The Micheal Jackson Singer, Music Producer, Songwriter, Dancer (1958–2009)
Singer-songwriter Michael Jackson's award-winning career as the King of Pop transformed the face of pop music and popular culture. He released the best-selling album in history, Thriller, in 1982. He died unexpectedly in 2009.
Dubbed the "King of Pop," singer-songwriter Michael Jackson was born in Gary, Indiana, on August 29, 1958. As a child, he performed as the lead singer of the Jackson family's popular Motown group, the Jackson 5. Jackson went on to become one of the most internationally famous award-winning solo pop sensations to date. Jackson's 2009 death stirred controversy and was ultimately ruled a homicide. Dr. Conrad Murray, who had been caring for the pop star at the time of his death, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter on November 7, 2011, later receiving a four-year prison sentence.
Michael Joseph Jackson was born on August 29, 1958, in Gary, Indiana, to an African-American working-class family. His father, Joseph Jackson, had been a guitarist but had put aside his musical aspirations to provide for his family as a crane operator. Believing his sons had talent, he molded them into a musical group in the early 1960s. At first, the Jackson Family performers consisted of Michael's older brothers, Tito, Jermaine and Jackie. Michael joined his siblings when he was 5 years old, and emerged as the group's lead vocalist. He showed remarkable range and depth for such a young performer, impressing audiences with his ability to convey complex emotions. Older brother Marlon also became a member of the group, which evolved into the Jackson 5.
Behind the scenes, Joseph Jackson pushed his sons to succeed. He was also reportedly known to become violent with them. Michael and his brothers spent endless hours rehearsing and polishing up their act. At first, the Jackson 5 played local gigs and built a strong following. They recorded one single on their own, "Big Boy" with the b-side "You've Changed," but it failed to generate much interest.
The Jackson 5 moved on to working an opening act for such R&B artists as Gladys Knight and the Pips, James Brown, and Sam and Dave. Many of these performers were signed to the legendary Motown record label, and it has been reported that Gladys Knight may have been the one to tell Motown founder Berry Gordy about the Jackson 5. Impressed by the group, Gordy signed them to his label in 1968.
Relocating to Los Angeles, Michael and his brothers started work on their music and dancing with their father as their manager. They lived with Gordy and also with Supremes singer Diana Ross when they first arrived there. In August 1969, the Jackson 5 was introduced to the music industry at a special event, and later served as the opening act for the Supremes. Their first album, Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5, hit the charts in December of that year. It's first single, "I Want You Back," hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in January 1970. More chart-topping singles quickly followed, such as "ABC," "The Love You Save" and "I'll Be There."
At the age of 13, Jackson launched a solo career in addition to his work with the Jackson 5. He made the charts in 1971 with "Got to Be There" from the album of the same name. His 1972 album, Ben, featured the eponymous ballad about a rat. The song became Jackson's first solo No. 1 single.
For several years, Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5 maintained a busy tour and recording schedule, under the supervision of Berry Gordy and his Motown staff. Gordy wrote many of the songs recorded by the group and by Michael Jackson as a solo artist. The group became so popular that they even had their own self-titled cartoon show, which ran from 1971 to 1973.
Despite Jackson's individual achievements and the group's great success, there was trouble between the Jacksons and their record company. Tensions mounted between Gordy and Joseph Jackson over the management of his children's careers, and their level of participation in making their music. The Jacksons wanted more control over their recordings, which led to most of the Jacksons breaking ties with Motown in 1975. Jermaine Jackson remained with the label and continued to pursue a solo career, having previously released several albums—none of which had matched the success of his younger brother Michael.
Now calling themselves the Jacksons, the group signed a new recording deal with Epic Records. With 1978's Destiny, Michael Jackson and his brothers (which by now included younger brother Randy) emerged as talented songwriters, penning all of the record's tracks. Working with producer Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson wowed the music world with his next solo album, 1979's Off the Wall. It featured an infectious blend of pop and funk with such hit tracks as the Grammy Award-winning "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough," "Rock with You," and the title track. He also found success with the ballad "She's Out of My Life."
