Post by Forever Motown on Jun 25, 2009 22:39:45 GMT -5
Michael Jackson dead at 50 after cardiac arrest
By Todd Leopold CNN
(CNN) -- Michael Jackson, the show-stopping singer whose best-selling albums -- including "Off the Wall," "Thriller" and "Bad" -- and electrifying stage presence made him one of the most popular artists of all time, died Thursday, CNN has confirmed.
He was 50.
He collapsed at his residence in the Holmby Hills section of Los Angeles, California, about noon Pacific time, suffering cardiac arrest, according to brother Randy Jackson. He died at UCLA Medical Center.
Lt. Fred Corral of the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office said an autopsy would probably be done on the singer Friday, with results expected that afternoon.
"Michael Jackson made culture accept a person of color," the Rev. Al Sharpton said. "To say an 'icon' would only give these young people in Harlem a fraction of what he was. He was a historic figure that people will measure music and the industry by."
Jackson's blazing rise to stardom -- and later fall from grace -- is among the most startling of show business tales. The son of a steelworker, he rose to fame as the lead singer of the Jackson 5, a band he formed with his brothers in the late 1960s. By the late '70s, as a solo artist, he was topping the charts with cuts from "Off the Wall," including "Rock With You" and "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough."
In 1982, he released "Thriller," an album that eventually produced seven hit singles. An appearance the next year on a Motown Records 25th-anniversary special cemented his status as the biggest star in the country.
For the rest of the 1980s, they came no bigger. "Thriller's" follow-up, 1987's "Bad," sold almost as many copies. A new Jackson album -- a new Jackson appearance -- was a pop culture event.
The pop music landscape was changing, however, opening up for rap, hip-hop and what came to be called "alternative" -- and Jackson was seen as out of step.
His next release, 1991's "Dangerous," debuted at No. 1 but "only" produced one top-ranking single -- "Black or White" -- and that song earned criticism for its inexplicably violent ending, in which Jackson was seen smashing car windows and clutching his crotch.
And then "Dangerous" was knocked out of its No. 1 spot on the album charts by Nirvana's "Nevermind," an occurrence noted for its symbolism by rock critics.
After that, more attention was paid to Jackson's private life than his music career, which faltered. A 1995 two-CD greatest hits, "HIStory," sold relatively poorly, given the huge expense of Jackson's recording contract: about 7 million copies, according to Recording Industry of America certifications.
A 2001 album of new material, "Invincible," did even worse.
In 2005, he went to trial on child-molestation charges. He was acquitted.
In July 2008, after three years away from the spotlight, Jackson announced a series of concerts at London's O2 Arena as his "curtain call." Some of the shows, initially scheduled to begin in July, were eventually postponed until 2010.
Rise to stardom
Michael Jackson was born August 29, 1958, to Joe Jackson, a Gary, Indiana, steelworker, and his wife, Katherine. By the time he was 6, he had joined his brothers in a musical group organized by his father, and by the time he was 10, the group -- the Jackson 5 -- had been signed to Motown.
He made his first television appearance at age 11.
Jackson, a natural performer, soon became the group's front man. Music critic Langdon Winner, reviewing the group's first album, "Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5," for Rolling Stone, praised Michael's versatile singing and added, "Who is this 'Diana Ross,' anyway?"
The group's first four singles -- "I Want You Back," "ABC," "The Love You Save" and "I'll Be There" -- went to No. 1 on the Billboard pop chart, the first time any group had pulled off that feat. There was even a Jackson 5 cartoon series on ABC. Video
In 1972, he hit No. 1 as a solo artist with the song "Ben."
The group's popularity waned as the '70s continued, and Michael eventually went solo full time. He played the Scarecrow in the 1978 movie version of "The Wiz," and released the album "Off the Wall" in 1979. Its success paved the way for "Thriller," which eventually became the best-selling album in history, with 50 million copies sold worldwide.
At that point, Michael Jackson became ubiquitous.
