Michael Jackson Superstar by premkumarvb

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A little document about our king of pop michael jackson

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05 / 2003

Michael Jackson - Superstar

Christian Rauchbauer Mai 2003
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Introduction Michael Jackson is the most commercially successful recording artist of all time. He has sold more than 500 million records and has won more awards than any other artist. But as we all know he is much more than just a singer. He is a dancer, choreographer, songwriter, producer, visionary, filmmaker and humanitarian. His music and videos have touched so many people that he can now no longer even be regarded as a mere recording artist - he is a pop culture phenomenon. He has been recording since the age of 5, breaking records since the age of 11, and been a megastar without equal since the age of 21. His album “Thriller” has sold more than any other album in recording history. In 1983 he won more Grammy’s than any other artist in any other year. In 1991 he signed the biggest recording deal in music business history and has earned more money than any other pop star in the nineties. As well as his sounds being record breaking he is also a visual wonder. He has been so influential on the making of pop videos that music television station MTV renamed their Video Vanguard Award the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard and he has played more dates at Wembley stadium than any other artist. And yet despite living his life in the public eye people still have an insatiable desire to find out more about him. His autobiography “Moonwalk” was the No.1 book around the world. His appeal goes across racial, religious, geographical, language, generation, gender, and musical boundaries. And he himself has broken down a few barriers. He was the first black artist to receive extensive airplay on MTV. People who were originally fans of his when they were children now have kids of their own who are fans. It is impossible to explain the phenomenal appeal of this man, probably not even Michael himself knows. But what I can give you is an insight into the life of the man and his music... Childhood and The Jackson 5 1958 - 1963: On 29th of August 1958 in Gary, a small unimportant town in Indiana, Katherine Jackson gives birth to a boy. She gives him the name Michael Joseph Jackson. Michael is the 7th of 9 children. He visits the kindergarten and the first years of Gary's elementary school, which he later calls his “childhood”. Michael is a sensitive child, maybe the most sensitive of the Jackson brothers and sisters. And he's just about five years old when he takes over the leading vocal part in the band of his brothers. It seems like this is already the final point behind Michael Jackson's childhood. 1964-1968 In public: The Jackson 5 get famous very fast. First they only sing in night-clubs and bars but little Michael is very gifted and hard-working. His voice and dancing talent brings the band to talent-shows, which they always win. Obviously Michael enjoys standing in the spotlight. He's angel-like voice touched everybody and it seems like he only came into this world for singing and dancing. Even at the age of 8 or 9 Michael starts to write songs on his own. In his child-wantonness he says that one day he'll release the most successful music-album of all times.... The success of the Jackson 5 is incredible and when in 1967 they win in the Apollo-Theatre in New York the crowd cheers. After they got this last hindrance a carrier begins which nobody would ever dream of. Soon they're under contract with Motown, which is already a great aim but for little Michael it's just the beginning. Behind the stage: But behind the stage Michael cries. The little boy who's not yet 10 years old hardly can bear to see all the other children playing outside while he has to work hard for his success. His father Joseph is a hard man who does everything to guarantee the brother's success. He beats the children. And he'll get his success - unfortunately it costs the joy in the soul of his most talented son. Michael suffers more than the others under the strength of his father. He's so afraid of him that he really starts to regurgitate when he just sees his father. Michael has to grow up faster than every other child. All the responsibility for the family's success lays on his tiny shoulders. That's why even his once carefree shining childeyes sometimes lose their smile...
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Years later: Almost 40 years later - Michael is by now the most famous man of the world - he still cries bitter tears inside when he thinks back to these times: "But I am the product of a lack of a childhood, an absence of that precious and wondrous age when we frolic playfully without a care in the world, basking in the adoration of parents and relatives, where our biggest concern is studying for that big spelling test come Monday morning. About his father: “My father is a tough man and he pushed my brothers and me hard, from the earliest age, to be the best performers we could be. He had great difficulty showing me affection. He never really told me he loved me. And he never really complimented me either. If I did a great show, he would tell me it was a good show. And if I did an okay show, he would say nothing..", Michael said crying, "He seemed intent, above all else, on making us a commercial success. And at that he was more than adept. My father was a managerial genius and my brothers and I owe our professional success, in no small measure, to the forceful way that he pushed us. He trained me as a showman and under his guidance I couldn't miss a step. But what I really wanted was a Dad. I wanted a father who showed me love. And my father never did that. He never said I love you while looking me straight in the eye, he never played a game with me. He never gave me a piggyback ride, he never threw a pillow at me, or a water balloon. But I remember once when I was about four years old, there was a little carnival and he picked me up and put me on a pony. It was a tiny gesture, probably something he forgot five minutes later. But because of that moment I have this special place in my heart for him. Because that's how kids are, the little things mean so much to them and for me, that one moment meant everything...” 1969 - 1973: In public: They move to Encino, California. The band tours, celebrates success after success and gets unbelievable many prices and markings. It seems like the music industry has found their new moneymakers - especially one, the little Michael Jackson. Behind the stage: The more famous and popular the Jackson 5 became, the more problems they had with increasingly uncontrollable fans and with trying to maintain their privacy and some semblance of normal life. Michael reacted much more dramatically to these than his brothers did. Being mobbed by near hysterical girls was one of most terrifying experiences for Michael in those days. “I mean it was rough” he later explained. “I can testify that it hurts to be mobbed. You feel as you’re going to suffocate or be dismembered. There are a thousands hands grabbing at you.” Jermaine later explained: “Michael was scared to death. The rest of us were more amazed than scared, but Mike was genuinely frightened.” The house in Encino was lavish, and it was isolating. In Gary they had one bedroom for the parents and one bedroom for all the children. But in Encino, the place was so big, that they had to make plans to see each other - as Jermaine later explained. Their were losing touch with each other and the boys would never be as close as they had been in Gary. Michael was unhappy there. Michael’s school received a death threat against Michael. As a result, his parents pulled him out of public school and he and the brothers were tutored by an accredited children’s welfare supervisor. (Michael was eventually awarded a high-school equivalency diploma). Michael felt even more isolated. But beyond that, his isolation was a part of Motown’s control. As Jermaine remembers: “When the Jackson 5 started getting success Motown kept us out of the public eye on purpose as a strategy, to make a mystique, so were never allowed to visit friends or go to a ball game. And that’s bad for kids.” Years later: "Well, you don't get to do things that other children get to do, you know, having friends and slumber parties and buddies. There was none of that for me. I didn't have any friends when I was little. My brothers were my friends. People wonder why I always have children around, because I find the thing that I never had through them, you know Disneyland, amusement parks, arcade games. I adore all that stuff because when I was little it was always work, work, work from one concert to the next, if it wasn't a concert it was the recording studio, if it wasn't that it was TV shows or interviews or picture sessions. There was always me always something to do. And that left no time for play, which is a necessary and natural part of most children’s lives. Michael went on to tell Winfrey: “I remember going to the record studio, there was a park across the street and I’d see all the children playing and I would cry because it would make me sad that I would have to work instead.”
