Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009) was an American recording artist, entertainer and businessman. The seventh child of the Jackson family, he made his debut as an entertainer in 1968 as a member of The Jackson 5. He then began a solo career in 1971 while still a member of the group, and that successful career led to him being dubbed the "King of Pop" in subsequent years. Jackson's 1982 album Thriller remains the world's best-selling album of all time, and four of his other solo studio albums are among the world's best-selling records: Off the Wall (1979), Bad (1987), Dangerous (1991) and HIStory (1995).
In the early 1980s, he became a dominant figure in American popular music and culture. He was the first African American entertainer to amass a strong crossover following on MTV, with videos such as "Beat It", "Billie Jean" and Thriller—widely credited with transforming the music video from a promotional tool into an art form—bringing fame to the relatively new channel. Videos such as "Black or White" and "Scream" made Jackson an enduring staple on MTV well into the 1990s. Beyond his success on television, Jackson popularized a number of physically complicated dance techniques, such as the robot and the moonwalk, with his elaborate stage performances. His distinctive musical sound and vocal style influenced many hip hop, pop music and contemporary R&B artists across several generations.
Jackson donated and raised millions of dollars for beneficial causes through his Heal the World Foundation, charity singles, and support of 39 charities. Other aspects of his personal life, including his changing appearances and behavior, generated significant controversy that damaged his public image. Though he was accused of child sexual abuse in 1993, the criminal investigation was closed due to lack of evidence and Jackson was not charged. The singer had experienced health concerns since the early 1990s along with conflicting reports regarding the state of his finances since the late 1990s. Jackson married twice and fathered three children, actions which caused further controversy. In 2005, Jackson was tried and acquitted of different sexual abuse allegations and several other charges. The singer died on June 25, 2009, aged 50, after suffering cardiac arrest.
One of the few artists to have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, his other achievements include multiple Guinness World Records—including one for "Most Successful Entertainer of All Time"—13 Grammy Awards, 13 number one singles in his solo career—more than any other male artist in the Hot 100 era—and the sales of over 750 million records worldwide. Jackson's highly publicized personal life, coupled with his successful career, has made him a part of popular culture for almost four decades.
2008–09: Milestones, real estate and a planned return to live performance
Neverland Ranch was Jackson's permanent residence from 1988 to 2005. Pictured is an aerial shot of the theme park area of the property.The 25th anniversary of Thriller was marked by the release of Thriller 25, which added the previously unreleased song "For All Time" and re-mixes of several songs by younger artists influenced by Jackson. The Thriller 25 package also included a DVD. Two remixes were released as singles to moderate success: "The Girl Is Mine 2008" and "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' 2008". Thriller 25 sold well as a re-issue, peaking at number one in eight countries and Europe. It reached number three in the UK and top 10 on over 30 national charts.It was ineligible for the Billboard 200 chart as a re-release, but entered atop the Pop Catalog chart, where it stayed for 11 weeks and had the best sales on that chart since December 1996. In 12 weeks Thriller 25 sold over three million copies worldwide.Thriller 25 was the best-selling catalog album of 2008. As of the date of Jackson's death, the album had sold 774,000 copies in the US.
To celebrate Jackson's 50th birthday, Sony BMG released a series of compilation albums called King of Pop in 21 different markets. (North America was not one of those markets.) These albums included tracks from Jackson's group and solo career, all voted for by fans. Each nation's edition of the album had a different tracklist, according to how that nation's fans voted. King of Pop did reach the top 10 in most countries where it was issued, and also sold well as an import in other countries.
Fortress Investments threatened to foreclose on Neverland Ranch, which Jackson used as collateral for loans running into many tens of millions of dollars. However, Fortress opted to sell Jackson's debts to Colony Capital LLC. In November, Jackson transferred Neverland Ranch's title to Sycamore Valley Ranch Company LLC, which was a joint venture between Jackson and Colony Capital LLC. This deal cleared Jackson's debt, and he reportedly even gained an extra $35 million from the venture. At the time of his death, Jackson still owned a stake in Neverland/Sycamore Valley, but it is unknown how large that stake was.
Prior to his death, Jackson was scheduled to perform 50 sell out concerts to over one million people, at London's O2 arena. The concerts would have commenced on July 13, 2009 and finished on March 6, 2010. According to Jackson's website, tickets sales for the concerts broke several records. During a prior press conference, Jackson made suggestions of possible retirement. Randy Phillips, president and chief executive of AEG Live stated that the first 10 dates alone would earn the singer approximately £50 million.