The overwhelmingly positive response to Michael's latest solo album also helped buoy the Jacksons' career as well. Triumph (1980) sold more than 1 million copies, and the brothers went on an extensive tour to support the recording. Jackson, however, began to branch out on his own more. Teaming up with rock legend Paul McCartney, Jackson sang on their 1982 duet, "The Girl Is Mine," which nearly reached the top of the pop charts.
The song also appeared on his next solo album, Thriller (1982), which generated seven Top 10 hits and became the best-selling album in history. On a television special honoring Motown, Jackson performed "Billie Jean"—eventually a No. 1 hit—and debuted his soon-to-be-famous dance move called "The Moonwalk." Jackson, a veteran performer by this time, created this step himself and choreographed the dance sequences for the video of his other No. 1 hit, "Beat It."
Jackson's most elaborate music video, however, was for the album's title track. John Landis directed the horror-tinged video, which featured complex dance scenes, special effects and a voice-over by actor Vincent Price. The "Thriller" video was an immense success, boosting sales for the already successful album. The single stayed on the charts for 80 weeks, holding the No. 1 spot for 37 weeks. In addition to its unparalleled commercial achievements, "Thriller" garnered 12 Grammy Award nominations, winning eight.
Jackson's Grammy victories showcased the diverse nature of his work. For his songwriting talents, he earned a Grammy Award (best rhythm and blues song) for "Billie Jean." He also won Grammys for the singles "Thriller" (best pop vocal performance, male) and "Beat It" (best rock vocal performance, male). With co-producer Quincy Jones, Jackson shared a Grammy for album of the year.
Jackson also broke numerous records as an artist. He earned several Guinness World Records titles, including achieving the longest span of U.S. Top 40 singles—from November 6, 1971, to January 1, 2011. He won a total of 13 Grammy Awards—eight of them in one night in 1984—and was the first artist to have five singles reach No. 1 from the same album (1987's Bad). He was also a double inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, for both his work with the Jackson 5 and as a solo artist.
Pepsi, Bad and Neverland
At the top of his game creatively and commercially, Michael Jackson signed a $5 million endorsement deal with Pepsi-Cola around this time. He, however, was badly injured while filming a commercial for the soda giant in 1984, suffering burns to his face and scalp. Jackson had surgery to repair his injuries, and is believed to have begun experimenting with plastic surgery around this time. His face, especially his nose, would become dramatically altered in the coming years.
That same year, Jackson embarked on his final tour with the Jacksons to the support the album Victory. The one major hit from the recording was Michael Jackson's duet with Mick Jagger, "State of Shock." In 1985, Jackson showed his altruistic side, co-writing and singing on "We Are the World," a charity single for USA for Africa. A veritable who's who of music stars participated in the project including Lionel Ritchie, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Bruce Springsteen and Tina Turner.
Releasing his follow-up to Thriller in 1987, Jackson reached the top of the charts with Bad. It featured five No. 1 hits, including "Man in the Mirror," "The Way You Make Me Feel" and the title track, which was supported by a video directed by Martin Scorsese. Jackson spent more than a year on the road, playing concerts to promote the album. While successful, Bad was unable to duplicate the phenomenal sales of Thriller.
Raised as a Jehovah's Witness, Jackson was a shy and quiet person off-stage. He was never truly comfortable with the media attention he received and rarely gave interviews. By the late 1980s, Jackson had created his own fantasy retreat—a California ranch called Neverland. There he kept exotic pets, such as a chimpanzee named Bubbles, and had his own amusement rides. To some, it seemed that Jackson perhaps was exploring a second childhood. He sometimes opened up the ranch for children's events. Rumors swirled around him, including that he was lightening the color of his skin to appear more white and slept in a special chamber to increase his life span.