Seven of "Thriller's" nine cuts were released as singles; all made the Top Ten. The then-new cable channel MTV, criticized for its almost exclusively white playlist, finally started playing Jackson's videos. They aired incessantly, including a 14-minute minimovie of the title cut. ("Weird Al" Yankovic cemented his own stardom by lampooning Jackson's song "Beat It" with a letter-perfect parody video.)
On the Motown Records' 25th-anniversary special -- a May 1983 TV extravaganza with notable turns by the Temptations, the Four Tops and Smokey Robinson -- it was Michael Jackson who stopped the show.
Already he was the most popular musician in America, riding high with "Thriller." But something about his electrifying performance of "Billie Jean," complete with the patented backward dance moves, boosted his stardom to a new level.
People copied his Jheri-curled hair and single-gloved, zippered-jacket look. Showbiz veterans such as Fred Astaire praised his chops. He posed for photos with Ronald and Nancy Reagan at the White House. Paul McCartney teamed with him on three duets, two of which -- "The Girl Is Mine" and "Say Say Say" -- became top five hits. Jackson became a Pepsi spokesman, and when his hair caught fire while making a commercial, it was worldwide news.
It all happened very fast -- within a couple years of the Motown special. But even at the time of the "Motown 25" moonwalk, fame was old hat to Michael Jackson. He hadn't even turned 25 himself, but he'd been a star for more than half his life. He was given the nickname the "King of Pop" -- a spin on Elvis Presley's status as "the King of Rock 'n' Roll" -- and few questioned the moniker.
But, as the showbiz saying has it, when you're on top of the world, there's nowhere to go but down. The relentless attention given Jackson started focusing as much on his eccentricities -- some real, some rumored -- as his music.
As the Web site Allmusic.com notes, he was rumored to sleep in a hyperbaric chamber and to have purchased the bones of John Merrick, the "Elephant Man." (Neither was true.) He did have a pet chimpanzee, Bubbles; underwent a series of increasingly drastic plastic surgeries; established an estate, Neverland, filled with zoo animals and amusement park rides; and managed to purchase the Beatles catalog from under Paul McCartney's nose, which displeased the ex-Beatle immensely.
In 1990s and 2000s, Jackson found himself pasted across the media for his short-lived marriages, the first to Elvis Presley's daughter, Lisa Marie; his 2002 claim that then Sony Records head Tommy Mottola was racist; his behavior and statements during a 2003 interview with British journalist Martin Bashir done for a documentary called "Living With Michael Jackson;" his changing physical appearance; and, above all, the accusations that he sexually molested young boys at Neverland.
The first such accusation, in 1993, resulted in a settlement to the 13-year-old accuser (rumored to be as high as $20 million), though no criminal charges were filed, Allmusic.com notes.
He also fell deeply in debt and was forced to sell some of his assets. Neverland was one of many holdings that went on the block. However, an auction of material from Neverland, scheduled for April, was called off and all items returned to Jackson.
Interest in Jackson never faded, however, even if some of it was prurient. In 2008, when he announced 10 comeback shows in London, beginning in July 2009, the story made worldwide news. The number of concerts was later increased to 50.
Seventy-five thousand tickets sold in four hours when they went on sale in March.
However, when the shows were postponed until 2010, rumors swept the Internet that Jackson was not physically prepared and possibly suffering from skin cancer.
At the time, the president and CEO of AEG Live, Randy Phillips, said, "He's as healthy as can be -- no health problems whatsover."
Jackson held open auditions for dancers in April in Los Angeles.
He is survived by his three children, Michael Jr., Paris and Prince Michael II.
Post by Forever Motown on Jun 25, 2009 22:41:54 GMT -5
Michael Jackson remembered as 'consummate entertainer'
Berry Gordy, Motown Records producer and founder: "I am somewhat numb. I'm shocked at the death of Michael Jackson. It's like a dream, a bad dream. He was so much like a son to me. It's just hard to realize that Michael Jackson is not here.
"... As a kid Michael was always beyond his years, he was an innovator, he was a genius at what he did. He had a knowingness about him. At 9 years old, when I first started working with him, he seemed to me like he had been here before. He was just so knowledgeable about life."
Whitney Houston, singer: "I am full of grief."
