Top 10 Facts About Michael Jackson the King of Pop: Read about His Mysterious & Infamous Life
Born August 29, 1958, Michael Jackson only lived to age 50, but he created an indelible mark upon civilization as one of the most well-known entertainers in modern history. He began his rise to the top at the tender age of five when he performed the song, “Climb Every Mountain” with his brothers as part of the iconic “Jackson Five.” He’d go on to become one of the best-selling artists of all time with a mountain of awards and accolades.Flamboyant clothing and a tendency to wear a face mask in public turned him into a strange eccentric by the 1990s. Eventually, his star was tarnished by repeated accusations of child molestation and the devastating court trials that followed. He would spend years trying to rebuild his name and reputation as the greatest entertainer on the planet, but he would die from a drug overdose on June 25, 2009, just a few months before his 51st birthday.Here are some facts you might not know about the King of Pop.
10. Michael Jackson had a Patent for Special Shoes
Like his famous “Moonwalk,” another one of Michael’s famous on-stage moves was a seemingly gravity-defying lean forward where his feet remained planted flat on the ground. Normal people would fall over, but not Michael Jackson. On tour, he achieved this move with a pair of specially designed shoes that sported a cleft in the heel. On stage, Michael and his backup dancers could slide their shoes onto small pegs rising from the surface of the stage. With their shoes secured to the stage, The performers could lean forward without tipping over, thereby creating the illusion the rules of gravity just didn’t apply on Michael’s stage.
According to an abstract from the United States Patent Office, the shoes were a “system for allowing a shoe wearer to lean forwardly beyond his center of gravity,” and the inventors listed included Michael, as well as two residents of Hollywood, California named Michael Bush and Dennis Tompkins. Before the invention of the shoe, Michael used wires in his “Smooth Criminal” video to achieve the gravity-defying dance moves. He felt that he needed something more reliable that he could use frequently while on tour. With his co-inventors, Michael would develop the shoe and file a patent in 1992.
However, the inventors realized the shoe could benefit from some tweaking when Michael was nearly injured after his shoe malfunctioned during a show in Russia. They reworked the shoe over the years, but the patent expired in 2005. A few years later, the original, one-of-a-kind shoes Michael used on stage were auctioned off for $600,000. Michael isn’t the only performer to submit ideas to the patent office. Other famous performers with patents include Eddie Van Halen, Prince, Paula Abdul, and Neil Young.
9. Michael Jackson Owned Many Famous Songs by the Beatles
Michael Jackson’s popularity ebbed and flowed over the decades, but one of the reasons he had so much money was his ownership of the copyrights to several Beatles songs like “Come Together” and “Hey Jude.” In the mid-1980s, Jackson was part of a famous investment group that included participants like entertainment mogul David Geffen. When the songs came up for sale, Michael was desperate to secure the rights to the catalogue and eventually paid an astonishing $47.5 million for the rights to many of the Beatles’ most famous hits.
Unfortunately, the sale soured the friendship between rocker Sir Paul McCartney and Michael. The two recorded songs together in the 1980s and were frequently photographed together. Sir Paul was furious that Jackson outbid him on the catalogue of songs, and estimates pegged the number of Beatles copyrights bought by Michael at somewhere between 160 and 260. In 2005, Michael sold half of the rights to the songs to Sony for $95 million. Despite Michael’s flamboyant personality on stage, he was an astute businessman, and his heirs have benefited from his investment.
Some rumors suggested McCartney was disappointed that Michael didn’t leave him the songs in his will, but McCartney put that rumor to rest pretty quickly. Sir Paul revealed that his animosity toward Michael had softened over the years. Interestingly, the 1976 US Copyright Act does mean that McCartney will eventually have the rights to the songs returned to his control, however. The law says that the rights to any song written before 1978 revert to the songwriter’s control after 56 years. The Beatles were famous for writing their own songs, so Sir Paul will soon get the rights to his songs back.
