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Michael Jackson Biography

Michael Joseph Jackson  was an American recording artist, singer-songwriter, and philanthropist. Referred to as the King of Pop, Jackson is recognized as the most successful entertainer of all time by Guinness World Records. His contribution to music, dance and fashion, along with a much-publicized personal life, made him a global figure in popular culture for over four decades. The eighth child of the Jackson family, he debuted on the professional music scene along with his brothers as a member of The Jackson 5 in the mid-1960s, and began his solo career in 1971.

In the early 1980s, Jackson became a dominant figure in popular music. The music videos for his songs including "Beat It", "Billie Jean" and "Thriller", were credited with transforming the medium into an art form and a promotional tool, and the popularity of these videos helped to bring the relatively new television channel MTV to fame. Videos such as "Black or White" and "Scream" made him a staple on MTV in the 1990s. Through stage performances and music videos, Jackson popularized a number of dance techniques, such as the robot and the moonwalk. His distinctive musical sound and vocal style have influenced numerous hip hop, pop, contemporary R&B and rock artists.

Jackson's 1982 album Thriller is the best-selling album of all time. His other records, including Off the Wall (1979), Bad (1987), Dangerous (1991) and HIStory (1995), also rank among the world's best-selling. Jackson is one of the few artists to have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice. He was also inducted into the Dance Hall of Fame as the first (and currently only) dancer from the world of pop and rock 'n' roll. Some of his other achievements include multiple Guinness World Records; 13 Grammy Awards (as well as the Grammy Legend Award and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award); 26 American Music Awards (more than any other artist, including the "Artist of the Century"); 13 number-one singles in the United States in his solo career (more than any other male artist in the Hot 100 era); and the estimated sale of over 750 million records worldwide. Jackson won hundreds of awards, which have made him the most-awarded recording artist in the history of music. He was also a notable humanitarian and philanthropist, donating and raising hundreds of millions of dollars for beneficial causes and supporting more than 39 charities.

Aspects of Jackson's personal life, including his changing appearance, personal relationships and behavior, have generated controversy. In 1993, he was accused of child sexual abuse, but the case was settled out of court and no formal charges were brought. In 2005, he was tried and acquitted of further sexual abuse allegations and several other charges after the jury ruled him not guilty on all counts. While preparing for his concert series This Is It, Jackson died on June 25, 2009, after suffering from cardiac arrest. Before his death, Jackson had reportedly been administered drugs such as propofol and lorazepam. The Los Angeles County Coroner declared his death a homicide, and his personal physician pleaded not guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter. Jackson's death triggered a global outpouring of grief, and as many as one billion people around the world reportedly watched his public memorial service on live television. In March 2010, Sony Music Entertainment signed a US$250 million deal with Jackson's estate to retain distribution rights to his recordings until 2017, and to release seven posthumous albums over the decade following his death.

Michael Jackson was born on August 29, 1958, the eighth of ten children in an African American working-class family, in Gary, Indiana, an industrial suburb of Chicago. His mother, Katherine Esther Scruse, was a devout Jehovah's Witness, and his father, Joseph Walter "Joe" Jackson, was a steel mill worker who performed with an R&B band called The Falcons. Jackson had three sisters: Rebbie, La Toya, and Janet, and five brothers: Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, and Randy. A sixth brother, Brandon, died shortly after birth.

Jackson had a troubled relationship with his father, Joe. Joseph acknowledged in 2003 that he regularly whipped Jackson as a child. Jackson stated that he was physically and emotionally abused during incessant rehearsals, though he also credited his father's strict discipline with playing a large role in his success. Jackson first spoke openly about his childhood abuse in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, broadcast in February 1993. He admitted that he had often cried from loneliness and he would vomit on the sight of his father. Jackson's father was also said to have verbally abused Jackson, saying that he had a fat nose on numerous occasions. In fact, Michael Jackson's deep dissatisfaction with his appearance, his nightmares and chronic sleep problems, his tendency to remain hyper-compliant especially with his father, and to remain child-like throughout his adult life are in many ways consistent with the effects of this chronic maltreatment he endured as a young child.

Jackson gave a 90-minute interview to Oprah Winfrey in February 1993, his second television interview since 1979. He grimaced when speaking of his childhood abuse at the hands of his father; he believed he had missed out on much of his childhood years, admitting that he often cried from loneliness. He denied tabloid rumors that he had bought the bones of the Elephant Man, slept in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, or bleached his skin, stating for the first time that he had vitiligo. The interview was watched by an American audience of 90 million. Dangerous re-entered the album chart in the top 10, more than a year after its original release.

In the summer of 1993, Jackson was accused of child sexual abuse by a 13-year-old boy named Jordan Chandler and his father, Evan Chandler, a dentist. The Chandler family demanded payment from Jackson, and the singer initially refused. Jordan Chandler eventually told the police that Jackson had sexually abused him. Dr. Chandler was tape-recorded discussing his intention to pursue charges, saying, "If I go through with this, I win big-time. There's no way I lose. I will get everything I want and they will be destroyed forever ... Michael's career will be over". Jordan's mother was, however, adamant that there had been no wrongdoing on Jackson's part. Jackson later used the recording to argue that he was the victim of a jealous father whose only goal was to extort money from the singer.

