Michael Joseph Jackson was born in Gary, Indiana, on August 29, 1958, the seventh of nine children. The extraordinary vocal talent of the Jackson kids emerged very early, so Michael's father, who had been himself an amateur musician in some clubs of his town, became his kids' "manager".
The "Jackson 5" were created, and they took part in several exibitions and contest in various places in the state, meeting with an increasing approval. In his biography "Moonwalk" Michael says those years were really hard ones. The kids used to play almost every night in different clubs and had to stay up till late at night, sometimes in disreputable places. Michael was compelled to rehearse several hours in the recording studio, and also to take privat lessons to do his exercises, like any schoolboy. When he reminds those days he says that he often watched from the window other kids playing in the park while he kept rehearsing... the price to achieve this success was a very high one: a childhood with no game, no birthday parties, no Christmases. A stolen childhood that nobody will ever be able to give him back: that's why he feels so good with children, the symbols of innocence and simplicity. "Before you judge me, try hard to love me, look within your heart, then ask, have you seen my childhood?", that's what the grown up M.J., an extremely good person and a lovely dad, invites you to do. Today people say Michael Jackson is a sort of Peter Pan, because he is crazy about fun-fairs and cartoons, and that's obvious because when he was a child he was stripped of all this.
The Jacksons' real boom hadn't come yet however. It was only a few years later that , thanks to their growing popularity, their talent was discovered by an important and trendy record company, the Motown Records. It was the first time that a group of coloured boys had managed to achieve such a big success. Michael was already a star, an infant prodigy. The five immediately had four songs in succession #1 (let's mention "I want you back", "ABC", "Ben") Nobody knows who found out these talents, but the legend talks about the beloved and mythical Diana ross.
During the second half of the 70s the brothers leave the Motown and draw up a more important contract with the Epic Record, taking a new name: "the Jacksons". Very soon Michael will leave the group and start his career as a soloist. In 1978 there is a new important event in Michael's career: the film remake of "the Wiz", a musical starring Diana Ross as Dorothy, Richard Prior as the Wiz, and a very special scarecrow... Michael Jackson. Right behind the scenes of "the Wiz" Michael meets the producer Quincy Jones. This meeting marks the beginning of a long-lasting friendship and co-operation with Quincy, with whom he cretes his first soloist record: "Off the Wall". With this record Michael sells 8 million copies and wins a Grammy Award (best R&B vocal performance) and 3 American Awards, showing himself to the world as a versatile, ingenious artist ( he sings, dances and can play various instruments).
In 1982 the second co-operation of Michael and Quincy will produce a really historical result: the album "Thriller". The issue of the single and the video of the album title track provokes a true generation phenomenon. Michael is the first black artist that has a video broadcasted repeatedly on MTV!!! "Thriller" is a real short film directed by John Landis (American Werewolf in London - The Blues Brother). Thanks to the avant-garde special effects and to a mithycal dance sequence among zombies, Michael is more and more famous everyday; millions of people do adore him all over the world The singles and videos "Billie Jean", "Beat it", "Human Nature" come out very soon. The album wins 8 Grammy Awards in the same year and, so far, it's the best hit of all times with 62 million copies sold. Even the Guinnes World Records mentions Mr. Jackson for these two never-reached-before results. Michael wanted to do right that, as himself tells in "Moonwalk" : "... I wanted to create the most sold album of all times and when I got this result I felt like an athlete when he reaches the goal after long years of hard training, ... and the crowd stands up to cheer him. My dream had come true."
Michael's famous exhibition on the 25th anniversary of the Motown pours another handful of stars on Jackson's head. It was seen by 90 million people in the same night and it was to become the most seen Tv-Show of all times. For the first time the whole world watches the Moonwalk, the legendary step that gives the impression of walking to and fro at the same time. The exalting "Victory Tour" lit up American and European stadiums stirring millions of people delirating for the pop star. It's the beginning of the so-called Michaelmania. Michael's image is almost idolized, youngsters dress like him trying to imitate him. The "American Dream" has come true. Michael is so famous and people are so crazy about him that even the then American President Reagan arranges a press conference in his honour.
