Smeggy's Forums

Forums where you CAN vent!

Skip to content

Michael Jackson - What he's been up to!!

Altogether now.... in the key of Bb!!!

Top Forum Index Page New Posts

Posted on

      

Very interesting article about the recent saga of Michael Jackson....

http://music.guardian.co.uk/pop/story/0,,2265010,00.html

Elizabeth Day
Sunday March 16, 2008
The Observer

It is hard to remember, now, a time when Michael Jackson existed as anything other than a spectacle. We are used to his bizarre excesses, to those blurry images of his blank, molten face obscured by giant black Aviators. We are no longer taken aback by his eccentric public appearances with his mouth covered in a surgical mask, his children shrouded in gauzy veils. We are accustomed to the oft-repeated tales of Jackson's weirdness - that he slept in an oxygen tank, that he dangled his baby over a Berlin balcony, that his nose has to be stuck on with a plaster.

Image

It has, all of it, become strangely normal to us - just one more instance of his cartoon madness, to be dismissed with a weary shrug. Perhaps the worst thing you can say about Jackson, who once so delighted in his own inventiveness, is that he no longer surprises us.

But back before he became a pantomime myth of his own creation, before he stepped over the gossamer line that separates genius from freakery, before young boys started spending the night in his bedroom and the state judiciary put him on trial for child molestation, Michael Jackson was the world's greatest pop star. In his prime, he sold more than 750 million records, collected 13 Grammys (eight of which were awarded on a single night) and created Thriller, which remains, 25 years later, the bestselling album of all time.

Even now, with everything else that has come and gone in the intervening years, people still talk of Jackson's halcyon era with reverence, remembering a time when an ambitious young black man from Gary, Indiana, grabbed pop music with both hands and shook it until the pips squeaked.

His influence is still felt by today's new artists. Ne-Yo, the Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter whose first album, 2006's In My Own Words, went platinum and sold over four million copies, has often been touted as 'the new Michael Jackson' - an accolade he describes as 'the greatest compliment anyone could pay me'.

'Michael Jackson is the reason I sing,' he said recently. 'I knew Off the Wall backwards, forwards, where he took a breath - all that stuff.'

'Musically, he changed the game,' says Paul McKenzie, the editor of urban music magazine Touch. 'When I was growing up, everyone had their favourite Michael Jackson track in the same way that white, middle-class kids had a favourite Enid Blyton book. His music gave you a sense that things were possible.'

Image


But whenever anyone talks about Jackson's greatness, it is always in the past tense. His talent, once the cause of such manic adulation, has become a side-show. It is the single, memorable aria in the broader operatic story of Jackson's shattering fall from grace.

'I spend a lot of time feeling sorry for Michael Jackson,' says Diane Dimond, the former Court TV reporter who doggedly followed the Jackson trial and wrote a bestselling book about it. 'I don't think that he will ever be what he was.'

Later this year, Jackson turns 50. It is an improbable coming of age for someone who modelled himself on Peter Pan, who built a giant theme park, peopled by children and a playful pet chimp called Bubbles. It is an age that, for most people, would prompt a period of reflection. For Jackson, the reality, as always, is slightly different. Although he once admitted to his former manager that he never wanted to perform in public after his 40th birthday, Jackson appears to have been forced by financial necessity to contemplate what had previously seemed so hateful.

From the late 1990s, Jackson got into the habit of spending $35m a year while his earnings hovered around the $12m mark. Until very recently, he was said to be on the brink of bankruptcy. He was paying a rumoured 20 per cent interest rate on a huge loan, believed to be worth around $300m, from the Bank of America and sold onto Fortress Investments. Last month it was reported that, after defaulting on payments, his Neverland sanctuary in Santa Barbara County would be sold at auction on 19 March unless he raised the requisite $25m. If the coverage is to be believed, it seems that the need for untapped sources of income is pressing; yet he has produced no new material since his trial three years ago. If he succeeds in beating the odds and tours one last time - moonwalking and thrilling us in equal measures - it looks set to be the greatest comeback in musical history.


