Once in a Lifetime: Michael Jackson, Madonna and Prince

the big 80

In the Beginning…

The waters flowing through the Great Lakes region were magical in the spring and summer of 1958, as the births of Prince, Madonna and Michael Jackson all occurred within a mere two months of each other. Prince Rogers Nelson was born June 7 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, followed by Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone on August 16 in Detroit, Michigan, and Michael Joseph Jackson nearly two weeks later on August 29 in Gary, Indiana. Each of these musical innovators would become household names, putting their stamp on pop culture in their own, unique ways. While these artists’ styles and work have been compared and contrasted for decades, what’s often overlooked is the impact their formative years had on their young, developing minds, and ultimately their sense of self and worldview.

The precocious trifecta of future megastars grew up in devoutly religious households: Madonna’s family was Roman Catholic; the Jacksons were members of the Jehovah’s Witness faith; and Prince was raised as a Seventh-day Adventist. A foundational religious discipline would easily lend itself to the establishment of a strict and rigorous work ethic later in life. Each of these rising talents would have a pivotal childhood heartbreak, which forced them to grow up quickly and discover creative ways to cope with emotional trauma. At the age of 5, Madonna would lose her mother to breast cancer, never to regain the unconditional love and bond of a maternal figure. And at the age of 6, Michael Jackson would become the lead singer of the Jackson 5, forcing him out of the playground into the working world of show business. Prince’s parents would separate and divorce before he was 10 years old, leaving his family broken and home life scattered.

All three entertainers had strained relationships with their fathers, which would inspire some of their future work: In Prince’s movie, Purple Rain, we see his character grappling with a critical and abusive father and in Madonna’s autobiographical single “Oh Father,” she laments: “You can’t hurt me now, I got away from you, I never thought I would.”

CglvVHjWYAA_ZBK

Baby I’m a Star!

Budding stardom was recognized early on for these recording artists.

Michael Jackson stepped into entertainment at the age when most kids are making milestones in kindergarten. Led by his father/manager, Michael grew up on the road, in the studio and on the stage. “I am most comfortable on stage than any other place in the world,” he shared in a 1980 interview on the TV program 20/20. Michael recorded his first album with the Jackson 5, Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5, at the age of 11. Being a part of the Motown family at an impressionable age allowed Michael to learn from some of the greats — backstage at the Apollo watching legendary James Brown and Jackie Wilson captivate audiences with their soulful singing and breathtaking choreography, and in the studio quizzing producers on how the recording process works. By the age of 20, Michael would produce 15 more studio albums with the Jackson 5, and later the Jacksons, developing and perfecting his vocal style, dance skills and songwriting abilities, before the release of his smash hit, solo album debut, Off the Wall, at the age of 21.

Prince taught himself to play the piano at age 7, the guitar at age 13, and the drums at age 14. And at 14 years old, Prince began performing throughout Minneapolis with a local band called Grand Central. Three years later, Prince would have a masterful dexterity of 27 musical instruments and create his first demo tape of songs that he wrote, produced, performed and arranged himself. This demo would lay the foundation for Prince’s debut album, For You, released two months before his 20th birthday.

Madonna began studying dance at age 14. She was a stellar student, graduated high school, and continued her dance education at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor in 1976. After two years, Madonna moved to the Big Apple, where she studied for a short time with the Alvin Ailey dance troupe and worked as a professional dancer for two years. Madonna added singing to her artistic mix, and began performing as a singer and backup dancer. “I studied very hard on learning how to play guitar, and piano, and drums, everything, and then I started writing music, and I got my own band together, made a demo tape, took it around to the record companies and got my record deal,” said Madonna in a 1983 radio interview with Paris DJ Stephen. Madonna released two disco club hit singles, “Everybody” and “Burning Up/Physical Attraction” before getting a recording contract to produce a full album. Five years after leaving Michigan for New York City, Madonna’s self-titled debut album was released in July1983. She was 24 years old.

For all three rising solo artists from the Midwest, with their follow-up albums, they would skyrocket to global fame, define ‘80s pop culture, dominate the MTV music video landscape with their groundbreaking, uniquely stylized fusion of video storytelling through song and dance, break world records, color barriers and forever influence pop artists for generations to come.