In 1991, Jackson released Dangerous, featuring the hit "Black or White." The video for this song included an appearance by child star Macaulay Culkin, and was directed by John Landis. In the video's final minutes, Jackson caused some controversy with his sexual gesturing and violent actions. Many were surprised to see the Peter Pan-like Jackson act in this manner.
Jackson's music continued to enjoy wide-spread popularity in the upcoming years. In 1993, he performed several important events, including the halftime show at Superbowl XXVII. Jackson gave a rare television interview, which aired that February. Sitting down with Oprah Winfrey, he explained that the change in his skin tone was the result of a disease known as vitiligo. He also opened up about the abuse he suffered from his father.
Molestation Allegations and Career Decline
In 1993, allegations of child molestation against Jackson emerged. A 13-year-old boy claimed that the music star had fondled him. Jackson was known to have sleepovers with boys at his Neverland Ranch, but this was the first public charge of wrongdoing. The police searched the ranch, but they found no evidence to support the claim. The following year, Jackson settled the case out of court with the boy's family. Other allegations emerged, but Jackson maintained his innocence.
In August 1994, Jackson announced that he had married Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of rock icon Elvis Presley. The couple gave a joint television interview with Diane Sawyer, but the union proved to be short-lived. They divorced in 1996. Some thought that the marriage was a publicity ploy to restore Jackson's image after the molestation allegations.
Later that same year, Jackson wed nurse Debbie Rowe. The couple had two children through artificial insemination. Son Michael Joseph "Prince" Jackson Jr. was born in 1997, and daughter Paris Michael Katherine Jackson was born in 1998. Rowe and Jackson divorced in 1999, with Jackson receiving full custody of their two children. He would go on to have a third child, Prince Michael "Blanket" Jackson II, with an unknown surrogate.
Jackson's musical career began to decline with the lukewarm reception to 1995's HIStory: Past, Present, and Future, Book I, which featured some of his earlier hits as well as new material. The record spawned two hits, "You Are Not Alone" and his duet with sister Janet Jackson, "Scream." "Scream" (the most expensive music video ever made, costing $7 million to produce) earned Michael and Janet a Grammy Award for Best Music Video, Short Form that year. Another track from the album, "They Don't Care About Us," however, brought Jackson intense criticism for using an anti-Semitic term.
By the release of 2001's Invincible, Jackson was better known as an eccentric whose quirks were reported in the tabloids than as a performer. The album sold well, but stories of his odd behavior started to overshadow his talent. He often appeared in public wearing a surgical mask, and he hid his children's faces under veils.
In 2002, Jackson made headlines when he seemed confused and disoriented on stage at an MTV awards show. Soon after, he received enormous criticism for dangling his son, Prince Michael II, over a balcony while greeting fans in Berlin, Germany. In a later interview, Jackson explained that "We were waiting for thousands of fans down below, and they were chanting they wanted to see my child, so I was kind enough to let them see. I was doing something out of innocence." But many were unforgiving of the star's behavior, with former fans and media outlets clamoring to have Child Protective Services take Jackson's children from him.
Jackson's reputation was served another blow in 2003 with the television documentary, Living with Michael Jackson. British journalist Martin Bashir spent several months with Jackson, and he got Jackson to discuss his relationships with children. He admitted that he continued to have children sleepover at his ranch, even after the 1993 allegations. Jackson said that sometimes he slept with the children in his bed. "Why can't you share your bed? That's the most loving thing to do, to share your bed with someone," Jackson told Bashir.
Jackson faced more legal woes in 2004 when he was arrested on charges related to incidents with a 13-year-old boy the previous year. Facing 10 counts in all, he was charged with lewd conduct with a minor, attempted lewd conduct, administering alcohol to facilitate molestation, and conspiracy to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion. The resulting 2005 trial was a media circus with fans, detractors and camera crews surrounding the courthouse. More than 130 people testified, including Macaulay Culkin who appeared on Jackson's behalf. He said that he had been friends with Jackson as a young teen. While he had stayed over at the Neverland Ranch, he told the court that Jackson never tried to molest him. Jackson's accuser also appeared via videotape and described how Jackson had given him wine and molested him.
