Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009) was an American singer-songwriter, dancer, actor, choreographer, businessman, philanthropist, activist, record producer, and entertainer. Referred to as the King of Pop, he is recognized as the most successful entertainer of all time and one of the most influential. His contributions to music, dance and fashion, and a much-publicized personal life made him a global figure in popular culture for over four decades.
Jackson made his debut in 1964 as lead singer and youngest member of The Jackson 5 alongside his brothers. His solo career started in 1971 and he produced ten studio albums. The 1982 album Thriller remains the best-selling album of all time, having sold more than 110 million copies. Four of his other albums rank among the world's best-sellers. Jackson is credited with having elevated the music video from a mere promotional tool into an art form. His videos for Billie Jean, Beat It and Thriller made him the first African American artist to amass a strong crossover following on MTV. He popularized a number of complicated dance techniques, such as the robot and the moonwalk. His distinctive musical style, vocal style, and choreography continue to transcend generational, racial and cultural boundaries.
Jackson has been inducted into twelve music halls of fame, more than any other act. He is one of the few artists to have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice. Other achievements include several Guinness World Records (including the Most Successful Entertainer of All Time); 15 Grammy Awards (including the Living Legend Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award); 26 American Music Awards (more than any other artist, and including recognition as Artist of the Century); 17 number-one singles in the US (including four as a member of The Jackson 5); and estimated global sales of over 780 million records, making him one of the best-selling recording artists ever. Jackson's personal life and relationships generated controversy for years. His changing appearance was noticed from the late 1970s onwards, as changes to his nose and skin color caused much media speculation. In 1993 he was accused of child sexual abuse, though no formal charges were brought. In 2005 he was tried and acquitted of similar allegations.
Jackson died on June 25, 2009 from a drug overdose, amidst preparations for his This Is It concert series. Before his death, Jackson had reportedly been administered drugs such as propofol and lorazepam. The Los Angeles County Coroner reported its conclusion that his death was a homicide. Prosecutors formally charged his personal physician with involuntary manslaughter. Jackson's death triggered a global outpouring of grief. It was estimated that as many as a billion people around the world may have watched his public memorial service on live broadcast television. On March 16, 2010, Sony Music Entertainment signed a record-breaking $250 million deal with Jackson's estate to retain distribution rights to his recordings until 2017 and release seven posthumous albums over the next decade.
On June 25, 2009, Jackson collapsed at his rented mansion at 100 North Carolwood Drive in the Holmby Hills district of Los Angeles. Attempts at resuscitating him by Conrad Murray, his personal physician, were unsuccessful. Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics received a 911 call at 12:22 (PDT) (19:22 UTC), arriving three minutes later at Jackson's location. He was reportedly not breathing and CPR was performed. Resuscitation efforts continued en route to the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, and for an hour after arriving there at 13:13 (20:13 UTC). Jackson's death triggered a global outpour of grief. He was pronounced dead at 14:26 local time (21:26 UTC).
Jackson's fans paid tribute to him at his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, shortly after the announcement of his death.
The news spread quickly online, causing websites to slow down and crash from user overload. Both TMZ and the Los Angeles Times suffered outages. Google initially believed that the input from millions of people searching for "Michael Jackson" meant that the search engine was under attack. Twitter reported a crash, as did Wikipedia at 3:15 p.m. PDT (6:15 p.m. EST). The Wikimedia Foundation reported nearly a million visitors to Jackson's biography within one hour, probably the most visitors in a one-hour period to any article in Wikipedia's history. AOL Instant Messenger collapsed for 40 minutes. AOL called it a "seminal moment in Internet history," adding, "We've never seen anything like it in terms of scope or depth."
Around 15% of Twitter posts—or 5,000 tweets per minute—reportedly mentioned Jackson after the news broke, compared to the 5% recalled as having mentioned the Iranian elections or the flu pandemic that had made headlines earlier in the year. Overall, web traffic ranged from 11% to at least 20% higher than normal. MTV and Black Entertainment Television (BET) aired marathons of Jackson's music videos. Jackson specials aired on multiple television stations around the world. The British soap opera EastEnders added a last-minute scene, in which one character tells another about the news, to the June 26 episode. Jackson was the topic of every front-page headline in the daily British tabloid The Sun for about two weeks following his death. During the same period, the three major U.S. networks' evening newscasts—ABC's World News, CBS Evening News, and NBC Nightly News—devoted 34 percent of their broadcast time to him. Magazines including TIME published commemorative editions. A scene that had featured Jackson's sister La Toya was cut from the film Brüno out of respect toward Jackson's family.
Jackson's memorial was held on July 7, 2009, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, preceded by a private family service at Forest Lawn Memorial Park's Hall of Liberty. Jackson's casket was present during the memorial but no information was released about the final disposition of the body. While some unofficial reports claimed a worldwide audience as high as one billion people the U.S. audience was estimated by Nielsen to be 31.1 million, an amount comparable to the estimated 35.1 million that watched the 2004 burial of former president Ronald Reagan, and the estimated 33.1 million Americans who watched the 1997 funeral for Princess Diana.
Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, Mariah Carey, John Mayer, Jennifer Hudson, Usher, Jermaine Jackson, and Shaheen Jafargholi performed at the event. Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson gave eulogies, while Queen Latifah read, "We had him," a poem written for the occasion by Maya Angelou. The Reverend Al Sharpton received a standing ovation with cheers when he told Jackson's children, "Wasn't nothing strange about your Daddy. It was strange what your Daddy had to deal with. But he dealt with it anyway." Jackson's 11-year-old daughter, Paris Katherine, cried as she told the crowd, "Ever since I was born, Daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine ... I just wanted to say I love him ... so much."
On August 24 several news outlets quoted anonymous sources as stating that the Los Angeles coroner had decided to treat Jackson's death as a homicide; this was later confirmed by the coroner on August 28. At the time of death, Jackson had been administered propofol, lorazepam and midazolam. Law enforcement officials are currently conducting a manslaughter investigation of his personal physician, Conrad Murray.
Jackson was buried on September 3, 2009, at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.
On February 8, 2010, Jackson's personal physician Conrad Murray was charged with involuntary manslaughter by prosecutors in Los Angeles. On November 7, 2011, Murray was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter. On November 29, Murray was sentenced to the maximum penalty of four years of incarceration. However, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff officials, he is expected to serve a little less than two years in the Los Angeles County Jail due to California prison overcrowding.[