Michael Jackson obituary
The news of Michael Jackson's death yesterday (26.06.09) brings to a close the story of arguably the greatest entertainer of the last 30 years
The news of Michael Jackson's death brings to a close the story of arguably the greatest entertainer of the last 30 years.
Michael died after reportedly suffering cardiac arrest at his home in Los Angeles yesterday (25.06.09). An emergency 911 call was made at 12.30pm from Michael's home, and he is believed to have been in a coma when he arrived at hospital.
Although the musician had a turbulent life, he was unrivalled not only in record sales for a solo artist, but in terms of his constant innovation, dedication, and mastery of the pop single.
Born the seventh of eight children into a performing family in 1958, Michael sang with his brothers from the age of seven in the group the Jackson Five, masterminded by his father Joe Jackson.
The group quickly became established as a major force in soul music with songs such as 'I Want You Back', 'ABC' and 'I'll Be There' and Michael was fronting the band by the age of 11. His juvenile charm, signature dance moves and huge voice quickly set Michael apart from his brothers and by 1971 he had signed a solo record deal.
Four successful albums followed, but it was after a stint acting in musical film 'The Wiz' that Michael was spotted by producer Quincy Jones.
Michael and Quincy formed a formidable duo and between them created a trilogy of albums which established Michael as the biggest star on the planet and greatest pop musician of his generation.
Their first album together, in 1978, 'Off The Wall' mixed disco with pop, resulting in huge hits including 'Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough' and 'Wanna Be Starting Something'.
It was on 1982's 'Thriller', however, that Michael - after recording demos of hundreds of songs - created what has been described as the perfect pop album, mixing together, soul, disco, rock and a myriad of other genres. It eventually went on to become the biggest selling album of all time, with sales to date of over 100 million copies worldwide.
Opening with dancefloor classic 'Billie Jean' and including the classic lead single 'Thriller', seven of the album's nine tracks were eventually released as singles in Michael's native US, which all reached the top ten of the singles chart.
Importantly 'Thriller' also established Michael - through its music videos - as a staple on the newly created MTV station, which over the next decade would prove to become a huge cultural influence and force across the world.
Michael also enjoyed huge success with his 1987 'Bad' album, again with Quincy producing, which is also regarded as a landmark in pop history.
Huge budget pop videos and tours followed, ensuring Michael's place as the biggest pop star of his generation.
The singer managed to live up to his albums' success with his spectacular live shows, which saw him pull off incredible dance moves, including the 'moonwalk' in which he appeared to slide backwards across the surface of the stage.
Although controversy grew around the star's seemingly changing appearance, including his skin appearing whiter - an issue he blamed on a skin disease and treatment for burns suffered after his hair caught on fire while filming a TV commercial - Michael's next album, 1991's 'Dangerous', was also well received. It enjoyed a number one single around the world in 'Black Or White' and earned rave reviews.
However, the world tour in support of the album didn't go well and was abandoned before its conclusion. This marked a turning point in the star's career, as his erratic behaviour attracted more headlines than his music.
In 1993, Michael was accused of sexual abuse by 13-year-old Jordan Chandler. Michael's relationship with children had already sparked media scrutiny when it was revealed he allowed youngsters to stay overnight as his Neverland ranch, in California - the mansion complete with a zoo and theme park. Michael eventually settled out of court with the Chandler family in January 1994 for $22 million.
The rumours about his sexual behavior wouldn't go away and in 2003 he was once again accused of child molestation, although this time the case did make it to court. The singer faced a total of 10 charges all of which he vehemently denied. He was later acquitted of all charges.
Michael's 1995 album 'HIStory' and the long-delayed 'Invincible' in 2001 were strong sellers, but with no tour support faded from the public's attention quicker than others in Jackson's career.
At the time of his death Michael was preparing for a phenomenal 50-date comeback residency at London's O2 arena - dubbed 'This Is It'.
Tickets for the dates - rumoured to be his last - sold out within hours and the shows were tipped to be of a scale never previously seen from the star.