Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson

Updated: June 25, 2009

Michael Joseph Jackson died at age 50 in Los Angeles on June 25, 2009. He spent a lifetime surprising people, in recent years largely because of a surreal personal life, lurid legal scandals, serial plastic surgeries and erratic public behavior that have turned him -- on his very best days -- into the butt of late-night talk-show jokes and tabloid headlines. But when his career began to take off nearly four decades ago as a member of the pop group the Jackson 5, fans and entertainment industry veterans recognized something else about the pint-size musical dynamo that was unusual: He was in possession of an outsize, mesmerizing talent.

The introduction to his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame entry seemed apt as a global audience followed reports of his hospitalization and then death:
"Michael Jackson is a singer, songwriter, dancer and celebrity icon with a vast catalog of hit records and countless awards to his credit. Beyond that, he has transfixed the world like few entertainers before or since. As a solo performer, he has enjoyed a level of superstardom previously known only to Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Frank Sinatra."

John Rockwell, the music critic of The Times, cited Mr. Jackson's musical and cultural influence in a 1982 review of the album "Thriller," calling it "a wonderful pop record, the latest statement by one of the great singers in popular music today." But it was more than that, he contended: "It is as hopeful a sign as we have had yet that the destructive barriers that spring up regularly between white and black music -- and between whites and blacks -- in this culture may be breached once again. Most important of all, it is another signpost on the road to Michael Jackson's own artistic fulfillment."

Mr. Jackson was born in Gary, Ind., on Aug. 29, 1958 and began performing professionally at age 5, joining his three older brothers in a group that their father, Joe, a steelworker, had organized the previous year. In 1968 the group, now five strong and known as the Jackson 5, was signed by Motown Records.

By 1969, Mr. Jackson had already spent years in talent shows and performing in seedy Midwestern clubs under the aegis of his dictatorial and ambitious father and Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown Records. They were the singer's twin mentors during his early career.


The Jackson 5 was an instant phenomenon. The group's first four singles - "I Want You Back," "ABC," "The Love You Save" and "I'll Be There" - all reached No. 1 on the pop charts in 1970, a feat no group had accomplished before. And young Michael was unquestionably the center of attention: he handled virtually all the lead vocals, danced with energy and finesse, and displayed a degree of showmanship rare in a performer of any age. The Jackson brothers were soon a fixture on television variety shows and even briefly had their own Saturday morning cartoon series.

Mr. Jackson had his own recollections of those years. "When you're a show-business child, you really don't have the maturity to understand a great deal of what is going on around you. People make a lot of decisions concerning your life when you're out of the room," he wrote in "Moon Walk," his 1988 autobiography. "Berry insisted on perfection and attention to detail. I'll never forget his persistence. This was his genius. Then and later, I observed every moment of the sessions where Berry was present and never forgot what I learned. To this day, I use the same principles."

In 1971 Mr. Jackson began recording under his own name, while also continuing to perform and record with his brothers. His recording of "Ben," the title song from a movie about a boy and his homicidal pet rat, was a No. 1 hit in 1972.

The brothers (minus Michael's older brother Jermaine, who was married to the daughter of Berry Gordy, Motown's founder and chief executive) left Motown in 1975 and, rechristened the Jacksons, signed to Epic, a unit of CBS Records. The following year Michael made his movie debut as the Scarecrow in the screen version of the hit Broadway musical "The Wiz." But movie stardom proved not to be his destiny.

Music stardom on an unprecedented level, however, was. Mr. Jackson's first solo album for Epic, "Off the Wall," yielded four No..1 singles and sold seven million copies, but it was a mere prologue to what came next. His follow-up, "Thriller," released in 1982, became the best-selling album of all time and helped usher in the music video age. The video for the album's title track, directed by John Landis, was an elaborate horror-movie pastiche that was more of a mini-movie than a promotional clip and played a crucial role in making MTV a household name.

Seven of the nine tracks on "Thriller" were released as singles and reached the Top 10. The album spent two years on the Billboard album chart and sold more than 50 million copies worldwide. It also won eight Grammy Awards.

Such accomplishments would have been difficult for anyone to equal, much less surpass. Mr. Jackson's next album, "Bad," released in 1987, sold eight million copies and produced five No..1 singles and another state-of-the-art video, this one directed by Martin Scorsese. It was a huge hit by almost anyone else's standards, but an inevitable letdown after "Thriller."

