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Michael Jackson biography
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Produced by Jones, the recording spanned a number of pop genres—cannily enlisting rock guitar idol Eddie Van Halen to play a solo on "Beat It," for example, guaranteed access to listeners Jackson might not otherwise have reached—and fired a record-setting seven Top 10 singles up the charts, notably the title track, a duet with Paul McCartney titled “The Girl Is Mine,” the insinuating "Billie Jean," and the raucous "Beat It." The state-of-the-art videos that accompanied these singles, meanwhile, coincided with the sudden dominance of Music Television (MTV); Jackson's distinctive "Moonwalk" and overall visual panache (combined with brilliant choreography and lavish special effects) won him an even vaster audience. Thriller went on to become the bestselling album of all time and garnered an unprecedented eight Grammy Awards; Jackson also snagged a Grammy for his participation in the E.T.: The Extraterrestrial soundtrack album.
Jackson was a crucial player in the all-star benefit project We Are the World, which sought to combat hunger in Africa. In addition to his epochal solo work, he continued working with his brothers as part of The Jacksons; their 1984 "Victory" tour was a landmark of the decade.
Michael Jackson ruled the 1980s. Though his next album, Bad performed less spectacularly than did Thriller, it was a colossal hit by any other standard. He also racked up both music industry awards and honors from the United Negro College Fund, the NAACP, and even the president of the United States. He had his occasional bad moments—his head was burned during the shooting of a commercial for Pepsi cola, for which he had a lucrative endorsement deal, and speculation abounded that he lightened his skin and had plastic surgery to make himself look more "white”—but by and large his image as the world's most beloved entertainer was undimmed. Jackson’s memoir, Moonwalk, was adapted into a film in 1988. In 1990, the performance rights organization BMI presented the first Michael Jackson award—to its namesake.
In early 1991, Michael’s sister and fellow pop star Janet Jackson announced that she had scored the biggest record deal in history early. One week later, Michael announced his new Sony contract, which made Janet's look paltry by comparison. His 1991 release Dangerous, however, did not perform to expectations. Some controversy was generated by the fact that Jackson reportedly only granted his innovative "Black or White" video to MTV on the condition that the network refer to him as the "King of Pop." A 1993 interview with talk-show host Oprah Winfrey, an unusual step for the press-shy Jackson, helped boost sales. Over time, the album performed impressively; again, only the standards previously set by Jackson himself cast any doubt on its popularity. He was showered in laurels in 1993, including a Living Legend Award at the Grammys and, more controversially, the Humanitarian of the Year trophy at the Soul Train Awards. Yet Jackson's reputation as an androgynous recluse who lived in a state of perpetual adolescence—rumors of his Peter Pan-like life and hobbies at his sprawling ranch and amusement park, “Neverland,” abounded—only increased.
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