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1987–1990: Bad and controversies


In 1987, Jackson released Bad; his third album for the Epic record label, and final album with producer Quincy Jones. He initially wanted to make the album 30 tracks long, but Jones cut this down to 10. According to Jones, Jackson wanted the title track to be a duet with Prince who later declined the duet. Jones said the reason given by Prince was that he thought the song would be a hit whether he was in it or not.


In comparison to Thriller, Bad had lower sales but it was still a huge commercial success. It spawned seven hit singles, of which five went to number-one, those being: “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”, “Bad”, “The Way You Make Me Feel”, “Man in the Mirror”, and “Dirty Diana”. The album went onto sell 29 million copies worldwide; the RIAA eventually certified Bad at 8x Platinum. In September 1987, he embarked upon his first solo world tour, the Bad World Tour. The tour lasted sixteen months, in which Jackson performed at 123 concerts, to over 4.4 million fans worldwide. Jackson insisted on a personal bus, plane and helicopter to be available to him all at the same time.


Jackson hired film director Martin Scorsese to direct the video for the album’s title track. When the 18-minute music video debuted on TV, it sparked a great deal of controversy as it became apparent that Jackson’s appearance had changed dramatically. Although Jackson’s skin color was a medium-brown color for the entire duration of his youth, his skin had been becoming paler gradually since 1982, and had become a light brown color. This change became so noticeable that it gained widespread media coverage with some tabloid’s claiming that it was due to Jackson bleaching his skin.


Another significant reason for the change in appearance was the use of plastic surgery. Despite a number of surgeons’ claims that Jackson had undergone multiple nasal surgeries as well as a forehead lift, thinned lips and cheekbone surgery, Jackson wrote in his 1988 autobiography Moon Walk that he only had two rhinoplastic surgeries and the surgical creation of a cleft in his chin, while attributing puberty and diet to the noticeable change in the structure of his face.


The success Jackson achieved during this period in his career led to him to be dubbed the “King of Pop”, a nickname which he continues to be referred to by fans. There are various conflicting reports as to the origin of the nickname. According to Jackson, it was conceived by actress and long-term friend Elizabeth Taylor when she presented Jackson with an “Artist of the Decade” award in 1989, proclaiming him “the true king of pop, rock and soul”. Additionally, this period saw Jackson enjoy “a level of superstardom previously known only to Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Frank Sinatra”.



Michael Jackson king of pop


Michael Jackson portrait



1991–1994: Dangerous and further career


In November 1991, Michael Jackson released Dangerous. The major hit from Dangerous was “Black or White”. The single was accompanied by a controversial video which featured scenes of a sexual nature as well as violence and racism. The video was banned on most music-television channels until these scenes were removed.


On February 10, 1992, MTV kicked off its first global sweepstakes with “My Dinner with Michael”. Winners from around the world attended a dinner party hosted by Michael Jackson on the set of his music video “In the Closet”. Later that year, a biopic, The Jacksons: An American Dream debuted on ABC based on the true story of the rise of The Jackson 5.


Jackson founded the “Heal the World Foundation” (named after his humanitarian single “Heal the World”) in 1992. The charity organization brought underprivileged children to Jackson’s Neverland Ranch, located outside Santa Ynez, California, to go on theme park rides which Jackson had built on the property after he purchased it in 1988.


In January 1993, Michael Jackson performed during the halftime show at Super Bowl XXVII. It drew one of the largest viewing audience in the history of American television.


On the Oprah Winfrey Show in 1993, Jackson claimed that the change in his skin color was due to vitiligo. In the interview, Jackson stated that his skin was, at first, black with white spots which he used make-up to cover. But later, some time after Thriller, his skin became increasingly white with black spots; he then used white make-up to cover the black spots.


Jackson was reported to be inviting or allowing children to sleepover at Neverland. This practice came under much media and public scrutiny in 1993 when allegations of child molestation were brought against Jackson by a child who had stayed with him on several occasions. That year, Jordan Chandler, the son of former Beverly Hills dentist Evan Chandler, represented by civil lawyer Larry Feldman, accused Jackson of child sexual abuse. On December 22 Jackson responded to the allegations via satellite from his Neverland compound, and claimed to be “totally innocent of any wrongdoing”. On January 25, 1994, Jackson settled out of court with the accuser for an undisclosed sum, reported to be $20 million, and was not charged.


