Famed as the King of Pop, Michael Jackson was one of the most prominent figures in popular culture. He was a talented musician, dancer and songwriter whose dancing style and singing prowess have served as a great influence to many artists in diverse music genres. MJ, as he’s fondly called, was also one of the best selling artists in the annals of music, with an estimated sales of over 500 million records globally. As a result, he was decorated with hundreds of awards which exceeds that of any other famed musician in history. He has also continued to rake in more awards and money after several years of passing on. Here’s a sneak peek at the music legend’s early years, career achievements, earnings, family life, facts about his death and more.
Revealing Truths About The Early Years of Michael Jackson
It was in Gary, Indiana, that the late pop star Michael Joseph Jackson was born to Joseph Walter “Joe” Jackson and Katherine Esther Jackson on the 29th of August 1958. His father was an instrumentalist who also worked as a talent manager. He was active in the entertainment industry for more than five decades. As a result, he was inducted into the Rythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame in 2014 and equally received their Lifetime Achievement Award. Sadly, he passed away in June 2018 at the age of 89.
Michael’s mother, on the other hand, also had a solid footing in the show business. She performed alongside her husband in Gary during the early years of their marriage, playing instruments such as piano and clarinet. Michael Jackson was raised along with his eight siblings – three sisters named Rebbie, La Toya, and Janet, and five brothers; Jackie, Jermaine, Tito, Randy and Marlon. Unfortunately, his family lost Marlon’s twin, Brandon who would have been the singer’s sixth brother to stillbirth. His siblings are also well-known music artists, who have individually made a name for themselves in the music industry.
Although Michael stated that his father abused him physically while growing up, his siblings refuted the claim, citing that their father whipped them during childhood as a disciplinary measure, not an abusive action as perceived by the music icon. At the age of six, Michael Jackson began his music career by becoming a member of the musical band created by his father called Jackson Brothers. It consisted of Michael and his elder brothers, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon. Later in the same year, his father changed the band’s name to Jackson 5, with Michael sharing the role of lead vocalist with Jermaine.
The Jackson Five graced the cover of LIFE Magazine September 24, 1971. pic.twitter.com/uXaO6usELq
— Michael Jackson (@michaeljackson) September 24, 2019
Subsequently, the band began making waves and toured around many cities, performing in clubs and cocktail lounges. They released sixteen studio albums, three live albums, fifteen compilation albums, thirteen music videos and forty singles. Interestingly, about twenty-three of their singles charted on Billboard Top 40 and were commercially successful. They include ‘I Want You Back’, ‘ABC’, ‘The Love You Save’, ‘I’ll Be There’, ‘I Never Can Say Goodbye’ and ‘Dancing Machine’.
From the late 1960s to late 1980s, the band dominated the media following their contributions to the music scene, for which they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Grammy Hall of Fame and Vocal Group Hall of Fame. They were also honoured with the Madison Square Garden Golden Ticket Award, as well as a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
What To Know About His Illustrious Musical Career
"I love performing. It's a phenomenal getaway. If you want to really let out everything you feel, that's the time to do it." – Michael Jackson pic.twitter.com/p5uJ8LWpBV
— Michael Jackson (@michaeljackson) August 12, 2019
As a member of Jackson 5, Michael Jackson grew popular due to his sensational dance moves and vocal talent. In 1971, he put his solo career to a start and overwhelmed audiences with his special knack for singing. In the next year, he dropped his first and second studio albums titled ‘Got to Be There’ and ‘Ben’. Then in 1973, he released his third album ‘Music & Me’, followed by ‘Forever Michael’ two years later.
Despite releasing four studio albums, MJ’s solo career never encountered a breakthrough until 1979, when he dropped his fifth album titled ‘Off the Wall’, which became his first internationally successful album. It peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and recorded global sales of 20 million copies. More so, the album was 8x Platinum certified by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), 5x Platinum certified by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) and 6x certified Platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).
