For alternate uses see Michael Jackson (disambiguation)

Police photograph of Michael Jackson, November 20, 2003
(other photo: [1])
Michael Joseph Jackson (born August 29, 1958) is one of the most successful popular music singers of all time. He is also known as the King of Pop or the King of Videos.

Jackson's successful career has gained him legions of devoted fans, yet he has been dogged by media fascination with his changing physical appearance and, more recently, accusations of pedophilia. Due to what the media see as his eccentric behavior, he is sometimes derisively referred to as "Wacko Jacko".

Table of contents
1 Personal background
2 Jackson 5
3 Solo career
4 2002 controversies
5 Bashir interview
6 Allegations of pedophilia
7 External links

Personal background

Michael Jackson was born in Gary, Indiana to Joseph and Katherine Jackson. He was the seventh of nine children.

The Jackson children were raised as Jehovah's Witnesses and practiced door-to-door evangelizing. Jackson continued to do so after becoming famous, but in disguise. His career and flamboyant style led to friction with church elders. At one point, he was ordered to shun his sister LaToya because she had not been attending church meetings. In 1987, he formally left the Jehovah's Witnesses.

Jackson has been living at his 11 sq. km (2600 acres, [1]) ranch in Santa Ynez, California, named "Neverland" after the magical kingdom featured in the children's story Peter Pan. In Dec 2003 he said that after the search, see below, it does not feel like a home anymore, and is now a house he just visits. Reportedly he now lives in Beverly Hills.

He says that, like Peter Pan, he does not want to grow up. Neverland contains a small zoo and amusement park. About once a week he has been inviting a bus full of (especially sick and poor) children there to have a day of fun. Jackson kept a chimpanzee, Bubbles, in Neverland, which he valued highly, treating him more like a friend than a pet. Bubbles was moved from the ranch after reaching maturity because adult chimpanzees are very strong and can be dangerous.

In 1994 Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of Elvis Presley; the marriage lasted less than two years, ending in divorce. In 1996 he married Debbie Rowe. They had a son, Prince Michael, and a daughter, Paris. They were divorced in 1999. Rowe said that she let Jackson have the children as a "gift". Around February 2002 he had another son, Prince Michael II, also called "Blanket", with a surrogate mother whose identity has not been disclosed. As a security measure against kidnapping, Jackson's children only appear in public with masks or veils to cover their faces.

Jackson, a vegetarian, claims a strong connection to both children and animals. His favorite pastimes include water balloon fights with children, climbing trees and sleepovers with children. He has written several songs sitting in his favorite tree at Neverland, which he calls Giving Tree, because it is so inspiring. He has several young friends whom he has entertained at Neverland.

Jackson's celebrity friends include actress Elizabeth Taylor and former child actor Macaulay Culkin, who are godparents to Prince Michael and Paris. (See Macaulay Culkin for more information on their friendship). He is also friends with paranormalist Uri Geller and the rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who heads Jackson's Heal the World Foundation.

Jackson seems to have had several lots of plastic surgery to modify his appearance, although he denies having had any work done except one "nose job" to improve his singing voice. Some critics have characterized his plastic surgery and skin bleaching as an attempt to hide his African-American ancestry. Jackson has indicated that he has his skin bleached to mask the effects of vitiligo, a disease that causes uneven pigmentation of the skin.

Jackson has received numerous music awards including 18 Grammys. Estimates of his album sales worldwide range from 200 million to well over 300 million. His Thriller video is considered by some to be the best music video of all time and the largest step forward in artistic quality in the history of music videos. MTV and Rolling Stone recently named four of his songs ("Billie Jean" #5, "I Want You Back" #9, "Beat It" #23 and "Rock with You" #82) among the 100 greatest pop songs of all time.

Quote about Jackson: Ambivalence personified, hes not quite black, not quite white, not quite man, not quite woman, not quite adult, not quite child.

Jackson 5

Five of the Jackson brothers, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael, formed the Jackson 5 pop group in the mid 1960s. Michael was the lead singer. The group played at local clubs and bars. It is alleged that they were beaten and abused by their father if they performed poorly.