With Michael Jackson’s sophomore solo album, Thriller, he would enter the Guinness Book of World Records for the Greatest Selling Album of All Time (over 65 million copies sold). Michael would continue to break world records, receiving an additional 30 Guinness World Records, including Most Successful Entertainer of All Time. Madonna would receive the Guinness World Record for the Greatest Selling Female Recording Artist of All Time. Prince would be the only one of the three to receive an Oscar for Best Original Song Score for “Purple Rain.” Prince would tie the record for 12 consecutive years with a Top 10 pop single on the Billboard 100 charts in the U.S. Globally, Prince has sold over 150 million albums, Madonna over 300 million and Michael over 750 million.

Working Day and Night

The artistic and creative gifts of Michael Jackson, Madonna and Prince are innate in their DNA: Michael’s mother, Katherine, was a singer and pianist and his father, Joseph, was a guitarist with his own band, The Falcons, before he began to focus full throttle on developing the talent of his sons. Prince’s mother, Mattie, was a jazz singer and his father, John, was a jazz pianist and songwriter with his own group, The Prince Rogers Nelson Trio. “Prince Rogers Nelson” was a stage name for John Nelson. Prince’s late father said that he had named his son Prince because he wanted the artist to be a musician, like him. And, Madonna’s mother, Madonna Louise Ciccone, was formerly a dancer.

However, the epic success of all three icons would have been impossible without a relentless work ethic and a drive for excellence. “Study the greats, and become greater!” was one of Michael’s many mantras. R&B was an influence for these artists. Both Michael and Prince said that James Brown was one of their inspirations and exemplars — from the command of his band, his trademark original sound, and legendary choreography. And Hitsville U.S.A. struck a major chord with the Material Girl. “Motown is a really big influence with me ‘cause I grew up in Detroit, and I listened to all those old, Motown groups,” said Madonna in a 1983 interview with DJ Stephen on Radio Show.

NBA great Kobe Bryant discussed Michael Jackson’s work ethic in a 2016 Jimmy Kimmel Live interview: “He showed me how he composed songs, how he structured them, how he trained, who inspired him…He walked me step by step through things that he learned from [his influences] and how it made him a better entertainer. How he studied the Beatles, how he broke down every single note and felt like there was a certain emotional connection with each chord. It was just fascinating stuff. I thought I was working hard until I met him.”

In a 2016 ew.com interview, hit-making producer Jimmy Jam shared the following about Prince’s work ethic: “… He out-talented everyone by so much. In sports, it’d be like Michael Jordan. He walks into the gym and he’s the most talented player; that’s how Prince was. He walked in and he was more talented than everybody…He’d come to rehearsal, work with us, go work with his band, then he’d go to his studio all night and record. The next night he’d come to rehearsal with a tape in his hand and he’d say, ‘This is what I did last night!’ and it’d be something like ‘1999.’”

And celeb trainer Nicole Winhoffer told eoline.com in 2014: “Madonna stands as an icon. Her body, work ethic, and persistence is an inspiration to the people.”

Express Yourself

“It’s my own style. Unique and original. You won’t see it anywhere else.”
—Madonna, Paris interview with DJ Stephen on Radio Show (1983)

“I strive for originality in my work. And, hopefully it will be perceived that way.”
—Prince, first television interview on MTV (1985)

“My attitude is if fashion says it’s forbidden, I’m going to do it. In many ways an artist is his work, it’s difficult to separate the two. I think I can be brutally objective about my work as I create it, and if something doesn’t work, I can feel it, but when I turn in a finished album – or song – you can be sure that I’ve given it every ounce of energy and God-given talent that I have.”
—Michael Jackson, the autobiography, Moonwalk (1988)

The greatest gift that Madonna, Prince and Michael Jackson have given to the world is their unique, artistic voice. Their collective ability to masterfully blend music, dance, live performance, music videos, film and fashion to create artistic expressions that resonated across generations and countries is unparalleled. Their influence on our culture is multi-dimensional, transformative and everlasting. The world before Madonna, Prince and Michael was one in which we’d watch artists sing and perform, and we might sing along to their music. When Madonna, Prince and Michael each had their meteoric rise in the ‘80s — and declared they were originals, were going to push boundaries, yet also perform with a level of creativity and innovation never before seen — they created a deeper level of engagement with their audience and the public. In addition to singing their songs, we began to emulate their dance moves and sartorial tastes. Their appeal was contagious, enchanting, universal and international: black, white, young, old, straight or gay, it was a cultural revolution, unlike any other:

* Madonna had young girls around the world wearing rubber bracelets, lots of lace, and big hair bows. Michael Jackson created a new look: a signature red leather jacket with black trim — the Thriller jacket — which sold internationally. And, how can we forget that purple became the most popular color on the planet, when Prince’s movie, Purple Rain, was released.

