10 years after his death, remembering Michael Jackson’s most iconic moments

Tuesday, June 25, 2019 marks the 10th anniversary of Michael Jackson‘s death.

The late singer died at the age of 50 in his rented L.A. mansion. He was rushed to hospital after suffering a cardiac arrest, which was brought on by a number of prescription drugs administered by his physician, Dr. Conrad Murray.

Jackson was known as the King of Pop, and with four decades worth of smash-hit pop music, he made an incredibly positive impact on the world of music.

Between 1979 and 1991, Jackson released hit after hit on each album, from Off the Wall to Dangerous, and was nothing short of a worldwide musical sensation. With record-defying success and an untouchable music career, the singer was practically invincible.

Michael Jackson performs on stage at the taping of the American Bandstand’s 50th — A Celebration! on May 3, 2002.

He may have been untouchable for a time, but Jackson’s favourable public reputation began to dwindle once the first sexual abuse allegation was made against him in 1993, and his personal life and career began to derail.

To this day, fans and followers remain divided on their opinions of the singer and the allegations against him, and Jackson’s lifelong legacy continues to be at stake — most notably with HBO’s recent and highly controversial four-hour documentary, Leaving Neverland, which aimed to expose the allegations against the singer.

Ahead of his unexpected death and after a multi-year hiatus, Jackson was gearing up for a massive global comeback: the This is It residency, which was scheduled for 50 dates between 2009 and 2010 at London’s O2 Arena.

He made the iconic announcement on March 9, 2009 at a televised press conference in front of more than 3,000 fans, with hundreds of thousands more watching across the planet.

The This is It residency was revealed to be his final series of concert dates, and while they unfortunately never took place, Jackson’s announcement proved that he was missed by many.

Here are some more of Jackson’s most iconic moments throughout his career (in chronological order):

1. Thriller

Sure, the 12-minute long, John Landis-directed music video was incredibly choreographed, slightly terrifying and unforgettable overall, but the album itself, Thriller, defined a generation.

It was Jackson’s sixth solo album overall and was released through Columbia/Epic Records on Nov. 30, 1982. It was the first album to be certified 30 times platinum.

Of its nine tracks, seven became hit singles, which all reached the Top 10 in the U.S., including Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ and The Girl is Mine, which featured former Beatles bassist and singer Paul McCartney.

From Eddie Van Halen‘s roaring guitar solo on Beat It to narration from late American horror legend Vincent Price, Thriller had it all. It became the bestselling record of all time a little more than a year after its release.

As of this writing, Thriller is estimated to have sold more than 66 million copies worldwide. It is the second-highest selling album in the U.S. after The Eagles‘ Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) compilation.

2. Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever

On May 16, 1983, Jackson changed the course of dancing and music choreography altogether.

During his appearance on the Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever television special, the singer reunited with his older brothers for an energetic Jackson 5 medley. It was their first time performing together in more than eight years.

The comeback performance was followed by a blazing hot rendition of Jackson’s timeless classic, Billie Jean.

At the time, Billie Jean was brand new, and Jackson was at the height of his career. But once he debuted the legendary “moonwalk,” it skyrocketed even further. His slick and seemingly unreal dance moves wowed the world and became a staple in his live performances for the rest of his life.

The choreography, however, was incomplete without Jackson’s iconic outfit that night. He took the stage with a black fedora, sequin jacket and his trademark white, crystal-embellished glove. According to CNN, Jackson’s glove was made by a friend so that he could hide his vitiligo — a rare skin condition that the singer supposedly had.

The legendary glove sold at a 2009 auction for US$350,000 according to Reuters.

3. Pepsi commercial incident

While it may not have been a glamorous moment for Jackson, it was one that changed his life.

On Jan. 27, 1984 while filming for an upcoming Pepsi commercial, Jackson suffered second-degree burns to his scalp after being set on fire by faulty pyrotechnics. Us Weekly obtained a video of the incident in 2009.

Unfortunately, the singer was not aware his hair was on fire until it reached his scalp directly. He continued to dance and he really put everything into it. It goes to show that he truly was dedicated to his art.

A team of people ran to Jackson and tackled him to the ground as he spun around to help extinguish the flames. He emerged with a bald patch on his head and was rushed to the hospital immediately.

This incident marked the beginning of long-lasting pain and a subsequent addiction to painkillers, as reported by the CBC.

4. Black or White music video premiere

On Nov. 11, 1991, Black or White dropped. It was the first and lead single for Jackson’s then-upcoming eighth studio album, Dangerous (1991).

It’s one of Jackson’s more rock ‘n’ roll-influenced songs and tackles the issue of discrimination by blending music genres. Its lyrical content promotes racial harmony and coming together as one, rather than profiling and dividing people based on race or religion. It has a killer music video, too.

Only three days later, the epic music video premiered on hundreds of channels across the world, including MTV, BET and even VH1.

Better yet, it was Landis’ second video cut with Jackson and the first of many short films made for the Dangerous record. The iconic video also promotes diversity and equality and featured a Home Alone-era Macaulay Culkin as a misunderstood and youthful rocker.

More than 500 million viewers tuned in from nearly 30 different countries, making it the biggest music video debut of all time. On Nov. 14, 1991, the world stopped to watch Jackson again.

5. Super Bowl XXVII halftime show

The 27th annual Super Bowl took place on Jan. 31, 1993 and saw the Buffalo Bills take on the Dallas Cowboys (and lose).

In the hopes of promoting Super Bowl XXVII, the NFL invited Jackson to perform as the headlining act for its highly anticipated halftime show, and their plan worked.

In the midst of the game, Jackson burst out of the centre of the Rose Bowl arena in Pasadena, Calif., and left the nearly 100,000-person crowd in a frenzy for almost two minutes while he stood as still as a stone.

The singer then broke out into song and dance. His fantastically choreographed medley featured cuts from Jam, Billie Jean, Black or White, Heal the World and the 1985 USA for Africa single, We Are the World — which was backed by a choir made up of nearly 3,500 children.

The 12-minute performance pulled an estimated 133.4 million viewers, according to the Washington Post, setting a brand-new record for the Super Bowl and inspiring the 26 years of halftime shows that followed.

These are only some of Jackson’s most memorable moments.

To celebrate the life and legacy of the showman 10 years after his passing, the Jackson estate issued a lengthy statement for his fans on Tuesday morning, as reported by Billboard.

“Ten years ago today, the world lost a gifted artist and extraordinary humanitarian,” the statement reads. “United in grief, the world wept not only at the loss of an artistic genius but at the void left by the loss of a father, son and brother.”

Michael Jackson in an undated file photo.

“A decade later, Michael Jackson is still with us, his influence embedded in dance, fashion, art and music of the moment. He is more important than ever. But the true measure of Michael was his giving to others, which came in many forms,” the statement continues.

“We best remember Michael by paying tribute to his legacy of philanthropic work and ask music fans everywhere to make a difference in their community, whether it’s planting a tree, volunteering at a shelter, cleaning up a public space or helping someone who is lost find their way.

“‘I believe each person can make a difference in the life of someone in need,’ he said. This is how we honour Michael.”

To this day, the truth about the allegations against Jackson remains unknown, however the singer was never found guilty of any crime in a court of law.

Jackson denied all sexual assault accusations throughout his life, and since his death, he’s been unable to defend himself in the court of public opinion.

Murray was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of the singer in 2011. He was sentenced to four years in prison but was released after two years for good behaviour.

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