In 1985 Michael joins in the plan "USA for Africa" composing with Lionel Richie a wonderful and powerful hymn to brotherhood "We are the World". Several of the most important music stars , for example Tina Turner, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Cindy lauper, and many others, give their contribution to this song, which was broadcasted simoultaneously by radios all over the world and gained an enormous success. With this extraordinary song, well known by everybody in this planet, the organizations collected several millions of dollars to help African populations.
Five long years elapse before a new album is issued. "Bad" comes out in 1987, with a few more rock features than the previous one, and yet always innovative. Such extraordinary hits like "Bad", "Smooth Criminal", "Dirty Diana" and "The Way You Make Me Feel", make him the indisputed King of Pop, Rock and Soul Music. The myth of Michael Jackson reigns everywhere, including Italy. After "Bad" came a clamorous "Bad Tour", where Michael confirmed his extraordinary talent as a dancer and a singer. The tour had an enormous success in all the 15 countries it touched and produced receipts of 130 million dollars of the time. Michael's enthusiasm was so contagious that the audience came out of the concert literally crazy. "Bad" soon become the second most sold record in the history of music. In the same period Michael signed a millionaire advertising contract with Pepsi Cola. Unfortunately while he was filming a spot a stage floodlight explosed and provoked serious burns to his scalp. He stayed in a special burn center for several days and he had to be put in a hyperbaric chamber. Some pictures taken during this period were circulated and some malicious people said he slept there because he was convinced he would live longer and keep young forever. Seoondly, the fact that his skin was getting pale started to foment envy. Somebody spread rumors that Jackson wanted to whiten his skin, that he hated black people (if I were black and felt ashamed of being a black, I wouldn't surely compose songs about equality among different races. Editor's note). It was only in 1992 that the true reason for this paleness became clear. Michael Jackson suffers from Vitiligo, a skin desease that gradually destroys its pigments. His whitening is further worsened by the heavy make-up used to cover the vitiligo spots (this theory was confrimed by famous scientist, among whom the Italian Ferdinando Aiuti. ( I chanced to be very close o MJ and I saw the spots on his wrist. Editor's note)). In 1988 came out "Moonwalker", a film bound to become the best selling home video of all times, taking the place of another video by M.J. ("Making MJ's Thriller").
3 years later, in 1991, a new masterpiece jumps #1 all over the world, an absolutely innovative album, full of energy, another milestone which contributed to mark an epoch, with new sounds ranging from hip-hop to hard-rock: I'm talking of "Dangerous". 77 minutes of music astonishing for the intensity of its songs. The first of the nine single/videos, "Black or White", directed once again by John Landis. Again Michael's attempt to preach mutual love and equality among races is misunderstood. Some scenes (for example the one where breaks shops and car windows, full of racist phrases, subsequently cut out in post-production) where censured and somebody said the video might hurt children or incite them to violence. Another video of "In The Closet" , featuring Naomi Campbell, stirred up controversy because of the extreme sensuality of the ballets (maybe in this case I am censuring :) . Editor's Note). Other famous personalities took part in "Remember The Time" where a jealous and sumptuos Eddy Murphy tries to hold his lovely Cleopatra Iman at bay with the help of a mythical Magic Johnson. Michael Jordan , on the contrary, helped Michael improve his basketball technique in "Jam" in exchange for some dance lessons. Ryan White (decessed in 1991 of AIDS owing to an infected blood transfusion), on the contrary, became the symbol of the battle against AIDS. Michael made several billionaire donations for this noble cause. "Dangerous" (also pushed by a fabulous World Tour) has so far sold 29 million copies.
In August 1993, however, something happened that all of us often try to forget. Michael Jackson was accused by a 13 years old boy, Jordan Chandler, of sexual harassment, and consequently of pedophilia. We all greatly suffered for all that. Michael lived some very difficult moments, almost reaching suicide. But in the end it was found out that this bad episode was the result of blackmail and retortions of Jordan's father towards Michael who had refused to finance his plans, thus provoking his revenge. The trouble is that media are still pretending to ignore this truth that very few magazines have seriously dealt with.