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About his father beating him: "I guess I don't know if I was his golden child or whatever it was, some may call it a strict disciplinarian or whatever, but he was very strict, very hard, very stern. Just a look would scare you, you know. I was frightened. Like there's been times when he'd come to see me, I'd get sick, I'd start to regurgitate. I just wish, I could understand my father." 1974 - 1976 In public: Soon Michael gets prepared for a solo-career and also without his brothers he has one hit after the other. On stage his energy seems to be unstoppable, his voice stays high and clear. But Michael, like his brothers hasn't very much say how to manage their music and their image. Joseph Jackson, both father and manager thinks about the band leaving Motown. Behind the stage and Years Later: During their interview of 1993 Oprah Winfrey asked Jackson if adolescence was particularly difficult after being a child star. The performer replied: “Very. Very, very difficult, yes. Because I think every child star suffers through this period because you're not the cute and charming child that you were. You start to grow, and they want to keep you little forever. And um, nature takes its course. I had pimples so badly it used to make me so shy, I used not to look at yourself, I'd hide my face in the dark, I wouldn't want to look in the mirror and my father teased me and I just hated it and I cried every day. Yes and he told me I'm ugly..." Michael, like most people, underwent dramatic changes during adolescence, particularly in his appearance. He grew from the cute little lead singer everyone knew, loved, and expected to see, into a lanky teenager and he developed a terrible case of acne. Because of his visibility to the public and his sensitivity, these changes greatly undermined his self-image. Other peoples’ negative reactions tended to reinforce his negative perception of himself. In his autobiography, “Moonwalk”, Jackson describes this: “My appearance began really change when I was about fourteen. I grew quite a bit in height. People who didn’t know me would come into a room expecting to be introduced to cute little Michael Jackson and they’d walk right past me. I would say, “I’m Michael,” and they would look doubtful. Michael was a cute little kid; I was a gangly adolescent heading toward five feet ten inches. I was not the person they expected or even wanted to see. Adolescence is hard enough, but imagine having your own natural insecurities about the changes your body is undergoing heightened by the negative reaction of others.” Perhaps worst of all, Joe teased Michael about his pimples and repeatedly told him that he was ugly, making Michael cry daily. Michael became extremely self-conscious and depressed and withdrew even more. “I became subconsciously scarred by this experience with my skin. I got very shy and became embarrassed to meet people because my complexion was so bad. It really seemed that the more I looked in the mirror, the worse the pimples got. My appearance began to depress me. The effect on me was so bad that it messed up my whole personality. I couldn’t look at people when I talked to them. I’d look down, or away.” These changes in Michael’s behaviour and self-esteem served to accelerate a process that was already under way: The two sides of Michael’s personality, indeed of his existence, were becoming more distinct and contradictory. Onstage he was the consummate performer, displaying artistry and professionalism far beyond his years. Offstage he was childlike, running and playing like a small boy, attempting, it would seem, to capture the childhood he never had. Onstage Michael felt confident, at home, happy, and carefree. Offstage he felt incomplete, inadequate, sad, and lonely. For Michael, the person he became onstage was his true self. In an interview with biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli, Jackson describes this transformation: “When I’m not onstage, I’m not the same. I’m different,” Jackson observed. “I think I’m some kinda stage addict. When I can’t get onto a stage for a long time, I have fits and get real crazy. I start crying, and I act all weird and all freaked out. No kidding, I do. I start to dancing around the house.” He began to talk rapidly: It’s like a part of me is missing and I gotta get it back, cause if I don’t, I won’t be complete. So I gotta dance and I gotta sing, you know? I have this craving. Onstage is the only place I’m comfortable. I’m not comfortable around . . . . ,” he paused, searching for the right word, “normal people. But when I get out onstage, I really open up and I have no problems. Whatever is happening in my life don’t matter no more. I’m up there and cutting loose and I say to myself, ‘This is it. This is home. This is exactly where I’m supposed to be, where God meant for me to be.’ I am
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unlimited when I’m onstage. I’m number one. But when I’m off the stage,” he shrugged his shoulders, “I’m not really . . . .” Again, he paused, trying to find the right word. “Happy.” And there was something else that made Michael unhappy - the way he was recording at the time. The Corporation was still responsible for the Jackson sound and determined how Michael would sing every song. As he grew older and more accomplished and confident, Michael often disagreed with the group’s decisions about his music, but he always sang the song exactly as they wanted. He was tired of that and wanted more creative freedom, but his creativity and his growth were restricted and Michael was frustrated and dissatisfied. 1976 - 1978 In public: It's said: the Jackson 5 go to CBS-Records. From now on they have to call themselves “The Jacksons”, because Motown has the rights for the old name. Under this label Michael is allowed to sing a song he wrote by himself for the first time: ''Blues Away”. Still they get buried under golden and platinum records and the hysteria about the band is compared with the “Beatlemania”, or even worse. Together with Diana Ross Michael does the movie “The Wiz”, where he plays the part of the scarecrow. The movie failed but Michael’s part is praised by the critics. The album “Destiny” is released, the first record which only contains songs written by the brothers themselves. Ambitious Michael has participated in every song. the first own album - that means of course a great pressure but they reset and gain again golden and platinum records. The brothers go on a world-tour. Behind the stage: But in the family Michael was often outvoted, even though he essentially carried The Jacksons. Whether they did so out of jealousy, resentment, or shortsightedness, the brothers’ uniting against Michael was fueling his estrangement from his family. He no longer had much of common with his brothers and felt they could not understand him or his ambitions. He did not want to answer to his father, and in fact, he did not even want to be around him. Michael wanted to make his own decisions and do his own. He was branching out and taking on new challenges. One of these challenges was acting in a film (“The Wiz”) - something Michael Jackson had always wanted to do. Jackson was still having problems with his complexion, so he really liked wearing the required makeup. Even though the application took