It was at this point that Mr. Jackson's bizarre private life began to overshadow his music. He would go on to release several more albums and, from time to time, to stage elaborate concert tours. And he would never be too far from the public eye. But it would never again be his music that kept him there.

Sales of his recordings through Sony's music unit generated more than $300 million in royalties for Mr. Jackson since the early 1980s, according to three individuals with direct knowledge of the singer's business affairs. Revenues from concerts and music publishing -- including the creation of a venture with Sony that controls the Beatles catalog -- as well as from endorsements, merchandising and music videos added, perhaps, $400 million more to that amount, these people believe. Subtracted were hefty costs like recording and production expenses, taxes and the like.

Those close to Mr. Jackson say that his finances had not deteriorated simply because he was a big spender. Until the early 1990s, they said, he paid relatively close attention to his accounting and kept an eye on the cash that flowed through his business and creative ventures. After that, they say, Mr. Jackson became overly enamored of something that ensnares wealthy people of all stripes: bad advice.

Mr. Jackson's pre-expense share of the "Thriller" bounty -- including the album, singles and a popular video -- surpassed $125 million, according to a former adviser who requested anonymity because of the confidential nature of Mr. Jackson's finances. Those who counseled him in the "Thriller" era credit the pop star with financial acumen and astute business judgment, evidenced by his $47.5 million purchase of the Beatles catalog in 1985 (a move that served to alienate him from Paul McCartney, the Beatles legend who imparted the financial wisdom of buying catalogs to Mr. Jackson during a casual chat, only to see Mr. Jackson then turn around and buy rights to many of Mr. McCartney's own songs). Acquaintances from that period say that he would occasionally borrow gas money, and he still lived in the Jackson family home in the suburban Encino section of Los Angeles.

It wasn't until the end of the 1980s that Mr. Jackson began to exhibit more baronial tendencies. In 1988, he made his $17 million purchase of property near Santa Ynez, Calif., that became Neverland.

At the same time, Mr. Jackson was redefining the concept of spectacle in pop music. He hired Martin Scorsese, the film director, to direct a video for "Bad," a clip that one adviser with direct knowledge of the production budget said cost more than $1 million. The same adviser said that Mr. Jackson netted "way north" of $35 million from a yearlong "Bad" tour that began in 1987, and that heading into the 1990s Mr. Jackson was in sound shape financially.

By the mid-90s, though, Mr. Jackson's finances were under strain. He retreated from working regularly after the release of "Dangerous" in 1991 and settled a child-molestation lawsuit for about $20 million. More significantly in terms of his finances, he had to sell Sony a 50 percent stake in the Beatles catalog in 1995 for more than $100 million, which one adviser said helped shore up the singer's wobbling accounts. Mr. Jackson wouldn't produce another studio album of completely new material until 2001.

In June 2005, he was acquitted today of all charges in connection with accusations that he molested a 13-year-old boy he had befriended as the youth was recovering from cancer in 2003. Mr. Jackson's complete acquittal ended a nearly four-month trial that featured 140 witnesses who painted clashing portraits of the 46-year-old international pop star as either pedophile or Peter Pan.
Along with the verdict, the jury gave a note for the judge to read out in court. In it, they said they felt "the weight of the world's eyes upon us all" and that they had "thoroughly and meticulously" studied all the evidence. The note concluded with a plea "we would like the public to allow us to return to our lives as anonymously as we came."
The case arose from the February 2003 broadcast of "Living with Michael Jackson," a British documentary in which Mr. Jackson admitted sharing his bed with young boys, calling it a loving act unrelated to sex. The boy who later became the accuser was shown holding hands with the singer and resting his head affectionately on his shoulder. He was described as a 13-year-old cancer patient whom Mr. Jackson had decided to help.

On March 5, 2009, Mr. Jackson announced that he would perform a series of concerts in London in the summer, in what he called a "final curtain call." Mr. Jackson, 50, revealed the details of the concerts at a news conference in London, where he said he would perform 10 shows at that city's O2 Arena, beginning July 8. "When I say this is it, I mean this is it," Mr. Jackson said. "I'll be performing the songs my fans want to hear."

The shows would have been Mr. Jackson's first major performances since 2001 and 2002, when he appeared at a pair of 30th anniversary celebrations and two benefit concerts; a brief appearance by Mr. Jackson at the World Music Awards in 2006 was booed by audience members.