* Everyone wanted to perform the Moonwalk, seamlessly and flawlessly, just like Michael Jackson. Who didn’t attempt to do a full split and spin, after watching Prince do it in Purple Rain? Madonna introduced a formerly underground dance style performed at house balls for a mostly gay community, vogueing, to the mainstream.

Madonna, Prince and Michael will always be known as trendsetters and tastemakers. Yet, their bodies of work also move people’s spirits and emotions. Emanating from their creative expression are themes of freedom, rebellion, acceptance, inclusion, peace, joy, fun and romance. In their music and videos, they also tackle controversial topics such as race, religion, politics and sexuality.

Most of all, we find Madonna, Prince, and Michael likable and relatable, because we see and embrace their humanity, complexities and eccentricities. All three of them are cultural misfits, who never quite fit in, but somehow rose to the top and stayed there. They are our American heroes, the underdogs from Midwestern, working-class families who succeeded, against all odds. Prince was the short guy from Minneapolis who embraced androgyny and, despite his stature, was larger than life. In reality, Michael Jackson was shy, alone, and kept to himself. On stage, Michael Jackson was a breathtaking force — dynamic and otherworldly. Two distinctly different personas — offstage and onstage — within the same man. Madonna fought disappointment and loss from her youth with rebellion. She pushed her past aside, moved forward, always robustly, with a propensity for head-turning, over-the-top attire and behavior. In the imperfect, there lies perfection.

Prince Madonna Michael Jackson

Gone Too Soon

With the recent loss of Prince, it is hard to imagine that, like Michael Jackson, the new music will be coming from a vault. There will be no more live performances, cameo appearances, philanthropic projects or political statements to be made. That untouchable trifecta of musical titans from the Midwest were all supposed to live forever, if only to continue the soundtrack for an aging Generation X, much like how baby boomers still have the Rolling Stones. While the legacies of Prince and Michael will be timeless, up-and-coming artists will look to them for inspiration; the Purple One and the King of Pop are the ascended masters and reference points. The pain will linger in knowing that the creative environment that allowed these legends to flourish has vanished.

The industry has changed along with the way music is produced. Songs aren’t as rich as they used to be. Instruments have been overpowered by synthesizers, samples and beats. Auto-Tune has replaced raw vocals in the studio. New and emerging artists don’t have the freedom or flexibility to be daring and different. There is a marketing and promotional formula that must be followed — people aren’t even buying music like in previous decades, so budgets have dwindled for things like artist development. What will the next generation of pop artists look like? Will the pipeline to a recording contract be dominated by reality TV competitions? Could a young artist, who can play over two dozen musical instruments even fathom getting a record deal or complete creative control?

We can never deny that in their heyday Prince, Michael and Madonna, now the surviving member of the trifecta, shoved the envelope and set the bar for trend-setting music makers who came after them. Many may not appreciate or comprehend Madonna’s impact today, but that can’t diminish her influence. What’s next for the queen of reinvention? Whatever is on the horizon, like a prayer, she might just take us there.

Huffington post

Rare Michael Jackson video footage surfaces for “Is It Scary?”

While Michael Jackson was no stranger to making horror music videos, such as his epic videos “Thriller” and “Ghosts,” it appears there was another long form music video made by Jackson with a horror theme, penned by no other than Stephen King himself. Unfortunately, instead of becoming popular, this one faded away into obscurity, until now.

The video, “Is It Scary?” was originally meant to go along with the soundtrack for Addams Family Values, with King writing and horror director Mick Garris at the helm. But as happens in Hollywood, things didn’t go exactly according to plan, and the song ended up being dropped from the soundtrack. The song and video then ended up on the back burner with special-effects icon Stan Winston slated to complete it until it became the inspiration for the video and film short for “Ghosts.”