at least four hours to do, six days a week, Michael eventually enjoyed the process. He explained why: “When I was transformed into the scarecrow, it was the most beautiful thing in the world. I got to be somebody else and escape through my character.” Sometimes he even wore the makeup home at night. “The Wiz” was a good experience that gave Jackson new inspiration and strength. He discovered his love for acting and new that he wanted to do more. Based on his performance in “The Wiz”, Jackson was offered the part of a transvestite in the movie version of “A Chorus Line”, but he refused it. For some time, there had been ongoing rumours and speculation that he was gay, despite his repeated and emphatic denials. Jackson felt that accepting the part would only exacerbate the problem, particularly since the offer came at that time when rumours were circulating that he was involved with songwriter Clifton Davis (who wrote “Never Can Say Good-Bye” for the Jackson 5) and that he was going to have a sex-change operation so they could marry. This rumour followed Jackson for quite some time. At home, Jackson was still tormented by his appearance. His skin problems persisted, and he as extremely self-conscious about his nose, which he thought was too big. These insecurities were not helped by his brothers, who continually taunted him with the nickname “Big Nose,” ignoring the pain and embarrassment this caused him. He talked about having surgery on his nose, but his father strongly opposed it: “I told him I’d break his face if he ever had it fixed. You don’t fix something that ain’t broke. He’s got a great nose. It looks like mine.” But after Jackson fell and broke his nose in 1979, he had the first of what would become several rhinoplasties. Years later: About his purpose on earth: "Oh boy, I think, um, to give in the best way I can through song, and through dance and through music. I mean, I am committed to my art. I believe that all art has as it's ultimate goal the union between the material and the spiritual, the human and the divine. I believe that
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to be the reason for the very existence of art. I feel I was chosen as an instrument to just give music and love and harmony to the world. To children of all ages, and um, adults and teenagers. About his childhood: "My childhood was completely taken away from me. There was no Christmas, there were no birthdays. It was not a normal childhood, no normal pleasures of childhood. Those were exchanged for hard work, struggle and pain, and eventual material and professional success...” Michael Jackson - Superstar: The Agony and the Ecstasy Off The Wall Big changes were on the horizon in Jackson’s professional life as well. He was discouraged and frustrated. He felt he had stopped growing professionally, and he did not like the Jackson 5 image that the Jacksons had brought with them from Motown. He wanted to break away from the family and move on. In 1978 Michael appeared in “The Wiz”, a black version of the Hollywood classic “The Wizard of Oz”. It was whilst working on this movie and it’s soundtrack that he met Quincy Jones Quincy had worked as the movie’s musical director. Michael asked Quincy to recommend a producer that he could work with on his first solo album for Epic and Quincy volunteered himself. Michael’s only requisite was that the music should not sound like the Jackson’s. Quincy was notable for his work in jazz music, on movie scores, in rock ‘n’ roll and he was to step into the realms of pop and funk music, assisting as he did in creating the global superstar that was to be Michael Jackson. Michael and Quincy were to change the course of music history... The album “Off the Wall” was released in August 1979. It was the first of many projects on which Jackson and Jones collaborated during the next few years. “Off the Wall” combines driven dance tunes with dreamy ballads. The added ingredient, of course, was Michael’s newly sagacious voice whilst remaining as flexible as ever. The album was a major step for Michael. He had done solo albums before with Motown but those were written and produced by the label’s team with Michael’s only contribution being the singing. “Off the Wall” was his own project following his own visions. It was a visual statement as well as a musical one and it was the declaration of both a new dance music and a new Michael Jackson - the mature, innovative artist. Michael appeared on the cover wearing a tuxedo but with his own individual touch of white fluorescent socks. His nose was also discernibly thinner; indicating the first of Michael’s dalliances with cosmetic surgery. In September 1979 the first single from the album was released. “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough” went straight in at No.1 in the States. It was a song that Michael was understandably proud of as it was the first he had written entirely by himself and it also featured his own overdubbed vocals which in effect meant that he was also doing his own backing singing. The second single release “Rock With You” followed “Don’t Sop Till You Get Enough” to the No.1 spot. Perhaps the most memorable track was released in May of 1980. “She’s Out Of My Life” was a song about the pain of lost love. When Michael performed it in the studio he got so involved in the emotion of the song that he broke down and cried at the very last line. So they recorded it again. “Every time we did it I’d look up at the end and Michael would be crying,” recalls Quincy. “I said we’ll come back in two weeks and do it again and maybe it won’t tear you up so much. Came back and he started to get teary. So we left it in.” When the singles “She’s Out Of My Life” and “Off The Wall” hit he Top Ten “Off The Wall” made musical history and Michael went onto win a Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance and three American Music Awards. In Britain the track “Girlfriend” also charted, this was the first time that five chart hits came from one album thus setting a new record. The album also spawned three short films at this time a very new genre. In the end of 1980 “Off The Wall” sold 8 million copies world-wide, appealing to both Jackson fans and legions of new followers and became CBS Records’ biggest selling album. “Off The Wall” made it clear: Michael Jackson was not longer just the little brother of the Jacksons, he was on his way to becoming the biggest pop-superstar. Jackson and Jones - both extremely talented and creative people who enjoyed mutual respect and admiration - worked wonderfully together. Jackson was delighted that Jones took his ideas seriously and that he gave him the musical freedom he had been looking for, and Jones recognised Jackson’s brilliance. At a press conference Jones said: “Michael is the essence of what a performer and an artist are all about. He’s got all you need emotionally, and he backs it up with discipline and pacing.” And another time he predicted: “In my opinion, Michael Jackson is going to be the star of the eighties and nineties.” “Off The Wall” made musical history. Never before a black artist has record an album with such a great importance. “Off The Wall” proved for the very first time, that music has no colour and that music can break down the racial barrier. “Off The Wall” appealed to all walks of life and people paid attention.