Image

Jackson's trial, on 10 counts of child molestation, attempted abduction and administering alcohol to a minor, proved a tipping point. Although, he was found not guilty on all charges, it was also a public relations disaster. At his arraignment in January 2004, he performed an impromptu dance on top of a parked car, to the wild hysteria of the gathered crowds. During the trial, he frequently turned up late, on one occasion shuffling into court in pyjamas and slippers after claiming he had a back injury.

Even at his lowest ebb, Jackson seemed unable to grasp that his erratic behaviour and weirdness were losing him sympathy rather than gaining it. 'I was waiting for him to come to court one day and he was running late, so I stepped out to make a call,' says Dimond. 'There Michael Jackson was with his mother, who was holding a picnic basket, and with his bodyguards, and he looked right at me and made this violent slashing gesture across his throat.' She laughs uneasily. 'And I thought, "Whatever happened to that wispy little voice?"'

Image


The shrinking nucleus of his diehard fans remained as loyal as ever. When news of the 'not guilty' verdicts was relayed to a gathering crowd outside court, one woman, bathed in the ecstatic zeal of an Old Testament prophet, symbolically released 10 doves into the Californian skies. But his supporters appeared increasingly to be a lunatic fringe and the public airing of such uncomfortable allegations left Jackson reeling. It was, perhaps, the first time he had been confronted with the disparity between the way he saw himself and how the public saw him.

As the jurors filed out to give their press conferences and sign exclusive publishing deals, Jackson and his three children boarded a private jet to Bahrain. It was the beginning of his nomadic phase of Garbo-esque solitariness. He spent six months as the guest of Sheik Abdullah bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the son of Bahrain's king and one of the few men rich enough to subsidise Jackson's entourage for weeks on end.



Although he claimed that he liked Bahrain because he could wear an abaya, the traditional dress of a Muslim woman, and go out to shopping malls incognito, some suspected that there was a rather more prosaic reason for his sudden disappearance from the States: Jackson was in a serious financial pickle.

During his extended sojourn at the Sheikh's expense, Jackson allegedly signed a six-year agreement with his host to record two albums, produce a live musical show and write an autobiography. In return for his signature, the Prince built Jackson his own recording studio in the royal palace and advanced him $7m. But with the money in (gloved) hand, Jackson flew out of the country. This time, there was no private plane - Jackson took a business-class commercial flight to Germany. To add to his monetary woes, Prince Abdullah announced his intention to sue the singer in the High Court.

'You ask yourself why a man who has just been found innocent would want to travel the world like that,' says one former employee who was cut adrift without pension or pay-off after several years' service. 'The answer is: he's trying to escape his debts - huge debts and lots of them. He had no idea of how to save money. For Michael, it was always spend, spend, spend. He didn't know what money was worth.'

A cursory examination of Jackson's labyrinthine finances proves almost as confusing as seeking to understand the video for 'Earth Song'. On the surface, it looks as though his income and assets - his half ownership of the Sony/ATV music catalogue including 251 Beatles songs estimated to be worth $1bn, the royalties from album sales, the lucrative merchandising and sponsorship deals - would more than cover his outgoings. But this would be to underestimate the extraordinary largesse that is Michael Jackson Inc. For several years in the run-up to the trial, Jackson put up the Beatles catalogue, as well as copyrights to his own songs, as collateral for roughly $270m in bank loans, which he used to fund his increasingly regular spending sprees.

'I once saw him looking through a magazine and ordering almost everything he saw,' a source told an American journalist in 2002. "'I want that motorcycle. That bike. This. That..." It was like one of those shows where the contestant has five minutes to run through a store and fill up as many shopping carts as possible. It was crazy.'

Then there are the other costs: the out-of-court settlements totalling $25.5m with the families of boys who had accused him of child abuse and the upkeep of Neverland - $2m a year to cover the annual staff budget, a further $3m to maintain and guard the sprawling territory.