On June 14, 2005, Jackson was acquitted of all charges. His reputation, however, was effectively destroyed, and his finances were in shambles. Thanks to mounting legal bills, the singer no longer had a bank account and was unable to maintain even his most basic finances. Jackson soon found refuge in his friendship with the prince of Bahrain, Prince Salman Bin Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa, who wired Jackson the money needed to pay Neverland's utility bills. He then invited the pop star to his country as a personal guest.
In Bahrain, the prince provided Jackson with more than $7 million, not including living expenses. He also built the singer a recording studio, hired him a "motivational guru" and helped Jackson to entertain family at Christmas. In return, Jackson promised to collaborate with the prince on a new album on Al-Khalifa's record label, as well as write an autobiography and create a stage play.
None of the work materialized, however, and Jackson soon faced litigation from his friend for reneging on his promises. In even greater financial straits, Jackson defaulted on the $23.5 million loan owed on his Neverland Ranch in 2008. Unable to part with certain items, including the crystal gloves he used in performances, Jackson sued to block the auction of some of his personal items from the home the following year.
Around this same time, the largely reclusive Jackson announced that he would be performing a series of concerts in London as his "final curtain call." There had been some speculation regarding whether the fragile singer would be able to handle the rigors of 50 concerts. Despite all of the allegations and stories of odd behavior, Jackson remained a figure of great interest, as demonstrated by the strong response to his concert plans; set to appear at the O2 Arena in London, England, beginning July 8, 2009, Jackson saw all of the tickets to his "This Is It" tour sell out in only four hours.
Sadly, Michael Jackson would never get to experience the anticipated success of his comeback tour. On June 25, 2009, Jackson suffered cardiac arrest in his Los Angeles home. He was rushed to the hospital after his heart stopped and CPR attempts failed, and died later that morning. He was 50 years old.
News of Jackson's death resulted in an outpouring of public grief and sympathy. Memorials to Jackson were erected around the world, including one at the arena where he was set to perform and another at his childhood home in Gary, Indiana. On July 12, 2009, a televised memorial was held for fans of the "King of Pop" at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. While 17,500 free tickets were issued to fans via lottery, an estimated 1 billion viewers watched the memorial on TV or online.
The Jackson family held a private funeral on September 3, 2009, at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles, for Michael Jackson's immediate family members and 200 guests. Celebrity mourners included former child star Macaulay Culkin; Jackson's ex-wife, Lisa Marie Presley; and actress Elizabeth Taylor.
As dictated in his will, Jackson's children were placed in the care of their grandmother, Katherine Jackson. In respect to their father's wishes, Paris, Michael Joseph Jr. and Prince Michael II have been kept largely out of the limelight, appearing publicly only a few times in the last year. They stepped up to the mic in 2009 to speak to fans at their father's funeral, and again in January 2010 to accept a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award for their father at the Grammys. In June of that year, it was announced that the children would be heading to private school in the fall.
A film documenting Jackson's preparations for his final performance, entitledThis Is It, was released in October 2009. The film, featuring a compilation of interviews, rehearsals and backstage footage of Michael Jackson, made $23 million in its opening weekend and sky-rocketed to No. 1 at the box office.This Is It would go on to make more than $260 million worldwide.
On December 10, 2010, Michael, a posthumous album was released amidst controversy about whether Jackson actually performed some of the tracks and if he would have given the release his blessing. Jackson's brother Randy was among those who questioned the recording's authenticity, but the Jackson estate later refuted the claims, according to The New York Times.
Another posthumous album, Xscape, featuring new music from Jackson was released on May 13, 2014. R&B star and Jackson protege Usher debuted the first single "Love Never Felt So Good" at the iHeart Radio Awards. The song was written by Jackson and Paul Anka in 1983. The album's track list includes eight songs Jackson recorded between 1983 and 1999. The album debuted as #2 on Billboard's Top 200 Album chart.