Off The Wall (album Michael Jackson,August 1979)

Off The Wall (album Michael Jackson,August 1979)

Off the Wall is the fifth studio album by the American pop musician Michael Jackson, released August 10, 1979 on Epic Records, after Michael Jackson critically well received film performance in The Wiz. While working on that project, Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones had become friends, and Jones agreed to work with Michael Jackson on his next studio album. Recording sessions took place between December 1978 and June 1979 at Allen Zentz Recording, Westlake Recording Studios, and Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles, California. Michael Jackson collaborated with a number of other writers and performers such as Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder and Rod Temperton. Michael Jackson wrote several of the songs himself, including the lead single, "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough".

The record was a departure from Michael Jackson previous work for Motown. Several critics observed that Off the Wall was crafted from funk, disco-pop, soul, soft rock, jazz and pop ballads. Michael Jackson received positive reviews for his vocal performance on the record. The record gained positive reviews and won the singer his first Grammy Awards since the early 1970s. With Off the Wall, Michael Jackson became the first solo artist to have four singles from the same album peak inside the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. The album was a commercial success, to date it is certified for 7× Multi-Platinum in the US and has sold 20 million copies worldwide.

On October 16, 2001, a special edition reissue of Off the Wall was released by Sony Records. Recent reviews by Allmusic and Blender have continued to praise Off the Wall for its appeal in the 21st century. In 2003, the album was ranked number 68 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. The National Association of Recording Merchandisers listed it at number 80 of the Definitive 200 Albums of All Time. In 2008, Off the Wall was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Forever (album Michael Jackson,january 1975)

Forever (album Michael Jackson, january 1975)

Forever, Michael Jacksonl is an album by American singer Michael Jackson, released by the Motown label in 1975.

Album information:

The album was Michael Jackson fourth as a solo artist and would end up being his final album released with Motown before he and his brothers (The Jackson 5) left for CBS Records a year later. This album displayed a change in musical style for the sixteen-year-old, who adopted a smoother soul sound that would be a catalyst for later solo records on Epic.

Most of the tracks were recorded in 1974, and the album was originally set to be released that year. However, because of demand from the Jackson 5's huge hit "Dancing Machine", production on Jackson's album was delayed until the hype from that song died down.

The album helped return Michael Jackson to the top 40 with the Holland brothers' (Eddie and Brian) "Just a Little Bit of You". In 1981, Michael Jackson "One Day in Your Life" was released as part of the compilation album One Day in Your Life to benefit from Michael Jackson Epic success. The title track went to number one in the UK, becoming the 6th best-selling single of 1981 in the UK.

Music & Me ( album Michael Jackson april 1973 )

Music & Me ( album Michael Jackson april 1973 )

Music & Me was the third solo album by American singer Michael Jackson, released in 1973 on the Motown label.

Album information:

The album was released during a difficult transition period the young singer was experiencing due to vocal changes and a changing music landscape. Having been influenced by fellow Motown label mates such as Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson had expressed an opinion on having material he wrote to be featured on an album with Motown. However, the label chose not to allow him that option.

Despite the cover of Michael Jackson strumming an acoustic guitar, the singer did not play any instrument on the album and soon expressed his frustrations to his father, Joe Jackson, who later helped negotiate Michael Jackson and his brothers off their Motown contract in protest.

Since Michael Jackson was on a world tour with his brothers as a member of The Jackson 5, promotion on this album was limited. The Stevie Wonder cover, "With a Child's Heart", was released as a single. Jackson took two years to work on a follow-up album that focused on his maturing voice which became, Forever, Michael Jackson.

Ben ( album Michael Jacson ,August 1972 )

Ben ( album Michael Jacson ,August 1972 ):

Ben was the second full-length solo album by American singer Michael Jackson, released in August 1972, seven months after his debut Got to Be There. The title track "Ben" was a million-seller hit single and Jackson's first US


"Ben" is a number-one hit song recorded by the teenager Michael Jackson for the Motown label in 1972. The song, the theme of a 1972 film of the same name (the sequel to the 1971 killer rat movie Willard), spent one week at the top of the U.S. pop chart. It also reached number-one on the Australian pop chart, spending eight weeks at the top spot. The song also later reached a peak of number seven on the British pop chart.

The song became the first of thirteen number-one pop hits for Jackson in the United States and his first number-one as a solo artist.