After the trial, Jackson kept spending, but he failed to produce any new material and his record sales were declining. He was forced to take out new loans to pay off the interest on old ones - in 2005, he was rumoured to be making monthly payments of $4.5m.

A year later, while Jackson was still abroad, Sony agreed to negotiate more favourable terms from a loans company in return for the right to buy half of Jackson's 50 per cent stake in the Beatles catalogue. But the restructuring only held for so long in the face of continuous lawsuits from former employees. Thirty of his Neverland personnel were suing the singer for $306,000 in unpaid wages, while California state officials fined him a further $69,000 for failure to provide employment insurance in 2006.

So perhaps it was unsurprising that Jackson felt the need to get away from it all, but when he did so, it was in his usual inimitable style. After Bahrain, he went on a brief sojourn to Europe before shoring up in Dubai in November and checking into a $9,000 a night luxury suite in the Burj Al Arab hotel. Again, Jackson took to wearing traditional Arab female dress, at one point walking into a women's public lavatory to the astonishment of onlookers.

As his bank accounts dwindled, he became like a fevered showbiz version of Blanche DuBois and was increasingly dependent on the kindness of strangers. In June 2006, he decamped to Ireland, taking up residence in the vast Irish mansion of Riverdance impresario Michael Flatley in Co Cork before moving into nearby Luggala Castle, renting the 6,000-acre property (complete with minstrels' gallery) for around £15,000 a week.

Three months later, he popped over to St Tropez for a sunshine break with his children in tow and was pictured by the paparazzi wearing a woman's floppy sunhat and high heels. In December 2006, he resurfaced in Las Vegas, renting a modest, single-floor house in the suburbs, where he is still partly based. 'He was in talks with a major casino in Vegas about putting on a live show,' says Matt Fiddes, a close personal friend and former bodyguard. 'He's not short of offers, I know that.'

But the show never came off. Last March, Jackson was spotted in Japan, signing autographs for £600 a throw. In August, he moved his travelling troupe into the modest family home of his long-time friends, Dominick and Connie Cascio, in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey where he was seen two months later buying Hallowe'en costumes.

Image


His friends say that he has assumed the role of globe-hopping house-guest in order to escape unwanted press attention and that he has to wear these improbable disguises as a matter of necessity. 'Mikey can never stay in one place for too long because he will be mobbed,' says Fiddes. 'He has to swap hotels week after week. I've known him to get to one city where he's booked two hotels for a week just in case he's spotted in one and needs to move to the other. He changes telephone numbers almost weekly. It's not a good life, it's very lonely.' Another source says that of his three children, Jackson appears closest to his youngest, Prince Michael Jackson II, aka 'Blanket', who often accompanies him to meetings.

Not even Jackson can keep moonwalking away from his problems for ever. With the threat of his home being sold from under him, he seems finally to have accepted the need to develop a financial rescue plan - and fast.

Image
Jackson with Raymone Bain



Since the tail end of last year, there has been an incremental public relations drive to refocus Jackson's core fanbase and to cement his position as a global superstar. It has been pushed largely by Raymone Bain, Jackson's spokeswoman, a razor-sharp, micro-miniskirt-wearing partner at a Washington-based PR firm.

In December, she negotiated Jackson's first press interview since the trial with Ebony magazine, the biggest-selling African-American glossy. In it, Jackson portrayed himself as a civil rights pioneer, opening the door for other black artists to have their songs played on MTV: 'They [black artists] came to me so many times and said, "Michael, if it wasn't for you, there would be no MTV." They told me that, over and over, personally.' Ironically, the photographs depicted Jackson with an almost entirely white skin-tone, the airbrushed smoothness of his face broken only by a pronounced Travolta-esque chin cleft.

But the 19-page interview and Jackson's highly publicised return from exile proved so successful that one American TV pundit was moved to exclaim it was 'the biggest comeback since Lazarus'. Rumours started to seep out from the Jackson camp that, for the first time in almost 10 years, he was working again. 'He's back in the studio, working his guts out on new material,' confirms Fiddes. 'He's his own competition. He wants to beat the Thriller album and that's what he's working on now.'

