackson 5, in the 1960s, and made his first solo recordings in 1971 as part of the Jackson 5 franchise. Jackson began a full-fledged solo career in 1979 and formally parted with his siblings in 1987, and has since become the most successful recording artist in Black music history, and one of the most successful solo artists in music history, with sales of over 330 million albums and singles [1].

His 1982 album Thriller currently holds the title of being the best selling album in history, having sold over 60 million copies worldwide [2]. In addition to his albums, Jackson has also recorded thirteen number-one Billboard Hot 100 solo hits, including "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough", "Rock With You", "Billie Jean", and "Beat It", and an additional four with the Jackson 5. His distinctive dance moves, music videos, and pop appeal have inspired and influenced many of today's singers, such as Usher, Beyoncé Knowles, Omarion and Justin Timberlake among others.

Despite his career success, he has been dogged by media attention over allegations of child sexual abuse, which resulted in a trial and acquittal in 2005.


Early childhood

Jackson was born the seventh of nine children in Gary, Indiana, to Joseph and Katherine Jackson. The entire family – including older siblings, Rebbie, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, LaToya, and Marlon, and younger siblings Randy and Janet – lived together in a tiny two-bedroom house, while Joseph earned a meager living working in a steel mill. At the behest of their mother, but against Joseph's wishes, the Jackson children were raised as Jehovah's Witnesses and practiced door-to-door evangelism.

According to the J. Randy Taraborrelli book, "Michael Jackson, The Magic and The Madness", The Jackson siblings also have a half sister named Joh Vonnie (b. 30th August 1974).

In accordance with Joseph Jackson's strict rules, the children were kept locked in their house while he worked the night shift. However, the children would regularly sneak out of the house, venturing to their neighbors’ homes, where they practiced singing and playing music. The older Jackson brothers would sometimes play Joseph’s prized guitar without his permission while he was at work. Eventually, Joseph found out about their musical abilities and decided to capitalize upon it, in order to leave Gary for California.

The Jackson 5 in concert.
The Jackson 5 in concert.

The Jackson 5 (The Jacksons)

Main article: The Jackson 5

Group founding and early years

Joseph organized Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, and two unrelated neighborhood youths, Milford Hite (on drums) and Reynaud Jones (on keyboards), as an act called The Jackson Brothers in 1962. Within two years, Michael and his older brother Marlon began playing congas and tambourine, respectively, with The Jackson Brothers, before the group's name was changed to The Jackson Five (later the Jackson 5) in 1966 and by the next year, eight-year-old Michael was appointed lead singer.

Motown success

With Michael on lead vocals, the Jackson 5 built up a following by playing at clubs and bars on the "chitlin' circuit" throughout the Midwest, winning an Amateur Night competition at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York. The Jackson 5 signed their first recording contract with the local Steeltown label in 1967, and had a regional hit with "Big Boy" in 1968.

The Jackson 5 were discovered by both Gladys Knight and Bobby Taylor, who brought them to Motown Records in 1968. Label head Berry Gordy bought out the Jackson 5's Steeltown contract and signed the group to Motown in March 1969. Gordy then moved the Jackson family to Los Angeles, California, and proceeded to turn them into international stars. In the fall of 1969, The Jackson 5 were presented to the public by Diana Ross, and were officially launched as the next big Motown act.

The cover to Michael Jackson's first solo LP, 1971's Got to Be There.
The cover to Michael Jackson's first solo LP, 1971's Got to Be There.

The group's first four singles, "I Want You Back" from 1969, and "ABC", "The Love You Save", and "I'll Be There" from 1970, all became number-one hits in the U.S. Later hits included "Mama's Pearl" and "Never Can Say Goodbye" (1971), "Lookin' Through the Windows" (1972), "Get It Together" (1973) and "Dancing Machine" (1974). The Jackson 5 recorded fourteen albums for Motown, and Michael, Jermaine, and Jackie all recorded solo albums as part of the Jackson 5 "franchise". Michael released four solo albums while at Motown, spawning the hits "Got to Be There", "Rockin' Robin", "I Wanna Be Where You Are", and the number-one hit "Ben," among others. Most of the Jackson 5 hits were produced by either The Corporation#8482; – a collective of songwriters and record producers including Gordy, Freddie Perren, Alphonzo Mizell, and Deke Richards – or by Motown songwriter/producer Hal Davis.