After the allegations were settled in 1994, Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of Elvis Presley. Despite some comments questioning the validity of this union, Presley maintained during their marriage that they both shared a married couple’s life and were sexually active. They divorced less than two years later.



1995–2000: HIStory and Blood on the Dance Floor


In June 1995, Jackson released HIStory: Past, Present And Future – Book I. The first disc, HIStory Begins, was a fifteen-track greatest hits album (this disc was later released as Greatest Hits – HIStory Vol. I in 2001), while the second disc, HIStory Continues, contained fifteen new songs. The first single released from HIStory was “Scream”. The single reached the top 5 on the Billboard Hot 100. The music video for “Scream” is currently the most expensive music video ever made. On September 7, 1995 at the MTV Video Music Awards, Jackson and Janet Jackson won three awards for the song “Scream”, from HIStory. At the awards show, Jackson also performed a medley, “Billie Jean”, “Dangerous” and “You Are Not Alone”.


“They Don’t Care About Us” was the fourth single released from HIStory, and caused controversy over anti-Semitic lyrics. The song contained the lyrics “Jew me, sue me” and “kick me, kike me”. After significant pressure from the Jewish community, later releases changed the verse to the same-sounding “do me, sue me” and “kick me, hike me” or censored it with a thumping sound.


To promote the album, Jackson embarked on the successful HIStory World Tour. On November 14, 1996, during the Australian leg of the tour, Jackson married his dermatologist’s nurse Deborah Jeanne Rowe, with whom he fathered a son, Michael Joseph Jackson, Jr. (also known as “Prince”), and a daughter, Paris Katherine Jackson. Jackson and Rowe divorced in 1999. Jackson later said that Rowe wanted him to have the children as a “gift”. The paternity of Michael Jackson’s children has been heavily debated by the public. Jackson has always maintained that his first two children were conceived naturally. However the The Sun made two controversial claims about Jackson’s parentage: first, that Jackson conceived his first child via artificial insemination using his own sperm and, second, that the second child, Paris, was conceived in and named after Paris, France, where Jackson had gone to console Rowe for his having taken her first child, and all parental rights from Rowe.


At the 1996 Brit Awards, Jackson performed the track “Earth Song”, dressed in white and surrounded by children and an actor portraying a Rabbi. In an attempt to recreate a scene from the video – where he is spreading his arms between two trees – it seemed that Jackson was making Christ-like poses whilst being lifted into the air by a crane with a wind machine blowing back his hair. Pulp lead singer Jarvis Cocker and his friend Peter Mansell mounted a stage invasion in protest. Cocker leapt onstage, pretended to expose his rear, danced and sat back down. In response to the ensuing media scrutiny of the action, Cocker responded, “My actions were a form of protest at the way Michael Jackson sees himself as some kind of Christ-like figure with the power of healing… I just ran on the stage and showed off… All I was trying to do was make a point and do something that lots of other people would have loved to have done if only they’d dared”. Cocker received vocal support from the British press: the March 2, 1996 edition of Melody Maker, for example, suggested Cocker should be knighted, while Noel Gallagher claimed “Jarvis Cocker is a star and he should be given MBE”. Gallagher said of Jackson’s behavior: “for Michael Jackson to come over to this country after what’s all gone on – and I think we all know what I’m talking about here – to dress in a white robe, right, thinking he’s the Messiah – I mean who does he think he is? Me?”



Michael Jackson - Blood on the Dance Floor


Cover of Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix



In 1997, Jackson released an album of new material with remixes of hit singles from HIStory titled Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix. The album’s five original songs were named “Blood On The Dance Floor”, “Is It Scary?”, “Ghosts”, “Superfly Sister” and “Morphine”. Of the new songs, three were released globally: the title track, “Ghosts”, and “Is It Scary?”. The title track reached number-one in the UK. The singles “Ghosts” and “Is It Scary” were based on a film created by Jackson called “Ghosts”. The short film, written by Michael Jackson and Stephen King and directed by Stan Winston, features many special effects and dance moves choreographed to original music written by Michael Jackson. The music video for “Ghosts” is over 35 minutes long and is currently the Worlds Longest Music Video. Jackson dedicated the album to Elton John, who reportedly helped him through his addiction to painkillers, notably morphine.


In 1998 Jackson reached an out-of-court settlement with the Daily Mirror, which apologized for having described his face as “hideously disfigured and scarred”. Steven Hoefflin, a high-profile Hollywood plastic surgeon alleged to have operated on Jackson’s nose was, according to the press, also advising him against further surgery.



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