Later included on Jackson's album of the same name, "Ben" was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Song.

Got to Be There (album by Michael Jackson january 1972}

Got to Be There (album Michael Jackson january 1972}

Got to Be There was the solo debut album by then-adolescent Michael Jackson, released on Motown Records on January 24, 1972. It includes the song of the same name, which was released in the fall of 1971 as Michael Jackson debut solo single.

Album information:

Motown released Jackson's solo album around the same time that another famous brother from a famous family was doing the same: Donny Osmond, who was hitting with songs like "Sweet & Innocent" and "Puppy Love". Jackson's and Osmond's debut efforts almost paralleled each other, as Jackson scored a hit with the title track and "Rockin' Robin", which like Osmond's "Puppy Love", was a remake of an old '50s rock song. The album also included covers of Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine", Carole King's "You've Got a Friend" and the Supremes' "Love Is Here and Now You're Gone".

Biography Michael Jackson

Biography Michael Jackson:

Michael Jackson was unquestionably the biggest pop star of the '80s, and certainly one of the most popular recording artists of all time. In his prime,Michael Jackson was an unstoppable juggernaut, possessed of all the tools to dominate the charts seemingly at will: an instantly identifiable voice, eye-popping dance moves, stunning musical versatility, and loads of sheer star power. His 1982 blockbuster Thriller became the biggest-selling album of all time (probably his best-known accomplishment), and he was the first black artist to find stardom on MTV, breaking down innumerable boundaries both for his race and for music video as an art form. Yet as Michael Jackson career began, very gradually, to descend from the dizzying heights of his peak years, most of the media's attention focused on his increasingly bizarre eccentricities; he was often depicted as an arrested man-child, completely sheltered from adult reality by a life spent in show business. The snickering turned to scandal in 1993, when Jackson was accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy; although he categorically denied the charges, his out-of-court settlement failed to restore his tarnished image. He never quite escaped the stigma of those allegations, and while he continued to sell records at superstar-like levels, he didn't release them with enough frequency (or, many critics thought, inspiration) to once again become better known for his music than his private life. Whether as a pop icon or a tabloid caricature, Jackson always remained bigger than life.
Michael Joseph Jackson was born August 29, 1958, in Gary, IN. The fifth son of steelworker Joe Jackson, Michael displayed a talent for music and dance from an extremely young age. His childhood was strictly regimented; from the start, he was to an extent sheltered from the outside world by his mother's Jehovah's Witness faith, and his father was by all accounts an often ill-tempered disciplinarian. Joe began to organize a family musical group around his three eldest sons in 1962, and Michael joined them the following year, quickly establishing himself as a dynamic stage performer. His dead-on mastery of James Brown's dance moves and soulful, mature-beyond-his-years vocals made him a natural focal point, especially given his incredibly young age. Dubbed the Jackson 5, the group signed to Motown in 1968 and issued their debut single in October 1969, when Michael Jackson was just 11 years old. "I Want You Back," "ABC," "The Love You Save," and "I'll Be There" all hit number one in 1970, making the Jackson 5 the first group in pop history to have their first four singles top the charts. Motown began priming Michael Jackson for a solo career in 1971, and his first single, "Got to Be There," was issued toward the end of the year; it hit the Top Five, as did the follow-up, a cover of Bobby Day's "Rockin' Robin." Later in 1972, Michael Jackson had his first number one solo single, "Ben," the title song from a children's thriller about a young boy who befriends Ben, the highly intelligent leader of a gang of homicidal rats. Given the subject matter, the song was surprisingly sincere and sentimental, and even earned an Oscar nomination. However, the momentum of Jackson's solo career (much like that of the Jackson 5) soon stalled. He released his fourth and final album on Motown in 1975, and the following year, he and his brothers (save Jermaine) signed to Epic and became the Jacksons.

In 1977,Michael Jackson landed a starring role alongside Diana Ross in the all-black film musical +The Wiz, a retelling of The Wizard of Oz; here he met producer/composer Quincy Jones for the first time. Encouraged by the success of the Jacksons' self-produced, mostly self-written 1978 album Destiny, Jackson elected to resume his solo career when his management contract with his father expired shortly thereafter. With Jones producing, Jackson recorded his first solo album as an adult, Off the Wall. An immaculately crafted set of funky disco-pop, smooth soul, and lush, sentimental pop ballads, Off the Wall made Michael Jackson a star all over again. It produced four Top Ten singles, including the number one hits "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough" and "Rock With You," and went platinum (it went on to sell over seven million copies); even so, Jackson remained loyal to his brothers and stayed with the group.

