Tonight we pay tribute to the late King of POP Michael Jackson as the world got the shocking news this week that the king has left this earth. We take a look back at his life, and music. This is part 1 of a 2 part show.
Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009) was an American recording artist, entertainer, and businessman. Often referred to as the King of Pop, or by his initials MJ, Jackson is recognized as the most successful entertainer of all time by Guinness World Records. His contribution to music, dance, and fashion, along with a much-publicized personal life, made him a global figure in popular culture for over four decades. The seventh child of the Jackson family, he debuted on the professional music scene along with his brothers as a member of The Jackson 5 in 1964, and began his solo career in 1971.
In the early 1980s, Jackson became a dominant figure in popular music. The music videos for his songs, including those of “Beat It“, “Billie Jean“, and “Thriller“, were credited with transforming the medium into an art form and a promotional tool, and the popularity of these videos helped to bring the relatively new television channel MTV to fame. Videos such as “Black or White” and “Scream” made him a staple on MTV in the 1990s. Through stage performances and music videos, Jackson popularized a number of complicated dance techniques, such as the robot and the moonwalk, to which he gave the name. His distinctive musical sound and vocal style influenced numerous hip hop, post-disco, contemporary R&B, pop and rock artists.
Jackson’s 1982 album Thriller is the best-selling album of all time. His other records, including Off the Wall (1979), Bad (1987), Dangerous (1991), and HIStory (1995), also rank among the world’s best-selling. Jackson is one of the few artists to have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice. He was also inducted into the Dance Hall of Fame as the first (and currently only) dancer from the world of pop and rock ‘n’ roll. Some of his other achievements include multiple Guinness World Records; 13 Grammy Awards (as well as the Grammy Legend Award and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award); 26 American Music Awards (more than any other artist, including the “Artist of the Century”); 13 number-one singles in the United States in his solo career (more than any other male artist in the Hot 100 era); and the estimated sale of over 750 million records worldwide. Jackson won hundreds of awards, which made him the most-awarded recording artist in the history of popular music. He was also one of the world’s most prominent humanitarians and philanthropists; personally, and through his Heal the World Foundation, he donated more than $300 million in charity, and held the Guinness World Record for having supported the most charities out of any pop star.
On June 25, 2009, Jackson died while in his bed at his rented mansion at 100 North Carolwood Drive in the Holmby Hills district of Los Angeles. Attempts at resuscitating him by Conrad Murray, his personal physician, were unsuccessful. Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics received a 911 call at 12:22 (PDT, 19:22 UTC), arriving three minutes later at Jackson’s location. He was reportedly not breathing and CPR was performed. Resuscitation efforts continued en route to the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, and for more than an hour after arriving there at 1:13 (20:13 UTC). He was pronounced dead at 2:26 local time (21:26 UTC). Jackson’s death triggered a global outpouring of grief.
The news spread quickly online, causing websites to slow down and crash from user overload. Both TMZ and the Los Angeles Times suffered outages. Google initially believed that the input from millions of people searching for “Michael Jackson” meant that the search engine was under DDoS attack, and blocked searches related to Michael Jackson for 30 minutes. Twitter reported a crash, as did Wikipedia at 3:15 p.m. PDT (22:15 UTC). The Wikimedia Foundation reported nearly a million visitors to Jackson’s biography within one hour, probably the most visitors in a one-hour period to any article in Wikipedia’s history. AOL Instant Messenger collapsed for 40 minutes. AOL called it a “seminal moment in Internet history”, adding, “We’ve never seen anything like it in terms of scope or depth.”
Around 15% of Twitter posts—or 5,000 tweets per minute—reportedly mentioned Jackson after the news broke, compared to the 5% recalled as having mentioned the Iranian elections or the flu pandemic that had made headlines earlier in the year. Overall, web traffic ranged from 11% to at least 20% higher than normal. MTV and Black Entertainment Television (BET) aired marathons of Jackson’s music videos. Jackson specials aired on multiple television stations around the world. The British soap opera EastEnders added a last-minute scene, in which one character tells another about the news, to the June 26 episode. Jackson was the topic of every front-page headline in the daily British tabloid The Sun for about two weeks following his death. During the same period, the three major U.S. networks’ evening newscasts—ABC World News, CBS Evening News, and NBC Nightly News—devoted 34% of their broadcast time to him. Magazines including Time published commemorative editions. A scene that had featured Jackson’s sister La Toya was cut from the film Brüno out of respect toward Jackson’s family.