8. Michael Jackson Received Two Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Just about every month a new entertainer has his or her name enshrined on the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame, but Michael actually has two stars, which puts him in league with just a handful of other performers. Over the years, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce has created five categories including movies, television, music, radio, and theater. So far, classic star Gene Autry is the only performer with a star in every category, and stars like Tony Martin, Roy Rogers, and Bob Hope each garnered four stars each.
With a star for his participation with the Jackson Five and his solo career, Michael Jackson became one of only seven other singers with multiple stars in the same category. The star for the Jackson Five is labeled as “The Jacksons” on the east side of the 1500 block of Vine Street. The star for Jackson’s solo career is located at 6927 Hollywood Boulevard right between the stars for actress Hilary Swank and comedian Bill Cosby. The ceremony for Jackson’s solo star took place at what could be considered the height of Jackson’s fame on November 20, 1984.
Interestingly, there is another star for a performer named Michael Jackson, but it’s a completely different Michael Jackson who worked for years as a radio personality. In a strange turn of events, devastated fans who wanted to honor Michael Jackson after his death mistakenly created an impromptu memorial of flowers on the wrong star. The other Michael Jackson even responded on his blog that he’d be willing to give up his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame if it would bring the pop star back to life.
7. Michael Jackson Owned Enough Animals for a Zoo
For many years, Michael Jackson lived on an expansive property known as Neverland Ranch in Santa Barbara County. He named the property after the famous story of Peter Pan, which is how many people saw the entertainer. He was a kid at heart who never really grew up. One of the most amazing features of the ranch was the veritable zoo of exotic animals including a boa constrictor named Muscles and famous chimpanzee named Bubbles. The animals Michael housed on his property ranged from zebras to big cats to alligators.
Unfortunately, after Michael was accused of child molestation and the authorities performed a search of the property for evidence, Michael said he’d never return to the property because of the tainted association it held. That meant many exotic beasts had to find new homes, and the years since Jackson’s death haven’t been kind to those animals. A recent report revealed Michael’s pet crocodiles and alligators died after a suspected arson attack at the zoo where the animals were housed. The founder of the animal park blamed activists for the fire, and local law enforcement suggested there was evidence of a criminal act at the scene.
The other amazing animals at the ranch were also sent around to different sanctuaries around the country including a flock of flamingos that were sent to a New Jersey zoo and a pair of orangutans who were sent to Connecticut. Michael’s will directed that the animals living at the ranch be sent to the best homes possible, but many of the animals ended up at sanctuaries without the same money and resources that Michael had to devote to animal care.
6. Michael Jackson Slept in an Oxygen Tank
One of the activities that got Michael the nickname of “Whacko Jacko” was his purchase of an oxygen chamber. He once claimed that sleeping in the chamber could help him live to 150 years old, which is only a century short of the pop icon’s death at age 50. While filming an advertisement for Pepsi, Michael was burned and used a chamber to recover from the accident. An oxygen chamber is designed to allow someone to breathe in 100% oxygen instead of the low concentration humans breathe in regular atmospheric conditions.
It’s possible that Michael’s interesting sleeping accommodations wouldn’t have raised eyebrows today since the idea of sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber has gained acceptance among athletes like Tim Tebow, who apparently travels with an oxygen chamber while traveling for football games. Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong was once known to sleep in an oxygen tent; however, some suspect his use of the oxygen tent was to hide his doping activities. Although oxygen chambers have been used to combat conditions like carbon monoxide poisoning and anemia, their usefulness for athletes has not yet been proven.
In the 1980s, Michael made a hefty donation to a local hospital in Los Angeles, which allowed the medical facility to buy an oxygen chamber that he could use for his recovery. He later said he planned to buy one of his own and eventually bought the machine from the hospital. According to recent reports, the oxygen chamber was acquired by a company named OxyHeal. Proponents of oxygen chambers say that spending time in one can slow the aging process by promoting growth of aging cells.
