MJ: A Tribute
Michael Jackson was without doubt one of the greatest musical legends of all time – an innovator, pioneer and an outrageous talent.
He was the first black artist to find stardom on MTV, he “created” the pop video and he produced the biggest selling record of all time in the shape of ’Thriller’.
Michael Joseph Jackson was born in August 29, 1958. Four years later, his father Joe, organized a family musical group centering on his eldest sons, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon. An all-singing, all-dancing 5-year-old Michael joined their ranks a year later.
Dubbed the Jackson 5, the group signed to ’Motown’ in 1968 and issued their debut single in October 1969, when Michael 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.
But this was just the beginning of musical domination for Michael.
Motown began priming him for a solo career in 1971. His first single, ’Got to Be There’, hit the Top Five and later that year, Jackson had his first number one solo single, ‘Ben’, earning him an Oscar nomination.
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.
Jackson resumed his solo career when his management contract with his father expired. With Quincy Jones producing, Jackson recorded ‘Off the Wall’, a crafted set of funky disco, smooth soul, and lush, sentimental ballads. It made Jackson a star all over again, producing four Top Ten singles and reaching platinum status before going on to sell over seven million copies worldwide.
In 1982, the Quincy Jones-produced ‘Thriller’ was Michael’s biggest hit. His duet with Paul McCartney, ‘The Girl Is Mine’, peaked at number two, while ‘Billie Jean’ and ‘Beat It’ both hit number one.
Jackson supported these songs with elaborate video clips that revolutionized the way music videos were made, treating them as song-length movies with structured narratives. The ten-minute clip for ‘Thriller’ (routinely selected as the best video of all time) featured Jackson leading a dance troupe of rotting zombies, with horror-film makeup and special effects. MTV played the clips to death.
Jackson sealed his own phenomenon by debuting his signature ‘moonwalk’ dance step on May 16, 1983, on Motown's televised 25th anniversary special. However, he was quick to point out that he didn't invent the moonwalk himself.
Thriller stayed on the charts for over two years, spent 37 nonconsecutive weeks at number one in the US, 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.
The follow-up to ‘Thriller’ was ‘Bad’ and was released to enormous public anticipation in 1987. It shot to No 1 as did the first single, 'I Just Can't Stop Loving You'.
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 including: 'The Way You Make Me Feel,' 'Man in the Mirror' and 'Dirty Diana'. Jackson supported the album with a world tour that became the highest-grossing tour of all time.
His next album ‘Dangerous’, debuted at number one, and its lead single, 'Black or White' shot to the top as well.
In 1995, Jackson released ‘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, and the lead single 'Scream', a duet with sister, Janet, debuted at number five, setting a new American chart record.
In 2001 he released the album, ‘Invincible’ which debuted at number one and quickly went double platinum.
Unfortunately Michael’s awesome musical career was dogged throughout by personal controversy: from plastic surgery stories to two accounts of child molestation in 1995 and 2003 – neither of which he was convicted of. Most recently, the King of Bahrain’s son sued Jackson for $7m for allegedly breaching a recording contract.
Jackson’s 50 date-strong ‘This Is It’ concert at London’s 02 Arena, which was due to take place from July to September 2009, was a bid to restore his legendary status and his finances.
Proving just how enduring his appeal was, 1m tickets were snapped up in a matter of hours making the show an instant sell-out.
Unfortunately, with Michael’s untimely death from a heart attack at the age of 50, the world will now never get to see the concerts which insiders dubbed: “just what you’d expect from the King Of Pop.” Rest In Peace, MJ.