Then in 1982, Michael Jackson brilliantly left his name imprinted on the sand of time with the release of his record-breaking album ‘Thriller’, which was an all-kill on numerous music charts across the globe during such time. In addition to being the music superstar’s best selling album to date, it also became the best selling album of all time. It had an estimated sales of 66 million copies across the globe, as it was certified 33x Platinum by the RIAA, 16x Platinum by the ARIA, and 13x Platinum by the BPI.
Furthermore, ‘Thriller’ sold about 2.4 million copies in Canada, 2.36 million copies in France and 1.4 million copies in the Netherlands. Overall, it recorded about 66 million sold copies worldwide. Still on the quest to reach the summit of his music career, Michael Jackson dropped another hit album, ‘Bad’ on September 1st 1987. Just like ‘Thriller’, the album was a huge commercial success and has a staggering sales of 35 million copies worldwide; 10 million copies were sold in the United States, 1.2 million copies in France, 4.1 million copies in the United Kingdom and 500 thousand in the Netherlands.
— Michael Jackson (@michaeljackson) September 26, 2019
Afterwards, he released other internationally acclaimed albums such as ‘Dangerous’ (global sales of 32 million copies), ‘HIStory: Past Present and Future Book I’ (worldwide sales of 22 million copies) and ‘Invincible’ (global sales of 6 million copies). Having released ten studio albums, one live album, thirty-four compilation albums, six extended plays, three soundtrack albums and seven remix albums, the legendary musician’s singles (69) were never left out on the international music market.
Interestingly, his song ‘Billie Jean’ sold over 6 million copies in the United States and more than 1.4 million copies in the United Kingdom, having debuted atop of the music charts in thirteen countries. In like manner, his single ‘Thriller’ charted at No. 4 on the Billboard Hit 100 and sold about seven million copies in the United States, thus, becoming his best selling single. ‘Beat It’ was also a hit song as it topped the charts in nine countries at the time of its release and registered a sales of five million copies in the United States.
Some of his other critically and commercially successful singles include ‘Got to Be There’, ‘Don’t Stop ‘Till You Get Enough’, ‘Rock with You’, ‘The Girl Is Mine’ (in collaboration with Paul McCartney), ‘I Just Can’t Stop Loving You’, ‘Bad’, ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’, ‘Black and White’, ‘Will You Be There’, ‘In the Closet’, ‘Earth Song’, ‘Scream’, ‘They Don’t Care About Us’ and ‘You Are Not Alone’. The latter became the first song to ever debut at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, thereby gaining an entry in the Guinness World Record.
At the end of 2019, Michael’s albums held spots on ten Billboard Year-End charts. There remains no doubt that Michael is the greatest artist of all time. pic.twitter.com/ovg4D0nW7S
— Michael Jackson (@michaeljackson) January 3, 2020
At the time of his death, Michael Jackson who was dubbed the King of Pop, R & B and Soul was said to have registered a sales of over 500 million records across the globe. Even after his death in 2009, his music still lives on and has garnered massive sales of over 13 million albums.
Details of His Groundbreaking Achievements
Michael Jackson was a music star who produced songs in different music genres: pop, soul, rhythm and blues, rock, disco, pop-disco and dance-pop, through which he achieved a thriving career. Following his works in the music scene, he earned numerous accolades that surpass those achieved by his counterparts. Hence, becoming the most awarded recording artist in the annals of music, having received more than eight hundred awards.
Hollywood became Michael’s town on November 20, 1984. The city honored Michael with a solo star on the Walk of Fame. Mayor Tom Bradley declared “Michael Jackson Day.” Over 6000 fans blocked Hollywood Boulevard. All for the love of Michael. #MJForever pic.twitter.com/0IpMXg0T6E
— Michael Jackson (@michaeljackson) November 20, 2019
Throughout his career, he earned twenty-six American Music Awards, nineteen Billboard Music Awards, seven British Phonographic Industry Awards, one Golden Globe Award, fifteen Grammy Awards, twenty-eight MTV Video Music Awards, three Presidential Awards, one Webby Award, twenty-six World Music Awards, nineteen Soul Train Awards, thirty-nine Guinness World Records, and several others.