5. Over One Billion People Watched Michael’s Memorial
Although it depends on the source, most estimates suggest that around a billion people around the worldwatched Michael Jackson’s memorial when it aired in 2009. Most of the time, sports broadcasts reign supreme as far as most-watched television programs are concerned. For example, the Super Bowl has the most records for total viewers in the United States while Germany’s biggest audiences watch FIFA World Cup games. A total of 19 networks around the United States aired the memorial, and official ratings company Nielsen reported that over 31 million people tuned in to watch.
In addition, the memorial scored large audiences in Europe where it was broadcast during the prime time hours. Over seven million people watched the broadcast on various BBC networks in the UK, and a variety of other countries like Germany, Australia, and France also aired the memorial. Many more millions of people reportedly chose to stream the memorial through the internet, and major websites reported huge spikes in traffic after the memorial was streamed online. For example, CNN said its memorial stream got over 80 million page views and a whopping 9.7 million streams. Other big internet news names like MSNBC, Fox News, and Yahoo News all also reported millions of live video streams.
In a sign that his fans weren’t yet ready to give him up, Michael Jackson’s Facebook page became the most liked page on the social media website shortly after his death. Before Michael’s page took the number one spot, the only page with more “likes” was the page of President Barack Obama. Just after his death, two of Michael’s albums rose to the top of the sales charts, and the top 10 songs on iTunes included four Michael Jackson songs.
4. Some of Michael’s First Audiences Were in Strip Clubs
When Michael started his career as a child with his brothers as the Jackson Five, the clan’s father was willing to have them perform almost anywhere to get them exposure with new audiences. Oddly, some of the first stages on which Michael sang were in strip clubs. The Jackson Five’s first promoted song was called “Big Boy,” which was released in 1968. Many of the performances of this early hit took place in strip clubs at night after the boys had already had a full day of school. Michael was just five or six years old at the time of these performances.
The newspaper “The Guardian” reported some fairly lurid details about the early years Michael spent touring with the Jackson Five. According to the information that came out after Michael’s death, the singer usually shared a motel room with two of his older brothers, Jermaine and Marlon. Reportedly, Jermaine would bring fans back after the show, and Michael and his brother were supposed to feign sleep no matter what happened in the room. This very early exposure to adult activities meant Michael never really had a healthy view of women and relationships, particularly when combined with performances at age five in strip clubs.
Over the years, Michael would have several failed relationships and marriages. In the 1990s, he was married to Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of Elvis, for less than two years. After divorcing Lisa, he married the assistant of his dermatologist, a woman named Debbie Rowe. The pair would have two children together, but they would divorce in 1999 with Jackson gaining full custody of the kids. Audio recordings of Michael that were released after his death revealed the star had romantic feelings for his good friend, Elizabeth Taylor.
3. Michael Wanted to Advertise with a Giant Robot
One of the most devastating parts of Michael Jackson’s early passing is the enthusiasm and ideas he had for his comeback tour and how none of those plans ever made it to fruition. Known for his crazy stunts and spending habits, one of the strangest ideas to come out before his death was a giant 50-foot robot that would walk around Las Vegas to advertise a Las Vegas show to people landing at the local airport. Before settling on his “This is It” tour, Michael had been planning a show in Las Vegas, and the robot would welcome people to town as they arrived by airplane.
The initial plans for a giant robot were drawn up in 2007, but the Las Vegas show never came to fruition for a variety of reasons. Michael had just come out of his third trial for child molestation, and while he was acquitted, he had problems securing funding for a new show in Las Vegas. Investors were nervous about partnering with Michael because of his legal troubles. At the time, Michael’s money problems also extended to his Neverland Ranch, which was eventually sold off as debt to a financier.
The idea for the robot and its subsequent promotion to potential investors was meant to draw money in for Michael’s Las Vegas show. The robot was supposed to show investors that Michael still had big ideas and was ready to stage a comeback show in Sin City. After his failure to raise enough money to put on his Vegas show, Michael moved on and started planning his “This is It” tour that would begin with several shows in London. Unfortunately, Michael died while preparing for that tour.