Jackson’s memorial was held on July 7, 2009, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, preceded by a private family service at Forest Lawn Memorial Park’s Hall of Liberty. Jackson’s casket was present during the memorial but no information was released about the final disposition of the body. While some unofficial reports claimed a worldwide audience as high as one billion people, the U.S. audience was estimated by Nielsen to be 31.1 million, an amount comparable to the estimated 35.1 million that watched the 2004 burial of former president Ronald Reagan, and the estimated 33.1 million Americans who watched the 1997 funeral for Princess Diana.
Mariah Carey, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, John Mayer, Jennifer Hudson, Usher, Jermaine Jackson, and Shaheen Jafargholi performed at the event. Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson gave eulogies, while Queen Latifah read “We had him”, a poem written for the occasion by Maya Angelou. The Reverend Al Sharpton received a standing ovation with cheers when he told Jackson’s children, “Wasn’t nothing strange about your daddy. It was strange what your daddy had to deal with. But he dealt with it anyway.” Jackson’s 11-year-old daughter, Paris Katherine, cried as she told the crowd, “Ever since I was born, Daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine … I just wanted to say I love him … so much.” Reverend Lucious Smith provided a closing prayer. On August 24, several news outlets quoted anonymous sources as stating that the Los Angeles coroner had decided to treat Jackson’s death as a homicide; this was later confirmed by the coroner on August 28. At the time of death, Jackson had been administered propofol, lorazepam and midazolam. Law enforcement officials conducted a manslaughter investigation of his personal physician, Conrad Murray. On February 8, 2010, Murray was charged with involuntary manslaughter by prosecutors in Los Angeles. Jackson was entombed on September 3, 2009, at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.
On June 25, 2010, the first anniversary of Jackson’s death, fans traveled to Los Angeles to pay their tribute to him. They visited Jackson’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and his family’s home, as well as Forest Lawn Memorial Park. Many of the fans were carrying sunflowers and other tribute items to drop off at the sites. Members of the Jackson family and close friends arrived to pay their respects. Katherine returned to Gary, Indiana to unveil a granite monument constructed in the front yard of the family home. The memorial continued with a candlelight vigil and a special performance of “We Are the World”. On June 26, there was a protest march in front of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery-Homicide Division at the old Parker Center building and a petition with thousands of signatures demanding justice was delivered. The Jackson Family Foundation in conjunction with Voiceplate presented “Forever Michael”, an event bringing together Jackson family members, celebrities, fans, supporters and the community to celebrate and honor his legacy. A portion of the proceeds were presented to some of Jackson’s favorite charities. Katherine also introduced her new book “Never Can Say Goodbye”.
After his death, Jackson became the best-selling albums artist of 2009. In the United States selling over 8.2 million albums and a total of 35 million albums worldwide in the 12 months that followed his death. Following this surge in sales, Sony announced that they had extended their relationship with his material. The distribution rights held by Sony Music were due to expire in 2015. On March 16, 2010, Sony Music Entertainment, in a move spearheaded by its Columbia/Epic Label Group division, signed a new deal with the Jackson estate to extend their distribution rights to his back catalogue until at least 2017, as well as to obtain permission to release ten new albums with previously unreleased material and new collections of released work. On November 4, 2010 Sony announced the release of Michael, the first posthumous album set to be released on December 14, with the promotional single released to the radios on November 8, titled “Breaking News“. The deal was unprecedented in the music industry as it is the most expensive music contract pertaining to a single artist in history; it reportedly involved Sony Music paying $250 million for the deal, with the Jackson estate getting the full sum as well as its share of royalties for all works released. Video game developer Ubisoft announced it would release a new dancing-and-singing game featuring Michael Jackson for the 2010 holiday season. The game titled Michael Jackson: The Experience will be among the first to use Kinect and PlayStation Move, the respective motion-detecting camera systems for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3 due out later that year.
On November 3, 2010, the theatrical performing company Cirque du Soleil announced that it would launch “Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour” in October 2011 in Montreal, while a permanent show will reside in Las Vegas. The 90-minute US$57M production will combine Jackson’s iconic musical oeuvre and choreography with the Cirque’s signature artistry, dance and aerial displays involving 65 artists. The tour was written and directed by Jamie King and centers on Jackson’s “inspirational Giving Tree – the wellspring of creativity where his love of music and dance, fairy tale and magic, and the fragile beauty of nature are unlocked.” On October 3, 2011, the accompanying compilation soundtrack album Immortal was announced to have over 40 Jackson’s original recordings re-produced by Kevin Antunes.
In April 2011, Jackson’s longtime friend and billionaire businessman Mohamed Al-Fayed, chairman of Fulham F.C., unveiled a statue of Jackson outside the club’s stadium, Craven Cottage. Fulham fans were however bemused by the statue and failed to understand the relevance of Jackson to the club. Al Fayed however defended the statue and told the fans to ‘go to hell’ if they didn’t appreciate the statue.