The Jackson 5 were discovered and signed to Motown Records in 1969. The Jackson family moved to California where the Jackson 5 soon became national stars. Their first four singles "ABC", "I Want You Back", "The Love You Save", and "I'll Be There" all became #1 hits. Later hits include the trend-setting "Dance Machine". With Motown Records the Jackson 5 made 14 albums, and Michael recorded four albums as a solo artist.

In 1976 they left Motown (and renamed themselves the Jacksons). Between 1976 and 1984 the Jacksons produced 6 records and toured internationally. Jermaine and Michael moved on to successful solo careers, as did sisters Janet and (to a lesser extent) LaToya.

Jackson starred in the film The Wiz (alongside Diana Ross) in 1978. It was here that he met Quincy Jones (the producer of The Wiz), who would later produce Michael's three most acclaimed solo albums (Off the Wall, Thriller and Bad). Off the Wall (released in 1979) produced a record four #1 hits and sold six million copies in the United States.

Solo career

Off The Wall to Thriller

Michael Jackson's 1979 album Off the Wall spawned the hit singles and music videos "Rock With You" and "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough".

In the 1980s Jackson released a progression of solo albums of slickly-produced synthesizer-heavy pop.

His Thriller album was released in 1982, produced 7 hit singles, broke records and quickly became the world's best selling album (as of 2003 it has sold over 50 million copies). The "Billie Jean" music video, released to promote Thriller, became the first video by a black artist to be aired on MTV, and the Thriller short film released as The Making of Michael Jackson's Thriller became the world's best selling home video at the time.

"Billie Jean" and "Thriller", as well as "Beat It", were the three music videos released off of the album, and have since become three of MTV's most significant videos in history, placing highly on several MTV and VH1 countdowns, and receiving substantial airplay on MTV2 to this day. The album's other hit singles were "Human Nature" and "PYT (Pretty Young Thing)", both of which were also hits, despite not having music videos.

While performing for the Motown 25th Anniversary Show on television in 1983, Jackson publicly performed the moonwalk (later his signature dance move) for the first time, stunning TV audiences. At the 1984 Grammy Awards Jackson was nominated for 12 awards and won a record-breaking 8 awards (now equaled by Carlos Santana) -- 7 for Thriller and 1 for his narrative on The E.T. Storybook.

We are the World to Dangerous

Inspired by Band Aid he was instrumental in organising the single "We Are the World" (co-written with Lionel Richie) in 1985. "We Are the World" was sung by 44 different singers including Cyndi Lauper, Diana Ross, Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder and sold 7 million copies in the United States, becoming the best selling single of the year, to raise money for USA for Africa -- a charity working to raise awareness about and help starving people in Africa.

Jackson starred in the George Lucas/Francis Ford Coppola 3-D film Captain Eo in 1986, which was shown in Disney theme parks until 1998. Minute for minute it is the most expensive film ever produced, costing an estimated US $30 million to make. Jackson created two new songs for the film.

In 1987 Jackson released Bad and began his first solo world tour. He performed to sold out audiences at each concert. The following year Jackson released a silly, playful movie and a serious, personal autobiography both titled Moonwalker.

Bad was another smash success for Jackson. Its singles and music videos "Bad", "Dirty Diana", "The Man in The Mirror", "Smooth Criminal", "Leave Me Alone", and "The Way You Make Me Feel" provided Jackson with another string of hits. The album's only relatively unsuccessful single, "Liberian Girl", remains to this day as one of Jackson's least seen music videos and least heard singles.