His management is said to be in weekly negotiations with the O2 arena in London to stage a series of concerts later this year - the last offer from AEG Live, the consortium that owns the Millennium Dome, was believed to be a £5m guarantee for 10 nights, with a maximum of 30 nights adding up to £15m. The involvement of Kevin Wall, the Emmy award-winning producer who created the Live Earth music concert and who produced the spectacular 'Michael Jackson: Live from Bucharest' in 1992 - a television special that gave the HBO network its highest ever ratings - is apparently also likely. But Jackson is said to be wary of returning to do live shows without having new material to perform. Despite being hotly tipped to appear at the Grammys last month, negotiations floundered at the final hurdle (amid rumours that Jackson demanded to be referred to as the King of Pop throughout the show).

One of the reasons for his no-show is said to be that Jackson has been discussing his future with pop impresario Simon Fuller, the chief executive of 19 Entertainment and creator of Pop Idol, who recently flew to Jackson's semi-permanent base in Las Vegas. Fuller is understood to be hesitant for Jackson to sign up to any public performance that simply re-hashes old hits, instead looking for more novel ways to return to the public arena. Jackson himself may well want to produce some substantial new material before staging a complete comeback some way down the line.

Increasingly, Jackson's inner circle is shrinking down to a core group of key advisers. Mindful of having taken bad advice in the past, he now relies on the select counsel of a handful of eminences grises. One of them is the suave Peter Lopez, a highly-regarded entertainment lawyer with excellent Hollywood credentials - he is married to Catherine Bach, the actress best known for playing Daisy Duke in the television series Dukes of Hazzard. Lopez confirms that Jackson is in 'continued dialogue' with AEG Live and that there have been a number of 'informal conversations' with both Fuller and Wall over the course of the past year. 'All of these I would categorise as preliminary, ongoing discussions,' he says, over the phone from his office in Los Angeles. 'Michael is very excited to be moving forward.'

Lopez also insists that talk of a financial crisis is 'hogwash'. 'Neverland is not being auctioned off, it's simply that Michael has changed lenders. This talk emerges from several journalists in the US who love to spin things in the most negative way possible. The facts are the facts and he's had some cash flow issues in the past, but it's all under control now.'

With the financial situation on a comparatively stable footing, Jackson has been able to concentrate on recording new songs, many of them executive produced by Will.i.am, Rodney Jerkins and Teddy Riley. According to those who have heard them, the tracks are near pitch-perfect pop songs for a new generation.

Certainly, it seems that in spite of his advancing years, Jackson's marketing operation is keen to target a younger fanbase. Official Michael Jackson profile pages have popped up on social networking sites such as Bebo and MySpace and ringtones of all the original Thriller tracks have been created for download. Pepsi are using 'Thriller' as the backing song for a new advertising campaign for the SoBe Life Water drink and there is even talk of the Jackson 5 reforming to take part in an autobiographical stage musical.


Image

A 25th anniversary edition of Thriller released last month showcased new collaborations with Kanye West and Akon. Speaking recently, Akon said: 'Just to be in the same room [with him], I felt everything I wanted to accomplish in life has been achieved. Some artists think regional, some think national, I was thinking international. He thinks planets. It's on another level.'

Would a comeback be an assured success? Interest in the King of Pop has declined sharply - when a Los Angeles casino auctioned off 1,100 lots of Jackson memorabilia last May, there were barely any takers. His last live performance was at the World Music Awards in November 2006 when he disappointed fans by singing just a few lines of 'We Are the World'. But given that the Spice Girls grossed £100m on their recent comeback tour, it's not surprising that one insider privy to Jackson's deal-making says 'we're sure he could dwarf that'. That same source is confident that Jackson would be physically robust enough to tackle a world tour. 'I met him recently, and while he is very skinny, he's not frail - he's not the zonked-out, doddery character you might imagine by any stretch of imagination.'