The move to Epic

In 1975, the Jackson brothers signed a new contract with CBS Records, first joining the Philadelphia International division and later moving over to Epic Records. The new deal with CBS provided larger royalties and creative freedom that the Jackson 5 were not allowed at Motown. Upon learning that the Jackson 5 had signed a contract with another label, Motown sued the group for breach of contract; as a result, they lost the rights to use the "Jackson 5" name and logo. Additionally Jermaine, who had married Berry Gordy's daughter Hazel, opted to remain at Motown for a full-time solo career. Now known as "The Jacksons", and featuring youngest Jackson brother Randy in Jermaine's place, the brothers continued their successful career, touring internationally and releasing six albums between 1976 and 1984. Hits during this period included "Enjoy Yourself" and "Show You The Way To Go" in 1976, "Blame It On The Boogie" in 1977, "Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)" in 1978, and "Can You Feel It" and "Heartbreak Hotel" in 1980. The Jacksons would continue to record together well into the 1980s, even bringing Jermaine back into the fold for their 1984 Victory album and tour. By the end of the decade, Michael and Marlon were no longer members of The Jacksons, and the group disbanded in 1990.

Solo career

The original album cover to 1979's Off the Wall. A later cover features a shot of Jackson's legs.
The original album cover to 1979's Off the Wall. A later cover features a shot of Jackson's legs.

The Wiz and Off The Wall

In 1978, Michael co-starred in The Wiz as the Scarecrow, with former labelmate Diana Ross as Dorothy. The musical film's songs were arranged and produced by famed producer Quincy Jones, who found a rapport with Jackson. After Jackson signed a solo contract with Epic in 1978, he began work on his first of several albums with Jones.

Michael Jackson's 1979 album Off the Wall was a worldwide hit, and spawned the number-one hit singles and music videos "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" and "Rock With You". The ballad "She's Out Of My Life" also reached the top ten in 1980. With that accomplishment, Jackson became the first solo artist to have four Top 10 hit singles in the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart from a single album. The album went on to sell over seven million copies in America, establishing Jackson as a musical force without his brothers.


In the 1980s, Jackson released a progression of solo albums of slickly-produced synthesizer-heavy pop. In what was perhaps the "Golden Age" of the video clip, some of Jackson's videos were virtually short films with detailed plots, special effects, and featuring Jackson's distinctive dance style.

Michael Jackson's 1982 album Thriller produced seven top-ten hit singles, broke sales records, and became the best selling album in music history. The "Billie Jean" music video, released to promote Thriller, became the first video by a black artist to be aired on MTV. The fourteen-minute "Thriller" music video / short film became the world's best selling home video at the time (packaged with the featurette The Making of Michael Jackson's "Thriller"). The album's third major single, "Beat It", was another #1 pop hit in the U.S., accompanied by a popular West Side Story inspired music video. The videos for "Billie Jean", "Thriller" and "Beat It" frequently place highly on MTV and VH1 countdowns of notable classic videos, and receive airplay on MTV2 to this day.

Michael Jackson performing "Billie Jean" during the Motown 25 special
Michael Jackson performing "Billie Jean" during the Motown 25 special

While performing "Billie Jean" during the Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever special on television on May 16, 1983, Jackson publicly performed his moonwalk dance for the first time. In January 1984, at the American Music Awards, Jackson was nominated for nine awards, and won a record eight. At the Grammy Awards in February, Jackson was nominated for twelve awards, and won a record-breaking eight: seven for Thriller and one for his narrative on The E.T. Storybook. In May, Thriller was certified by the Guinness Book of Records as the best selling popular music album of all time. The same year, he was also awarded the H. Claude Hodson Medal of Freedom at the NAACP Image Awards, honored at the White House by President Ronald Reagan with the Presidential Special Achievement Award, and was awarded a star in November on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. By 2005, Thriller had been certified twenty-seven times platinum in the U.S.