Jackson was awarded a record breaking $890 million contract by Sony and released an album Dangerous in 1991. During the Dangerous world tour Jackson announced the creation of his Heal the World Foundation. Dangerous contained the singles and music videos "Who Is It", "Give In To Me", "Gone Too Soon", and "Will You Be There", which would later become the theme song to the movie Free Willy. But the album's most successful and memorable singles and videos were "Jam", "Remember The Time", "Black Or White", "In The Closet", and "Heal The World". As was becoming the standard for Jackson, the album's music videos were among the most costly, creative, and innovative of their time. "Give In To Me" featured Slash from Guns n' Roses in its video. The video for "Heal The World", to correspond to Jackson's charity of the same name, featured children and people from throughout the world. "Will You Be There" showed Jackson singing in front of scenes from Free Willy. Several of the other videos had complex storylines and dance sequences, and featured cameo appearances by celebrities. The video for "Jam" showed Jackson and Michael Jordan playing basketball and dancing together, while "Remember The Time" was set in a Middle Eastern palace and starred Eddie Murphy as the king of the palace who was trying to entertain his wife, played by Iman. Jackson's singing and dancing is the thing that finally makes Iman's character happy, in the seven-minute long video. Jackson and Naomi Campbell played lovers in "In The Closet".

Black Or White

But, of all the album's groundbreaking and popular videos, "Black Or White" probably remains the most aired and most remembered today. The original video is over ten minutes long, and premiered simultaneously on MTV, VH1, BET, and ABC, becoming one of the most-watched music video premieres in history. The original video begins with Macaulay Culkin playing a young Jackson fan whose father tells to turn his music down. Culkin's character, instead, decides to bring his speakers into the living room and cranks the speakers to full blast, which sends the father flying through the roof. He ends up landing in the middle of some exotic location. The music to "Black Or White" then starts, and Jackson proceeds to take viewers on a trip around the world, from country to country and culture to culture. As the song ends, the video features a morphing effect, where by several different people of different ethnicities' faces are morphed one into another, as a symbol of global unity. This video was the first music video to utilize such morphing technology, and this effect amazed many people upon first seeing the video. Thanks in part to "Black Or White", the morphing effect has since become somewhat common in music videos today, and can now be done much more cheaply than in the early 1990's. The original video for "Black Or White" then continued, even after the song itself ended, for another six minutes. The last six minutes depicted Jackson doing his infamous crotch-rubbing, smashing store windows, and destroying a car with a metal crowbar. It finally ended with a cameo appearance by Bart and Homer Simpson. However, Jackson's rampage and crotch grabbing caused a good deal of controversy with many parents of young children who watched the video's premiere. MTV and other music video stations decided to cut out the last six minutes of the video for all subsequent airings, and Jackson issued an apology statement to anyone who had been offended. To date, the final six minutes of the "Black Or White" video has only since re-aired in America on MTV2 between the hours of 1 AM and 4 AM, as part of their special uncensored airing of the "Most Controversial Music Videos" of all time.

HIStory to Invincible

HIStory, a double-disc album, was released in 1995. Its first disc had fifteen of his greatest hits and second disc contained fifteen new songs. The album's only new hit singles and videos in America were "Scream", a duet with his sister Janet, whose futuristic music video, with a seven million dollar price tag, is the most expensive music video to date; and "You Are Not Alone", a song which debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart and whose video had a cameo from Jackson's then-wife, Lisa Marie Presley. The album's other singles and videos, "Childhood", "Earth Song", "Stranger In Moscow", and "They Don't Care About Us" failed to make any impact in America. "Childhood" is notable for having been the theme song to Free Willy 2. "They Don't Care About Us" caused quite a controversy when it was released due to the anti-Semitic slurs "kike" and "Jew me" in the song's lyrics. This caused American MTV and VH1 to ban the song's music video, even though it garnered heavy airplay on many of America's Boxnetworks. Other than "Scream", the videos from HIStory are rarely played, even on MTV2, and none of the album's singles are played substantially on American radio anymore, making the album a failure overall in Jackson's standards.

In 1997 Jackson released Blood on the Dance Floor a remix album of several of the tracks off of History, which also included 5 new songs. The album only had one single and official music video, the title track, which failed to catch on in America. However, Jackson also produced "Ghosts", a 40-minute short film, which was shown in several movie theaters and used the song "Ghosts" as well as the album's other new songs in the film. The short film "Ghosts" is occassionally played as an hour-long special, with space made for commercials, on MTV and VH1, especially during the Halloween season.