Dr. Conrad Murray's Investigation and Trial
Closure would soon prove to be a long time coming, however. More heartache came for the Jackson family in February 2010, when an official coroner's report detailing Michael Jackson's cause of death was released. According to the report, the singer had died from acute propofol intoxication. The overdose had reportedly worked in combination with a lethal prescription drug cocktail—which included the pain killer Demerol, as well as lorazepam, midazolam, benzodiazepine, diazepine and ephedrine—to shut down the star's weakened heart. Aided by his personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, Jackson had used the drugs to help him sleep at night. Murray later told police that he believed Jackson had developed a particular addiction to propofol, which Jackson had referred to as his "milk." Murray had reportedly administered the drug by IV in the evenings, in 50-milligram dosages, and was attempting to ween the pop star off the drug around the time of his death.
A police investigation soon revealed that Dr. Murray was not licensed to prescribe most controlled drugs in the state of California. The steps he had taken to save Jackson also came under scrutiny, as evidence showed that the standard of care for administering propofol had not been met, and the recommended equipment for patient monitoring, precision dosing and resuscitation had not been present. As a result, Jackson's death was ruled a homicide, and Murray found himself at the center of an involuntary manslaughter investigation. Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Jackson's death on November 7, 2011, and was later sentenced to a maximum sentence of four years in prison.
When Murray's trial ended, the Jackson family focused once again on moving forward with their lives. However, by the following year, the Jacksons were making new headlines. In July 2012, a judge temporarily suspended Katherine Jackson's guardianship of Paris, Michael Joseph Jr. and Prince Michael II—during which time T.J. Jackson, son of Tito, received temporary custody of the children—after she was erroneously reported missing by a relative. Before Katherine's location could be confirmed, speculation quickly grew regarding her whereabouts, with Paris, Prince and Blanket becoming concerned that they were being prevented from communicating with their grandmother by other family members. Katherine's "disappearance" came shortly after a dispute between her and several members of the Jackson clan, who raised questions about the validity of Michael Jackson's will, pointed fingers at the Jackson matriarch and called for the executors of his estate to resign.
It was soon discovered that Katherine wasn't missing, but had simply taken a trip to Arizona. Her guardianship suspension was not revoked, however, because she had been away and out of communication with the children for 10 days—a violation of her responsibilities as a legal guardian. On August 2, 2012, a judge restored Katherine Jackson as the primary guardian of Paris, Prince and Blanket, also approving a plan granting T.J. Jackson co-guardianship of the children.
Wrongful Death Trial
Though closure on Michael Jackson's death seemed attainable by late 2012, it would only be a matter of months before the Jackson family encountered a new brand of turmoil. Believing that A.E.G. Live—the entertainment company that promoted Michael Jackson's planned comeback series, "This Is It," in 2009—had failed to effectively protect the singer while he was under Conrad Murray's care, and that A.E.G. was responsible for doing so, the Jackson family decided to take legal action against the company. Katherine Jackson officially filed a wrongful death lawsuit against A.E.G. with Michael's three children, and the trial began in April 2013. One of her lawyers, Brian Panish, discussed A.E.G.'s alleged wrongdoing in his opening statements on April 29, 2013: "They wanted to be No. 1 at all costs," he said. "We're not looking for any sympathy ... we're looking for truth and justice."
Katherine Jackson's lawyers sought up to $1.5 billion—an estimation of what Michael Jackson could have earned over the months since his death, if he were alive—in the case, but, in October 2013, a jury determined that A.E.G. wasn't responsible for Michael's death. "Although Michael Jackson's death was a terrible tragedy, it was not a tragedy of A.E.G. Live's making," said Marvin S. Putnam, A.E.G.'s lawyer.