Jackson became a spokesman for Pepsi at the height of Thriller's popularity. On January 27, 1984, while singing "Billie Jean" during a Pepsi commercial shoot in Los Angeles, Jackson's hair caught on fire when a fireworks display erupted behind him, showering him in sparks. He received hospital treatment for second-degree burns to his scalp.

From "Say Say Say" to Captain Eo

After Paul McCartney appeared on Michael Jackson's song "The Girl is Mine" from his Thriller album in 1982, Jackson appeared on McCartney's solo album called Pipes of Peace. The lead single, called "Say Say Say", was a song written and sung by the two with background vocals from La Toya Jackson. It went to number 1 in the US popcharts and number 2 in the UK, performing better than "The Girl is Mine". A later release called "The Man" did not perform as well, but "Say Say Say" became the last song the two performed together before the bitter feud to buy the rights to The Beatles' publishing catalogue (See "Finances section).

Inspired by Band Aid, Michael Jackson was instrumental in organizing the recording of the single "We Are the World", which he co-wrote with former Motown labelmate, Lionel Richie. The single was released in 1985 to raise money for USA for Africa, a charity working to raise awareness about and give aid to impoverished families in Africa. "We Are the World" featured forty-four different vocalists, including Jackson, Ritchie, Harry Belafonte, Cyndi Lauper, Diana Ross, Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder, and sold 7 million copies in the United States, becoming one of the best-selling singles of all time.

In 1986, Jackson starred in the George Lucas/Francis Ford Coppola 3-D film Captain Eo, which was shown in Disney theme parks until 1998. Minute for minute, it was the most expensive film ever produced at the time, with an estimated total production cost of USD 17 million. The film contained the songs "We Are Here to Change the World" and "Another Part of Me".

Michael Jackson's Bad album cover
Michael Jackson's Bad album cover


In 1987, Jackson released the album Bad, and began his first solo world tour, performing to sold-out audiences across the world. The Bad world tour broke all existing attendance records. Jackson would later break the Bad world tour attendance records with the Dangerous world tour, and top those records with those for the HIStory world tour. The following year, Jackson released a film entitled Moonwalker, and an autobiography, entitled Moon Walk.

Bad was another multi-platinum success for Jackson, although it was not as successful as "Thriller" had been. Its first five singles and music videos, "I Just Can't Stop Loving You", "Bad", "The Way You Make Me Feel", "Man in the Mirror", and "Dirty Diana" provided Jackson with another string of hits, and made him the first artist to generate five number one singles off of one album. The other three singles, "Another Part of Me", "Smooth Criminal", and "Leave Me Alone" kept Jackson on the charts throughout the year as he toured.

The cover to the 1991 album Dangerous
The cover to the 1991 album Dangerous


Jackson was awarded a new record breaking $890 million contract by Sony in March, 1991, and released his first album under the new contract, Dangerous, that November. Beginning with this album, Jackson ended his association with Quincy Jones, and enlisted new producers such as new jack swing inventor Teddy Riley for his records. While in the U.S., sales for the album reached seven million, internationally Dangerous eclipsed Bad as the second best-selling album of Jackson's career, selling over 29 million albums. The major hits included "Black or White", "Remember the Time", "In the Closet" and "Jam".

As was becoming the standard for Jackson, the album's music videos were among the most costly and innovative of their time. "Give in to Me" featured Slash from Guns n' Roses in its video. The video was shot a few days before the Dangerous Tour started, in Munich in 1992. The directors were the Austrian duo Rossacher and Dolezal who shot many, if not all, of the videos and specials for Freddie Mercury and the band Queen. The video for "Heal the World" featured children and adults from throughout the world, in order to correspond to Jackson's charity of the same name. "Will You Be There"'s video showed Jackson singing in front of scenes from Free Willy, for which "Will You Be There" served as the theme song. Several of the other videos had complex storylines and dance sequences, and featured cameo appearances by celebrities. The video for "Jam", directed by David Kellogg, showed Jackson and Michael Jordan playing basketball and dancing together, while "Remember the Time" was set in an ancient Egyptian palace, and starred Eddie Murphy and Iman as the pharaoh and his queen. Also, it featured a cameo by basketball player, Magic Johnson. "In The Closet" featured Jackson and model Naomi Campbell as lovers. The director of the video was photographer Herb Ritts, who also photographed Michael in a series of promotional shots for the release of the Dangerous album.