Jackson's 2001 album Invincible -- the most expensive album ever -- sold only 2 million copies in the United States but sold 5-6 million worldwide (a disappointment considering Jackson's previous success and the cost of the album). As opposed to his earlier albums--which each spawned at least six singles, most of which were generally worldwide smashes--Invincible produced only the singles "Rock My World" and "Butterflies" in America. "Cry" was also issued as a third single in Europe. "Rock My World" managed the top ten in America, but only for a week, and its big-budget, 14-minute music video only received sparse airplay on MTV, VH1, MTV2, and BET, usually in a shortened, 5-minute version. "Butterflies" was a top 40 hit in America, but did not reach the top 20, despite a popular radio remix featuring rapper Eve; the song's relative lack of success also allowed no budget for a music video.

In what was perhaps the "Golden Age" of the video clip, some of Jackson's videos were virtually short films with considerable plots, impressive special effects, and featuring Jackson's distinctive dance style.

Jackson held his first live concert in some years at Madison Square Garden, New York, in early September 2001.

One More Chance

In 2003 Jackson made a new song, "One More Chance", written by R. Kelly. It was the only new song on his new Number Ones greatest hits album.

2002 controversies

In late 2002 new scandal arose surrounding Jackson. His most recent album, Invincible, had disappointing sales figures. Instead of blaming this on what was, by most fans and critics, considered mediocre music, he blamed his record label and industry executives, most notably the legendary producer Tommy Mottola, whom Jackson likened to Satan. Jackson also recorded a song featuring various celebrities on vocals in an attempt to raise funds for disaster relief following the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack. However, the song was never released when it was discovered the producer of the song had previously worked as a producer of homosexual pornography.

Also, in late 2002, Jackson stirred up more controversy while staying in a hotel in Berlin by briefly holding his infant son Prince Michael II over the railing of the balcony.

In October 2002 various international banks claimed that Jackson was in financial debt into the tens of millions of dollars due to various unpaid loans.

In 2002, concert promoter Marcel Avram sued Jackson in a court in Santa Maria, California, claiming that he reneged on a deal to perform on a series of millennium concerts crossing the International Date Line on the evening of December 31, 1999 - January 1, 2000. Jackson lost the case, and is appealing.

He has been involved in a legal dispute with his former financial adviser, Union Finance and Investment Corp. of South Korea, who claim that Jackson owes the firm $12 million in fees and expenses and that Jackson's extravagant spending may lead to his bankruptcy.

Bashir interview

A Granada Television documentary about Jackson, in which he was extensively interviewed by UK journalist Martin Bashir, was shown in February 2003, following a suggestion by Jackson's friend Uri Geller. This was very special, for it had been extremely rare for Jackson to allow such access to his personal life, or indeed to talk so freely about his traumatised childhood. However, he showed some reserve when asked to discuss other personal issues, such as the plastic surgery he had on his face. In one of his favorite shops and in the renting of rooms in hotels he demonstrated extravagant spending (see also above). The documentary also shows Jackson's former friend Gavin Arvizo, born December 1989, at the time of the filming 12 years old (see also below).

Jackson felt betrayed by Bashir and complained that the film gives a distorted picture of his behaviour and conduct as a father [1]. He claims that Bashir, in the final version of his interview, used only that material which supported Bashir's opinion of Jackson, which was not a favorable one. Following the Bashir interview, Jackson released a second interview, called 'Take Two', which contains material which Bashir omitted and has been shown in a Fox Network special [1]. Take Two features interviews with people close to Jackson, such as his former wife Debbie Rowe, who says that it is on her request that the children wear masks in public. He has filed complaints with the UK's Independent Television Commission and the Broadcasting Standards Commission. Gavin's mother, while supporting Jackson, has also complained about the documentary, for including Gavin in it without her consent and especially for creating a distorted image of his friendship with Jackson.