No group could have contained Jackson's rapidly rising star for long; however, there was still no sign (if there ever could be) that his next album would become the biggest in history. Released in 1982, the Quincy Jones-produced Thriller refined the strengths of Off the Wall; the dance and rock tracks were more driving, the pop tunes and ballads softer and more soulful, and all of it was recognizably Michael. Jackson brought in Paul McCartney for a duet, guitarist Eddie Van Halen for a jaw-dropping solo, and Vincent Price for a creepy recitation. It was no surprise that Thriller was a hit; what was a surprise was its staying power. Jackson's duet with McCartney, "The Girl Is Mine," was a natural single choice, and it peaked at number two; then "Billie Jean" and the Van Halen track "Beat It" both hit number one, for seven and three weeks respectively. Those latter two songs, as well as the future Top Five title track, had one important feature in common: Michael Jackson supported them with elaborately conceived video clips that revolutionized the way music videos were made. Michael Jackson treated them as song-length movies with structured narratives: "Billie Jean" set the song's tale of a paternity suit in a nightmarish dream world where Jackson was a solitary, sometimes invisible presence; the anti-gang-violence "Beat It" became an homage to +West Side Story; and the ten-minute-plus clip for "Thriller" (routinely selected as the best video of all time) featured Michael Jackson leading a dance troupe of rotting zombies, with loads of horror-film makeup and effects. Having never really accepted black artists in the past, MTV played the clips to death, garnering massive publicity for Michael Jackson and droves of viewers for the fledgling cable network. Jackson sealed his own phenomenon by debuting his signature "moonwalk" dance step on May 16, 1983, on Motown's televised 25th anniversary special; though he didn't invent the moonwalk (as he himself was quick to point out), it became as much of a Michael Jackson signature as his vocal hiccups or single white-sequined glove.

Showing no signs of slowing down, Thriller just kept spinning off singles, including "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'," the airy ballad "Human Nature," and "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)"; in all, seven of its nine tracks wound up in the Top Ten, obliterating conventional ideas of how many singles could be released from an album before it ran its course. Thriller stayed on the charts for over two years, spent 37 nonconsecutive weeks at number one, and became the best-selling album of all time; it went on to sell 25 million copies in the U.S. alone, and around another 20 million overseas. Naturally,Michael Jackson won a slew of awards, including a record eight Grammys in one night, and snagged the largest endorsement deal ever when he became a spokesman for Pepsi (he would later be burned in an accident while filming a commercial). At the end of 1983, Michael Jackson was again on top of the singles charts, this time as part of a second duet with McCartney, "Say Say Say." In 1984, Michael Jackson rejoined his brothers one last time for the album Victory, whose supporting tour was one of the biggest (and priciest) of the year. The following year, he and Lionel Richie co-wrote the anthemic "We Are the World" for the all-star famine-relief effort USA for Africa; it became one of the fastest-selling singles ever.

Even at this early stage, wild rumors about Jackson's private life were swirling. His shyness and reluctance to grant interviews (ironically, due in part to his concerns about being misrepresented) only encouraged more speculation. Some pointed to his soft-spoken, still girlish voice as evidence that he'd undergone hormone treatments to preserve the high, flexible range of his youth; stories were told about Jackson sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber to slow the aging process, and purchasing the skeleton of John Merrick, the Elephant Man (Jackson did view the bones in the London Hospital, but did not buy them). Michael Jackson bought a large ranch in California which he dubbed Neverland, and filled it with amusement park rides and animals (including the notorious pet chimpanzee Bubbles), which only fueled the public's perception of him as a somewhat bizarre eccentric obsessed with recapturing his childhood. He also underwent cosmetic surgery several times, which led to accusations from the black community that his gradually lightening skin tone was the result of an intentional effort to become whiter; a few years later,Michael Jackson revealed that he had a disorder called vitiligo, in which pigment disappears from the skin, leaving large white blotches and making direct sunlight dangerous. One of the rumors that was definitely true was that Michael Jackson owned the rights to the Beatles' catalog; in 1985, he acquired ATV Publishing, the firm that controlled all the Lennon-McCartney copyrights (among others), which wound up costing him his friendship with McCartney.