"Black or White" probably remains Dangerous' most aired and most remembered video today. Originally over ten minutes long, it premiered simultaneously on November 14, 1991 and presented in Dolby Surround, on MTV, VH1, BET, and FOX, becoming one of the most-watched music video premieres in history. The video is technically noteworthy for featuring one of the earliest examples of computer-generated morphing. The last four minutes of the video also induced much controversy, as it depicted a crotch-grabbing Jackson smashing store windows and destroying a car with a crowbar. MTV and the other music video networks decided to excise the last four minutes of the "Black or White" video for all subsequent airings, and Jackson issued a statement apologizing to anyone who had been offended, and explaining that he tried to impersonate panthers' wild instincts. The video featured Macaulay Culkin and was directed by John Landis, the director of the Thriller short film.

The cover of the HIStory compilation.
The cover of the HIStory compilation.


In 1995, Epic released Jackson's HIStory: Past, Present And Future - Book 1, a double-disc album. The first disc, HIStory Begins, was a fifteen-track greatest hits album, while the second, HIStory Continues, contained fifteen new songs. The newer songs found help from producers Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, sister Janet, Dallas Austin, Bill Bottrell, R. Kelly and Jackson himself.

The album produced two major hit singles and videos in America. "Scream", a duet with Jackson's pop star sister Janet, was supported by a futuristic music video which remains, at a cost of $7 million, the most expensive music video ever filmed. Thanks to a change in Billboard's chart policy, the R. Kelly-produced "You Are Not Alone" became the first song to ever debut at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. The album's third single, "They Don't Care About Us", peaked at #30 on the Hot 100 and #10 on the Billboard R&B charts while other songs such as "Earth Song" and "Stranger in Moscow" found better success in Europe with the latter peaking at #91 - the lowest charted single in Jackson's career.

There are two versions of the You are not alone video, both featuring Michael Jackson's then-wife, Lisa Marie Presley. There are also two versions of They don't care about us, one shot in January 1996 in Brazil with the percussion band Olodum, and another shot in NYC.

Blood on the Dance Floor

Michael Jackson's 1997 album "Blood on the Dancefloor" - a remix album of "HIStory"
Michael Jackson's 1997 album "Blood on the Dancefloor" - a remix album of "HIStory"

In 1997, Jackson released an album of remixes and songs left off the "HIStory" album titled Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix. Of the new songs, three were released globally, including the title track which peaked at #42 in the US but reached #1 in the UK; "Ghosts", a song later based on the mini-movie Jackson starred in that year; and "Is It Scary?" The album went on to sell over six million copies worldwide, becoming the best-selling remix album of all time.

Around the same time, he was inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for the first time as a member of The Jackson 5. Four years later he would get in again as a solo artist in 2001.

The cover of the Michael Jackson's Invincible album. Five variant covers, each with the same design but sporting different colors, were released.
The cover of the Michael Jackson's Invincible album. Five variant covers, each with the same design but sporting different colors, were released.


Released on October 30, 2001 after two years in production, Jackson's Invincible album was released. The album debuted at number-one the Billboard Top 200 album chart, and went on to sell over two million copies in America (8 million worldwide). The singles released from the album include "You Rock My World" (US #10; R&B #13; UK #2), "Cry" (UK #25), "Butterflies" (US #14; R&B #2) and "Heaven Can Wait" (R&B #72). The album included guests such as Carlos Santana, Brandy (who performed background vocals on the album's first track, "Unbreakable"), and a posthumous appearance by The Notorious B.I.G..

Promotion on the album, mostly produced by Rodney Jerkins and Jackson himself, stopped in 2002, due to Jackson making accusations that Sony did not properly promote his album. Jackson also referred to Sony Entertainment head Tommy Motolla as a "devil" and a "racist" who used black artists for his own personal gain. Sony issued a statement stating that they found the allegations strange, since Motolla was once married to half-Black R&B star Mariah Carey.