2. Michael Jackson Didn’t Invent the Moonwalk
Some of Michael Jackson’s dance moves were as famous as his songs, and the moonwalk was definitely one of his most famous creations. However, Michael Jackson didn’t invent the moonwalk. The artist first unveiled what would become one of his signature dance moves in 1983 during a taping for a television show. Given Michael’s incredible stage presence and performances, it’s not hard to assume Michael created the move in the early 1980s. However, in the decades since he made it famous, a variety of performers have revealed that they, too, used the move decades before Michael ever used it on stage.
Over the years, different stories have been told to describe how Michael came to use the move in his show. Michael’s brother, Jermaine, once said that Michael made his dance moves up on the spot and that they weren’t usually rehearsed before they were performed. On the other hand, his sister, LaToya, said that the move came from a dance that kids were performing for fun in the streets at the time and that Michael actually got lessons from a backup dancer named Jeffrey Daniel, who already knew how to do the moonwalk. Before Michael started doing the moonwalk on stage, it was called “the backslide.”
When Michael wrote his autobiography, he admitted that he’d already been practicing the moonwalk in his kitchen before the fateful television appearance where he debuted the dance move. He echoed LaToya’s suggestion that the move originally came from street kids who were performing in the ghetto. Interestingly, the kids who Michael credited with teaching him the dance move were actually older than Michael and hadn’t been kids for quite some time.
1. Michael Jackson Only Admitted to Having Two Plastic Surgeries
Michael’s dramatic changes in appearance over the years were reportedly due to frequent visits to the plastic surgeon, but he only ever admitted to having two surgeries. Depending on the source, some say Michael had somewhere around a dozen procedures while other sources actually claim he had over 100 operations. While alive, Michael only admitted to having a nose job and work on his chin, and he blamed his strangely white skin on a condition called vitiligo. Although gossip surrounding his skin color was common during his lifetime, an autopsy revealed the singer did indeed suffer from the skin pigmentation ailment.
An interview in “People” magazine with a Los Angeles plastic surgeon named Dr. Wallace Goodstein said the King of Pop came into the office frequently for procedures. Goodstein only worked for about two years at the office where Michael’s doctor practiced, but he said Michael came in for around a dozen procedures in that short time. Procedures Michael allegedly had included many nose jobs, the insertion of a cleft into his chin, and implants in his cheeks. Jackson would never arrive for his surgeries during the day and had his doctor do the procedures in the evenings when no one was likely to see the pop star at the office.
J. Randy Taraborrelli, who wrote Michael’s biography, said Michael had his first rhinoplasty in 1979 after an accident during a dance routine. Apparently, the procedure made it difficult for Michael to breathe, so he had another rhinoplasty in 1981. However, conflicting reports from Michael’s family members, his alleged doctors, and his own autobiography have made it impossible to confirm what procedures Michael had and how many nose jobs he underwent. Besides his nose job, the only other surgery Michael admitted to was getting the chin cleft.
In life and in death, Michael Jackson has remained one of the biggest entertainers ever to perform on stage. At the time of his passing in 2009, Michael had sold over 200 million albums, as well as hundreds of millions of singles. The consummate performer, Michael was an exacting artist who demanded nothing but the best from himself and everyone around him each time he took the stage.
Estimates suggest Michael’s records brought in more than a half billion dollars during his lifetime, and several of his albums appear on lists of the best-selling albums of all time. Numbers suggest “Thriller” alone sold more than 50 million copies. His albums and work also won a mind-boggling 56 Grammy Awards, 68 American Music Awards, and 123 Billboard Awards.
Although his real-life antics turned him into fodder for the tabloids, even his odd reputation and all the weird rumors surrounding his lifestyle couldn’t make his fans abandon him. Even in death, Michael Jackson remains a true music legend.