He rose to prominence as the youngest member of The Jackson Five, a funk-influenced pop group of the 1970s, whilst still a child. However, Jackson has stated that his father Joe maltreated his five children in pursuing their achievements, threatening to beat them with his belt if they made mistakes during dance routines.
Jackson went on to release a progression of solo albums of slickly-produced synthesizer-heavy pop in the 1980s.
Thriller, released in 1982, became one of the best-selling pop albums of all time. 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 - notably including a move called the moonwalk where he would move backwards while appearing to be walking forward.
Subsequent releases included Bad, Dangerous, and History. In between albums, he wrote and produced the ballad We Are The World which became associated with African famine relief efforts in the 1980s.
Always considered something of an eccentric, as time has gone on he has become something of a recluse, spending most of his time at his ranch in Santa Ynez, Santa Barbara County, California which he titled Neverland, after the magical kingdom featured in the children's story Peter Pan. He says that, like Peter Pan, he does not want to grow up. Some of his favorite pastimes are water balloon fights and climbing trees. He has written several songs sitting in his favorite tree at Neverland, which he calls Giving Tree, because it is so inspiring.
It has been claimed that Jackson's interest in children extends to pedophilia. He made an out of court settlement with the parents of 12 year old Jordie Chandler, who alleged Jackson had abused him while he was staying at the ranch. Jackson admits that children (including his friend Macaulay Culkin when he was little, with 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 Arvezo, but, he claims, no longer in the same bed. Conversely, Jackson lets his children stay with his friends, for example with Barry Gibb. He emphasizes that children need and deserve lots of (nonsexual) love.
It is clear in the opinion of a number of plastic surgeons that he has undergone extensive plastic surgery and it may be said that he is hardly recognizable as the same person he was as an adolescent; but the effectiveness of his cosmetic surgery has been hotly debated.
Jackson has been befriended with chimpanzee Bubbles which he kept on Neverland. It now lives elsewhere.
Jackson was briefly married to Lisa Marie Presley in 1994, in a relationship viewed by many primarily as a publicity stunt. The marriage broke up 18 months later. Jackson has a son, Prince Michael, and a daughter, Paris, by his second wife, Debbie Rowe-Jackson. Jackson and Debbie Rowe-Jackson got divorced in 1999. He says she let him have the children as a gift. Around February 2002 he had another son, Prince Michael II, but called Blanket, born from a black surrogate mother; her identity has not been disclosed.
Jackson held his first live concert in some years at Madison Square Garden, New York, in early September 2001.
In late 2002 new scandal arose surrounding Jackson. His most recent album, called Invincible, had incredibly low 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 Matola, 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 (and unwittingly created an online video game) by dangling his infant son Prince Michael II from the balcony of a German hotel.
In October 2002 it was revealed by various international banks that Jackson was in financial debt into the tens of millions of dollars due to various unpaid loans.
A Granada Television documentary about Jackson, in which he was extensively interviewed by UK journalist Martin Bashir, was shown in February 2003. This program was considered something of a coup for Bashir, for it is extremely rare for Jackson to allow such access to his personal life, or indeed to talk so freely about his traumatised childhood. However, he continued to remain guarded on issues concerning the alleged cosmetic surgery to his face (although he admitted having had surgery on his nose) and his relationships with children.
In the UK, children's charities Barnardo's and the NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) have voiced their concerns.
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.
Jackson made statements that he felt betrayed by Bashir and that the film gives a distorted picture of his behaviour and conduct as a father, and has released video footage of statements of Bashir to prove that either Bashir has been lying to Jackson or has been misleading his audience in his voice-overs on the film; a selection has been shown in a Fox Network special. He has filed complaints at the Independent Television Commission and the Broadcasting Standards Commission of the UK.
The March 11, 2003 issue of Vanity Fair magazine includes a report that Jackson bleaches his skin white because he does not like being black. Other accusations made in the article include voodoo curses on Hollywood enemies. Jackson reportedly attended a voodoo ritual in Switzerland in 2000, where a witch doctor promised that director Steven Spielberg, music executive David Geffen, and 23 other people on the Jackson's list of enemies would die. Jackson supposedly ordered his business adviser Myung-Ho Lee to wire $150,000 to a bank in Mali for a voodoo chief named Baba. The ceremony itself included a blood bath for Jackson and 42 sacrificed cows.
Amongst many seemingly far-fetched rumors that circulate about him, he is believed by some people to be the same person as his sister, LaToya Jackson. United Kingdom bookmakers allow punters to bet on this subject, with odds of 500-1 payable on the presentation of evidence that they are the same person. This could be a safe bet for the bookmakers, considering that they have been photographed together many times, and Michael is reputedly a foot taller than LaToya.
Michael Jackson Facts
|Michael Joseph Jackson
|August 29, 1958
|Gary, Indiana, USA
|Date of death
|June 25, 2009 (Los Angeles, California, USA, age 50)
|5' 10" (1m78) How tall is Michael Jackson compared to you?
|Michael Jackson: A Tribute
|Michael Jackson's This Is It
|Michael Jackson: Live in Bucharest
|Michael Jackson?s Vision
|Michael Jackson: Moonwalker
|Michael Jackson: Live At Wembley
|Michael Jackson: Live In Bucharest
|Michael Jackson: The Secrets Of A Legend
|Michael Jackson: Number Ones