A few silent years. The marriage with Lisa Marie Presley (Elvis' s daughter). Michael had already planned his revenge... A fantastic teaser, a whole video, to launch the issue of the most expected double-record. Plenty of European squares overrun by huge statues of Michael Jackson. "HIStory" a double album containing a "best of" his songs, and a new album with 15 new songs, was launched by a cult-video, the most expensive in the history of music.
Michael and his sister Janet in a spaceship. Aggressive phrases, lack of gravity movements and an exceptional strenght. Michael was ready to come back. The first single bound to beat in BillBoard (the most authoritative American Hit-Parade) the Beatles' record with "Let it be" and "Imagine" and Madonna's with "Erotica". The great MTV VMA exhibition in 1995 was intended to thank for the 11 awards nominations Michael had that year. The subsequent singles also drew the audience's attention. "You Are Not Alone" reached the top position everywhere; besides it created a scandal because Michael was practically unclothed. "Earth Song", a touching ecological lament for the Earth's suffering sold 800.000 copies in two months in England and is the most sold single in that country. "They Don't Care About Us" (another really massive song) created a double controversy: the first because words used in the lyrics hurt the feelings of some jews that compelled Jackson to record the piece again (some very cool sounds were added to cover the incriminated words). The second controversy is in the video, set in the Brazilian favelas, denouncing their poverty and troubles. Some Brazilian politicians were against Michael and the truth. In two years "HIStory" sells 35 million copies.
Shortly after a still bigger tour was going to start (it had to be divided into two phases). I still remember the extraordinary opening in Prague, in 1996, which had a record audience for a rock concert: almost 250.000 people!!! The HIStory World Tour covered five continents, beating all former audience records. The tour went on also the following year and, in the summer of 1997, it registered an unexpected event... "Blood On The Dance Floor - HIStory in the Mix", containing 10 remixes of the previous album and five brand new songs. Very soon also this episode of the Jackson saga will be inserted in the Guinnes (BOTDF is the most sold remix album in the history of music).
The last phase of the HIStory plan (as far as BOOK 1 is concerned) is the issue of the short film "Ghosts". It costed about 15 million euros for a length of 30 minutes. Directed by Stan Winston (the creator of special effects for "Jurassic park" and "Indiana Jones") and conceived by Michael Jackson and Sthephen King, the mini-movie is a continuos metaphorical reference to what happened to Jackson during the period of the charges of pedophilia. In his mysterious deserted castle Michael lives completely alone (or at least it seems he does); he is described by the major of the town near the castle as a funny and schizoid person, whose only hobby is to scare people and kids. That's why it's exactly the major (D.S. for those who can understand :) ) that organizes a punitive expedition to chase Jackson away from his nice and normal town. A bet is organized in order to chase him: the first, either Michael or D.S., who get scared will have to leave forever. At this point also Michael's ghost family enters the scene. Ghosts materialize everywhere, roaring like wild beasts. Michael starts singing, putting forwards his reasons and showing his determination. Children take sides with him, as usual, because they know he only means to play. Also his physical changes during the story (first he becomes a skeleton, then a moster) are very intelligent , as well as technical perfect. All these mutations and the great fear compel the major to take his heels. Michael is the winner, both in the story and in the reality. Michael beats the envy of jet-set, Michael beats ignorance and prejudice. Michael shows himself good and innocent. "Ghosts" was presented by Michael himself at Cannes Festival in 1997 achieving a big success.
During the same period Michael, who had in the meantime divorced Lisa Marie, got married with the nurse Debbie Rowe who gave him two children, Prince and Paris.
Four years go by (not 9 as many papers have wrongly stated) and at last a new grand CD is issued. The wait has come to an end. On August 24 2001 the new single "You Rock My World" is leaked to two New York radios. It is characterized by a really contagious rythm and keys and it is accompained by a video of 14 minutes with a cameo of Marlon Brando. At first sight the video is not original at all, though pleasant, but if analyzed more carefully it turns out to be a very clever and ironic summary (quotations from "Dangerous", background similar to the "Smooth Criminal" video, bottle-breaking like in "Black or White" and "BOTDF", and other scenes that remind me the Michael of Billie Jean). Thus "You Rock My Wordl" pushes "Invincible" to the top everywhere in the world, even though it is not marketed in the States as a single.
