US chart records and achievements.

  • michael-jackson-1970sJackson’s Thriller (1982) remained at number one on the Billboard 200 album chart for thirty-seven weeks, second only to the soundtrack for West Side Story. Thriller spent a record 80 consecutive weeks, more than a year and a half, in the Top 10 of the Billboard 200. It was the first of only four albums that have remained in the Top 10 for more than one year (along with Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill, Celine Dion’s Falling into You and Adele’s 21). It is the only album to have sold more copies in the United States than any other in two separate years, topping the sales charts in 1983 and 1984, and selling over 29 million copies to date. Worldwide, its sales total has been estimated at 110 million copies by Jackson’s management; independent sources give lower estimates, but there is consensus agreement that “Thriller” is the top-selling album in history.
  • Five of Jackson’s albums, Bad, Dangerous, HIStory, Invincible, and the soundtrack to Michael Jackson’s This Is It, debuted at number one in the United States.
  • Jackson was the first artist to chart four Top 10 singles from one album (Off the Wall).
  • Jackson was the first artist to chart seven Top 10 singles from one album (Thriller), a feat matched only by his sister Janet and Bruce Springsteen.
  • Jackson is the only male and the first artist to chart five number one hits from one LP, Bad (“Bad”, “The Way You Make Me Feel”, “Man in the Mirror”, “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”, and “Dirty Diana”).
  • Following changes in Billboard’s methodology, Jackson became the first artist to have a song debut at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 (“You Are Not Alone”).
  • In 2009 Jackson became the first artist in history to have four of the top 20 best selling albums in a single year in the United States.
  • Jackson has had 13 #1 singles on Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart, trailing only The Beatles (20), Mariah Carey (18) and Elvis Presley (18 or 17, depending on source). This total does not include “We Are the World”, co-written by Jackson and credited to USA for Africa, or the four #1 singles by The Jackson 5.
  • Jackson had 28 top ten hits on the Billboard Hot 100, one less than The Beatles (29), and trailing Elvis Presley (36) and Madonna (37).
  • When “Hold My Hand” reached the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100, Jackson became the first artist to have had Top 40 hits in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s, joining Ray Charles and The Four Seasons as a five-decade chart act. The Isley Brothers are the only act to have charted in the Hot 100 in six different decades. The Jackson Five’s first single debuted on the Hot 100 chart in mid-November 1969.
  • In June 11, 2011 “Hollywood Tonight” Became number one for 11 weeks on US Billboard Dance/Club Play Songs.

Iconic. Legendary. Renowned. Celebrated. Fabled. The One and Only…King Of Pop.

As we come up on the anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death, the sheer volume of acclaimed work by the Pop Star is staggering. The stats above are just a small part of his achievements in the US alone. The list is endless. It was never enough for Michael, the sign of true greatness. He pushed himself to the limit…and beyond. There was always more he wanted to achieve no matter what accolades he received. Perfection was the goal and he drove himself to exhaustion many times chasing that goal. Better songs, more innovative sounds, new mind blowing dance moves and Epic stage shows were the norm for Jackson. Too much was never enough.

If you grew up listening to The Jacksons and Michael like I did, you knew every song by heart and were totally captivated by the charismatic adorable front man of The Jackson Five. As great as the band was, Michael always stole the show. The killer smile, the amazing smooth moves and the cry in that unforgettable voice hypnotized you. Can’t Get Enough.

When an artist is a one in a million natural talent, they have a tendency to continuously compete with their own achievements. Insane long hour, days, and months of work ending in a triumph, only lead to depression and the feeling of failure. There isn’t enough love in the world to negate that feeling.

MichaelI caught part of a documentary several years ago that showed Michael’s dancers in the studio with his choreographer at the time. I was cleaning house and at first it was just background din that I hardly noticed. Then I became drawn into how complex and innovative the choreography was and how many hours it took for really skilled professional dancers to master the moves. They were exhausted. Since I’ve spent my life as a professional ballerina and choreographer I was hooked  at that point and house work took a back seat. Typically when I see dancers and choreography for pop stars, it’s just bump and grind; all flash and no substance. This was different. This was beautifully arranged movement designed for a high level of skill and interpretation. After about 6 hours the dancers were close and Michael entered the room to learn the piece. He said his brief hellos and had the choreographer show him the combinations. Once. Then the music started and Michael took his place in front of the dancers. He nailed every move on the spot and it wasn’t just that he got the choreography so quickly, he added finesse that made every other dancer on the stage disappear. It was mind blowing. I was spellbound and at that moment the level of his genius hit me. This man was not like us. I looked for that specific documentary later but never found the exact one. There have been many more since then, and some spliced together, so it is difficult to know where it originated. If anybody has a copy, hit me up! This was not Spike Lee’s documentary which is also quite powerful and worth watching.

One of the most ridiculous performances showcasing Michael’s genius as a dancer and performer is the 30th Billy Jean anniversary show at Madison Square Garden. Every move, every step is brilliantly thought out and executed. I found myself standing on my couch at the end of that performance like a crazed teenage groupie. I defy you to watch this performance and not be spellbound. Check out the breakdown and the dance moves the end. Have mercy! The suitcase alone is sheer genius.

Billy Jean is just one Jackson hit that is crazy off the hook groove and lyric that gets you up on your feet every time.

From Robert of The Radish, here is a list of Michael’s US number 1 hits from the billboard top 100.

  1. Ben
  2. Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
  3. Rock With You
  4. Billie Jean
  5. Beat It
  6. I Just Can’t Stop Loving You
  7. Bad
  8. The Way You Make Me Feel
  9. Man In The Mirror
  10. Dirty Diana
  11. Black Or White
  12. You Are Not Alone

That’s just in the US. Absorb that for a minute.