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To add to the continuing of Jackson mania, Michael and The Jacksons released their fourth CBS album entitled “Triumph”. It was again written and produced by the band. Michael went on a thirtynine-city concert tour with his brothers in 1981. A two album set “The Jacksons Live” was released and recorded to capture the event. However, the best was yet to come... “Off The Wall”: Total sales exceeded 18 million copies. The record was on the Billboard Chart for 84 weeks (32 weeks Top Ten), reaching a top position of number 2. In Britain the record was 173 weeks on the UK Album Charts, and reached number 5. US Single Charts: Four Top Then Hits including 2 No.1 Hits UK Single Charts: Five Top Then Hits Most Important Awards: 1 Grammy Award, 5 American Music Awards, 2 Billboard Awards With the increased attention came increased public scrutiny and media coverage, particularly in the tabloids. At Motown, Berry Gordy and his public-relations machine had been able to exert a tremendous amount of control over what was said about Jackson in the press. But at CBS there was no such control, and Jackson grew to mistrust the media. He hated being misunderstood, so even as he became more and more popular, he became more reclusive, giving fewer and fewer interviews. As Jackson later explains: “My biggest fear is being misquoted. One word can be cut into a statement and change the complete meaning and coloring of what was meant. Lately, people have been twisting everything I’ve been saying and that’s why I stay away from many interviews.” Jackson had no more control within his family than he had over the media. Though he essentially carried The Jacksons, he felt that his opinion did not matter and that he always would be outvoted. Even so, Jackson was still too tied to his family to completely pull away from them. Jackson felt lonely and alone. Both at home and work, his life seemed totally out of his control. The Struggle for Personal Control Because Jackson could not change any of those things, at least not immediately, he focused on something that he could alter: his appearance. He had the second of his surgeries oh his nose ostensibly to correct breathing problems that resulted from the botched first surgery. The new narrower nose made Jackson feel a little better when he looked in the mirror, but not enough, and he already was talking about a third operation. Jackson became a vegetarian, which helped him clear up his skin and lose a lot of weight, giving him the dancer’s body he wanted and making his face thinner and his cheekbones and jawline more prominent. Although his looks were altered dramatically, this was a temporary fix and served only to make him increasingly obsessed with his appearance. Jackson did not feel any better; he was still depressed and lonely. He suffered more and more from his success: "People don't talk to you like they do to your next-door-neighbour. Within every-day people I feel strange, I really do.” (...) “Even at home, I’m lonely. I sit in my room sometimes and cry.” Lonely, he would walk the streets, hoping to meet someone who would not recognise him as a celebrity someone who would like him just for being himself. But he always returns from this search with empty hands and he continued to feel lonely and isolated. Because of that Michael loves children and animals more than anything else. With them he feels comfortable, because then his fame is not important. “I find in animals the same thing I find so wonderful in children. That purity, that honesty, where they don't judge you, they just want to be your friend. I think that is so sweet." Turning to Others for Support Over time, as Jackson pulled away from his family, he spent more time with and became closer to other celebrities. He had known actress Jane Fonda for a couple of years; impressed and delighted by his refreshing uncynical attitude, she was very protective of him. Sarah Holiday, Fonda’s publicist, talked about Fonda’s relationship with Jackson: “A lot of people thought that their relationship was very strange. But Jane just thought Michael was a fascinating person. She made it clear that if anyone were to ever gossip about her and Michael, that person would be in serious trouble. “He’s too delicate to handle gossip,” she would say. She had been in the business for so long, she said it was nice to talk to someone who seemed so unjaded by it all.” That was just one of many relationships throughout Jackson’s life that were considered strange, even incomprehensible, by onlookers. He also became close to Fonda’s father, actor Henry Fonda, as well as to actors Katherine Hepburn and Marlon Brando. And Jackson’s close friendship with actress
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Elizabeth Taylor became quite well-known. Despite the age difference, these friendship were the natural outgrowth of a common bond: These stars had been in show business for years, so they shared many oft he same experiences, feelings, and attitudes. They understood media hype, and they knew about overzealous fans; they had been objects of public scrutiny, and they understood how the public persona can become confused with the private person. This is particularly true of Taylor because she had also been a child star and so understood the kinds of problems that Jackson faced. And these friends seemed to serve as a kind of surrogate family for Jackson when he needed them. Another person whom Jackson turned to, not just for friendship but also to help extricate himself from the family, was John Branca, the entertainment attorney he had hired soon after he turned twenty-one and began taking charge of his professional life. Jackson wanted independence from Joe and the family, a contract as a solo artist, and more creative freedom. Jackson told Branca that he wanted to be the biggest star in show business and also the wealthiest. For more than ten years, Branca worked towards those goals. He negotiated all business deals and was a trusted friend and adviser who was crucial to advancing Jackson’s career. Thriller - the biggest selling album of all time Jackson was extremely proud of “Off The Wall”, and he was stung when the album received only one Grammy nomination. He vowed that the voters would not be able to ignore his next album. “My pride in the rhythms, the technical advances, and the success of “Off The Wall” was offset by the jolt I got when the Grammy nominations were announced for 1979. Although “Off The Wall” had been one of the most popular records of the year, it received only one nomination: Best R&B Vocal Performance. I remember where I was when I got the news. I felt ignored by my peers and it hurt. I was disappointed and then I got excited thinking about that next album to come. All I could think of was the next album and what I would do with it. I wanted to be truly great!” From the beginning, Jackson’s association with Quincy Jones was magical. When Jackson decided to record his next album, there was no question who the producer would be. In Michael’s mind Jones was the best man for the job. Michael also contacted Paul McCartney and the two artists wrote several numbers. Two of them (“Say, Say, Say” and “The Man”) appeared on McCartney’s “Pipes Of Peace” album over a year later but one “The Girl Is Mine” was picked for Michael’s album. In December 1982 “Thriller” was released and went on to become the biggest selling album in history. It broke one record after another in sales and popularity, as did two of its singles, “Billie Jean” and “Beat it”, released in 1983. “Thriller” achieved more than 58 million word-wide sales and spent more than 37 weeks at number one in the Billboard album charts alone, longer than any other recording. “Thriller” produced seven top ten hits in the US, beating the record of four from a single album held by Jackson himself and that meant Michael Jackson dominated the charts globally during the following years. It’s first single was a duet with Paul McCartney entitled “The Girl is Mine” which went straight in at No.1 in the States. This was merely the warm-up though, as the follow up single would send the “Thriller” album into orbit. It was a lukewarm start for the single when it entered the top 100 at number 47, but six weeks later “Billie Jean” stood proudly at the top of the chart, giving Jackson the added distinction of becoming the first artist in Billboard chart history to have number one records simultaneously on both the black and pop charts. “Billie Jean” was about a young man denying that he was the father of a child. “A lot of people have asked me about that song, and the answer is very simple,” explained Jackson. “It’ just a case of a girl who says that I’m the father of her child and I’m pleading my innocence because ‘the kid is not my son’. There was never a real Billie Jean.” The song represented a composite of the overly aggressive female fans who had harassed him and his brothers for years. But it was not just good songs or good timing that pushed the “Thriller” album to the No.1 spot. By the 1980’s American music station MTV had become a major force and the pop video an integral part of the marketing of a record. Michael was one of the first artists to acknowledge this. Unfortunately, at that time MTV was still very much a rock station and had an unofficial ban on Black music. In the “Billie Jean” video the world could see Michael’s new image for the 1980’s. He had gone from the soft perm of “Off The Wall” to a new wet-look hairstyle, plucked eyebrows, eyeliner, slick dance moves, and even slicker clothes. Michael dressed in Black leather trousers, black leather jacket, pink shirt and red bow tie, lighting up the street wherever he walked. The story for the video showed Michael being trailed by a seedy private eye - no doubt hired to uncover dirt on Michael - but Michael Jackson is always one step ahead.
