Artist News

Michael Jackson estate champion the star’s charity work on ten year anniversary of his death

By | Published on Wednesday 26 June 2019

Michael Jackson

The estate of Michael Jackson yesterday issued a statement to mark the tenth anniversary of the death of the late king of pop, who died on 25 Jun 2009.

The ten year anniversary might have been commemorated in a more proactive fashion but for the ‘Leaving Neverland’ documentary that was broadcast earlier this year by HBO in the US and Channel 4 in the UK. That programme, of course, put a new spotlight on allegations of child abuse made against the pop star.

Despite the Jackson family and estate – and his fans – hitting out at the documentary and the two men who appear in it, the programme’s airing has undoubtedly impacted on public interest in the musician’s work. That public interest having initially boomed in the months after Jackson’s death in 2009.

One group of British Jackson fans in particular have been fighting back ever since ‘Leaving Neverland’ was aired via the website. They were behind the adverts that appeared in London earlier this year that showed Jackson with the word “innocent” over his mouth, alongside the slogan “facts don’t lie, people do”.

Although Transport For London initially allowed the team to buy advertising spots on the capital’s public transport network, it subsequently removed the ads “due to the public sensitivity and concern around their content”.

The same group this week marked the ten year anniversary of Jackson’s death with another series of posters. These don’t overtly reference the abuse allegations, instead featuring the line “Remembering the man, the music, the magic: Michael Jackson”. Although they do then point people to the site.

Presumably also seeking to counter all the bad press that the Michael Jackson brand has had to deal with this year, the estate’s statement – although including some brags about the commercial success of the star’s music – primarily hones in on his charity work. “We best remember Michael by paying tribute to his legacy of philanthropic work”, the statement declares.

“The true measure of Michael was his giving to others which came in many forms”, the estate writes. “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'”.

On more commercial matters, the statement bigs up Jackson’s “sixteen number one singles and eight number one albums in the US” and “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”.

But with the estate keen to focus on the “philanthropic work”, it concludes by asking fans to mark the anniversary of Jackson’s death by “[making] 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”.

Ten years ago today the CMU Daily contained no less than four stories all dealing with Jackson’s death, the tributes that had flooded in, and the commercial impact of his sudden passing, not least on the 50 night O2 residency that was due to begin just weeks later.

The fallout from Jackson’s premature death was significant. There were the criminal proceedings against his personal doctor Conrad Murray. The long-running legal battle between the Jackson family and AEG, promoter of those O2 shows. And the ‘This Is It’ movie that helped AEG recoup its losses from the cancelled residency.

Plus a flurry of lawsuits from Jackson’s former collaborators and the rise of the Jackson estate as a lucrative business and staunch defender of MJ’s legacy. Though that latter role has proven all the more challenging in the wake of ‘Leaving Neverland’.

Last September, as part of CMU’s 20th anniversary, we published a special edition of Setlist retelling the whole story called ‘The impact of the death of Michael Jackson’.