In September 2001 a big concert is organized in the States to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of MJ's career. A second date is immediately added, because the first one is sold out in very few hours. The first concert is the most seen show during the last 25 years. The second concert, on september 10, will be however one of the last merry memories in N.Y.C.. In fact the following morning America will be waked up by two big explosions at the top of the Twin Towers. The whole world is so shocked and bewildered that any other thing is rightly overshadowed. In a few weeks' time Michael has already reacted. He contacts all the most famous and important artists (Anastascia, Shakera, Celine Dion, Ricky Martin, Santana, Mariah Carrey, 3T, *NSYNC and many more) with the noble purpose of interpreting a song entitled "What More Can I Give?" in order to collect at least 50 million dollars intended for the families of the victims. Everybody's talking about this idea. Everybody's waiting for the issue of the video and c.d.. Time goes by and nothing happens . Only some time later the reason for this mystery will be explained . In the meantime the second single from "Invincible" is issued.("CRY" written by R.Kelly) The decision of releasing such a video as a second single seems rather questionable; even more questionable the fact that Michael doesn't appear at least once in the scenes. Even stranger the fact that I took 3 weeks to find out a copy (and I confess I am a real fan!). All signals of what will come to light shortly after.
In fact at the beginning of 2002 strong rumors (coming from reliable clubs like Black and White, Angel, Black Fedora) start to circulate: Jackson's label is furious with him because of his decision to leave Sony and change record company. According to this version all the singles releases have been blocked (included the one intended for charity), radio stations refuse to broadcast songs included in the latest album, nobody mentions Michael anymore, the album drops from all charts after selling 7 million copies in three months). Everybody is bewildered. Rumors circulate, according to which Michael is supposed to sign contracts with four different record companies. Nobody believes what is happening. Sony denies. Some fans-club start to react by rousing protests against the giant of the musical industry. Other fans-club keep silent because they think it isn't correct to interfere in record business. There is a great confusion everywhere. The new video "Unbreakable", the hit that would surely have offered 5 or 6 million copies more to "Invincible", is continually posponed: from January to February, from February to April, From April to June, and from June to never again. Large crowds gather everywhere in the world, fans demos are organized, Sony switchboards are hot, "No comment" they answered. Or "Michael JAckson is no longer a priority artist for our company" Finally, in June 2002, Michael decides to talk, and his statement sting. In London, during the "Killer-Thriller Party", Michael accuses Sony Music of obstructionism against him. Michael explains Sony is probably furious with him, due to his decision to leave the company, taking away the 50% of the ATV catalogue (the rights of some of the most famous songs of Elvis and The Beatles), hence the decision to ruin his career , boycotting his new album.
But Michael's troubles are non over . In order to relaunch his career and overcome the decisions of his record company, he decides to produce a documentary about his artistical and private life. Following the suggestion of the sensitive Yuri Geller, he accepts to open the doors of Neverland to British reporter Martin Bashir, well known for his interviews to such famous people as Lady Diana, Louise Woodward, Michael Barrymore, Charles Ingram, and Joanne Lees. The documentary arouses lively interest in all international networks and the British ITV Channel starts to sell the rights to broadcast it at the beginning of 2003.
But the documentary provokes conflicting reactions and what was supposed to be a means of revenge for the King of Pop turns out to be ( becomes) a real rout.
Michael is compelled to take a new legal action against ITV Channel and against the reporter who was accused of placing the popstar in an unfavourable light in front of the public with the editing of the documentary. This editing is also the main cause of some misunderstandings about the sexual life of the popstar, mainly on account of a boy appearing in the interview with Michael, and that in a short time is going to be the cause of other troubles. That's not all. Michael has to carry out a new documentary, broadcast all over the world, containing parts of the interview not included in Bashir's documentary.