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Becoming a Legend When Jackson stole the show with his performance of “Billie Jean” on the NBC TV special, “Motown 25: Yesterday, Today an Forever,” sales of the album and the single shot through the roof. Jackson truly came into his own, with a new look, a new style (the hat, the single glove, his white socks, and the way his pants legs ended high above his ankles), and an exhilarating performance. And that night, in front of an estimated 50 million people, Michael Jackson became a legend. That legend, in his own time, made quite an impact. The moonwalk, a dance step that Jackson unveiled on the TV special, became his signature step and a huge dance craze. His performance of “Billie Jean” sent a whole new segment of the population who had not been exposed to “Thriller” scurrying to buy the album. Once inside the music store, they often bought other albums as well. This was extremely important to an industry that was in the midst of a recession. Now Jackson not only had the all-time best selling album, but he was also credited by many experts with reviving the sagging music industry. “Billie Jean” remained at number one for seven weeks, and fans and critics alike praised the video. And later, because “Billie Jean” was so enormously popular, the video was finally played on MTV, and Michael Jackson was credited with breaking a colour barrier and getting black artists on the MTV playlist. Jackson’s “Motown 25” performance was nominated for an Emmy, and “Motown 25” won one. At the end of the decade Jackson’s performance would be included in “Entertainment Weekly” magazine’s list as one of the twentieth century’s greatest entertainment moments. The rock-flavoured “Beat It” became the third single and took the same route to number one, producing another video that hooked fans. The video for “Beat It” was similarly stunning, filmed on the streets of L.A. and featuring a choreographed ensemble dance piece that has since become a staple of music videos. The theme of gang warfare in the video has prompted it to be compared to a miniversion of “West Side Story” but it was certainly an epic milestone in music videos. Some actual L.A. street gang members were used along side the professional dancers to give it an authentic feeling and it costs $100,000 to make. During the summer of 1983 three more singles were released and all went Top Ten in the states. Then came the video to top them all. “Thriller” was directed by John Landis. It employed ground breaking special effects and was a pastiche of horror movie themes such as werewolves and zombies, as well as including Michael’s ensemble dance pieces. The video was revolutionary, totally reworking the song in order to tell a story, firstly of Michael as a lead character of a 1950’s werewolf B movie, then to a present day with Michael walking his date home from seeing the Werewolf movie. During the course of which he encounters a crew of zombies in a dark alley and Jackson himself becomes one. It is a self-contained film clocking in at 15 minutes, the longest music video to date and also the first to feature closing credits. An unprecedented $800,000 was spent on producing the film which scooped several awards including MTV’s Best Video of the Eighties. During the same year, the video “The Making of Thriller” was produced and it became the best-selling music video of all time. All this was of course good for the sales for the album that continued to rise. Michael ended the year by holding No.1 spots in both the Album and Singles charts with Say, Say, Say and Thriller. In America Michael was also the first act to have three No.1 hits during one calendar year. “Thriller” spent all 52 weeks of 1983 in the Top Ten of the Album charts in the US, 37 weeks of which were spent at No.1. It also became the first album in history of recording music to begin and end the year at No.1. The other singles including “Pretty Young Thing”, “Human Nature” and “Wanna Be Starting Something” all sold well. Unsurprisingly, the album swept the board at the Grammy Awards in 1984. Jackson won a record number of awards, seven for “Thriller”, (including Album Of The Year and Single Of The Year “Beat It”), and an eight for his narration of the children’s album “E.T. - The Extra Terrestrial” - Best Recording For Children. In 1985 he won a ninth Grammy for “The Making of Thriller” - Best Home Video. The album went on break many other records, most notable being the top selling album of all time, shifting 58 million units. Thriller: Total sales exceed 58 million copies - biggest selling album off all time. The record was number 1 on the Billboard Album Chart for 37 weeks, spending a combined total of 122 weeks on the chart. It was also number 1 in the UK Album charts. US Single Charts: 7 Top Ten Hits including 3 No.1 Hits UK Single Charts: 7 Top Ten Hits including 3 No.1 Hits Say, Say, Say (McCartney & Jackson from “Pipes OF Peace”) was No.1 in the States and UK. Most Important Awards: 8 Grammy Awards, 8 American Music Awards, 13 Billboard Awards
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Retreating Meanwhile, in late 1982, Jackson had demolished and started a two-year rebuilding of the house in Encino. He created a self-contained world - an escape from the outside world. The house included a three-room picture gallery with themes of early Jackson family memorabilia, Jackson 5 history, and Jackson as an adult; stables for his collection of animals that roamed the backyard during the day, a pool, fountain, and Jacuzzi; and a 32-seat theater with red velvet seats. The house also featured a replica of Disneyland’s Main Street with puppet characters that Jackson described as being “like real people. Except they won’t grab at you or ask you for favors.” Jackson explained that he “put all this stuff in so I will never have to go out there.” He even had five life-size female mannequins posed in different parts of his bedroom and he even talked to them. He accompanied himself with friends he never had and he surrounded himself with people he want to be his friends, and he did that with mannequins. At the same time that he was retreating from the outside world, Jackson was also distancing himself from his family both emotionally and professionally. In 1983, with much difficulty, he fired his father. After all those years, Joe Jackson would no longer be representing his son. Joe was hurt and angry, and Michael’s action widened the chasm between father and son. Partly, Jackson had fired his father because he did not agree with him or support his ideas. And, of course, Jackson wanted control over his own life and career. But it also was because Jackson was so upset and angry with his father over his infidelities and wanted to punish him. He did not even want to be around Joe and tried to avoid him. When he could not, there would usually be a loud argument and Jackson would end up running to his room. Victory The Jacksons were working on a new album to be released before the start of their tour. Completed in May 1984, the album was called “Victory”, and the tour became the Victory Tour. Michael didn’t want to record the album and didn’t want to do the tour with his brothers but he gave in to the pleas of his mother and he agreed to the album and the tour for the sake of the family and the career of The Jacksons. As a part of the promotion, Jackson made some commercials for Pepsi and they signed him to a mammoth sponsorship deal, which was revealed to be the most lucrative in advertising history. In the second commercial, Michael’s hair caught fire during one of the special effects and he was rushed to the hospital and he underwent laser surgery to reconstruct the burned spot. As a result of the accident, Pepsi paid Jackson $1,500,000, which he immediately donated to the Michael Jackson Burn Center. There were many problems behind the scenes with the “Victory” tour, but more than ever, Jackson lived to be onstage. That was were he felt comfortable, confident, and complete, transformed into the person he was meant to be. During breaks in the tour, he went to Disneyland, his favorite place, whenever he could. He spent little, if any, time with his brothers. And even onstage, a distance awkwardness, even - was evident among them. They had little in common any more. Jackson had agreed to the album and the tour for the sake of the family, and it had only driven him further away. Failed Intimate Relationships Family problems, such as brother Jackie’s extramarital affair with Paula Abdul and sister Janet’s illadvised marriage to James DeBarge, did not help the estrangement. Jackson was already tormented by his father’s repeated unfaithfulness to his mother and how deeply it hurt her and had damaged their marriage. And his brother’s marriages, with all of their infidelities, disturbed him deeply. As a result, Jackson became even more sceptical and frightened of