The estate of Michael Jackson has released a statement on the tenth anniversary of the entertainer’s untimely death.
“Ten years ago today, the world lost a gifted artist and extraordinary humanitarian,” the statement begins. “The entire global community joined in grieving during a powerful and emotional memorial service witnessed by more people than had ever viewed a live event before.”
Jackson died June 25, 2009 of acute Propofol intoxication at age 50. At the time of his death, he had been prepping for his comeback concert residency This Is It at London’s O2 Arena.
“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,” the statement continues. “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.”
Jackson initially rose to fame as a member of The Jackson 5, a pop group also composed of his older brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon. The band scored four No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 before Michael — widely considered the group’s breakout star — launched a solo career with the release of the 1971 single “Got to Be There.” His fifth solo album, 1979’s Off the Wall, peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and was eventually certified 8 x platinum by the RIAA.
Over the next decade, Jackson would rise to become the biggest pop star on the planet, eventually racking up six No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 and 13 No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 including 1995’s “You Are Not Alone,” the first single in history to debut at No. 1 on that chart.
The peak of Jackson’s fame arrived with his 1982 solo album Thriller, which notched 37 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 — the second-longest run of any album in history on the chart behind only the West Side Story soundtrack, which netted 54 weeks at the top. Thriller also represented a breakthrough moment for black artists in the early days of MTV, whose playlist remained largely white until videos for Jackson singles including “Billie Jean,” “Beat It” and the title track (the only music video ever inducted into the National Film Registry) came to dominate the network.
Though Jackson’s career as a hit-maker had long been dormant at the time of his death — his final studio album, 2001’s Invincible, suffered from disappointing sales — his passing saw a renewed wave of interest in his work, and a number of posthumous releases followed, including the This Is It soundtrack album, 2009’s The Definitive Collection, 2010’s Michael, the 2011 remix album Immortal and the video album Michael Jackson’s Vision. In 2014, the posthumous Cirque du Soleil concert tour Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour ended its three-year run as the eighth highest-grossing concert tour in history, with a final gross of $360 million.
More recently, Jackson’s already-checkered legacy has been further complicated by the airing of the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland, which saw two adult men — James Safechuck and Wade Robson — alleging that the singer had molested them as children (both men separately sued the singer’s estate prior to participating in the documentary). In the wake of Leaving Neverland‘s release, the Michael Jackson estate sued the network, claiming the documentary effectively breached a non-disparagement clause in a previous contract Jackson signed with HBO for his 1992 concert special Michael Jackson in Concert in Bucharest: The Dangerous Tour.
Jackson had been accused of sexually abusing children twice during his lifetime. In 1993, he was investigated by the LAPD over claims he had molested a 13-year-old boy named Jordan Chandler, though the case was dropped when Chandler refused to cooperate (a separate civil case filed by the boy’s parents was eventually settled out of court for $23 million). Over a decade later, the 2003 documentary Living With Michael Jackson — in which the entertainer admitted to sharing his bedroom with an underage cancer patient named Gavin Arvizo — kicked off a criminal investigation that resulted in charges he had molested the then-14-year-old. Following a four-month trial, Jackson was found not guilty in that case in June 2005.
You can read the full statement from the Michael Jackson estate below.
Ten years ago today, the world lost a gifted artist and extraordinary humanitarian. The entire global community joined in grieving during a powerful and emotional memorial service witnessed by more people than had ever viewed a live event before. Messages of condolences from Nelson Mandela and others were read as was a poem written for the occasion by the esteemed Maya Angelou. Berry Gordy Jr., founder of Motown, eulogized his protégé by saying, “…the King of Pop is not big enough for him. I think he is simply the greatest entertainer that ever lived.” 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.
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. He comforted the unfortunate at hospitals, in long term care facilities and at halfway houses. He equipped Neverland Ranch with medical facilities to accommodate patients seeking refuge from their lonely hospital rooms, and thousands came. He visited troops on bases around the world serving their country. Guinness World Records acknowledged his efforts with an award for Most Charities Supported by a Pop Star.
In a world where numbers are the measure of a man, Michael Jackson is a resounding success, whether by his 16 #1 singles and 8 #1 albums in the US or the fact that his album Thriller is owned by more people on the planet than any album ever made and Thriller the short film is the only music video to have been inducted into the National Film Registry. And when mastery of a craft is the measure, Michael Jackson’s divine abilities remain the yardstick by which others are measured and against which today’s masters still measure themselves.
But 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 honor Michael.
– The Estate Of Michael Jackson