Mariah Carey, singer: "I am heartbroken. My prayers go out to the Jackson family, and my heart goes out to his children. Let us remember him for his unparalleled contribution to the world of music, his generosity of spirit in his quest to heal the world, and the joy he brought to his millions of devoted fans throughout the world. I feel blessed to have performed with him several times and to call him my friend. No artist will ever take his place. His star will shine forever."
John Legend, singer, composer: "Michael Jackson will always be remembered as one of the greatest performers in the history of popular music. As a child of the '80s, I feel as though his music and his videos have been an inseparable part of my life and that of an entire generation. And the powerful thing about great music is that it will always live on. He was and always will be an icon. My heart goes out to his family, friends and countless fans for their tragic loss."
Madonna, singer: "I can't stop crying over the sad news. I have always admired Michael Jackson. The world has lost one of the greats, but his music will live on forever! My heart goes out to his three children and other members of his family. God bless."
Britney Spears, singer: "I was so excited to see his show in London. We were going to be on tour in Europe at the same time and I was going to fly in to see him. He has been an inspiration throughout my entire life and I'm devastated he's gone!"
Russell Simmons, pioneering hip-hop artist: "Michael Jackson was my generation's most iconic cultural hero. Courageous, unique and incredibly talented. He'll be missed greatly."
Lisa Marie Presley, musician and Jackson's ex-wife: "I am completely shocked and saddened by Michael's death. My heart goes out to his children and his family."
Jim Henke, vice president of exhibitions and curatorial affairs at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum: "Michael Jackson was one of the most creative and successful recording artists of the last 40 years. He became an instant star when he was only 11 years old, fronting the Jackson 5. His solo career was so extraordinary that he became known as the King of Pop. Few other artists of his era reached the peaks that he did, both in terms of sales and critical acclaim. His legacy will live on for a long, long time. We join the world in mourning the loss of this twice-inducted member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame."
John Landis, director of Jackson's "Thriller" and "Black or White" music videos: "I was lucky enough to know and work with Michael Jackson in his prime. Michael was an extraordinary talent and a truly great international star. He had a troubled and complicated life and despite his gifts, remains a tragic figure. My wife, Deborah, and I will always have great affection for him."
Dick Clark, television and radio personality: "I knew Michael as a child and watched him grow over the years. Of all the thousands of entertainers I have worked with, Michael was THE most outstanding. Many have tried and will try to copy him, but his talent will never be matched. He was truly one-of-a-kind."
Brooke Shields, actress: "My heart is overcome with sadness for the devastating loss of my true friend Michael. He was an extraordinary friend, artist and contributor to the world. I join his family and his fans in celebrating his incredible life and mourning his untimely passing."
Celine Dion, singer: "I am so devastated by this terrible news. From the beginning of my career, he was my idol in show business. He was a genius and an incredible artist! I remember when I was growing up and watching him on TV, and all his videos...I had his poster on my wall...he was so amazing...his singing, his writing, his dancing. ...It's unbelievable that he's no longer with us."
Quincy Jones, conductor, composer, arranger, trumpeter: "I am absolutely devastated at this tragic and unexpected news. For Michael to be taken away from us so suddenly at such a young age, I just don't have the words. Divinity brought our souls together on "The Wiz" and allowed us to do what we were able to throughout the '80s. To this day, the music we created together on "Off The Wall," "Thriller" and "Bad" is played in every corner of the world and the reason for that is because he had it all ... talent, grace, professionalism and dedication. He was the consummate entertainer and his contributions and legacy will be felt upon the world forever. I've lost my little brother today, and part of my soul has gone with him."
The Rev. Al Sharpton, civil rights activist: "A friend of Michael's for the last 35 years, I call on people around the world to pray for him and his family in the hour. I have known Michael since we were both teens, worked with him, marched for him, hosted him at our House of Justice headquarters in New York, and we joined together to eulogize our mutual idol, James Brown. I have known him at his high moments and his low moments and I know he would want us to pray for his family."