Anyway the outcry caused by this event is positive for Michael, because his albums re-enter the hit parade and it is record of sales. On the wave of success Sony Music and Epic decide to edit a new greatest hits including all the singles that achieved the top of the main international hit parades; for this new publication Michael records a new song written by R.Kelly: “ One More Chance”.
“One More Chance” is edited in September 2003 and immediately enters Billboard’s hit parade and succeeds in selling six million copies. In the meantime Michael starts recording the video attached to the single in the diffusion of the main international music networks.
The album “Number Ones”, issued on November 18, 2003, is produced with four different covers , and is attached with a collection of DVD videos with the same title.
The album enters hit parades all over the world and confirms Michael’s talent as a world-famous author and performer.
But the issue of the album is accompanied by a dramatic nightmare that has always followed Michael and his magic world: the spectre of charges with child molestation. In fact a few days before the issue of the album , it is rumoured that Thomas Sneddon, Santa Barbara District Attorney, is going to start an investigation about Michael’s behaviour. Michael is once again charged with child molestation, thence the nightmare of the process comes back, and the media run wild.
On November 16, 2003 shortly before the issue of the album “Number Ones”, the police starts a thorough search of Michael’s ranch in California, looking for the proofs of his guilt. Once again Michael’s life and career are in the hands of judges and his future depends on the declarations of a teenager.
Suddenly it seems to go back to 1993 when the first charges of child molestation were brought to him . This time however the media are more aggressive and intrusive, and ready to condemn him.
Michael is arrested as soon as he gets off his plane, and he immediately decides to cooperate with the police in the investigations in order to reach a rapid judicial settlement. This time he is determined to conclude (to end) the matter. The pictures of Michael handcuffed and taken to the police office , circulate all over the world, as well as his identification photos. He is released on bail and from that moment his life becomes a long ordeal that comes to an end only two years later.
Early in January CBS Channel broadcasts an interview conducted by the reporter Ed Bradley in which Michael seems seriously determined to face the judicial matter in which he is involved and reaffirms his innocence.
In March 2004 there is the issue of a DVD titled “The One”, a new documentary about Michael produced by CBS on the occasion of the issue of “ Number Ones”.
On June 28, 2004 Sony-Epic issues a collection including the best songs by the Jacksons called “The Very Best of Jacksons”; the double album collects the best hits of the “ Jackson 5” and the Jacksons” starting from the very first album of 1971 to the one published in 1989.
Sony decides to publish once again a collection of hits and for the occasion prepares a real “box set”, made up of four cd and a dvd, in order to celebrate the entire career of the King of Pop.
Late in 2004 there is the issue of “The Ultimate Collection”, the first complete collection devoted to Michael Jackson. The box set also includes many unpublished songs and for the first time in dvd the uncut version of Bucarest concert of 1992 (Dangerous Tour) . The issue of the collection is accompanied by the publication of a unique single titled “ Cheater” .
The process starts at the beginning of 2005 and after four months the verdict is delivered.
On June 13, 2005 Michael Jackson is found not guilty. At the end of this endless and tormented judicial event his life suddenly changes: Michael decides to leave the United States and moves to Middle East.
He disappears for many months , nobody knows where he is. In the meantime his background seems to disappear little by little, the MJJ Productions is dissolved and the personnel dismissed, Neverland is closed. But a few months later Michael reappears in Barhain, as a guest of the sultan, and he intends to create a new record company.
Early in 2006 Sony launches the umpteenth business venture regarding Michael Jackson and decides to publish a new box set titled “Visionary” . This time the collection includes the 20 best singles in Michael’s career contained in an innovative format, the Dual Disc, on one side the audio CD with the album version and a mix, and on the other side the DVD with the video.
Michael Jackson returns triumphantly onto a stage for the first time after his judicial disadventures on the occasion of MTV Japan Awards, where he receives the umpteenth prize for his talent.
But his true return to the stage takes place on November 15, 2006 in London, at the World Music Awards. During this ceremony Michael is given the “Diamond Award” for selling over 750 million records. On the same occasion the Guinness Book of Records informs that “ Thriller” is up to this time the most sold album in the history of music, with over 104 million records sold all over the world.
