Considerable excitement met the announcement of "This Is It"--a series of 50 live Michael Jackson dates at the O2 arena in London, to commence July 2009 and run through 2010. These would be his first major series of concerts since his HIStory World Tour in 1997. The singer hinted at a possible full retirement after the series. All the shows sold out. However, on June 25, he collapsed at his rented mansion in Los Angeles, was rushed to the hospital, and died of cardiac arrest that afternoon. He was 50 years old, and left behind the legacy of 13 Grammy Awards, 13 No. 1 singles, the sales of more than 750 records, and two inductions into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.
After the release of Invincible, a documentary about the singer was released which resulted in seven counts of child sexual abuse after it aired (all charges related to the same boy featured in the documentary). In 2005 Michael was acquitted of all charges, but he withdrew from the public eye--leaving the country and making only a scant few public appearances.
Michael Jackson's last studio album stands out for its contemporary production: Rodney Jerkins, Babyface, and R. Kelly were among the coproducers on the project. Just prior to the release of the album, Michael caused controversy by announcing he was leaving his record label. However, the record, again, debuted at No. 1. This period marks the birth of his third child, Prince Michael Jackson II (called "Blanket"), whose mother was not identifed.
1995 HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I
This album was sold as a set: the first disc, named "HIStory Begins," consists of greatest hits; while the second, named "HIStory Continues," features new songs. Just prior to the release, Michael faced the infamous accusations of child sexual abuse. He also married his first wife, Lisa Marie Presley, who was serving as an emotional support during this difficult period and was a staunch defender of his innocence. The record itself became Michael's top-grossing release after Thriller, and the best-selling multiple-disc album of all time. After divorcing Presley in 1996, Michael married Deborah Rowe, a dermatologist's nurse whom he met when he was diagnosed with the skin condition vitiligo. She is credited as the mother of two of his children, son Prince Michael and daughter Paris.
Dangerous was Michael's second album to debut at No. 1 on the album charts. The record featured co-production by 22-year-old Teddy Riley, the founder of the New Jack Swing style and who was recommended by Quincy Jones. The music videos from the album continue in Michael's innovative vein, including the one shot for "Remember The Time," which featured comedian Eddie Murphy and iconic model Iman; as well as the 10-minute "Black Or White" which featured some of the earliest examples of computer morphing.
At this point, rumors about Michael's eccentric behaviors began to make news. However, these rumors did not hurt his popularity in terms of creative output: The highly anticipated follow-up to Thriller did not disappoint. It was his first album to debut at the top of the charts, and currently the only album to have five singles hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Nine of the 11 tracks on the record are written by Michael himself.
Michael Jackson's Thriller can be summed up in one sentence: The best-selling album of all time. Additionally, the album is notable for establishing Michael as one of the predominant pop icons of the '80s, for helping him to pave the way for racial equality in music, and also one of the first albums to be significantly promoted via music videos. His longform video for the title cut, which ran 14 minutes, caused a tremendous sensation on MTV and remains an iconic marker in the industry.
1979 Off The Wall
This album marks a real departure from Michael's work with Motown. Co-produced with Quincy Jones, it boasted various influences (pop, rock, dance, disco) and featured songwriting from well-known names such as Paul McCartney. The record was a smash success, with four singles peaking in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, and winning a Grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance (for "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough"). Quincy Jones would continue his partnership with Michael for several more years, most notably on the next record they created together.
1978 The Jacksons & The Wiz
Still performing with his brothers--now renamed the Jacksons and on the CBS (later Epic) Record label--Michael takes a part in the musical film The Wiz. A modern retelling of "The Wizard of Oz" with an entirely African-American cast, Michael's portrayal of the Scarecrow played off other starring roles by Diana Ross, Nipsey Russell, Lena Horne, and others. While in production, he works with Quincy Jones, who is arranging the film score. Jones agrees to produce Michael's next solo album.
1972-75 First solo attempts
Motown releases four solo records from Michael: Got To Be There (including the title song, which was his first solo single); Ben (the title song becoming Michael's first Number One solo hit), Music & Me (a transitional album in which Michael began demanding more creative control), and Forever, Michael (his final solo album for Motown). While releasing his solo work, he remains active with the Jackson 5; however all of them would leave the label in 1975 due to dissatisfaction with Motown's refusal to allow creative input. Shortly following the release of Forever, Michael, Motown puts out a Michael Jackson Greatest Hits collection.
1966 The Jackson 5
Now known as "The Jackson 5," Michael and his brothers (with the exception of youngest brother Randy) perform as a touring act and sign with Motown Records in 1968. Michael quickly stands out as the main attraction in the group, and is described by critics as a prodigy. The group's first four singles all hit Number One on the Billboard Charts, creating history.
1958 Michael Joseph Jackson is born
The man who will eventually be known to the world as "the King of Pop" is born in Gary, Indiana--the seventh child of Joe and Katherine Jackson. His father, a former musician working in the steel industry, discovered his elder sons Jackie, Jermaine, and Tito displayed budding musical talent. Adding younger sons Marlon and Michael to the mix, he begins supervising rigorous rehearsals and training to groom the boys into performers.
- Michael Jackson
- Quincy Jones