Allegations of pedophilia

1993 allegation

In 1993 13-year-old Jordan Chandler filed a complaint against Jackson in which he claimed that Jackson had molested him sexually. Evidence was gathered, but the case never went to trial; Jackson settled the boy's civil lawsuit with the payment of an undisclosed amount of money. Media speculations range from $2 million to $50 million, depending on the source. As a result of this payment, the boy declined to testify at any criminal trial.

Subsequently Californian law has been modified, to avoid that minors may have a financial incentive not to testify in a criminal lawsuit. [1] [1]

Jackson's spokespersons have repeatedly stated that the settlement was in no way an admission of guilt, and Jackson has always denied the allegations. As with Jackson in general, people are not of the same opinion; some say it was unmistakably a partial confession on Jackson's behalf, others argue that it was simply successful blackmail.

Jackson can say little more about the allegations and the settlement, because a confidentiality agreement is part of the deal. Chandler's father already filed a new complaint against Jackson in 1996 for violating the confidentiality; in 1999 an arbitrator rejected it.

Ongoing concern

Allegations have persisted that Jackson is a pedophile. Jackson admits that several young children, especially pre-adolescent boys (including Macaulay Culkin when he was younger and his younger brother Kieran) have slept in the same bed as him, but he denies having had sex with any of them. He has admitted that he still sometimes sleeps with a child in the same room including his 12 year old friend Gavin, but it was implied that they do not sleep in the same bed (they have told about an occasion where each was happy to sleep on the floor and let the other have the bed). Conversely, Jackson lets his children stay with his friends, for example with Barry Gibb. He emphasizes that children need and deserve lots of love — not sexual, but like having hot milk and cookies, tucking them in, telling a bed-time story, etc.

Under California law, merely sleeping with a child, without "affirmative, offensive conduct," isn't criminal, said Santa Barbara County District Attorney Thomas W. Sneddon Jr. in a statement. [1]

2003 charges

In November 2003, Jackson was booked and released on bail, after voluntarily returning to California to face charges of "lewd or lascivious acts" with a child under 14.

On November 18, 2003, a team of more than 70 investigators from the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office and Sheriff's Department descended upon Jackson's Neverland Ranch as part of an "ongoing criminal investigation." They were reportedly looking for evidence to corroborate the claim of 12-year-old Gavin Arvizo that he was sexually molested. Along with the warrant to search the premises was a warrant for the arrest of Jackson. Jackson was in Las Vegas, Nevada at the time recording a music video for his most recent single "One More Chance", from his Number Ones greatest hits album, which had been released at midnight, just hours before the warrants were issued and the allegations broke to the media.

On November 20, Jackson flew in a leased jet to Santa Barbara Airport and surrendered himself to California police. Driven by police to the Santa Barbara County Jail, he emerged from the police vehicle in handcuffs. He was charged with "lewd or lascivious acts" with a child younger than 14 under section 288(a) of the California Penal Code. He posted $3 million bail. The judge is Rodney S. Melville, 62. Jackson's lawyers include Mark J. Geragos (who also defends Scott Peterson) and Benjamin Brafman (who won an acquittal on weapons and bribery charges for P. Diddy).

Jackson has been temporarily exempted from the requirement to stay in the US, for a possible trip to Britain ending not later than Jan 6, but he has not used that after all.

At the time of his booking, his weight was measured at 120 pounds (56 kg) (a notably low weight for a 5'11" middle-aged man.)

A series of public vigils to protest his innoccence, organised by fans, were held on November 23, but were notable for the low turn-outs.

On November 25, 2003 it was revealed that, unbeknownst to Jackson, the private jet that was chartered to take him and his attorney from Vegas to California was secretly wired with video and audio recording devices. A third party took recordings from this trip and attempted to sell them to major television and radio networks for an extremely large amount of money; all declined to purchase. A restraining order against the Jet company has been issued prohibiting the videotape from being shown to any third parties; a massive lawsuit toppling the $500,000,000 mark has been filed by Jackson's party against the perpetrators.