Michael Jackson – the greatest artist in the world! Thriller was inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records on February 7, 1984. pic.twitter.com/hjsWQ0D6YL
— Michael Jackson (@michaeljackson) February 7, 2020
In addition to that, the King of Pop was a 5-time inductee of the Grammy Hall of Fame, a 2-time inductee of Hollywood Walk of Fame, as well as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was also inducted into the National Museum of Dance Hall of Fame, Songwriters Hall of Fame, Rythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame, and UK Music Hall of Fame.
In May 1984, Michael Jackson was honoured with an award at the White House by the then US President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy Reagan, in recognition for his benevolent deeds towards alcohol and drug abuse campaigns. Prior to that, in January of the same year, the Brotman Medical Center situated in Culver City California was renamed in his honour to Michael Jackson Burn Center, after he donated $1.5 million he got from Pepsi settlement to the medical centre. The great musician was additionally bestowed with an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by the Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, in the year 1988.
Was Michael Jackson Married in His Lifetime? Who are His Kids?
In 1975, the legendary pop singer came in contact with 7-year old Lisa Marie Presley, a singer-songwriter and the only child of music superstar Elvis Presley and actress Priscilla Presley. Then in 1992, they became close friends as Lisa stood by his side when his child molestation accusations surfaced. Afterwards, the two got romantically connected and got engaged in late 1993.
In the following year, the couple exchanged marital vows in La Vega Dominican Republic. But after staying married for a year and a half, Lisa filed for divorce in January 1996, citing irreconcilable differences as the reason for the marriage annulment. Soon after his divorce from Lisa, Michael Jackson got acquainted with Arnold Klein’s dermatology assistant, Deborah Rowe, as he often visited the dermatology for his treatment of long-term skin condition, vitiligo.
Having been a long time fan of the multi-talented singer, Debbie proposed to bear children for Michael. Hence, the pair tied the knot in November 1996 in Sydney, Australia, with Debbie pregnant with their first child at the time. On February 13th 1997, she gave birth to a son named Michael Joseph Jackson Jr (nicknamed Prince) at the Cedar-Sinai Medical Center situated in Los Angeles. In the next year, the duo welcomed a daughter, Paris-Michael Katherine Jackson on the 3rd of April at Spaulding Pain Medical Clinic, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles.
However, on October 8th 1999, Michael and Debbie signed the divorce papers, with the full custody of their kids granted to the late pop star. After the divorce, Debbie Rowe received an alimony of $8 million and a house in Beverly Hills. Later on, she revealed that she never slept with Michael Jackson, rather she conceived the kids through artificial insemination. A few years down the line, the Thriller star welcomed his third child, a son christened Prince Michael “Blanket” Jackson in February 2002, through surrogacy.
At the time of his demise, Michael Jackson was a father of three children whom he cherished so much. Despite his groundbreaking achievements in the entertainment industry, the singer’s first son Prince has stated that he didn’t inherit his father’s genes for dancing and singing. Instead, he has focused on keeping his dad’s charity works alive. He serves as the founder of Heal Los Angeles Charity. He is a graduate of Loyola Marymount College, Los Angeles.
Michael’s daughter, Paris is the most famous of his three kids. She is an actress and model who is associated with IMG Models. She is also a member of a musical duo called The Soundflowers alongside singer Gabriel Glenn. As an actress, she has featured in the film Gringo and equally made appearances on TV series such as Star and Scream. She is a recipient of the Daily Front Row Award for Emerging Talent.