"What More Can I Give"

On October 21, 2001, Michael Jackson performed the song "What More Can I Give" at the United We Stand: What More Can I Give charity concert for the September 11 terrorist attacks, in Washington, D.C. Twenty-seven other artists joined Jackson onstage during the song, including Mariah Carey, Céline Dion, Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé Knowles, Usher, Anastacia, Mya, Ricky Martin, Julio Iglesias and Tom Petty. After the event raised USD 3 million, Jackson planned to release it as a single.

"What More Can I Give" was available for paid download on the Internet, and had a video shot for it, but the single was never commercially released as intended. Although Jackson blamed Tommy Mottola for the single's cancellation, the release was allegedly cancelled because of the involvement of Mark Schaffel, a producer of gay pornographic films. Later a catalog featuring the song, called "What More Can I Give: Michael Jackson and Friends", was released instead.

The cover of the 2003 "One More Chance" single.
The cover of the 2003 "One More Chance" single.

Number Ones to The Essential Michael Jackson

In early 2003, Michael Jackson had announced that he was working on a new album which was to be called Ressurrection, to be release in late 2003 or early 2004. It is said that the album was to feature a duet with Whitney Houston. It is also said that a movie of the same name was filmed to accompany the release of the album with Michael Jackson playing a character who dies and later comes back to life. In March 2003, A new Michael Jackson song titled Xscape began circulating on radio stations worldwide, however the song was never released as a single. In mid 2003, a second Michael Jackson song titled Get Out Of My Mind leaked its way onto radio. Not long after the release of the second song to radio, work on the album was put on hold and plans went underway for a Greatest Hits album to be released instead.

On November 20, 2003, Jackson released a new song, " One More Chance", written by R. Kelly. It was the only new track included on his Number Ones greatest hits album, released the same year. As of 2005, the album has sold over six million copies worldwide. "One More Chance" went on to become the number-one track on Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Sales chart for three straight weeks. An original video for "One More Chance" was filmed but never released.

In November 2004, Jackson released his first box set, Michael Jackson: The Ultimate Collection, a four disc collection which included many of his hits, unreleased material from the past 25 years, demo recordings of some of his biggest hits, four new songs, and a bonus DVD that featured a concert from the Dangerous world tour, originally aired on HBO in 1992. As of September 2005, The Dangerous World Tour DVD is available on its own. Six months later, Epic released a two-disc compilation, The Essential Michael Jackson, which focused only on the hit records. The Ultimate Collection peaked at #154 on Billboard 200 and sold 250,000 copies, while The Essential Michael Jackson sold 8,000 copies in the first week in the U.S. (compared to the number-one album, "Now 19", which sold 436,000 copies in the same period), though the CD reached #2 in the U.K., selling 45,000 copies.

"Hurricane Katrina" Charity Single

On November 3, 2005, Jackson's publicist, Raymone Bain, announced that Jackson was nearing completion of a charity single dedicated to victims of Hurricane Katrina, however the title is yet to be announced. In the meantime the working title is, "From The Bottom of My Heart".

Hoping to rekindle the success of "We Are the World", which raised millions for aid to Africa, Jackson has enlisted the involvement of other recording superstars to help him record the single. From his new base in the Middle East, Jackson has been working through global satellite and phone connections with the 12 recording artists who are participating. So far, not all of the 12 recording artists have been confirmed. However, according to their publicists and various news reports, R. Kelly, Shirley Ceasar, Snoop Dog, Ciara, Tyrese, Little Richard, Stevie Wonder, Patti LaBelle and James Brown have been working in an LA studio to record the single. Most of these artists were in town for the BET 25th Anniversary Show.

Jackson publicist, Raymone Bain, told the Associated Press, "all that remains is for two or three more artists to do their tracks, and Michael will then add his vocals...he (Jackson) is now on the fast track, and we're happy with the progress."

Jackson is the executive writer and producer of the single, scheduled to be released at the end of November. The untitled single will be released through 2 Seas Records, owned by Prince Abdulla Hamad Alkhalifa of Bahrain. All proceeds from the sale of the single will be donated to the victims of Hurricane Katrina through three funds, the Bill Clinton-George Bush Katrina Fund, the Push-Excel Hurricane Katrina College Relief Fund and a disaster fund set up by the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Personal life

A map of Jackson's Neverland Ranch in California, USA.
A map of Jackson's Neverland Ranch in California, USA.

