Michael Jackson was born in August 1958 in a place called Indiana; a middle class family. His father was a guitarist with a great liking for music yet worked as a crane operator so as to fend for his family. He had much hope in his sons that he encouraged them to get in to music. Three brothers were the first to kick off the music careers for the Jackson family. Michael soon joined his brothers as their lead singer at the age of five. Michael exhibited immense talent in his performances, he left many in awe; he was a talented performer.
The young boy could even convey deep and complex emotions, a task that would have been deemed tough for a kid of his age. The group now had five members after Marlon joined them. Jackson Senior always pushed his sons to better their musical talents. His passion for music was ecstatic to the extent of drilling his sons hard; he would be so harsh on them when they seemed to lag behind in practice. Jackson 5 started their musical accent by performing local gigs; they later gained prominence leading to call ups in various gigs outside their home area. Their first two singles did not fair well, but this did not drown their spirits. (Sullivan, 2012)
The Jackson 5 got call ups to perform alongside singers like Gladys Knight, James Brown, and the Pips among other musicians of that time. Most musicians they performed alongside were signed by the Famous music label called Motown Records. There were rumors that Gladys Knight passed the information about Jackson 5 to owners of Motown Records; who started to take an interest in the group`s performance. Mr. Gordy decided to sign them in to his group in the year 1968.
Michael Jackson and his siblings moved to Los Angeles where they decided to concentrate on their musical careers. In Los Angeles, they lived in the same house with Gordy and the female music sensation named Diana Ross. The Jacksons received a formal introduction in to the music industry when they were called upon to perform as the opening act for a group called the Supremes. They quickly produced their first album whose first single topped the charts in 1970. (Henning, 2009)
At the age of thirteen, Michael was now chatting his solo career alongside his performance with his siblings. He was among top performers in the year 1971. In 1972, he performed a song called ‘Ben’ which topped the charts same year. The group maintained a busy schedule for several years, Gordy wrote most of the songs the group performed and preferred Michael as their lead solo. Popularity of the group was at an all time high that they had a cartoon show dedicated to them; it was aired from 1971 to 1973. Tensions began to build between the group and their producers; their father disliked the way Gordy managed his sons. The boys left Motown in the year 1975, they felt they had come of age and could better manage themselves without Gordy`s intervention. (Sullivan, 2012)
Michael`s album grossed over a million copies in sales, seven songs in the album got to the top ten charts. Michael was now growing in stature as a solo act; he was becoming an accomplished musician. Jackson performed another hit called ‘Billie Jean’ as a remembrance of Motown Records, their former producer. He got interested in choreographing his dances and performances; this culminated in to the hit song called ‘Thriller’ where he introduced his famous dance move ‘the moonwalker’. This video excited the world due to its complexity and creativity; the song stayed in the charts for about 38 weeks. The song received about twelve Grammy nominations but managed to bag eight awards which was a great fete in those days. (Henning, 2009)
The number of awards that the maestro bagged for his performances was also an indication of his diverse abilities. His creativity and innovation got him a $ 5 million endorsement with Pepsi, a beverage manufacturer in America. He suffered serious injuries while filming an advert for the beverage maker; scalp, as well as facial injuries. Plastic surgery was employed to rectify the damage, it was during this period that he felt the urge to experiment with plastic surgery; especially on his nose. In 1984, he embarked on his final tour with the group he co-founded with his brothers. (Sullivan, 2012)
In 1985, Michael gave the world a different musical side, his production of ‘We are the World’ a song that America produced in order to solicit for world support and intervention for hunger that bedeviled Africa. The song not only featured him but also creme de la crème of music. He produced another album in 1987 called ‘Bad’ this album had five number one hit songs. The album did perform as well as ‘Thriller’ despite his year long tours to promote this album.
Michael Jackson was a reserved and shy person when offstage. He rarely allowed media interviews; he did not like publicity as well as being around cameras. In the 1980s, he created Neverland Ranch, a fantasy ranch where he allowed children to access and play. People thought this was Michael`s way of trying to regain his lost childhood. Rumor had it that he was bleaching his skin to look white and some went to the extent of saying he slept in a particular chamber to achieve this effect. His music continued gaining fame, he got invited to perform at a Super Bowl event in 1993; this showed the degree and recognition of his talent as a musician. Jackson surprised many when he granted Oprah Winfrey a rare interview where he dispelled rumors about change in his skin color; he said this was a result of illness.
Michael Jackson found himself confronting allegations of child molestation in 1994; a thirteen year old emerged and blamed Michael of fondling him at his ranch. The police initiated investigations in to the bizarre claims, they checked the star`s ranch for any clues but were unable to confirm the allegations. The matter was settled out of court between Michael and the boy`s family. Similar claims were now on the rise but Michael insisted on his innocence. (George, 2010) Michael got married to Presley`s daughter who was called Lisa Marie in 1994.
The marriage did not last, they divorced in 1996; this led to speculations that the marriage may have been a ploy to reinstate the icon to his former glory. He later married Debbie Rowe, a nurse by a profession. The couple had only two children who were sired through the process of artificial insemination. The couple filed for a divorce with Michael being awarded custody of the children. Michael`s career begun to dip following this sequence of ordeals especially on the marriage front. (Jefferson, 2007)
The year 2001 saw Michael negative run in with the media, who accused him of being an attention seeker than a musical genius. His 2001 Album did well, but continuous stories of his queer behavior rocked his boat; overshadowing his musical ability. Michael received scorn from critics when he was seen on a balcony with his son, critics thought he wanted to drop his son; others petitioned the Protective Services to take the kids away. Michael`s interview with Martin Bashir opened a stinking can of worms leading to various lawsuits.
The cases attracted over a hundred and thirty witnesses who were willing to testify against him. He got acquitted of the charges in 2005; the cases brought him devastation and financial ruin. The prince of Bahrain tried to salvage him through $ 7 million he advanced Michael to save it from falling under the auctioneer`s hammer. Tabloids soon got wind that the money the prince advanced him was in exchange for a joint music undertaking under the prince`s record label; Michael defaulted on the promise. Michael now faced a lawsuit from the Prince. Michael was not able to honor the $ 23.5 million he owed as a credit facility accorded to him for the purchase of the ranch. (Jefferson, 2007)
Michael meditated for some time and decided to take a final bow from music; he wanted to tour several cities performing in fifty concerts. He later died of heart attack at his ranch. Michael was later awarded a posthumous award after his death. (George, 2010) Michael Jackson certainly changed the music landscape. He showcased great talent; he showed musicians how to make a seamless transition from the old culture to modern contemporary music. The world was shown the diversity of music; musicians who worked with him gained knowledge especially from the pop culture. He was also among the first set of musicians who brought about the introduction of videos as an accompaniment to audio recordings. (Jefferson, 2007)
The arts have learned greatly from the King of Pop, he showed scholars that music can also be a tool to unify the world; music is universally accepted. Music to Michael was a voice and a medium to pass on messages. He also showed the world the reason for embracing philanthropy, he engaged in numerous charity events; he showed that musicians should be humane.
Sullivan, R. (2012). Untouchable: The strange life and tragic death of Michael Jackson. New York: Grove Press.
George, N. (2010). Thriller: The musical life of Michael Jackson. New York: Da Capo Press.
Henning, S. (2009). Michael Jackson: The book the media doesn’t want you to read. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse.
Jefferson, M. (2007). On Michael Jackson. New York: Vintage Books.