Beloved singer, entertainer, and songwriter Michael Jackson and his unfortunate passing in June of 2009 shocked the globe, with fans across various nations still mourning the loss of the “King Of Pop.” With his brand still strong and his legacy largely intact, Jackson was as enigmatic as he was talented. While today (August 29) would have marked his 54th birthday, NewsOne fondly remembers Michael Jackson as a peerless superstar that has influenced some of music’s biggest current stars. Below, we list 10 facts that casual fans may not have known about the notoriously private Michael Jackson.
1. Michael Jackson Is The Highest-Earning Deceased Artist: Besting the vaunted Rock and Roll artist Elvis Presley and former Beatles member singer-songwriter John Lennon, Michael Jackson has been recognized by the Guinness Book Of World Records in a new category for Highest-Earning Deceased Artist, gaining the top honor. In the first year after his passing in 2009, Jackson’s estate raked in a reported $1 billion.
2. Michael Jackson Was A Shrewd Businessman: While many viewed Jackson as a boyish and playful figure, underneath that exterior was the mind of a man who made investments that continue to pay off to this day. In 1985, he wisely purchased the rights to 250 Beatles backlogged songs penned by Lennon and Paul McCartney for $47 million. In 1995, Jackson sold a portion of the catalog to Sony for $95 million, resulting in the powerful joint venture music publishing company Sony/ATV, with annual revenues hovering around $1 billion. This doesn’t include his many endorsement deals, licensing, and other streams of revenue Jackson has generated from his name.
3. Michael Jackson Owns The Distinction Of Having The Biggest Recording Contract Ever: Nine months after his passing, the estate of Michael Jackson signed a deal with Sony Records that gives the company access to a vast vault of unreleased recordings for a whopping $250 million. Ten albums are expected to be released by 2017, including the recent soundtrack to the tour documentary “This Is It.”
4. Hackers Broke In To Online Servers And Got Access To 50,000 Michael Jackson Tracks: Michael Jackson’s music was a victim of an online hacker attack, with the thieves downloading 50,000 songs not intended for the public. Sony quickly plugged the hole in their security and vowed to move ahead with the release of new music.
5. DJs And Clubs Nationwide Have Sparked Off Annual Parties In Michael Jackson’s Name: From Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; New York City; and all points in between, big name DJs have crafted themed parties in honor of Michael Jackson. Celebrated producer and hip-hop artist DJ Spinna has also taken his well-attended (and friendly) “MJ vs. Prince” dance parties all across the nation.
6. “Billie Jean” Was First Video From A Black Artist To Air On MTV: “Billie Jean” was the second single from Michael Jackson’s sixth solo album, “Thriller.” Produced by Jackson and the legendary Quincy Jones, the track got the video treatment and sparked off a revolution of sorts. Fans nationwide would seek to imitate Jackson’s hairstyle and dance moves and the clip is considered largely responsible for putting MTV in to the mainstream conversation.
Watch “Billie Jean” here:
7. Thriller Wasn’t The Only Hit Album In Jackson’s Catalog: Five of Michael Jackson’s solo studio albums count among the highest-selling records of all time. Thriller’s predecessor, “Off The Wall,” which was released in 1979, has sold a worldwide 20 million, which pales considerably next to “Thriller,” sitting at 110 million sold. The albums “Bad,” “Dangerous,” and “HIStory” have also sold well into millions as well.
8. Michael Jackson Is The Most-Awarded Artist Of All Time: With 23 Guinness World Records, 40 Billboard Awards, 13 Grammys, and 26 American Music Awards, Michael Jackson has won more awards than any other musical artist. Jackson has also received congressional honors for his humanitarian outreach efforts.
Watch Jackson’s “We Are the World” video here:
9. Michael Jackson Inspired Artists Outside Of His Genre: Usher, Justin Timberlake, Chris Brown, and Justin Bieber owe a great credit to Michael Jackson and have all called him an influence. But even rockers, such as Adam Lambert, Green Day, and female superstars like Beyoncé and Madonna, have all said they’ve looked up to Jackson. Even the brash Diddy called Jackson a “hero” of his.
Watch Usher and Jackson perform here:
10. Michael Jackson’s Death Shifted MTV’s Programming In Tribute: In the hours after his death, media giant MTV – which had largely moved from its original music video-only programming – went back to its roots and aired hours upon hours of Michael Jackson videos and footage. The in-house news team even took time away from talking usual celeb fare and focused solely on the career of Jackson. Few other stars have commanded such a response.