For me personally this is a difficult article to write. Like so many tens of millions of people worldwide, I am still saddened that Michael Jackson has died. Without showing the slightest hint that his time on earth was near its end, the undisputed “King of Pop” two years ago on this date, collapsed at his rented home in Los Angeles, California from an apparent cardiac arrest and breathed his last breath. For weeks prior to his death, Michael was back at what he loved to do, which was rehearsing and planning the details for his big comeback tour in Europe.
Michael Jackson’s comeback tour was supposed (1) re-establish his appeal and dominance in the music industry and (2) pay off a growing legion of debtors that had accumulated from years of borrowing against his assets.
The comeback tour comprised an elaborate series of 50 separate concerts which were scheduled to be performed in London, England before hundreds of thousands of adoring fans.
When Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009 he was only 50 years old. Although some may argue that Michael Jackson did not look well, his untimely death came as a shock to his fans and music lovers around the world. From Brooklyn to Moscow to London, fans grew up listening and dancing to the music that Michael Jackson gave us. The world’s love affair with Michael began in 1968 when he first burst upon the music scene as the lead singer of the family group, “The Jackson 5”. The fact that Michael Jackson electrified audiences with his singing and his dancing cannot ever be disputed.
It was clear to most people who followed the Jackson 5 that little Michael was the most talented performer in the group. Michael often attributed his styled of dancing from watching as a little boy, Rhythm and Blues legends Jackie Wilson and James Brown as they glided across the stage and captivated their audiences with complicated dance moves that made words like “Funky” a common household expression in urban America.
Michael and his brothers and sisters grew up in Gary, Indiana. The seventh child born from Katherine and Joseph Jackson, Michael was destined to become the brightest star of a family that would soon take the music industry and the world by storm.
His father, as did most people who lived in Gary, worked as a steel worker, however unlike most of the people in his neighborhood, Joseph dreamed of one day leaving Gary and its steel mills and making it big as a musician and a singer. Although fate may not have made the senior Jackson a star, fate was directing Joseph Jackson to take notice that his children had a talent for singing and playing musical instruments that would soon set them on a course that would enable them to permanently leave the steel mills of Gary, Indiana for the bright lights of Los Angeles, California.
Under the hard and demanding mentorship of their father, brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael went from performing in small clubs to eventually being signed in 1968 by Berry Gordon who owned Motown Records.
The achievements of Michael and his brothers is truly an American success story. The Jackson 5 went from being an obscure singing group from Gary, Indiana to an internationally known singing phenomenon that had teenagers and adults wanting to hear more from them. Songs like, “I want you back”, “ABC”, “The love you save” and “I’ll be there” made the Jackson 5 the first act in recorded history to have their first four major label singles hit number one on American music charts.
Indeed, Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5 because of their popularity helped America integrate before most people even knew what the word “integration” meant. Before Michael and his talented brothers, there were no other Black kids that came via television into the living rooms of White families across America. Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5 broke racial and color lines during a time in America when Blacks still had separate rest rooms from Whites in restaurants and bus stations in the deep south. The Jackson 5 was so popular that they were even made into a Saturday morning cartoon.
As Michel and his brothers grew older and they became more business savvy, they left Motown Records in 1975 for Epic Records and continued to blaze the charts with songs like “Dancing Machine” and “Shake your body (down to the ground)”.
However, as fate would have it, in 1978 Michael Jackson during his acting stint as the Scarecrow in the musical “The Wiz”, was introduced to Quincy Jones and with the collaboration of “Q”, Michael made magic with his fifth solo album (but first with Epic) which was entitled “Off the wall”.
Released by Epic Records in 1979, it was the first album to generate four U.S. top 10 hits, including the chart-topping singles “Don’t stop until you get enough” and “Rock with you”. Overall the album “Off the wall” sold over 20 million copies worldwide. Michael Jackson the superstar had arrived.
In 1982, Epic Records released Michael’s second album entitle, “Thriller” and in true Michael Jackson style, “Thriller” thrilled the world. The “Thriller” album sold over 110 million copies worldwide, making it the highest selling album of all time. The album remained in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 for 80 consecutive weeks. Seven singles from Thriller concurrently hit the Billboard Hot 100 top 10, including “Billie Jean”, “Beat it” and “Wanna be starting something”.
In 1987 five years after the Thriller album, Michael and Epic Records released the “Bad” album which produced the hit songs, “I just can’t stop loving you”, “Bad”, “The way you make me feel”, “Man in the mirror” and “Dirty Diana”. Although modest in terms of album sales in comparison to the “Thriller” album, “Bad” sold over 30 million copies.
As an entertainer Michael Jackson was the undisputed king of Pop music. Michael Jackson was one of a handful of musical artists that has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice. He has sold over 750 million records worldwide, received 13 Grammy Awards and as a testament to his unparalleled success, Michael Jackson has 13 number one singles. Guinness World Records list Michael Jackson as the most successful entertainer of all time, of all time.
What many people have forgotten is that Michael Jackson was a philanthropist. In between racking up countless awards as an entertainer, Michael Jackson found time to set up foundations which concentrated on helping children around the world live a better life. In 1984 Michael co-wrote the charity single, “We are the world” with Lionel Richie, which was released worldwide to aid the poor in Africa and the United States. One of 39 artists that performed on the single, “We are the world” sold over 20 million copies.
In closing, in addition to Michael Jackson being a superstar, Michael Jackson was a devoted son to this parents, a loving brother to his siblings and a very shrewd business man. Michael was also a loving father to his three children and found time to marry twice.
May God Bless your soul Michael Jackson. You were given a beautiful gift from God to share with the rest of the world and for that the world is grateful. Rest in Peace.