Michael Jackson continued to engage in door-to-door evangelizing as a Jehovah's Witness after becoming famous, but in disguise. His career and flamboyant lifestyle led to friction with congregation elders. At one point, his sister, LaToya, was shunned by Jehovah's Witnesses, and in 1987, he formally left the religion.

Jackson's most famous home is his 2,600 acre (11 km²) Neverland Ranch in Santa Ynez, California, which he purchased in 1988. It is named after the magical kingdom, Neverland, from the children's story, "Peter Pan". Jackson, a huge Disney fan, built an amusement park on the ranch, and frequently welcomes sick and poor children there to visit and sponsors charity drives for children. Jackson's relationships with children, both his own and others, have been controversial: his sleepover parties at Neverland have received widespread critical media coverage, especially after he revealed that he sometimes slept in the same bed with several unrelated children.

He claims that he likes to be surrounded by children because of their sense of innocence, which he feels he lost too soon. His song "Childhood" included the lyric, "It's been my fate to compensate/for the childhood I've never known". Jackson is fond of animals: he owns a private zoo at Neverland, and was often seen with a chimpanzee named Bubbles and a snake called Muscles in the 1980s. Jackson claims that Neverland has inspired much of his work, having once told an interviewer that he liked climbing trees to write songs like "Will You Be There" and "Heal the World".

Jackson is noted for his humanitarian efforts, and has often used his music, including the all-star single "We Are the World" (1985), "Man in the Mirror" (1987), "Heal the World" (1992), "Earth Song" (1995), "Cry" (2001), and "What More Can I Give" (2003) to support and promote various causes. The "Heal the World" foundation was created by Jackson in 1992, with assistance from former President Jimmy Carter. Jackson was considering a tour of Africa in May or June 2004 to raise money to fight AIDS; Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Senegal were among the countries he had planned to visit. Heal the World Foundation no longer exists however.

Over the years, Michael Jackson maintained a number of high-profile celebrity friendships with entertainers such as Diana Ross, Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando, Macaulay Culkin, Emmanuel Lewis, Chris Tucker, and others. Jackson is also the godfather of Lionel Richie's adopted daughter, Nicole Richie and of Barry Gibb's son Michael Gibb.

For four months after his trial ended, Jackson vacationed in Bahrain with Shaikh Abdullah Ben Hamed Al Khalifa, the Prince of Bahrain. In this time he also visited Dubai (United Arab Emirates). Jackson toured Dubai with UAE champion rally driver Mohammad Ben Sulayem.

In October 2005 Jackson was called for jury duty as a resident of Santa Barbara County, but he notified officials that he would not be able to serve because he would be living permanently in Bahrain.

Michael Jackson with Brooke Shields at the 1984 Grammy Awards where Jackson won 8 Grammy awards.
Michael Jackson with Brooke Shields at the 1984 Grammy Awards where Jackson won 8 Grammy awards.


Michael Jackson has often claimed interviews and his autobiography that actress Tatum O'Neal was his first girlfriend. The two were often seen together in the late-1970s. O'Neal claimed, in her autobiography years later, that Jackson dedicated the song She's Out Of My Life to her although the song was not written by Jackson and his then-producer Quincy Jones stated that Jackson possibly hadn't "experienced (what the song talked about)".

Jackson and actress/model Brooke Shields were first seen together publically attending the Academy Awards in 1980. The two were last spotted together in 1993 at the Grammy Awards. Shields has said she considered her relationship with Michael to be a friendship and nothing more.

During Michael Jackson's Bad world tour, in 1988, he was linked romantically in the press with Sheryl Crow and Tatiana Thumbtzen. Crow, one of Jackson's backing singers, has long denied the stories. Thumbtzen is a model who appeared in Jackson's music video for "The Way You Make Me Feel". Thumbtzen has recently written a book about Jackson titled The Way He Made Me Feel (in reference to the famous Jackson song). In the book she hints at an intimate relationship between Jackson and herself. Jackson, for his part, has never commented on either relationship.

Jackson's marriages and children

In 1994, Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of Elvis Presley; the marriage was severely criticized by the media and lasted less than two years. Despite some comments questioning the validity of this union, Presley has always maintained that they both shared a normal couple's life during their time together. The separation date on divorce papers was indicated with Sunday, 10 December 1995. A day when Jackson was still hospitalized after suffering dehydration during rehearsals for his "One Night Only" special at New York's Beacon Theater.

