By Radio.com Staff
Michael Jackson was in no uncertain terms a legend. His impression on pop music is so deep and well-defined that without a doubt his music will live on throughout the rest of history. But when you have a career as timeless as MJ’s, everything around him becomes that much more ephemeral in perspective. Especially, all the news.
Since his passing five years ago, posthumous Michael Jackson has been in the headlines arguably more than in the five years before his death. There was the world-wide event of his funeral, the sensationalism surrounding the exact cause of his death, his two posthumous albums, the hologram, the seamy family drama, the wack-jobs (always the wack-jobs) and speculative and inflammatory tabloid gossip.
The news, the blogs, the stories, the rumors surrounding Jackson can’t topple something like Bad or Thriller or The Moonwalk or “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’.” Nonetheless, here are some of the biggest stories around Michael, fives years after his death.
It’s par for the course for a celebrity death to light up social media, but what happened when Michael Jackson died was unprecedented. For approximately 30 minutes following the announcement of his death Google searches for his name were disrupted, based on the high volume of search. People searching for the news also brought down TMZ, Perez Hilton, Wikipedia, the Los Angeles Times and AOL’s Instant Messenger. Twitter crashed multiple times. For some, Google was entirely unreachable. Michael Jackson effectively crashed Google for some people. A spokesperson for Google said the search for the story at its peak was “volcanic.”
Jackson’s funeral was carried live on 18 networks, which in itself was unusual. That is not something generally done for celebrities, but rather reserved for heads of state. That over 31 million people watched was record-breaking itself. It placed him only below the burial of President Reagan and Princess Diana’s funeral.
Fans who never got to experience a live performance by Michael Jackson were treated to just that at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards. The stage was custom-built, the choreography included his trademark moonwalk and the design was based on Jackson’s circa 1991 look — appropriate, as that’s when this track was originally recorded.
This is one of the more surprising stories from the halls of Jackson history. His manager from the Off The Wall and Thriller-era wrote a memoir in which he confessed that he and LaToya Jackson hatched a plan in 2006 to abduct Michael for the purposes of taking him to rehab. He was allegedly addicted to painkillers. The plan came to a quick end when LaToya pulled out.
Obviously the world lost a beloved pop star when Michael Jackson died, but some fans felt they deserved more. So a group of five French fans banded together and decided to sue Conrad Murray—the doctor who administered a lethal dose of anesthesia to their favorite pop star—for emotional damages. Surprisingly, they won. Each fan was awarded one Euro for their pain and suffering.
On June 5, 2013, Jackson’s then 15-year-old daughter Paris made headlines after swallowing pills and cutting herself in a suicide attempt. The reason? Rumors included not being allowed to attend a Marilyn Manson concert as well as finding out she and her older brother Prince don’t share the same biological father. Manson for his part told Paris, “You will be on my guest list anytime you want.”
When people say that celebrities are “just like us!’ they’re not talking about Michael Jackson. Fans got a big, juicy glimpse into Jackson’s strange and fascinating world when two members of his security detail, Bill Whitfield and Javon Beard, released the book Remember the Time: Protecting Michael Jackson in His Final Days. Stories included angry siblings, a secret girlfriend, shopping at Walmart and security concerns. The King of Pop “trusted no one” and “didn’t sleep much,” Whitfield said.
Four years after his death, Jackson was once again headline news thanks to a new $40 billion wrongful death lawsuit that was brought by Jackson’s mother Katherine against concert promoter AEG Live. Her claim was that AEG was negligent in hiring Jackson’s embattled caretaker, Dr. Conrad Murray, and that the concert promoter severely pressured Jackson surrounding his planned series of comeback shows in London. AEG, however, claimed Jackson hired Murray.
Two years before the infamous elevator battle between Jay Z and Solange Knowles, security camera footage surfaced that caught members of Jackson’s family in the midst of a bitter feud. The incident allegedly involved siblings Janet, Jermaine and Randy Jackson trying to convince Jackson’s two oldest kids, Paris and Prince, to leave the home of their guardian, Katherine Jackson, who at the time was missing. The kids resisted. “Gotta love fam,” daughter Paris tweeted.
The unveiling of a statue of the late King of Pop isn’t in itself unusual. But when a Jackson statue appeared in 2011 outside football stadium Craven Cottage in London, public opinion was immediately split. “We’re a laughing-stock. It has nothing to do with football,” one fan said at the time. “I thought it was an April Fools joke,” said another. Fulham chairman Mohammed Al Fayed, who’d commissioned the statue and originally planned it for department store Harrod’s, said naysayers were “stupid” and could “go to hell.” The statue was removed two years later—a move that Al Fayed then said was unlucky, as it marked the start of a losing stream for the Fulham team. “This statue was a charm and now we have to pay the price,” he said.