Linda Johnson Rice, chairman and CEO of Ebony: "I am deeply saddened by the news of one of the world's greatest and most influential entertainers, Michael Jackson. He was unquestionably an incredible and unique talent for the world to enjoy. I, along with my mother and father, John H. and Eunice Johnson, were extremely fortunate to have a great relationship with the Jackson family. "In our hearts he will always be the The King of Pop, and I will personally miss him."
Neil Portnow, CEO of Recording Academy: "Rarely has the world received a gift with the magnitude of artistry, talent, and vision as Michael Jackson. He was a true musical icon whose identifiable voice, innovative dance moves, stunning musical versatility and sheer star power carried him from childhood to worldwide acclaim. A 13-time Grammy recipient, Michael's career transcends musical and cultural genres and his contributions will always keep him in our hearts and memories. We are deeply saddened by this tragic news and our hearts go out to his family and to music lovers around the globe who mourn this great loss."
Wyclef Jean, Haitian musician, actor: "Michael Jackson was my musical god. He made me believe that all things are possible, and through real and positive music, he can live forever! I love Michael Jackson. God bless him."
Gloria Estefan, singer: "The two great losses that we have felt today can only be balanced by the beautiful things that they left behind in our world. Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson will live forever in my heart as unforgettable and eternal."
Post by Forever Motown on Jun 25, 2009 22:42:58 GMT -5
Liz Taylor "Too Devastated" to Comment on Jackson's Death; Liza Minelli, Brooke Shields React
Natalie Finn, eonline Fri Jun 26, 1:11 AM EDT
Elizabeth Taylor, one of Michael Jackson's closest and most supportive friends for nearly two decades, is grieving her loss in private at this time.
"Dame Elizabeth Taylor is too devastated by the passing of her dear friend Michael Jackson to issue a statement at this time," her rep says. "We will direct her words to you once we receive them."
Taylor first called Jackson the "King of Pop" when she presented him with the Artist of the Decade award in 1989, and she remained one of his most ardent defenders throughout his trial on child-molestation charges in 1995.
Taylor was also a guest of honor when Jackson gave Liza Minelli away when the Cabaret star wed David Gest.
"He was a kind, genuine, and wonderful man," Minelli tells Entertainment Tonight. "He was also one of the greatest entertainers that ever lived. I loved him very much and I will miss him every remaining day of my life."
But the outpouring of love from the women who spent quality time with Jackson didn't end there.
Brooke Shields also walked many a red carpet with Jackson over the years, and tonight she is mourning the loss of her longtime friend and reported Blue Lagoon-era love interest.
"My heart is overcome with sadness for the devastating loss of my true friend Michael," the actress said.
"He was an extraordinary friend, artist and contributor to the world. I join his family and his fans in celebrating his incredible life and mourning his untimely passing."
Fellow pop icon Madonna told People that she "can't stop crying over the sad news."
"I have always admired Michael Jackson. The world has lost one of the greats, but his music will live on forever! My heart goes out to his three children and other members of his family. God bless."
Post by Forever Motown on Jun 26, 2009 16:31:36 GMT -5
Thursday, Jun. 25, 2009 A Pop Icon's Death: The Talent and the Tragedy By Josh Tyrangiel
The tragedy of Michael Jackson's death at age 50, reportedly from cardiac arrest, pales in comparison to the tragedy of his life. To understand all that Jackson had and lost requires wiping away three decades of plastic surgeries that deformed him, erratic behavior that made his name synonymous with the warping powers of fame, and a 2005 trial for sexually abusing a child that, even though he was spared of any finding of wrongdoing, made him a pariah to all but the most brainwashed of fans.
But if you can forgive or forget all that, underneath was one of the most talented entertainers of the 20th century. Quincy Jones, who produced Jackson's quintessential solo albums, was devastated by the news of his passing. "I've lost my little brother today," Jones said in a statement. "Part of my soul has gone with him." Added Jones: "Divinity brought our souls together ... and allowed us to do what we were able to throughout the '80s. To this day, the music we created together on Off the Wall, Thriller and Bad is played in every corner of the world, and the reason for that is because he had it all."