Jackson married his dermatologist's nurse Deborah Jeanne Rowe in 1996, with whom he had a son, Michael Joseph Jackson, Jr. (who publicly goes by the name "Prince"), and a daughter, Paris-Michael Katherine Jackson. Jackson and Rowe were divorced in 1999. Rowe later said that she wanted Jackson to have the children as a "gift", which she had offered even while Jackson was married to Presley. She resultantly gave up her parental rights to the children, but as of 2005, a family court case is under way regarding visitation. The godparents of the two children are Macaulay Culkin and Elizabeth Taylor.

Around February 2002, Jackson had another son, Michael Joseph Jackson III, called both "Prince Michael II" and "Blanket", apparently with a surrogate mother whose identity has not been disclosed. In late 2002, Jackson stirred up controversy while staying at the Adlon hotel in Berlin, by briefly suspending him over the edge of a balcony. Jackson defended his actions, saying that he held the child very tightly though he had issued an apology in a public statement made a few days afterwards saying he was "caught in the moment (of fans cheering)". Jackson's children are veiled or masked when they appear in public with him, which he describes as a security measure. Rowe said it was her idea from the beginning as they had been sent many death threats in the past however in a recent interview Mr. Jackson had said that he would love to take his children onstage one day so his fans can see his children's faces.

After the children were seen in Martin Bashir's Living with Michael Jackson documetary special, many in the press and the public questioned whether Prince and Paris were actually Jackson's biological children, as they had no noticeable African features about them. Jackson explained that his own father is African-American, but has blue eyes, and that some of the Jackson family ancestors are Caucasian, and even Indian. However, during the interviews for the same special, Jackson revealed that "Blanket's" mother was Black.

There had been rumors that Jackson was having children by various women. One woman claimed that she was giving birth to quadruplets fathered by Jackson, a claim later proven to be false. Jackson had suffered the same problem two decades earlier with a woman claiming Michael was a father of one of her fraternal twins, a story from which his memorable hit "Billie Jean" was derived.


Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jackson.
Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jackson.

Skin color

Although Jackson's skin color was a medium brown color for the entire duration of his youth, his skin has lightened gradually since 1982, and is today a pale cream color. Jackson has attributed his changing skin color to vitiligo, a skin disease in which the body develops antibodies against its own melanin, a body pigment, resulting in light patches and an eventual loss of all pigment. The public finally got to know of Jackson's condition when he first revealed it in an interview with Oprah Winfrey in 1993. Several members of the media refused to believe Jackson has vitiligo and believe that Jackson bleaches his skin, an allegation which Jackson denies. Jackson's family members support his claim, with Joseph Jackson stating that Michael's grandfather had also suffered from vitiligo. During court depositions in 1994, both Jackson's dermatologist Dr. Arnold Klein and his nurse (later his wife, Deborah Rowe) revealed that following a biopsy of his scalp in 1983, Jackson was diagnosed with discoid lupus and vitiligo. As a result of this disorder, Jackson is said to "even out" his skin tone with bleaching creams. He has also been told by his dermatologist to avoid any exposure to the sun.

Ever since then, Jackson has regularly worn long-sleeved shirts and pants under an umbrella while in public to hide from the sun.

Plastic surgery

Jackson has allegedly used extensive plastic surgery to modify his appearance, although he claims to have had only three operations: two rhinoplastic surgeries – the first of which he claims was to repair a broken nose resulting from a dancing accident in mid 1979, and the second to correct imperfections in the first surgery – and the surgical creation of a cleft in his chin. When listing his cosmetic surgery, Jackson often omits mentioning the cleft; however, he confirmed this surgery in his 1988 autobiography, Moon Walk.

In the 2003 documentary Living with Michael Jackson, Jackson stated that he had only ever had two operations on his face, both to his nose. He justified these operations by stating that they were to "help [me] breathe better and to hit higher notes".

Jackson's use of plastic surgery has caused increased concerns of a possible cartilage and nose collapse. Surgeons with no link to Jackson, have speculated that his nose structure could easily collapse during an altercation.