Later on that year, Jackson's home was raided by the police, and Jackson even submitted to a 25-minute strip search. His friends said he never recovered from the humiliation. The investigation was inconclusive and no charges were ever filed. Jackson described the search in an emotional public statement, and proclaimed his innocence. On January 1, 1994, Jackson's insurance carrier settled with the Chandlers out of court for $22 million. A Santa Barbara County grand jury and a Los Angeles County grand jury disbanded on May 2, 1994 without indicting Jackson. After which time the Chandlers stopped co-operating with the criminal investigation around July 6, 1994. The out-of-court settlement's documentation specifically stated Jackson admitted no wrongdoing and no liability; the Chandlers and their family lawyer Larry Feldman signed it without contest. The Chandlers' lawyer Mr. Feldman also explicitly stated "nobody bought anybody's silence". A decade after the fact, during the second round of child abuse allegations, Jackson's lawyers would file a memo stating that the 1994 settlement was done without his consent.

In May 1994, Jackson married the daughter of Elvis Presley, Lisa Marie Presley. They had first met in 1975, when a seven-year-old Presley attended one of Jackson's family engagements at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, and were reconnected through a mutual friend in early 1993. They stayed in contact every day over the telephone. As the child molestation accusations became public, Jackson became dependent on Presley for emotional support; she was concerned about his faltering health and addiction to drugs. Presley explained, "I believed he didn't do anything wrong and that he was wrongly accused and yes I started falling for him. I wanted to save him. I felt that I could do it." She eventually persuaded him to settle the allegations out of court and go into rehabilitation to recover.

Jackson proposed to Presley over the telephone towards the fall of 1993, saying, "If I asked you to marry me, would you do it?" They married in the Dominican Republic in secrecy, denying it for nearly two months afterwards. The marriage was, in her words, "a married couple's life ... that was sexually active". At the time, the tabloid media speculated that the wedding was a ploy to prop up Jackson's public image. The marriage lasted less than two years and ended with an amicable divorce settlement. Presley admitted in interview to Oprah that her relationships with Jackson continued "off and on" for four years after formal divorce.

On June 25, 2009, Jackson died in his bed at his rented mansion at 100 North Carolwood Drive in the Holmby Hills district of Los Angeles. Attempts at resuscitating him by Conrad Murray, his personal physician, were unsuccessful. Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics received a 911 call at 12:22 (PDT, 19:22 UTC), arriving three minutes later at Jackson's location. He was reportedly not breathing and CPR was performed. Resuscitation efforts continued en route to the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, and for an hour after arriving there at 1:13 (20:13 UTC). He was pronounced dead at 2:26 local time (21:26 UTC). Jackson's death triggered a global outpouring of grief.

The news spread quickly online, causing websites to slow down and crash from user overload. Both TMZ and the Los Angeles Times suffered outages. Google initially believed that the input from millions of people searching for "Michael Jackson" meant that the search engine was under attack. Twitter reported a crash, as did Wikipedia at 3:15 p.m. PDT (6:15 p.m. EDT). The Wikimedia Foundation reported nearly a million visitors to Jackson's biography within one hour, probably the most visitors in a one-hour period to any article in Wikipedia's history. AOL Instant Messenger collapsed for 40 minutes. AOL called it a "seminal moment in Internet history", adding, "We've never seen anything like it in terms of scope or depth."

Around 15% of Twitter posts—or 5,000 tweets per minute—reportedly mentioned Jackson after the news broke, compared to the 5% recalled as having mentioned the Iranian elections or the flu pandemic that had made headlines earlier in the year. Overall, web traffic ranged from 11% to at least 20% higher than normal. MTV and Black Entertainment Television (BET) aired marathons of Jackson's music videos. Jackson specials aired on multiple television stations around the world. The British soap opera EastEnders added a last-minute scene, in which one character tells another about the news, to the June 26 episode. Jackson was the topic of every front-page headline in the daily British tabloid The Sun for about two weeks following his death. During the same period, the three major U.S. networks' evening newscasts—ABC's World News, CBS Evening News, and NBC Nightly News—devoted 34% of their broadcast time to him. Magazines including Time published commemorative editions. A scene that had featured Jackson's sister La Toya was cut from the film Brüno out of respect toward Jackson's family.

Jackson's memorial was held on July 7, 2009, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, preceded by a private family service at Forest Lawn Memorial Park's Hall of Liberty. Jackson's casket was present during the memorial but no information was released about the final disposition of the body. While some unofficial reports claimed a worldwide audience as high as one billion people, the U.S. audience was estimated by Nielsen to be 31.1 million, an amount comparable to the estimated 35.1 million that watched the 2004 burial of former president Ronald Reagan, and the estimated 33.1 million Americans who watched the 1997 funeral for Princess Diana.