During his long layoff between records,Michael Jackson indulged his interest in film and video by working with George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola on the 3-D short film Captain Eo. The special-effects extravaganza was shown at the enormous widescreen IMAX theaters in Disney's amusement parks for 12 years, beginning in 1986. Finally, Michael Jackson re-entered the studio with Quincy Jones to begin the near-impossible task of crafting a follow-up to Thriller. Bad was released to enormous public anticipation in 1987, and was accompanied by equally enormous publicity. It debuted at number one, and the first single, "I Just Can't Stop Loving You," with vocal accompaniment by Siedah Garrett, also shot up the charts to number one. Like Thriller, Bad continued to spin off singles for well over a year after its release, and became the first album ever to produce five number one hits; the others were "Bad," "The Way You Make Me Feel," "Man in the Mirror," and "Dirty Diana." Michael Jackson supported the album with a lengthy world tour that featured a typically spectacular, elaborate stage show; it became the highest-grossing tour of all time. Although Michael Jackson success was still staggering, there were faint undercurrents of disappointment, partly because of the unparalleled phenomenon of Thriller (Bad "only" sold eight million copies), and partly because the album itself didn't seem quite as exuberant or uniformly consistent when compared to its predecessors.

Michael Jackson took another long hiatus between albums, giving the media little to focus on besides his numerous eccentricities; by this time, the British tabloids delighted in calling him "Wacko Jacko," a name he detested. When Jackson returned in with a new album in late 1991, he'd come up with a different moniker: "the King of Pop." Dangerous found Michael Jackson ending his collaboration with Quincy Jones in an effort to update his sound; accordingly, many of the tracks were helmed by the groundbreaking new jack swing producer Teddy Riley. As expected, the album debuted at number one, and its lead single, "Black or White," shot to the top as well. Michael Jackson courted controversy with the song's video, however; after the song itself ended, there was a long dance sequence in which Michael Jackson shouted, grabbed his crotch, and smashed car windows in a bizarre display that seemed at odds with the song's harmonious message. With the video given a high-profile, prime-time network premiere, Michael Jackson was criticized for the inappropriate violence and the message it might send to his younger fans. However, Michael Jackson would not be the biggest story in popular music for long. In early 1992, Nirvana's Nevermind symbolically knocked Dangerous out of the number one spot; after the alternative rock revolution, the pop charts would never be quite the same.Michael Jackson scored several more hits off the album, including the Top Tens "Remember the Time" and "In the Closet," but the aggressive "Jam" and the saccharine "Heal the World" both performed disappointingly.

Michael Jackson had long preferred the company of children over other adults, and befriended quite a few, inviting them to stay at his Neverland Ranch and enjoy the massive playground he'd assembled over the years. In 1993, Michael Jackson was accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy who'd become a frequent guest at Neverland. Predictably, there was a tabloid feeding frenzy, and a mainstream media circus as well. In the court of public opinion, the charges seemed all too plausible:Michael Jackson was near-universally perceived as a weirdo, and here was a handy explanation for his heretofore asexual persona and distaste for adult companions. Additionally, Jackson entered rehab for a short time, seeking treatment for an addiction to pain killers. Investigations were unsuccessful in turning up any other boys who echoed the allegations, and Michael Jackson countersued his accusers for attempting extortion; however, in spite of the fact that no criminal charges were ever filed against Michael Jackson, he settled the boy's family's suit out of court in early 1995, paying an estimated 18 to 20 million dollars. Many felt the settlement was tantamount to an admission of guilt, and when Michael Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley in 1994, the move was perceived as a desperate ploy to rehabilitate his image; the marriage broke up just 19 months later, seemingly lending credence to the charge.

In 1995, Michael Jackson attempted to put the focus back on his music by preparing HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book 1, a two-CD set featuring one disc of new material and one of his greatest hits. The album debuted at number one, but the format backfired on Michael Jackson: his fans already owned the hits, and the new album simply wasn't strong enough to offset the added cost of the extra disc for many more casual listeners. There were some encouraging signs -- the lead single "Scream," a duet with sister Janet, debuted at number five, setting a new American chart record that was broken when the follow-up, "You Are Not Alone," became the first single ever to enter the Billboard Hot 100 at number one. But on the whole, HIStory was something of a disappointment. Additionally, Michael Jackson collapsed during rehearsals for an awards show later that year, and had to be rushed to the hospital; what was more, the Eagles' Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) was threatening to catch Thriller's American sales record (it eventually did, and the two continued to run neck and neck). There were signs that Michael Jackson was grasping at his self-proclaimed King of Pop status; the cover of HIStory depicted an enormous statue of Jackson, and he performed at the 1996 BRIT Awards dressed as a Messiah, with children and a rabbi surrounding him worshipfully (Pulp lead singer Jarvis Cocker stormed the stage to protest Jackson's hubris during the middle of the song). The 1997 remix album Blood on the Dance Floor failed to even go platinum, although remix albums historically don't perform nearly as well as new material.