Popularly known as Blanket, the multi-award-winning artist’s third child reportedly changed his name to Bigi, after years of bullying as a result of his alias, Blanket. He stays under the guardianship of his cousin T. J Jackson and attends a private school located in Sherman Oaks, California called Buckley School. Interestingly, in January 2010, Michael Jackson’s kids accepted a posthumous Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of their father.
Puzzling Facts About The Earnings and Net Worth of Michael Jackson
In his lifetime, Michael Jackson was said to be the most successful entertainer of all time, having earned stupendous wealth from his record sales across the globe. He equally racked up wealth from his music tours and product endorsements. Prior to kicking off The Dangerous World Tour in June 1992, he signed a record-breaking deal worth $20 million with HBO for the broadcasting rights of the tour. He equally earned $95 million upfront in late 1995, for collaborating with Sony Music to form Sony/ATV Music Publishing, after merging his ATV Music catalogue with Sony’s Music Publishing division.
Michael was a pioneer in the field of commercial celebrity endorsements – on top of fashion, music, dance, and film. Here’s a look at one of his early ads for Suzuki. Do you remember this ad? pic.twitter.com/AKe8TUkhz2
— Michael Jackson (@michaeljackson) January 27, 2020
In the late 1980s, the renowned philanthropist penned a deal worth $10 million with Pepsi, which became his most significant endorsement deal. He also signed ambassadorial deals with other companies such as Sony, LA Gear, and Suzuki. At the time of his demise, his net worth was estimated at $500 million, although he was said to be in debt of that range, having lived extravagantly while he was alive.
Amazingly, after his death, as of late 2019, Michael Jackson’s estate has realised a staggering sum of $2.7 billion from several business deals and his music sales as well. Since his death, the iconic singer has reportedly been earning more than $100 million annually. In 2016, his estate grossed $825 million, with the majority of the income coming from the sales of his remaining stake in the Sony/ATV Music Publishing. It’s quite astonishing that Michael Jackson now earns more than he ever did when he was alive. As of 2019, he was rated by Forbes as the top-earning dead celebrity for five years in a row.
What Legacies Did He Leave Behind?
Unarguably, The King of Pop was one of the most eminent personalities in popular culture. He was hugely influenced by music artists such as Little Richard, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, David Ruffin, Jackie Wilson, as well as Diana Ross, who had a substantial influence on his vocal technique. His distinctive sound and style have been critically acclaimed. Similarly, his music videos paved the way for modern pop music. Through his stunning musical versatility, he transformed the art of music videos.
— Michael Jackson (@michaeljackson) November 6, 2019
Michael Jackson also invented some stunning dance moves such as moonwalk, which gained him global recognition. His instantly identifiable voice as well as lyrics cut across all barriers set by races as he set the beat for the upcoming artists. MJ’s legacy reaches across different fields, including fashion, dance, sound and music videos. No wonder, he was referred to as The King of Pop.
Additionally, his eye-popping dancing style and vocal skills have influenced several artists in different music genres, though his music majorly took root in pop, R & B and soul. Some of the artists include Austin Brown, Beyoncé, Chance The Rapper, Jason Derulo, Lenny Kravitz, Ludacris, Ne-Yo, P-Square, Usher, Kanye West, Taeyang, to mention a few.
What We Know About Michael Jackson’s Child Molestation Allegations
In August 1993, Michael Jackson dominated the media, but this time around, it was not for his career endeavours, rather, it was for the wrong reason – child sexual abuse. He was alleged to have molested a 13-year-old boy named Jordan Chandler and his father Evan Chandler filed a lawsuit against him in court. In the wake of the accusation, the late music phenomenon denied the child molestation allegation and insisted that the family were out for money extortion.
Following the accusation, his house was raided by the police and they discovered books and photographs that featured almost unclad young boys, with some having nudity content. Afterwards, he agreed to an out of court settlement of $25 million with the family. The case was eventually closed in September 1994 for lack of evidence.
