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Michael Jackson Part I

Michael Joseph Jackson was born on August 29, 1958 in Gary, Indiana.

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Eighth of ten children, Michael discloses his talent since childhood, at the age of five, when he joins, a band formed by his brothers, The Jackson 5, who for the first time won a local talent show. In 1968 they signed a contract with the label Motown, and it was with this same label that Michael released his first four solo albums. One year later they debuted with the album “Diana Ross Presents The Jackson 5”, but after a few years, sales began declining, and the group left Motown to sign with CBS Records. However, before signing their new record deal, their old record company accused them of breaching their contract since they’d changed the band’s name to the “Jacksons.” With the departure of Jermaine, as a result of his marriage with the daughter of Motown’s president, they called Randy as a replacement and continued to tour and release albums including Destiny (1978), the band’s best-selling song.

Jackson met the record producer Quincy Jones during the filming of the musical “The Wiz” and he agreed to produce Michael’s next solo album, “Off the Wall.” Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney also took part in this production. The album was a great success and even yielded several awards including a Grammy Award and an eight-time platinum disk in the U.S., making Jackson the first black artist to enter a rank for whites, breaking racial barriers and creating unified charts.

Michael went back to the recording studio with his brothers to record a new album, Triumph, released in 1980. The album was a success, but not as successful as “Off the Wall.” This was a clear sign that Michael was headed towards a soloist career.

In 1982 Jackson recorded the song “Someone in the Dark” for the soundtrack of the movie “ET: the Extra-Terrestrial” and received a Grammy. In the same year the second solo album by Michael entitled “Thriller” was released. The album was certified double diamond disk and it is still the best-selling album in music history. The impact of the album was also huge in popular music, to the point that on January 29, 1984, Michael receives more than eight statuettes for “Thriller” at the Grammy Awards.

The peak of his fame, however, culminated on March 25, 1983. That evening, Michael and the Jacksons, performed at the concert for the 25th anniversary of Motown. After singing with his brothers he came back on stage wearing a sparkly black jacket, a black hat and a white glove on his hand and began performing the song “Billie Jean.” Here he launched the moonwalk, now synonymous with the single. That particular clothing became so famous that Michael would continue to wear it for years to come when singing “Billie Jean” at all his concerts.

Michael Jackson (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

Many consider Michael the person who invented this move, but he did not exactly invent it, rather he refined it, as he modified and improved a similar step of the French actor and mime Marcel Marceau. Since then, it was regularly broadcast on MTV and he became the first African-American artist to appear on that TV station. Later, in 1984, he produced the music video for the single “Thriller”, and he invented the step mimicking the movement of zombies, a milestone in the music history. During this period he invented the sidewalk, in other words a lateral step based on the same principle of the moonwalk revised. He performed these two moves in many of his choreographies.

On January 27, 1984 the Jacksons were hired for an advertisement for Pepsi Cola. The band simulated a concert in front of thousands of fans, when Michael’s hair accidentally caught fire due to a pyrotechnical malfunction. The singer suffered severe second-degree burns to the scalp, and underwent some reconstructive plastic surgery. Due to this surgery, he became addicted to painkillers until 1993. The singer decided not to sue Pepsi and instead donated his settlement to the Brotman Medical Center in Culver City, California, that currently has a center named “The Michael Jackson Burn Center.”

On May 14, 1984, the artist was invited to the White House to receive an award from former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, for the support that Jackson had given to charities in the fight against alcohol and drugs.

In the same year, he officially announced his separation from the Jacksons to pursue his solo career.

In 1985 he co-wrote with Lionel Richie the philanthropic single “We are the World”, to raise money in the fight against hunger in Africa. At that time there was a controversy regarding Jackson who had bought ATV Music Publishing (headed by Paul McCartney and John Lennon) at an auction. Paul asked Yoko Ono, Lennon’s wife, to join financial forces to buy it back, but without avail. This, however, damaged his friendship and artistic collaboration with Paul McCartney. The rumor that Jackson had tried to buy the skeleton of Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man, also began to circulate. Due to this incident he was nicknamed “Wacko Jacko”, which he detested. The news was later denied by the artist.

In 1986, the singer was diagnosed with a rare and acute form of vitiligo, a disease that causes depigmentation of parts of the skin. For this reason he often appeared in public with umbrellas to protect himself from the sun. Jackson would be “bleached” gradually and completely within a few years. To hide the disease he used many applications of foundation to homogenize his skin.

On August 31, 1987 “Bad” was released. It was an instant success and Jackson went on a world tour for over a year. In September 1987, the colossal Bad World Tour, Jackson’s first solo tour, began. The music video for Bad was filmed in a subway station in New York and for the first time the physical change of the singer was shown. The press, due to the clearing of his skin, covered this story many times and the tabloids spread the news of hypothetical surgical operations. In the bargain, they accused Jackson of denying his African-American origins.

The following year “Moonwalker”, a film written by and starring Michael Jackson that traces his career, and includes many unreleased films and music videos of the last album was published. He also wrote the autobiography “Moowalk”, in which he clarified that he had only undergone two nose surgeries and one chin surgery, and that puberty and his diet had affected his other physical changes. At that time he was honored with the title of “King of Pop.” Elizabeth Taylor and Eddie Murphy awarded him with this prize.

In 1988 he also showed off his talent as a choreographer and dancer with the Antigravity lean, the famous anti-gravity movement of the “Smooth Criminal” video, in which Michael tilts forward 60°. In the video he used ropes, while in his live performances, he used modified shoes, of which he held the patent.

In 1991 he published “Dangerous” which was a success, largely due to the lead single “Black or White”; the actor Macaulay Culkin was also in the video.

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The following year he began a promotional tour for the album, the Dangerous World Tour, an extraordinary tour with great special effects, that became one of the greatest shows in history. He founded the “Heal the World Foundation”, a charitable foundation for underprivileged children, and donated the entire proceeds of the concert to his association. The singer received many awards in the humanitarian field and an honorary degree from Oxford University. He was a real philanthropist and one of the most prominent humanitarian figures of all time. He holds the Guinness World Record for donating more money to charity than anyone else.

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