On November 26, 2003, it was revealed that XtraJet, the company that found the recordings and hidden cameras on Jackson's plane, on Monday, showed the video to several news organizations on Monday. FOX News reported that the tape shows Jackson calm and relaxed on the plane. [1]

The uncle of the child who accused Jackson of molestation in the early 1990s, and designated mouth-piece for said individual, has made public declarations (notably on "Larry King Live") stating that during the original scandal there were hard-core pornographic tapes depicting children found in Jackson's home, but that they were obtained illegally and thus could not be used to press criminal charges against him.

On December 8th, 2003 "The Smoking Gun" website posted a memo from the Sensitive Case Unit of L.A's Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS), on an investigation jointly carried out with the LAPD in February of 2003. The child in question was reported by a school teacher as a potential child abuse victim. The report refers to Jackson simply as "the entertainer," but it is clear to whom it refers. The boy, as well as his entire family (specifically his sister), insist in the report that no sexual or inappropriate contact with Jackson occurred; that the boy did not even sleep in Jackson's bed. The sister claims to have accompanied her brother on all overnight trips to Jackson's ranch. The case was closed; the charges marked as "unfounded".

Nonetheless, on December 18, Jackson was charged with seven counts of child molestation and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent to commit that felony, in February and March 2003, all regarding the same boy under 14.

The felony complaint states that Jackson has seven times willfully, unlawfully, and lewdly committed a lewd and lascivious act, upon and with the boy's body and certain parts and members thereof, with the intent of arousing, appealing to, and gratifying the lust, passions, and sexual desires of Jackson and the boy and that this sexual conduct has been substantial.

Also, that on two of these occasions, Jackson has administered to the boy an intoxicating agent, with intent thereby to enable and assist himself to carry out the previously mentioned act.

Jackson denies and says that the sleepovers were non-sexual. He still describes the boy on whose statements the accusations are based as "a sweet child"; he says the boy is manipulated by greedy parents.

Nation of Islam's chief of staff Leonard F. Muhammad (Louis Farrakhans son-in-law) is one of Jackson's supporters. He and other NOI members reportedly have begun playing a role in Jackson's affairs, in particular in the field of security. It has been reported by some sources [1] that Jackson has become a member of NOI. However, after a meeting of top advisers, NOI dominance was denied: Most of the people in the room were Jewish. This is not about any one religion.

During a 60 Minutes interview with Ed Bradley, Jackson claimed that he was manhandled by police during his booking. Amongst other things he claimed that his arms were dislocated, the handcuffs bruised his forearms, and that he was locked in a dirty bathroom for over 45 minutes. He has not formally filed his complaints.

The Santa Barbara County police then released video tape showing Jackson's arrest, which seems to go smoothly and without incident. They also released audio tape of his ride into the police station. In it Jackson complains about the handcuffs, and is politely told by an officer how he can relief the discomfort of them. He is heard to be whistling (nervously) and he asks for the air conditioning to be turned on; it is. Police allege this proves Jackson's claims are false; Jackson (and his family) claim what is being shown is only a biased view of what occurred: it does not prove that his claims are false, and police avoids showing what would prove his claims to be true.

Attorney General of the State of California Bill Lockyer has ordered an independent investigation into Jackson's complaints.

At the prosecution's request the judge has issued a gag order which forbids the following parties to talk to the news media: the defendant, the prosecutor, defense counsel, any attorney working in their offices, their agents, staff, experts, any judicial officer or court employee, any law enforcement employee and any agency involved in the case, and any persons subpoenaed or expected to testify. The purpose is that people among whom a jury has to be selected are not influenced. However, he would consider proposals to allow either side to answer reporters' questions about rumors surrounding the case.

Jackson was arraigned January 16 2004, at the court of Santa Maria. He was admonished by the judge for turning up 20 minutes late. He entered a plea of "Not Guilty". Hundreds of fans and an international media circus surrounded the event.

Jackson's preliminary hearing has been set for February 13, 2004.

External links