Garris, meanwhile, moved on to direct the TV miniseries of King’s famous book, The Shining, according to Blum House. No, that’s not the one with Jack Nicholson, but if you haven’t seen it, it’s definitely worth checking out.

Anyway, fans of Michael Jackson now have previously unreleased footage of the King of Pop thanks to the wonders of the Internet and YouTube, albeit in slightly rough form. According to comments on his Facebook page, Garris was as surprised as fans to see the video.

“I never guessed that this would ever be made public, but it seems to be everywhere now! I so wish we had been able to make this as it was intended.”

The released footage lacks some of the special-effects and the final editing but features Jackson making plenty of silly faces for a group of adults and children touring through a haunted mansion. That shoulds sound familiar, as the same premise was re-shot for the even more ambitious horror video by Jackson called “Ghosts,” running almost 40 minutes in its final edit.

“This was a REALLY rough early cut we did when I was directing this Michael Jackson film when it was called ‘IS THIS SCARY?’ (Three years later, it was greatly expanded and retitled ‘Michael Jackson’s GHOSTS’). It was before we ever got to the intended songs, as we never shot those. It was originally planned as promotion for ‘ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES.’ Stan Winston was in charge of the makeup and visual effects, and took over as director when I went off to make ‘THE SHINING.’ I have no idea how this got out, but it’s fascinating to revisit it all these years later. It became, and remains, by far the most expensive music video ever made. The original script was by Stephen King.”

“Is it Scary?” lasts more than 12 minutes, with Jackson not even making an appearance until around the halfway mark in the video, which is essentially a short horror film. Many fans were excited at getting some fresh material from their idol and proved that they are as devoted now as ever.

Se filtra las primeras escenas de lo que más tarde conoceríamos como GHOSTS de Michael Jackson. En el vídeo podemos ver otro reparto y las escenas vistas en el vídeo ya filtrado Seeing Voices. Finalmente, vemos a los hijos de Gomez de la Familia Addams, lo que confirma que ésta canción si hubiese sido parte del soundtrack de Addams Family Values ( La segunda parte de la Familia Addams ). NO TE LO PIERDAS!

Jermaine Jackson Talks Janet Jackson’s Pregnancy: She’ll Be a ‘Strict’ Mother

The 61-year-old former Jackson 5 star spoke to Us Weekly at the Thursday, May 12, Power Up Gala at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles. And he couldn’t contain his excitement at the news that his baby sister Janet, 49, was finally going to become a mother.

“My sister Janet is my baby. She is fine but she’s having a baby,” he said. “A baby having a baby. We look at her like our little baby. And now she’s grown-up and she’s having a baby. I’m proud to be an uncle and I can’t wait to see how this baby is going to look,” he said.

“She is feeling fine. Oh, my God! Janet loves to eat. I really don’t know what she’s craving, but I do know that she likes to eat!” he said.

And the future uncle has no doubt that the “Rhythm Nation” singer will be an awesome mother. “She’ll be a great mother because she is very tough, very strict,” he revealed. “I tell her, ‘If you need any parenting skills or any baby skills, let me know, because I’m the best diaper-changer there is on this planet, still to this day.'”

And it’s not just Jermaine who’s looking forward to meeting Janet’s new bundle of joy. Their late brother Michael Jackson’s kids are delighted about their future cousin too.

“Oh, yeah. Yeah!” the singer replied when asked whether Paris, Prince and Blanket were excited, before he was pulled away by his wife.

US magazine

What’s the difference between working with Prince and Michael Jackson? Spike Lee explains

spike-lee-2-640x0

Last night at the SVA Theater in New York City, legendary director Spike Lee broke down the music he has used in his 30 year directorial career as part of the Red Bull Music Academy Festival. He made sure the music videos he directed were referred to as short films. While showing scenes from his extensive canon, Lee’s stories of making short films with the late Prince and Michael Jackson revealed a vastly different working relationship with the two than previously known.

Lee directed Prince’s Money Don’t Matter 2 Night, from the late singer’s 1991 album Diamonds and Pearls, after receiving a surprise phone call from the Purple Rain singer. According to Lee, he never showed Prince a treatment or script for the music video, for a reason that would define their working relationship: Prince didn’t intend to be in the video. “We really didn’t work together,” Lee began with a business-like tone to his voice. “We worked together, but it wasn’t like we were in the same room.”