Later in February 2003, a documentary titled Living with Michael Jackson was released. It followed the life of the singer for several months, and one of the scenes displayed where he held hands with 12-year old Gavin Arvizo, whom he was conversing with about sleeping arrangements. Afterwards, he was charged by Santa Barbara authorities with multiple counts of child molestation, one of which included his alleged molestation of a cancer patient, Gavin Arvizo, at his Neverland Ranch estate in Los Olivos, California. He was equally charged with two counts of alcoholic drink intoxication of a minor.
Having cited that the sleepovers he had with the minors were not sexual, Michael Jackson pleaded not guilty to the charges. He was subsequently tried at the Barbara County Superior Court, Santa Maria, California from January 31st 2005 to June 13th 2005, when he was finally acquitted on all counts. Furthermore, in 2013, Wade Robson who was one of Michael’s defence witness during his trial in Santa Maria, alleged that he was also abused by the late singer at Neverland for seven years. He then moved on to file a lawsuit against him in the same year.
In the year 2014, James Safechuck filed another child molestation lawsuit against Michael Jackson’s estate, stating that he was also abused by the dance icon for four years, starting from the age of ten. Eventually, in 2015, the two cases were dismissed on the grounds that they were filed too late, being that the accused is dead.
However, in March 2019, a controversial HBO documentary titled Leaving Neverland; Michael Jackson and Me was released. It covered the sexual abuse allegations of Wade Robson and James Safechuck in graphic detail. Consequently, Jackson estate has sued HBO for violating the terms of a non-disparagement clause from a contract they signed in 1992.
What Caused Michael Jackson’s Deteriorating Health and Shocking Death?
In 1979, Michael Jackson had a rhinoplasty after breaking his nose while performing a dance routine. Soon after, he began having breathing difficulties which subsequently took a toll on his health. Five years later, he was involved in an accident during a simulated concert at the Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles. It happened that his hair was accidentally set on fire by the pyrotechnics. As a result, he sustained second-degree burns to his scalp, for which he underwent reconstructive surgeries. This required him to be taking pain killers which he eventually got addicted to.
In 1986, Michael’s dermatology Arnold Klein diagnosed him with vitiligo, a long-term skin condition characterized by patches of white skin that usually have a sharp margin. The condition also results in psychological stress. As if that’s not enough, the music icon was also diagnosed with an autoimmune skin condition, Discoid lupus erythematosus, characterized by red, inflamed, coin-shaped patches of skin with scaling and crusty appearance. As a result of the skin conditions, Michael Jackson turned to fair colored makeup in order to hide the uneven blotches of his skin colour.
He then got addicted to cosmetic treatments and eventually became pale, as he couldn’t control the vitiligo. Having suffered from complicated health problems, his health deteriorated, such that he collapsed in late 1995 during his rehearsal for a televised performance. Tragically, on June 25th 2009, the King of Pop passed away from cardiac arrest at his home in Holmby Hills, Los Angeles, at the age of 50.
Having been psychologically stressed about his upcoming concert ‘This Is It’, that was supposed to commence in less than three weeks to the time of his demise, Michael Jackson was administered various sleeping pills to enable him to sleep, by his personal physician Conrad Murray. He was said to have died from an overdose of propofol, having taken lorazepam, propofol and midazolam prior to his death. MJ’s death was quite shocking, as he had already sold out the tickets for his concert which was meant to take place in London from July 13th 2009 to March 6th 2010.
After his death, his family held his memorial service on July 7th 2009 at Forest Lawn Memorial Park’s Hall of Liberty, after organising a general memorial service at the Staples Center, Los Angeles which had a record-breaking US streaming audience of 31.1 million. In February 2010, Michael’s physician Conrad Murray was charged with involuntary manslaughter, as he wasn’t licensed to prescribe controlled medication in California.
He was subsequently found guilty and sentenced to four years imprisonment in November 2011. After serving a two-year jail term, Conrad was released on good behaviour, and partly due to the overcrowding of the California prison.