TEN REASONS WHY WE’LL MISS MICHAEL JACKSON
1. The Jackson 5 Berry Gordy’s Detroit-based Motown Records may have been the epicentre of American pop in the 1960s, but by the end of the decade, with the musical landscape changing and the departure of its chief songwriters, it was in desperate need of fresh blood. The Jackson 5 - Michael plus brothers Jermaine, Tito, Jackie and Marlon - were signed in 1968, released their album a year later, and by January 1970 had their first number one single, ‘I Want You Back’ - the first of four in a row. Their songs remain timeless, and embody the enduring appeal of an adored twelve-year-old Michael Jackson. 2. The Wiz An irrevocable flop, Motown’s 1978 translation of The Wizard Of Oz is actually a bit of a guilty pleasure. Michael Jackson is the Scarecrow to Diana Ross’ Dorothy, the two embarking on a star-studded musical quest to find The Wiz (Richard Pryor), who’ll make their wishes come true. The movie signalled the demise of the ’70s Blaxploitation cult and it remains a celluloid oddity, but its soundtrack is well worth checking out, and is notable for introducing Michael Jackson to its producer, Quincy Jones. 3. ‘Off The Wall’ Marking the moment when Michael Jackson grew up, this, his fifth solo album, was his first with Quincy Jones working the controls, harnessing the pair’s desire to create a new direction for the singer. The end result was a slick, sophisticated album that curtailed the wild abandon of disco and heralded the modishness and extravagance of the Eighties. 4. ‘Thriller’ You know every single song on the album. How mad is that? How many albums are so universally recognised that even its weaker tracks would incur a stampede at a family wedding disco? Upon release it was selling a million copies a week - testament to its ultra-modern sound, innovation and ambition. Jackson wanted to be the biggest star in the world, and ‘Thriller’ - both the album and its title track’s incredible video - catapulted him to the status of global icon and the saviour of mainstream pop music. 5. The moonwalk Premiered live on TV in 1983, Jackson’s signature dance move was destined to be attempted and copied in playgrounds the world over. Its graceful, futuristic slide exemplified Michael’s remarkable talent as a dancer and skill as showman. 6. Charity work His spending was legendary, but the amount of money that Jackson donated to worthy causes was monumental, and displayed the altruism he encouraged throughout his life. Beneficiaries of Jacko’s millions include a burns centre, alcohol and drug treatments, the United Negro Charity Fund, HIV/AIDS charities and famine relief funds, for which Michael co-wrote ‘We Are The World’. His humanitarian efforts should be applauded. 7. Bubbles Seriously, who wouldn’t buy a monkey if you were a millionaire? The fact that Jacko saved this chimp from a cancer research clinic, lived with him, dressed him in childrens clothes and treated him like his own child is frankly brilliant. Bubbles is now twenty-six, and in the care of an ape sanctuary in Florida. 8. Musical pioneer Across his vast catalogue, Jackson demonstrated a versatility that saw him effortlessly traverse between rock ‘n’ roll, pop, soul, R‘n’B, funk, rap, metal, electro and techno. In a medium where artists are continually enforced an identity and compartmentalised by specific genres, for Michael Jackson, collaborating with Paul McCartney was as easy as working with Eddie Van Halen or Slash, and the music they produced was never anything less than perfect pop. 9. Black power To many, Jackson’s apparent desire to be considered white was seen as an affront to his African American heritage, that he was denying his ancestry and insulting his race. However, as MTV emerged as a classic rock video channel, Jackson faced media prejudices against his colour. He eventually confronted the station and challenged their attitudes with his omnipotence. As ‘Billie Jean’ aired regularly across the channel, it paved the way for the station becoming a visual beacon for urban music and the growing popularity of R‘n’B and hip-hop. 10. ‘Billie Jean’ Jackson’s finest songwriting moment is this song about a crazed fan. That insistent drum intro gives way to that classic bassline, and already you want to dance. It’s a classic pop sound, but the darkness that permeates its lyrics and the starkness of its pulsing rhythms ensured it was as frightful as it was delightful. If only Jackson could always have been this good.