Michael Jackson purchased ownership in Sony/ATV Publishing in 1985, which administers the publishing rights to songs written by The Beatles, Sly Stone, and several others. Jackson's 50% interest in the company (Sony Records owns the other half) is estimated to be worth USD 500 million. In October 2002, various international banks claimed that Jackson was tens of millions of dollars in debt. That same month, concert promoter, Marcel Avram, sued Jackson in a court in Santa Maria, California, claiming that he reneged on a deal to perform on a series of millennium concerts crossing the International Date Line on the evening of December 31, 1999January 1, 2000. Jackson lost the case, and is appealing.

Jackson has been involved in a legal dispute with his former financial adviser, Union Finance and Investment Corporation of South Korea, who claim that Jackson owes the firm twelve million dollars in fees and expenses, and that Jackson's extravagant spending may lead to his bankruptcy. See also Jackson's finances in connection to the trial.

Michael Jackson during a live telecast on December 22, 1993, denouncing allegations of child sex abuse.
Michael Jackson during a live telecast on December 22, 1993, denouncing allegations of child sex abuse.

Alleged child sexual abuse

Main articles: Allegations of child sexual abuse by Michael Jackson in the early 1990s and 2005 trial of Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson has also been accused of child sexual abuse on three occasions. In 1993, Jordan Chandler, the son of former Beverly Hills dentist Evan Chandler, accused Jackson of sexual molestation, represented by civil lawyer Larry Feldman. Jackson was served a search warrant to have the Santa Barbara Police Department, headed by District Attorney Tom Sneddon, view his body. Jackson later complained in a December 22, 1993 press conference that the officers violated his privacy, by photographing his body in order to look for some marks allegedly described by the young accuser. Jackson settled out of court with the accuser for at least USD 25 million[3]. Jackson's settling out of court brought suspicion among the media, some of whom claimed that Jackson avoided a trial because he was afraid he would have been proven guilty. The victim's parents were criticised for not filing criminal charges against Jackson, making it appear that they were simply attempting to extract money from him. Others debated whether Jackson chose to settle or was forced to by his insurance provider. When interviewed by Bashir, Michael Jackson confirmed that the 1993/1994 settlement was his own personal decision. Though when the trial began Jordan Chandler was infact told to testify however he ignored the court order [4].

In 2003, Jackson was accused of sexual molestation by a second young accuser, Gavin Arvizo, who appeared with Jackson on the Living with Michael Jackson television documentary. Like Chandler, Arvizo was represented by civil lawyer Larry Feldman, and an investigation was once again launched by Sneddon. Jackson was served a search warrant for Neverland, and the singer was arrested in November 2003. In the prelude to the trial, Jackson allowed a high profile visit of children to Neverland in December 2004. Michael Jackson's spokesperson provided the press with a list of non-profit children's organizations which had sent the children. According to Court TV, most of these organizations turned out to be either non-existent or were upset that they were falsely associated with the visit. [5] The criminal case was tried in Santa Maria, California during the spring of 2005. On June 13, Jackson was acquitted of all charges. CNN later reported that two of the jurors, Ray Hultman and Eleanor Cook, believed he had commited child sex crimes in the past but there was not enough evidence to prove it, and announced impending books on their experiences in the trial [6].

A civil (non-criminal) suit filed by Joseph Bartucci over allegations of abduction and sexual assault is currently pending in Louisiana. [7] Jackson did not appear for the August 17, 2005 court date, and was fined USD 10,000 as a result. [8] The next court hearing was scheduled for September 7, 2005 but was cancelled as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

In his first interview since the acquittal, Michael Jackson told the Associated Press, the trial was "the hardest thing I've ever done in my life". He also spoke briefly about the charity single and added that he and his children were still in Bahrain "resting and recovering" from the ordeal.


For a more detailed listing of albums with chart positions and sales, see Michael Jackson albums discography.

For a more detailed listing of singles with chart positions see Michael Jackson singles discography

Regular studio albums

Motown releases
Epic releases

Number one hits

The following singles reached number one on either the US Billboard Hot 100, R&B singles chart, or UK pop singles charts:



Video games

See also

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External links

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