Here’s another list of Michael achievements. This is seriously endless the more you look. Of course ‘Thriller’ has to be highlighted.

Biggest Selling Album Of All Time – Guinness Book Of World Records
Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” Album is the biggest selling album of all time, with over 50 million copies sold worldwide. Thriller is also the biggest selling U.S album with sales of 25 million copies.

Two famous (and infamous) collaborators of Jackson’s were Berry Gordy and Quincy Jones. During Michael’s memorial service on July 7th 2009, Gordy called Jackson, “the greatest entertainer that has ever lived.” Gordy recognized Michael’s gift early on and became a mentor and father figure to Michael. Of course all the Jacksons were truly amazing but Michael was the one who caught Gordy’s attention. He started to mold Michael into a powerhouse singer and performer. Gordy had the innate ability to find the essence of an artist and bring it to it’s full potential. There is a unique gift in not only recognizing greatness but cultivating it. Gordy knew what he had and he wasn’t letting go. Now on Broadway we have Gordy’s “Motown The Musical.”

Source: The Hollywood Reporter – By David Rooney

Berry Gordy’s whirlwind chronicle of the barrier-breaking Detroit music empire that spawned Diana Ross, Michael Jackson and countless other greats opens on Broadway with massive advance box office of $16 million.

Even with all the success of The Jackson Five and Gordy’s steady guidance, Michael felt dissatisfied and wistful. He wasn’t fulfilled artistically and longed to find his own sound. He spent more and more time alone in the studio honing his signature sound and creating new ways to record and capture the music in his head. All of us who are musicians can relate to countless hours in the studio desperately searching for the instrument, effect, plug in or perhaps mistake that will eventually bring our concept to fruition. It can drive you mad searching, and letting go is nearly impossible. A life changing studio moment for me was when the brilliant producer/engineer  and studio designer, Wes Lachot was trying to convince me to give up a track for mixing. I hated the track and couldn’t let it go. He turned me around and said, ”you see all those reels of tape behind you on those shelves…those hundreds of projects were never finished by the artists. They are dead soldiers never to see the light of day.” There were so many of them. I stared amazed for about 5 minutes and then his point hit me. A recoding marks a moment in time, nothing more. Let it go to have it’s day in the sun. I don’t believe Michael Jackson ever felt that way about any of his recordings. He always wanted more.

Jackson’s search eventually led him to the great Quincy Jones. Michael was working on the movie ‘The Wiz.’ Jones asked Jackson if he would like him to produce his solo record. Jackson agreed and the result was, “Off The Wall”  which sold about 20 million copies and made Jones the most powerful record producer in the industry at that time. Jackson’s next solo project was ‘Thriller” which sold a  reputed 110 million copies and has become the highest-selling album of all time. What a masterpiece.

Following Jackson’s death on June 25Th 2009 Jones said, “I am absolutely devastated at this tragic and unexpected news. For Michael to be taken away from us so suddenly at such a young age, I just don’t have the words. Divinity brought our souls together on The Wiz and allowed us to do what we were able to throughout the ’80s. To this day, the music we created together on Off The Wall, Thriller and Bad is played in every corner of the world and the reason for that is because he had it all…talent, grace, professionalism and dedication. He was the consummate entertainer and his contributions and legacy will be felt upon the world forever. I’ve lost my little brother today, and part of my soul has gone with him.”

I met Quincy Jones briefly during an arts showcase where Scott Sawyer and Nnenna Freelon were performing. Jones was in town for the arts event. He was surprisingly quiet, calm and nondescript. He was very soft spoken and polite which sort of disarmed me. Not sure what I was expecting but I almost didn’t notice him. I’ve never been star struck working with so many dance greats from such a young age, but Jones demeanor caught me off guard. Interesting.

I’m sure in the studio was a different ballgame. Here is a very open interview from The Guardian with Jones.

Jones came up the hard way: born in Chicago to a schizophrenic mother and raised by a grandmother who liked to fry rat on a skillet. Mum re-enters his life story like the proverbial bad penny, at one point conspiring to stop his “devil’s music” by reporting Jones for non-payment of taxes. Her behavior was enough to make him say now: “I didn’t have a mother, so I had to make my own world. I started with four trumpets, four trombones, five saxes, drum, bass and piano – all doing something different.”

Fascinating man and incredible achievements. Funny how Jones wanted to shorten the Intro on Billie Jean but Michael insisted that it stay. Michael said it made him want to dance. Michael knew inherently, he always knew. Better than anyone else he knew. The mark of a visionary.

The details of Michael’s demise and death are tragic and painful and I choose not to read the gory details. He is gone. End of story. My one great regret is never being able to see him live. Tickets always sold out in an instant. Forget about it. If any of you saw one of Michael’s live performances, please share. What I want to know is, how did it make you feel?

To pay tribute to The King of Pop here is a performance that I’ll leave you with from Motown’s 25Th anniversary. The Jacksons performed with Michael including footage of The Original Jackson Five. Undeniable.

2 Responses to Undeniable

  1. scott alexander says:

    Michael was a phenomonal performer, he worked hard and is an example to us all, reguardless of your musical tastes. What a marvelous ceative soul, he will be missed. ( Wimpy).

  2. Shecky says:

    Love this article! Very nice. It is bewildering the level of the top artists in this music business in comparison to the Jackson empire. There is no comparison. Michael, Quincy, Diana and the whole Jackson family is something that has become so very special that it is as Ghezzi states,…. Undeniable! It doesn’t matter what genre you like, dislike, love or hate. Every true music lover knows Michael (with a bad reputation and all) is undeniably the King Of Pop.
    Thank you G!
    Shecky

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