TEN REASONS WHY WE WON’T MISS MICHAEL JACKSON 1. Singles While The Beatles insisted on not including singles on albums, thus producing a standalone run of classic 7”s that would promote the ensuing long-player, Jackson and his label spun this generosity on its head, and milked ‘Thriller’ for all that it was worth - seven out of the album’s nine tracks were released as singles - setting a precedent for lazy bands and swindled fans. 2. Moonwalker While Jacko’s appearance in The Wiz was a bit of kitsch fun, his 1988 cinematic mess ‘Moonwalker’ was ninety-three minutes of nonsense fantasy tied together around loose story lines that essentially served as a (very expensive) vehicle for the music videos that were scattered randomly throughout it. The nadir of Joe Pesci. 3. Black or white Jackson was apparently diagnosed with vitiligo in 1986, admitting it on Oprah Winfrey’s show in 1993, but was the disease really a cover-up for Jacko’s endless quest of vanity? Rumours of skin bleaching abounded, an addendum to the relentless plastic surgery he pursued to create a new identity, distancing himself from the young Michael so cruelly bullied by his father. The truth will never be known, but the mutilation of Jackson’s face and body damaged his reputation and character far more than it did his bone structure. 4. Child abuse Michael was found not guilty to accusations of child abuse in 2005, but the court case irrevocably ruined his character forever. There’s no smoke without fire, people thought, and the stories of children sleeping over at the singer’s Neverland ranch continued to disturb. Perhaps, it is suggested, Jackson’s lack of a normal childhood and abuse from his father eventually regressed him into such a childlike state that his physical curiosities were that of a ten-year-old boy but suppressed in a forty-year-old man. Whatever the reason, it was hard to watch footage of Jackson and his young friends without thinking the worst. 5. Detachment from reality Everyone loves an eccentric, but Jackson pushed oddball behaviour over the limit. It started with the curious reports of him sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber, but his increasingly erratic nature would culminate with him dangling his son over a fourth storey balcony, attending court in his pyjamas, and of course his futile portrayal as a messianic healer. 6. Expensive videos When John Landis and Jacko conspired to create the groundbreaking million-dollar fourteen-minute video for ‘Thriller’, they inadvertently set a standard for big budget videos that were (unlike ‘Thriller’) ultimately more style than substance. Mariah Carey, Backstreet Boys and Puff Daddy are all guilty of blowing huge amounts on lavish visuals, while Madonna spent six million dollars in a desperate attempt to make ‘Die Another Day’ something more than the worst Bond theme to date. For the record, Jacko’s video for his duet with sister Janet, ‘Scream’ is still the most expensive video, costing seven million dollars. That’s a shit song too. 7. Choreography Today’s bands think that, like expensive videos, people want to see a tight, well-executed dance routine, and reckon that if a performance is dominated by fit dancers flexing their bodies across the stage, we won’t notice that the song or the singing is crap. But we do. Thanks Michael. 8. The fans The blind adoration of Jackson’s devoted following was always as creepy as the man himself appeared to be. Waiting for days outside his hotel, desperate for a mere glimpse - don’t they have jobs? Pleading his innocence against every accusation, refusing to believe he could ever do wrong even in the face of mounting evidence - were they trying to convince us or themselves? Most disturbingly, it was reported that a dozen fans committed suicide after learning of Jacko’s death. 9. Legacy Much like Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jackson will be more powerful in death than in life. He’s already been hoisted on a pedestal as a prophet, a divine being, a tortured soul who’s found his escape. When his music is played now, it will be followed by gushing reverence and devout praise. He was a singer, not a saint. 10. ‘Earth Song’ Overblown with sanctimony and irritatingly naive, ‘Earth Song’ was a pompous sermon from an isolated millionaire, with a video whose budget would feed a Third World country for a decade. Utterly vacuous and devoid of significance. Just ask Jarvis Cocker.