In late 1996, Michael Jackson remarried, to nurse Debbie Rowe; over the next two years, the couple had two children, son Prince Michael Jackson, Jr. and daughter Paris Michael Katherine Jackson. However, Jackson and Rowe divorced in late 1999. In 2001, Michael Jackson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and later held a massive concert at Madison Square Garden celebrating the 30th anniversary of his first solo record. Among many other celebrity guests, the show featured the first on-stage reunion of the Jacksons since the Victory tour. In the wake of September 11, Jackson put together an all-star charity benefit single, "What More Can I Give." His new album, Invincible, was released late in the year, marking the first time he'd issued a collection of entirely new material since Dangerous; it found him working heavily with urban soul production wizard Rodney Jerkins. Invincible debuted at number one and quickly went double platinum; however, its initial singles, "You Rock My World" and "Butterflies," had rather disappointing showings on the charts, with the latter not even reaching the Top Ten. To compound matters, the expensive "What More Can I Give" single and video were canceled by Sony when executive producer Marc Schaffel was revealed to work in pornography. Michael Jackson camp tried to distance the singer from Schaffel, and the various corporations that were attached to it (McDonalds, Sony) claimed they had minimal involvement if any with the song. Sony and Jackson began a press war in the summer of 2002, starting with Jackson's claims that the label asked for 200 million dollars to pay them back for marketing costs. Although they had spent 55 million on his disappointing comeback, Sony released a statement saying that no such request had ever been made. Jackson stewed for a few weeks before launching a press attack on Sony Music chairman Tommy Mottola, calling him "devilish" and making claims that he used racist language and held down black artists. Many Sony artists, including Mariah Carey and Ricky Martin, defended Mottola, but Jackson and his family maintained that racism ended their professional relationship.

From that point, Michael Jackson career took an extreme turn toward the bizarre, starting with MTV's annual Video Awards. When Britney Spears presented him with a birthday cake, an offhand remark about being the artist of the millennium inspired a rambling Michael Jackson to accept a meaningless trophy (which everyone presenting on-stage received) as an actual Artist of the Millennium award. Next came accusations from a promotional company over his promises of a tour and several appearances that he then canceled. Michael Jackson arrived in court late, gave a drowsy testimony, and inspired gasps when he removed a surgical mask to reveal his nose had caved in from a botched cosmetic surgery. Only days later, German fans were horrified when Michael Jackson came to the balcony of his hotel suite and briefly dangled his 11-month old baby Prince Michael II (nicknamed "Blanket" by Jackson) over the edge with one arm. Although he apologized the next day, claiming he had gotten caught up in the moment, this only did more to cement the King of Pop's public image as an out-of-control millionaire. 2003 turned out to not be Jackson's year as in November his Neverland Ranch was extensively searched by police, whereby he was subsequently arrested on charges of child molestation. That same month the single disc retrospective Number Ones hit the stands with one new song, "One More Chance". A year later - nearly to the day - the four CD and one DVD box set The Ultimate Collection appeared with numerous rarities including the original demo for "We Are the World". In January 2005 his child molestation trial began and by May he was acquitted on all counts. Michael Jackson soon relocated to the Persian Gulf island of Bahrain and began working on new music including a charity single that would benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina. The single never appeared but the two disc The Essential Michael Jackson did and in 2006 the strange box set Visionary was released featuring 20 DualDiscs replicating 20 big hit singles with their videos included on the DVD side. In early 2007 it was announced that a comeback album was planned for late in the year; the album never materialized.

While in the middle of rehearsing for a series of 50 comeback concerts scheduled for the summer of 2009, Michael Jackson collapsed from a cardiac arrest on the afternoon of June 25, 2009. He was rushed to the UCLA Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at the age of 50. Steve Huey, All Music Guide