Jackson was born in 1958, the seventh of nine Jackson children, and before he had reached age 6, he had joined his brothers in the Jackson Five. By age 8, he had taken over lead-singing duties with brother Jermaine, but there was no question who was the star of the group. Little Michael was the best dancer and singer of the bunch, and he also had the mysterious thing that record bosses and studio chiefs crave: star power. Michael appeared to be his best and most interesting self when everyone in the world was watching.
As Michael aged into adolescence, the Jackson Five, renamed the Jacksons after departing from Motown Records, inevitably lost some of its charm. A solo career followed, and after a steady stream of middling hits that attempted to milk the last bit of innocence from Jackson's voice, Jackson had the good fortune to hook up with Jones while filming The Wiz. The two shared a vision for what Jackson's career as an adult might be, and on 1979's Off the Wall, they executed it beyond even Jackson's dreams. With songwriting help from Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder, Off the Wall spun off four Top 10 hits and two No. 1s — "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" and "Rock with You."
At 22, Jackson became not only one of the most admired pop musicians in the world, but one of the globe's most famous people. And his fame only increased with the 1982 release of Thriller, which was to become the best-selling album of all time (until it was eclipsed in the late '90s by the Eagles' Greatest Hits, 1971-1975). Seven of the record's nine tracks made the Top 10, and the Jones-produced hooks remain awe-inspiring. In a cover story about Jackson and Thriller, TIME described Jackson as "a one-man rescue team for the music business. A songwriter who sets the beat for a decade. A dancer with the fanciest feet on the street. A singer who cuts across all boundaries of taste and style and color too."
While Jackson had few ambitions at the time beyond global domination, it's worth noting that "The Girl Is Mine" established interracial love as a pop-music theme, and "Beat It" (with Eddie Van Halen's guitar solo) bridged arena rock and soul four years before Run-D.M.C. met Aerosmith. On March 25, 1983, Jackson may have reached the very peak of his fame when he unveiled his signature dance move, the moonwalk, live on the Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever television special.
The years after Thriller, however, were marked by a slow descent into what was at first dismissible as eccentricity. Jackson attended the Grammys on a triple date with Emmanuel Lewis and Brooke Shields, purchased a chimpanzee named Bubbles and was given a diagnosis of vitiligo, a condition that he said was responsible for the steady lightening of his skin. But his songwriting genius remained undeniable. With Lionel Richie, he co-wrote "We Are the World," a 1985 charity single that raised an estimated $50 million for famine relief in Africa and ushered in the era of celebrity philanthropy.
After the release of 1987's Bad, a disappointing follow-up to Thriller, Jackson purchased the 2,800-acre Neverland Ranch in California, and his public weirdness became almost aggressive. In his biography Moonwalk, Jackson wrote of childhood abuse at the hands of his father and multiple plastic surgeries, subjects he returned to in a 1993 interview with Oprah Winfrey that was one of the most watched non-sports programs in American history.
Shortly after, Jackson was accused of child sexual abuse in a suit brought by Evan Chandler on behalf of Jordan, his then-13-year-old son. Jordan told a psychiatrist and police that he and Jackson had engaged in sexual acts that included oral sex; the boy gave a detailed description of Jackson's genitals. The case was settled out of court for a reported $22 million, but the strain led Jackson to begin taking painkillers. Eventually he became addicted.
To counteract the stigma that came with the allegations of pedophilia, Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley in a relationship Elvis' only daughter later dismissed as a sham. Two years later, they divorced.
Given the tumult in his personal life, it's no surprise that the 1990s were a barren period for Jackson creatively. In 2001 he managed to pull himself together enough to release Invincible and stage two concerts celebrating his 30th anniversary as a performer at New York City's Madison Square Garden. The shows, held a few days before Sept. 11, were a capsule of all Jackson had become. There were bizarre cameos from friends Marlon Brando, Liza Minnelli and Elizabeth Taylor. Macaulay Culkin sat next to Jackson in a royal box. But several hours after the proceedings began, when Jackson finally took the stage, all the years of Wacko Jacko melted away. Then in his early 40s, he could still dance and sing better than almost anyone in the world, and he still had star power. The Jackson on display in those concerts was one the world admired and the one that will be missed.