intimate relationships. For many years, he swore he would never marry because of all of the infidelity, pain, and hypocrisy that he had witnessed: “I don’t understand my family. And I don’t like some of the things my brothers do to their wives. I’m never going to marry. I just can’t take it. It’s awful, marriage. I don’t trust anyone enough for that.” For whatever reason, Michael seemed unable to have an intimate relationship. He offers an acknowledgement and one explanation in his autobiography, “Moonwalk”: “My dating and relationships with girls have not had the happy ending I’ve been looking for. Something always seems to get in the way. The things I share with millions of people aren’t the sort of things you share with one. Many girls want to know what makes me tick - why I live the way I live or do the things I do - trying to get inside my head. They want to rescue me from my loneliness, but they do it in such a way that they give me the impression they want to share my loneliness, which I wouldn’t wish on anybody, because I believe I’m one of the loneliest people in the world.” Jackson did have a few widely reported relationship, but opinions vary on how serious they were. Michael describes actress Tatum O’Neal as his first real date and says, “I fell in love with her (and she with me) and we were very close for some time.” But O’Neal has always maintained that they were just
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friends. Jackson also calls actress Brooke Shields “another love” and says: “We were romantically serious for a while.” She, too, denies anything more than friendship.” In Fact it was a good P.R for Michael and for them to be seen with him. Jackson’s sexuality had been the subject of media speculation and rumours for years. Jackson denied that he was gay, but it did not seem to help. A tabloid reported that he was having an affair with British pop star Boy George. Other Projects Then, in early 1985, Jackson - along with 45 of the biggest musical stars - recorded “We Are The World”, a song Jackson had written with Lionel Ritchie to raise money for relief to Africa. All proceeds were to go to the nonprofit group USA for Africa to provide emergency food, medical relief, and selfhelp programs to Ethiopia and other areas of Africa that were devastated by a terrible famine. The project was important to Jackson, and despite his shyness and discomfort around others, he was instrumental in uniting the diverse assemble of stars and inspiring them to play a part in fighting world hunger. The artists were energised by the project and excited about working with one another; they felt uplifted and shared a strong sense of community. But Jackson was not a part of it. He stayed separate and aloof, never taking off his sunglasses. It was though he were erecting an invisible barrier between himself and the others. His solo was even taped later, privately, and spliced in. Jackson’s isolation and eccentricities were becoming more and more consuming. “We Are The World” won 3 Grammies and 3 American Music Awards and became the fastest and biggest selling single ever. Michael busied himself with various other projects. He spent, rumoured to be in the region of $47 million, on purchasing ATV Music, a company that owned the rights to the songs of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Sadly, this particular business deal was to sour his relationship with McCartney, a friendship which, until this point, had been faithful both personally and professionally. Michael also undertook a further film role in the special effects-laden “Captain EO”. Produced exclusively for Walt Disney and shown only at Disneyworld. With Michael Jackson in a leading role, it was produced by George Lucas of Star Wars fame and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. It’s story centres around a group of space travellers who must deliver the gift of music to an evil queen. The movie was shot in 3-D and it’s premiere featured a number of in-house effects, including smoke and lasers as well as a state-of-the-art sound system. Jackson also announced plans to write his autobiography, but these were suspended as Michael revealed he was returning to the studio to work on his next album. So, post -“Thriller”, we had witnessed Michael Jackson the humanitarian, the businessman, and the science-fiction film star. But the time now appeared to be right for him to return to his day job. Welcome back, Michael Jackson - pop superstar. The Public Image: Eccentricities and Ridicule In the years following the phenomenal success of “Thriller”, Michael Jackson’s reputation as an eccentric grew. Controversy surrounded him at nearly every turn, in both his professional and private lives, much of it brought on by his own miscalculations. Yet behind the weird public image exists a generous humanitarian who still adheres to the strict religious principles with which he was raised, contradicting the image of the stereotypical harddrinking, hard-living rock star. And there are little known facets of Jackson that reveal the complex person he his. Unlike many other rock stars, Jackson is the enormous success and beloved star that he is despite his public image, rather than because of it. Bad Following completion of “We Are The World” in 1985, Jackson went into his follow-up project to “Thriller”. Once again Quincy Jones was chosen as producer. Working together, Jackson and Jones decided that their next project would be as close to perfection as was humanly possible. The album entitled “Bad” was finally released in August 1987, after two and a half years of work and many delays. The delays were caused by Jackson’s legendary perfectionism as well as the pressure of making the follow-up to the biggest selling, most celebrated album of all time. But throughout the recording of “Bad”, Jackson and Jones continued to enjoy a unique creative relationship. “What I do is, I write the songs and do the music and then Quincy brings out the best in me,” Jackson said at the time. Continuing to develop as a composer, Jackson wrote nine of the eleven songs himself. One of the others, “Man In The Mirror” came from Siedah Garrett. The appeal of that song won her the chance to
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duet with Michael on the track “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”. For the title track “Bad”, top film director and friend of Quincy, Martin Scorcese was chosen to shoot the video. Another mini movie, it cost over $2 million to make and told the story of Daryl, a street kid from a rough inner-city neighborhood who is sent to a private school. When he returns to his old neighborhood, he no longer fits in and the other kids begin to give him trouble. Expressing the view that strength and goodness is “bad,” he sings: “I’m bad, you’re bad, who’s bad, who’s the best?” The anti-violence message was reflected in gangland dance scenes. Michael had a complete new image. He wore a black leather motorcycle outfit, complete with multiple studded belts and buckles. A publicity shot of Michael taken during the filming of the video was eventually used for the cover of the album. The video was given its first public airing in a 30 minute TV documentary - “Michael Jackson - The Magic Returns”, aired in August. However, the melodramatic “Smooth Criminal” video, which cost $8 million, dwarfed the budget for the “Bad” video. It seemed that movies inspired Michael’s interest and he went to work on another film project called “Moonwalker”. In August the duet “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” was released and went straight to No.1 spot in both UK and US charts. In October the second single “Bad” followed to No.1 in the states. The next three singles “The Way You Make Me Feel”, “Man In The Mirror” and “Dirty Diana” also went straight to No.1, this was the first time that 5 No.1 singles came from one album thus setting a new record. When the album was released in the UK reports abounded of the opening day siege on record shops to purchase it. Tower Records in London sold 200 copies in the fist hour. It went straight to No.1 and stayed there for nine weeks, its sales exceeded the whole of the rest of the Top Forty. Throughout its first week one in every four albums sold was “Bad”. “Bad” also debuted at No.1 on the Billboard charts, making Michael only the fifth artist ever debut at number one. The record reached No.1 in 23 countries - setting a new record. Michael also became the first artist to have four subsequent Top Ten Hits from three consecutive albums. And even though “Bad” was released fairly late in the year, it was still the top selling album of 1987. Total sales exceeded 28 million copies around the world and “Bad” became one of the biggest selling albums of all time. One of Jackson’s favorite songs from the recording was “Man In The Mirror”, notable for it’s anthemic chorus. “If John Lennon was alive, he could really relate to that song because it says that if you want to make the world a better place, you have to work on yourself and change first. It’s the same thing John K. Kennedy said, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.’ That’s the truth. That’s what Martin Luther King meant and Gandhi too. That’s what I believe,” observed Jackson. The Bad World Tour In September 1987 to promote his album Michael kicked off his first ever solo tour - “The Bad World Tour”- in Japan with 14 sell out concerts. The tour took in 123 dates in 15 countries and four continents over the next 16 month. When tickets went to sale in Britain in November ‘87, it was reported that the 144,000 tickets for Wembley Stadium sold out within three hours. Over 6,000 people queued outside Wembley’s box office, many camping over night despite freezing temperature. In September 1988 Michael was presented with an award for setting a new record for playing more dates at Wembley Stadium than any other artist. More than half a million people attended his seven sell out concerts - setting a new World record. After playing in England the “Bad Tour” went back to America. He played the final show in January 1989 at the Los Angeles Sport Arena. Michael performed to more than 4.4 million people, grossing over 125 million dollars. Michael Jackson’s “Bad World Tour” is the biggest and highest earning tour of all time. Moonwalk and Moonwalker Michael’s autobiography “Moonwalk”, released in 1988, considering Michael Jackson’s superstar status, had great commercial appeal and topped the best seller list in Britain and the US. The book was accompanied by a full-length feature film called “Moonwalker”, an extravagant mix of music, dance and special effects, starring Michael himself as a crusader battling Joe Pesci’s evil crime lord. The first thirty minutes of the film serve as an overview of Michael’s career, from his adolescent days with The Jackson 5, right up to the date of his current album of the time. Jackson fans could sit back and enjoy the music of their idol in the expansive surroundings of a movie theatre. The film was a modest success at the box-office, created as it was for Michael Jackson devotees, but it achieved the after-affect of selling more records and books. The film “Moonwalker”, was released on home video in time for Christmas 1988. The home video “Moonwalker” beaded the record of “The Making of Thriller” and became the biggest selling home video of all time. The film bolstered his reputation as an original thinker in terms of music video and his commitment to the art was rewarded by MTV with their own
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Vanguard award for outstanding contribution to music video production. Bad: Total sales exceeded 28 million. It debuted an No.1 on the Billboard Album Chart, spending 6 weeks at No.1 and 87 weeks on the chart. It also went to No.1 in the UK Album charts, and stayed there for 9 weeks. US Single Charts: 6 Top Ten Hits including 5 No.1 Hits UK Single Charts: 6 Top Ten Hits including 1 No.1 Hit Most Important Awards: 2 Grammy Awards, 2 American Music Awards, 3 Billboard Awards The Jehovah’s Witness Michael and his siblings were brought up as Jehovah’s Witnesses. Michael was constantly criticised for his appearance and after he had cleaned up the 1984 Grammy Awards, he was presented with an ultimatum - music or church. The elders were also uncomfortable with the supernatural elements of the “Thriller” concept. After much soul searching, Michael left the congregation for good in 1987. Vitiligo If you look at any photo of Michael when he was younger and compare it to photos of him today, you will clearly see that his skin was much darker in the past. Many columns of news print have been devoted to the reason for this but, far from artificially bleaching his skin so he can look white, Michael actually has a rare dermatological condition called Vitiligo. This causes an irregular depigmentation of the skin, leaving sufferers with pale areas where the pigment is lost. The medical profession do not fully understand why it happens. Like other sufferers, Michael wears hats, masks, baggy clothes and makeup which cover his irregular shin tone. Although it was diagnosed in 1986, it was only in 1993 during his famous interview with Oprah Winfrey that he revealed it publicity. Sources of Ridicule “Bad” proved controversial despite its commercial success. Jackson had a new look: he wore all black, his clothes were adorned with buckles, buckles, and more buckles; his hair was longer, and he sported a newly chiseled cleft in his chin. During performances on “The Bad Tour”, and in the video for the title track, Jackson apparently attempted to look and act “bad”, stamping his feet, shouting, shaking, and repeatedly grabbing his crotch. Some critics speculated that these actions were meant to establish Jackson’s masculinity and counter the persistent rumours about his sexuality. Instead, Jackson was ridiculed and satirised. And many in the black music community felt that the title track conveyed stereotypes that were offensive to African Americans. Things continued to deteriorate for Jackson. In “Rolling Stone” magazine’s yearly poll, he was voted the worst artist in almost all categories. Jackson was also upset about the public’s ongoing preoccupation with his appearance. It was obvious that his face had been altered surgically. Many theories were proposed to explain why Jackson had altered his appearance so drastically. Some observers suggested that Jackson seemed to be trying to appear more “white”; meanwhile, others believed he was trying to achieve the perfect face or resemble his idol, Diana Ross. Still others speculated that he was tying to erase any resemblance to his father. Whatever his motivation or intent was, Jackson’s numerous surgeries have evoked widespread public scrutiny and derision. Few people realise, however, that Jackson himself initially was responsible for promoting and planting many of those stories to garner publicity. At one point, in an attempt to further his career, Jackson gave his attorney, John Branca, and his manger Frank Dileo, a book about the philosophy of P. T. Barnum, a showman known for saying, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Barnum thought that most people were gullible and would believe almost anything, and he used his theory to exploit situations and to convince people that the circus he ran, was advertising, “the greatest show on earth.” Jackson told Branca and Dileo, “This is going to be my Bible and I want it to be yours. I want my whole career to be the greatest show on earth.” Soon, Jackson began putting Barnum’ theory to the test. While filming “Captain Eo”, Jackson had faked an injury to generate publicity. When the strategy worked, he took it a step further: with assistance, he planted the now-notorious hyperbaric-chamber story and picture. When Jackson was hospitalised for the burns he had suffered while filming the Pepsi commercial, he had seen a hyperbaric chamber, a casket-size machine used help heal burn victims. He decided to have his picture taken in it. It was then Jackson’s idea to plant the story that he wanted to sleep in the chamber so he could live to be 150 years old, and that he would be taking it with him on the next tour. He did not know if anyone would believe the story, but he wanted to find out. So Dileo contacted a reporter for the tabloid “National Enquirer”, told him the story,
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and provided a picture of Jackson in the chamber. The story was printed - repeatedly - and believed. Jackson was astonished. “I can’t believe that people bought it. It’s like I can tell the press anything about me and they’ll by it. We can actually control the press. I think this is an important breakthrough for us.” Next came the story of the pursuit of the remains of John Merrick. Merrick, a 19th century Englishman, was known as “the Elephant Man” because he suffered from a rare disorder that hideously deformed his face and body. His story, told in the movie “The Elephant Man”, moved Jackson to tears with its depiction of Merrick as an outsider searching for love and acceptance. To see what kind of publicity he could get, Jackson decided to offer to buy Merrick’s remains from the hospital where they were kept. As with the hyperbaric-chamber story, the stunt received a tremendous amount of publicity, and Jackson was delighted. Here was a way to get back, to control, the press he so despised. Michael Jackson on being Michael Jackson: “To me, nothing is more important than making people happy, giving them a release from their problems and worries, helping to lighten their load. I want them to walk away from a performance I’ve done saying, ‘That was great. I want to go back again. I had a great time.’ To me, that’s what it’s all about. That’s wonderful.” Though the planted stories did, as Jackson intended, generate publicity for him and temporarily give him a sense of power over the press, they did not pique people’s interest or entice them to learn more, as he hoped. Instead, they only convinced people that Jackson was so weird that he had lost touch with reality. This hurt him deeply. The strategy was a gross miscalculation, and in the long run it hurt his image and his career. Jackson’s strategy backfired further when unprincipled journalists started creating stories about him in addition to those he planted himself. The sensational stories always sold a lot of magazines and newspapers, and once Jackson had painted him himself with the “weird” brush, people would believe just about anything. So, according to published reports, Jackson has built a shrine to Elizabeth Taylor, where her movies played 24 hours a day; he had asked her to marry him; he had tried to convince her to sleep in the hyperbaric-chamber with him; he was certain the world was going to end in 1998; he refused to bathe in anything but Evian water; he was going to perform behind a Plexiglas shield while on tour to protect himself from germs, and he had seen the ghost of legendary musician John Lennon. All of these stories were untrue, and all upset Jackson tremendously. What he did not seem to understand was that he was the one who started the ball rolling. When an associate tried to explain to Jackson that he could not plant false stories and then become upset when the media could not differentiate between his false stories and others’ rumours, Jackson responded, “It’s different if I say it’s true and it’s not, but I don’t like it when other people say things about me that are untrue. That’s not fair.” And his refusal to grant interviews to clarify or deny the rumours kept the stories alive, as did his idiosyncratic behavior. The false or embellished stories often did not seem any stranger than those known or proven to be true, so they, too, were simply accepted as fact. Jackson’s behavior convinced the public that he was very bizarre, particularly when his actions did not seem to conform to his explanations. One of the most blatant examples is Jackson’s well-publicised use of disguises. As he became more reclusive, he would routinely wear a disguise when he did venture out. In an interview for TV Guide, he explains: “I do disguise for different reasons. . . . I like to study people - be like the fly on the wall. Even it it’s two old ladies sitting on a bench or some kids on a swing. Because I don’t know how it’s like to fit in an everyday situation.” Another reason he gave for the disguises was that they allowed him to go about his business without being recognised. That does not seem so strange. After all, he had no privacy, and he certainly was one of the most recognisable men in the world. But usually the disguises would be so outrageous that he would be certain to be recognised, and he would create even more of an uproar, getting more attention than if he had gone undisguised. After Jackson had his fourth surgery on his nose in 1986, he would wear a surgical mask with a black fedora and sunglasses - or a gorilla mask - when he went out. This made him extremely conspicuous and reinforced his image as a kook. The media said - and it was generally believed - that he was wearing a mask to avoid catching germs, allegedly his latest obsession. Jackson did not comment publicly on these stories, but privately he said that he was wearing a mask because he had had his wisdom teeth pulled and he just had the cleft put in his chin. And in fact because of Vitiligo and the lost pigmentation Michael’s skin became vulnerable to sunlight - that’s why he often has to wear hat, mask, sunglasses, and / or a sunshade. Another well-known and frequently discussed trait is Jackson’s love of animals. His menagerie has included deer, a llama, a horse, a sheep, swans, birds, snakes, tarantulas, giraffes, a lion, and his most famous pet, Bubbles the chimpanzee. But his attachment to Bubbles has been especially mocked and ridiculed. Bubbles reportedly had his own room in Jackson’s house and a crib in
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Jackson’s room. He also had an entire wardrobe that included designer clothes. Bubbles accompanied Jackson on his solo tour to Japan, where he had his own hotel room that Jackson had rewallpapered because Bubbles is sensitive to cigarette smoke. For a while, everywhere Jackson went, Bubbles went, too; it seemed they were inseparable. This confirmed Jackson as - at very least - a screwball in the minds of most observers. And here, as was the case with his other eccentric behavior, what was observed in public invited speculation about what went on in private, eliciting further ridicule. Perhaps the characteristic most discussed and ridiculed in the press was Jackson’s childlike - some would say childish - behavior and his attempts to surround himself with the trappings of childhood. While on the “Bad” tour, he closed the deal on a ranch in the Santa Ynez Valley, which he soon renamed “Neverland”. The ranch is an amusement park, a playland stocked with animals, toys, and things designed for children. It is a place where, despite being one of the richest and most powerful entertainers in the world, Jackson can act like a child. Some people believe this behavior is Jackson’s way of experiencing the childhood he never had. Others have been baffled, and some disturbed, by Jackson’s seeming to pretend to be a child and by his relationships with children. In 1989 The Jacksons made an album without Michael, “2300 Jackson Street”, which flopped. This album completed the group’s contract with Epic records - a contract, which was not renewed. The 1980s were almost at an end, a decade in which Michael Jackson had triumphed both artistically and financially. As the 80’s drew to a close, was he ready for the 1990s? And, indeed, were the 1990s ready for him? King of Pop & Entertainer of the Decade: Accomplishments and Accolades I’m gonna make you the biggest thing in the world, and you’re gonna be written about in history books.” So said Berry Gordy, founder of Motown Records, to the Jackson 5 soon after they had passed the audition for Motown in 1968. He was right - at least about the group’s extraordinarily gifted youngest member, Michael. Michael Jackson went on to make “Thriller”, the biggest selling album of all time, and he has broken just about every existing record pertaining to popular music. It’s no wonder Michael Jackson is known as “The King of Pop”. Though the success of “Thriller” would have been enough to include Michael Jackson among the most influential entertainers of the 1980s, his contributions extend far beyond that. Time and again, Jackson was recognised and honored as the entertainer of the decade. President George Bush even honored him with an “Artist of the Decade” award in a White House ceremony. Billboard’s recap accurately and artfully states the consensus: Michael Jackson was both the hottest and most immediately influential artist of the 80’s. The Gloved One was far and away the top artist in pop, black, and dance music, and also had the top albums in all three formats... Michael Jackson’s success confirmed once and for all the sales potential of black music and opened the door for other black artists. And many follow his lead. And “People” magazine, in its retrospective of the 1980s, included Michael Jackson as one of the twenty people who helped define the decade. But even beyond that, “Ebony” magazine includes Jackson as one of the twenty-five who changed American music. This is why: Michael Jackson is hailed as “King of Pop”, but it is in the realm of music videos that his impact has been greatest. With production techniques worthy of feature films and high-flying choreography, he transformed videos from static, plotless taped concerts into kinetic, musical dramas that have become integral to the marketing of popular songs. Biographer Caroline Lathman noted: “Michael took the video from promotional gimmick into the realm of art form.” An enormously talented performer who has described himself as “one of the loneliest people in the world”, Michael Jackson is a study in what went right and want went wrong in the life of a child star who became extremely popular at an early age. In addition to being one of the most popular, most successful, and most influential entertainers, Jackson is also one of the most gifted. Although at times it seems that he is known as much for his eccentricities and the rumours, controversies, and scandals that plague him, Michael Jackson is truly a living legend, an in the final analysis he will be remembered for his musical genius and the many contributions he has made.
Seite 15 von 15 MJ@ckson.NET http://www.mjackson.NET Autor: © Christian Rauchbacher 05 / 2003


								
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