In spite of the obvious risks, it is hard not to be caught up in the fairytale that Jackson has spent his life creating. Whatever his dissenters might say, he remains one of the greatest icons in pop history, a man touched with musical genius, who revels in the razzle dazzle of his self-created pageantry. If his life so far has been an unforgettable performance, the finale promises to be show-stopping. There is no one who could stage a comeback quite like Michael Jackson. After all, not even Lazarus knew how to moonwalk.

Jacko's greatest hits

Michael Jackson's 1982 album Thriller remains the bestselling LP of all time, with more than 3.7 million sales in the UK alone (over 50 million worldwide). The follow-up, 1987's Bad, is actually only 130,000 sales behind in the UK, with 3.57 million. 1991's Dangerous managed just under 2 million and 1995's HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book 1 sold 1.5 million.

The several compilations released since his last studio album, 2001's Invincible, have had mixed fortunes. 2001's Greatest Hits History: Vol. 1 sold 245,000 and only reached number 15 in the charts; 2003's Number Ones sold 1.5 million and, appropriately, went to No.1; while 2005's The Essential sold 275,000 and reached number two.

· All figures for UK sales unless otherwise stated. Information supplied by the Official UK Charts Company

-----|0| None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free. |0|-----

"Capitalism profits from War - Humanity profits from Peace."

User avatar
Aliens Ate My Chicken!
Posts: 118748
Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2007 8:32 am
Location: Smegland
How Hot Are You?: The Big Bang!!
Current Mood: Won Tons Mons

Top Forum Index Page New Posts

Posted on

      

Michael Jackson was really cool in the 80s. I remember when Bad came out, everyone at school was listening to it.

I hope he does do a concert comeback.



Super Smegster
Posts: 3348
Joined: Thu Jan 17, 2008 7:03 pm
How Hot Are You?: Siberia

Top Forum Index Page New Posts

Posted on

      

I loved Off The Wall. Great Album. Just as good as thriller IMO. :)

I actually went to see Michael Jackson at Wembley Stadium in the late 1990s. I went with some friends who had a spare ticket. I wouldn't have gone otherwise. We got their at 9am and manage to get to the front of the turnstiles.

Turnstiles opened at 4pm and we ran like fuck and got in the mosh pit at the front ,and I actually got right to the front railings. I was about 10 feet away from Jackson. I remember him being very tall and lanky. He didn't say a lot but the gig was amazing.

The best part though was at the end. I remember turning round and sitting on the railings and all I could see in front of me was a packed Wembly. Both seats and pitch. For a couple of minutes I was able to experience what someone onstage would.

-----|0| None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free. |0|-----

"Capitalism profits from War - Humanity profits from Peace."

User avatar
Aliens Ate My Chicken!
Posts: 118748
Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2007 8:32 am
Location: Smegland
How Hot Are You?: The Big Bang!!
Current Mood: Won Tons Mons

Top Forum Index Page New Posts

Posted on

      

Off The Wall and Thriller - both classic albums. I don't really know any later stuff apart from the singles. And he was a good looking black guy on the cover of OTW.
The bizarre stories always seem to include that oxygen tent one, but I thought that was a myth - didn't he get into an oxygen tent when visiting a kid's hospital, either for a charity publicity shot or to see what it was like?
I read his autobiography a while ago. He seems to be really disconnected from reality and obsessed with trivial things - stuff like "I was the first person to wear my pant legs high with white socks" as if it was a significant contribution to world culture! It's a shame that all the weirdness has detracted from his musical career.

Edit.
LOL - just spotted the MILF addition in Smeggy's signature thing :D

This has been a ThinBoy quality post

User avatar
Loves The place!
Posts: 743
Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2008 9:18 pm
Location: Another fine mess
How Hot Are You?: A Nice English Summer's Day

Top Forum Index Page New Posts

Posted on

      

Was he a pedo?