Three long years of total silence. Then, all of a sudden, the announcenment that "rocked" the world. During a long awaited, very brief press conference in March of 2009,at the 02 Arena in London, Michael Jackson returns in grand form, motivated by a wish to make a triumphant return to the musical scene. He announces a series of 10 concerts begininning in July, 2009. The concerts would be entitled "This Is It".
"This is it... We're here... These will be my last live performances and then the curtain will close for the last time." says Michael. "I'll sing all the songs my fans want to hear and... see you in July!".
Some weeks later, the pre-sale of the concert tickets began. In a short span of thirty minutes, all the seats were sold out. Due to this enormous success, AEG Live, the organizer of these Jackson final concerts, is pratically forced to double the number of concerts. Within that short period time the concerts, from a mere ten, become fifty, but the million or so tickets available are sold out in four hours. Another record, The umpteenth for Michael.
The auditions for "This Is It" bring in hundreds upon hundreds of the best dancers from all over the world. At the end of the stiff selections the actual putting together of the show is finally about to begin. The famous coreographers, Kenny Ortega and Travis Payne work side by side with Jackson during the rehearsals at the Staple Center in Los Angeles, promising to create what is deemed to be the greatest live show ever to be seen on world stages.
June 25, 2009: Only two weeks left before Michael's departure for London. Out of the clear blue, the American website TMZ exclaims, "Michael Jackson is dead". Within few seconds, these four fatal words bounce around the globe on television, radio and in newspaper titles. Some more prudent news broadcasters were a little hesitant about giving such a brazen piece of news modifying it into "Michael Jackson recovered in serious condition in hospital" or "Michael Jackson recovered with grave illness". But it was Michael's own brother, Jermaine, who confirmed the tragic news in front of all the news media reunited at the hospital. "My brother, the legendary King of Pop, Michael Jackson, passed away at 2:26 pm due to heart failure."
The world is shocked. It's as if there had been a global avalanche never before seen. It is impossible to put into words the emotional pitch reached by hundreds of millions of persons all over the world. Hundreds of thousands of sympathy messages arrive from Jackson's friends, colleagues, stars of stage and screen, politicians and world leaders.
Millions of truly upset fans gather for vigils in cities around the world. For days to come people cry openly for their loss on the streets of cities, large and small, all over the world paving streets and sidewalks with flowers, photographs and messages for the King of Pop. At times, it seems as if the world even rejects the sad news. In the meantime, the "official" word is out about Jackson. The first autopsy reveals that the cause of death is due to an overdose of the drug Propofol, a powerful anesthetic used only in operating rooms, negligently given to Michael by his personal doctor, Conrad Murray, hoping to help the singer overcome his constant insomnia problem. Murray apprently tried to revive him with a cardiac massage for about an hour and then and only then did he call for an ambulance. Jackson arrived at UCLA Medical Center of Las Angeles already dead.
The public funeral of Michael Jackson took place on July 7, 2009 at the Staple Center in Los Angeles. A memorial celebration "American style" was followed by hundreds of thouands of people all over the world thanks to intensive television coverage. The body of the pop star was buried with a private service on September 3, 2009 after three autopsies. Michael now rests in peace at the Forest Lawn Cemetery in a private cript.
In August, 2009, Kenny Ortega, producer and director of the would be concerts, together with AEG Live, decide to make public the rehearsal tapes of the "This Is It" tour. 120 hours of HD film, with multi camera shooting, become a 111 minute dicoumentary to be entitlted "Michael Jackson's This Is It". The trailer of the film, which basically shows us the final hours of the pop star's life, is broadcast for the first time September 13, 2009 at the MTV Music Awards and the film's official opening is annouced for October 28, 2009. Initially, the film was to have had only a two week run in the movie theaters, but "This Is It" began breaking box office records from the very beginning. During the first five days of screening the film earned more than 100 million dollars. With this successful run, Sony Pictures Ent. decided to prolong the projection of the film another three weeks all over the world.
A double cd containing the songs Michael would have sung during the concerts along with a song never included in the album "Thriller", some unpublished demos and a poem written and narrated by the singer became the tracklist of the album which accompanies the film.