Mariah Carey, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, John Mayer, Jennifer Hudson, Usher, Jermaine Jackson, and Shaheen Jafargholi performed at the event. Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson gave eulogies, while Queen Latifah read, "We had him," a poem written for the occasion by Maya Angelou. The Reverend Al Sharpton received a standing ovation with cheers when he told Jackson's children, "Wasn't nothing strange about your daddy. It was strange what your daddy had to deal with. But he dealt with it anyway." Jackson's 11-year-old daughter, Paris Katherine, cried as she told the crowd, "Ever since I was born, Daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine ... I just wanted to say I love him ... so much." Reverend Lucious Smith provided a closing prayer. On August 24, several news outlets quoted anonymous sources as stating that the Los Angeles coroner had decided to treat Jackson's death as a homicide; this was later confirmed by the coroner on August 28. At the time of death, Jackson had been administered propofol, lorazepam and midazolam. Law enforcement officials conducted a manslaughter investigation of his personal physician, Conrad Murray. On February 8, 2010, Murray was charged with involuntary manslaughter by prosecutors in Los Angeles. Jackson was entombed on September 3, 2009, at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.

On June 25, 2010, the first anniversary of Jackson's death, fans came to Los Angeles to pay their tribute to him. They visited Jackson’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and his family’s home, as well as Forest Lawn Memorial Park. Many of the fans were carrying sunflowers and other tribute items to drop off at the sites. Members of the Jackson family and close friends arrived to pay their respects. Katherine returned to Gary, Indiana to unveil a granite monument constructed in the front yard of the family home. The memorial continued with a candlelight vigil and a special performance of "We Are the World." On June 26, there was a protest march in front of the Los Angeles Police Department's Robbery-Homicide Division at the old Parker Center building and a petition with thousands of signatures demanding justice was delivered. The Jackson Family Foundation in conjunction with Voiceplate presented "Forever Michael", an event bringing together Jackson family members, celebrities, fans, supporters and the community to celebrate and honor his legacy. A portion of the proceeds ere presented to some of Jackson's favorite charities. Katherine also introduced her new book "Never Can Say Goodbye."

Jackson's music took root in R&B, pop and soul. He had been influenced by the work of contemporary musicians such as Little Richard, James Brown, Jackie Wilson, Diana Ross, David Ruffin, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Sammy Davis, Jr., The Isley Brothers, and the Bee Gees. While Little Richard had a substantial influence on Jackson, James Brown was Jackson's greatest inspiration. In reference to Brown, Jackson declared: "Ever since I was a small child, no more than like six years old, my mother would wake me no matter what time it was, if I was sleeping, no matter what I was doing, to watch the television to see the master at work. And when I saw him move, I was mesmerized. I had never seen a performer perform like James Brown, and right then and there I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life because of James Brown."

The young Michael Jackson owed his vocal technique in large part to Diana Ross. In October 1969, it was decided that Jackson would live with Ross. Not only a mother figure to him, she was often observed in rehearsal as an accomplished performer. He later expressed: "I got to know her well. She taught me so much. I used to just sit in the corner and watch the way she moved. She was art in motion. I studied the way she moved, the way she sang – just the way she was." He told her: "I want to be just like you, Diana." She said: "You just be yourself." But Jackson owed part of his enduring style—especially his use of the oooh interjection—to Ross. From a young age, Jackson often punctuated his verses with a sudden exclamation of oooh. Diana Ross had used this effect on many of the songs recorded with The Supremes.

Unlike many artists, Jackson did not write his songs on paper. Instead he would dictate into a sound recorder, and when recording he would sing the lyrics from memory. In most of his songs, such as "Billie Jean", "Who Is It", and "Tabloid Junkie", he would beatbox and imitate the instruments using his voice instead of playing the actual instruments, along with other sounds. Jackson noted that it is easier to sing a drum line, or sing a bass, instead of playing a drum line or a bass with an instrument. Several critics have said that Jackson's distinct voice is able to replace any instrument convincingly. Steve Huey of Allmusic said that, throughout his solo career, Jackson's versatility allowed him to experiment with various themes and genres. As a musician, he ranged from Motown's dance fare and ballads to techno and house-edged new jack swing to work that incorporates both funk rhythms and hard rock guitar.

Jackson sang from childhood, and over time his voice and vocal style changed noticeably. Between 1971 and 1975, Jackson's voice descended from boy soprano to high tenor. Jackson first used a technique called the "vocal hiccup" in 1973, starting with the song "It's Too Late to Change the Time" from The Jackson 5's G.I.T.: Get It Together album. Jackson did not use the hiccup technique— somewhat like a gulping for air or gasping— fully until the recording of Off the Wall: it can be seen in full force in the "Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)" promotional video. With the arrival of Off the Wall in the late 1970s, Jackson's abilities as a vocalist were well regarded. At the time, Rolling Stone compared his vocals to the "breathless, dreamy stutter" of Stevie Wonder. Their analysis was also that "Jackson's feathery-timbred tenor is extraordinarily beautiful. It slides smoothly into a startling falsetto that's used very daringly". 1982 saw the release of Thriller, and Rolling Stone was of the opinion that Jackson was then singing in a "fully adult voice" that was "tinged by sadness".


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