User avatar
On two rolls!!
Posts: 186
Joined: Tue Jan 15, 2008 12:37 am
Location: The Country
How Hot Are You?: Scorchio!
Current Mood: unknown

Top Forum Index Page New Posts

Posted on

      

I haven't read all of your OP yet Smeggy but I shall do, it's quite a biggy :D

MJ was an excellent singer as a boy IMO. His vocals were superb and it didn't matter that he was singing mature songs somehow. With his brothers or solo, a lot of the releases were pop gems. ABC, Looking Through The Windows, Ben - so many great songs. When the Jackson 5 split from Motown the disco hits they had after were often very good too. MJ continued to rise with the excellent Off The Wall and Thriller albums.

Maybe a gradual descent was inevitable after making the biggest seller of all time. His latter music is too full of vocal grunts and over produced rap styles to suit my taste. The well crafted pop years seem to be over.

A sad case of genius gone wrong.




Top Forum Index Page New Posts

Posted on

      

This freak you speak about, was he once a singer? I remember this black kid with an afro "A, B, C easy as one two three!" but who is this semi white guy with a disfigured face? Sure i have seen someone like him round my way wanting to baby sit for spare change! :)

** legal note! I did say someone like him, not actually him!

For years MJ has been a joke, as with many kids that are thrust into the limelight they turn into a laughing joke for the media to poke fun at, as they fall apart on a slippery downward spiral. The sad thing is all these kids know is fame, so they try and grab hold of what they know, and will do anything to get just a sniff of that fame back. Which is tragic as most of them could work in the background and say produce or coach but no they have to have fame. Are you reading this Britney Spears! :)

You know what i say "Stand proud Jarvis Cocker!" :clap:




Top Forum Index Page New Posts

Posted on

      

Thriller was such an enormous album that the media started to shine the limelight on MJ much more. Personally I had no interest in his funfair or chimpanzees - I'd always been more into the music side of things.

It was sad how people believed what they read and joked or scoffed about him. True music fans were more concerned with the follow up to Thriller. Bad was quite an accomplished album, but nothing would ever again equal the popularity and fame of Thriller.




Top Forum Index Page New Posts

Posted on

      

Its sad to think we may end up bumping into Jacko on the streets soon, as he may be moving over here. Get the paedophile register out for the signature! Of course not Jackson signature he was declared innocent in a court of law in the good ol' U.S. of A, and who are we to dispute that? :)

I actually never had a problem with this guys antics away from the music, but when someone will not go on stage unless they are introduced as the "God of pop music" then despite allegations he stands there arms outstretched like he is on a crucifix, surrounded by little kids. Its all a bit suspicious. Someone need to say come and join the numerous other in music that need therapy.

Oh and i have never understood all the fuss about Thriller, one huge overrated artist that once had a good voice. Soon as the voice started to go, the gimmicks started to appear.




Top Forum Index Page New Posts

Posted on

      

I don't actually think he is a paedophile as such. I truly believe he is regressing back to a lost childhood and identifies himself more with children than adults. Hence the Peter Pan / Neverland fantasy that he created for himself.

Of course people will form different views about that, but IMO his interest in children is more naive than wicked.

I guess it's a warning against the perils of child stardom. :(:



Super Smegster
Posts: 3348
Joined: Thu Jan 17, 2008 7:03 pm
How Hot Are You?: Siberia

Top Forum Index Page New Posts

Posted on

      

whimsical oracle wrote:I don't actually think he is a paedophile as such. I truly believe he is regressing back to a lost childhood and identifies himself more with children than adults. Hence the Peter Pan / Neverland fantasy that he created for himself.

Of course people will form different views about that, but IMO his interest in children is more naive than wicked.

I guess it's a warning against the perils of child stardom. :(:

I agree about MJ's love of childhood. As for what happened with those children, I'm not sure. He was an easy target for cash but on the other hand he may have thought his wealth could buy the silence of his 'victims'.

Either way, some will always consider him guilty.





Share this Topic on Facebook:

Return to Music

Similar topics

  • Topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post
    Top of Page

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests

cron