Prince became a bit more hands-on in later years, most notably in his contribution to the soundtrack of Lee’s 1996 film Girl 6. After presenting Prince with the script, the artist was fully committed to contributing, but not necessarily collaborating. “He wrote the title track for Girl 6. Then he said ‘go through my catalog and use any song you want.’”

Whereas Lee spoke very respectfully about Prince, his eyes lit up and his voice became noticeably more animated recounting the extensive story of working on the short film for Jackson’s They Don’t Really Care About Us single, from his 1995 album HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I. “I told him I live in Fort Greene. This is before gentrification. He said ‘I’ll come to Fort Greene.” The next day, the King of Pop was in Lee’s home at 180 Washington Park, playing songs from his new album and blessing Lee’s then one year old daughter, Satchel Lee.

The true extent of Jackson’s willingness to collaborate was evident when the pair began filming the short film in Brazil. The song, They Don’t Really Care About Us features synthesized drums, but Lee told Jackson “there’s no use going to Brazil and not record the drums.” So, Lee told him they would lay the drums from famed Brazilian drum group Oludom over the synth drums in the final video mix. “You’ll see there comes a point when the song is over and Oludom is still going.” He yelled cut, but Mike gave him a look that Lee knew meant “keep that shit going.”

Jackson also had no complaints about filming in “the most notorious favela” in Brazil, according to Lee. “It took a week before the Brazilian government would give Mike a Visa. They didn’t want him in Brazil,” Lee said, referring to Rio officials opposed to the filming.

Lee’s assistant producer Kátia Lund helped ensure Jackson’s safety by speaking with an unnamed leader in the favela, who was a huge Michael Jackson fan. “He said ‘You could put a million dollars in the middle of the square and I bet you my life no one is going to touch it.’ That’s how we were able to shoot at this place.” According to Lee, Lund made a deeper connection with the locals, which inspired her to film the the critically acclaimed City of God.

As the night winded down, Lee called They Don’t Really Care About Us “one of my most important things I did” in his illustrious career with a warm tone of voice usually reserved for describing their children. He later answered questions from the audience and stated he needs to find a place for more Prince music in his films.

Spike Lee worked with Prince. He created with Michael Jackson.

Digital Trends

‘Slow Suicide’? Died Excruciating Death

Autopsy report reveals mysterious meds in Dr. Arnold Klein’s system.

michael-jackson-doctor-arnold-klein-autopsy

The alleged father of the late “King of Pop” Michael Jackson‘s children Prince and Paris died after suffering in excruciating pain, reveals a shocking coroner’s report obtained exclusively by RadarOnline.com.

Dr. Arnold Klein, who passed away in California on Oct. 22, 2015, was taking a cocktail of medications beyond what his doctor had prescribed to treat his depression, anxiety, panic attacks and other issues.

READ THE CORONER’S REPORT

“Eight meds over the three or four his doctor prescribed were found in his system,” an insider told Radar. “Who wrote the prescriptions, who gave him those medications and what was the purpose?”

The coroner noted 70-year-old Klein’s body contained diazepam, also known as valium, in addition to chemical byproducts of a drug used to produce a reduction in anxiety, loss of consciousness and memory loss by anesthesiologists during surgery.

The coroner also noted the extreme physical deterioration of Klein’s body. The doctor had multiple irregular scars on his arms and legs, as well as a hole in his bowel, a side-effect of multiple drug interactions which caused excrement to seep into his stomach. “The pain was just insufferable,” the insider told Radar.

“Was there no one there to say look you’re in such excruciating pain we need to call an ambulance? No. He suffered for four days in excruciating pain so finally 911 was called — and who called? He was the one!” blasted the insider. “Where are these people [who were supposed to care about Dr. Klein] when this guy was suffering for four days?”

Tragically, Klein died after he had a heart attack while waiting for help in a Palm Springs medical facility.

Man in the Mirror – Viola Cover

17 year old Jeremy Green pays tribute to Michael Jackson for his birthday and calls out society to “make a change”. WATCH this amazing video of him PLAYING HISVIOLA TO PERFECTION, song: “Man In The Mirror”

Jeremy wants to bring attention to his instrument, the viola, which is overshadowed by the violin. His main goal is to be an inspiration to other kids who want to learn an instrument and to hopefully inspire schools to bring back music programs into their curriculum.