A look at the life of the late pop star Michael Jackson from his early days at Motown Records to the release of his hit 1979 album, Off the Wall. ((IMDB)
David Bowie has died after a battle with cancer, his rep confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 69.
“David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18 month battle with cancer. While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief,” read a statement posted on the artist’s official social media accounts.
The influential singer-songwriter and producer dabbled in glam rock, art rock, soul, hard rock, dance pop, punk and electronica during his eclectic 40-plus-year career. He just released his 25th album, Blackstar, Jan. 8, which was his birthday.
Bowie’s artistic breakthrough came with 1972’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, an album that fostered the notion of rock star as space alien. Fusing British mod with Japanese kabuki styles and rock with theater, Bowie created the flamboyant, androgynous alter ego Ziggy Stardust.
Three years later, Bowie achieved his first major American crossover success with the No. 1 single “Fame” off the top 10 album Young Americans, then followed with the 1976 avant-garde art rock LP Station to Station, which made it to No. 3 on the charts and featured top 10 hit “Golden Years.”
Other memorable songs included 1983’s “Let’s Dance” — his only other No. 1 U.S. hit — “Space Oddity,” “Heroes,” “Changes,” “Under Pressure,” “China Girl,” “Modern Love,” “Rebel, Rebel,” “All the Young Dudes,” “Panic in Detroit,” “Fashion,” “Life on Mars,” “Suffragette City” and a 1977 Christmas medley with Bing Crosby.
With his different-colored eyes (the result of a schoolyard fight) and needlelike frame, Bowie was a natural to segue from music into curious movie roles, and he starred as an alien seeking help for his dying planet in Nicolas Roeg’s surreal The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976). Critics later applauded his three-month Broadway stint as the misshapen lead in 1980’s The Elephant Man.
Bowie also starred in Marlene Dietrich’s last film, Just a Gigolo (1978), portrayed a World War II prisoner of war in Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983), and played Pontius Pilate in Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ (1988). And in another groundbreaking move, Bowie, who always embraced technology, became the first rock star to morph into an Internet Service Provider with the launch in September 1998 of BowieNet.
Born David Jones in London on Jan. 8, 1947, Bowie changed his name in 1966 after The Monkees’ Davy Jones achieved stardom. He played saxophone and started a mime company, and after stints in several bands he signed with Mercury Records, which in 1969 released his album Man of Words, Man of Music, which featured “Space Oddity,” a poignant song about an astronaut, Major Tom, spiraling out of control.
In an attempt to stir interest in Ziggy Stardust, Bowie revealed in a January 1972 magazine interview that he was gay — though that might have been a publicity stunt — dyed his hair orange and began wearing women’s garb. The album became a sensation.
Wrote rock critic Robert Christgau: “This is audacious stuff right down to the stubborn wispiness of its sound, and Bowie’s actorly intonations add humor and shades of meaning to the words, which are often witty and rarely precious, offering an unusually candid and detailed vantage on the rock star’s world.”
Bowie changed gears in 1975. Becoming obsessed with the dance/funk sounds of Philadelphia, his self-proclaimed “plastic soul”-infused Young Americans peaked at No. 9 with the single “Fame,” which he co-wrote with John Lennon and guitarist Carlos Alomar.
After the soulful but colder Station to Station, Bowie again confounded expectations after settling in Germany by recording the atmospheric 1977 album Low, the first of his “Berlin Trilogy” collaborations with keyboardist Brian Eno.
In 1980, Bowie brought out Scary Monsters, which cast a nod to the Major Tom character from “Space Oddity” with the sequel “Ashes to Ashes.” He followed with Tonight in 1984 and Never Let Me Down in 1987 and collaborations with Queen, Mick Jagger, Tina Turner, The Pat Metheny Group and others. He formed the quartet Tin Machine (his brother Tony played drums), but the band didn’t garner much critical acclaim or commercial gain with two albums.
Bowie returned to a solo career with 1993’s Black Tie White Noise, which saw him return to work with his Spider From Mars guitarist Mick Ronson, then recorded 1995’s Outside with Eno and toured with Nine Inch Nails as his opening act. He returned to the studio in 1996 to record the techno-influenced Earthling. Two more albums, 1999’s hours … and 2002’s Heathen, followed.
Bowie also produced albums for, among others, Lou Reed, The Stooges and Moot the Hoople, for which he wrote the song “All the Young Dudes.” He earned a lifetime achievement Grammy Award in 2006.
Bowie was relatively quiet between the years of 2004 and 2012, reemerging in 2013 with the album The Next Day. Its arrival was met with a social media firestorm which catapulted it to No. 2 on the Billboard 200, his highest charting album ever.
While demand for a tour by the reclusive rock star has been relentless, Bowie kept a decidedly low profile, maintaining a residence in New York but rarely seen.
Michael Jackson‘s Thriller has become the first album ever to be certified 30 times multi-platinum for U.S. sales, marking more than 30 million sales in the States.
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) made the announcement Wednesday (Dec. 15) with the Estate of Michael Jackson, Epic Records and Legacy Recordings, as the new milestone continues Jackson’s reign as the most selling artist of all time with over 100 million sales for Thriller worldwide and 1 billion total sales to his credit.
“RIAA has awarded Gold & Platinum records on behalf of the music business for nearly 60 years, but this is the first time an artist has crossed the 30X multi-Platinum plateau,” RIAA chairman and CEO Cary Sherman said in a statement. “We are honored to celebrate the unique status of Thriller in Gold & Platinum history. What an exceptional achievement and testament to Thriller‘s enduring spot in our hearts and musical history.”
Jackson’s Thriller was released Nov. 30 1982 and spent nearly 2 1/2 years on the Billboard album chart with 37 weeks at No. 1, holding the modern day record. It was also the first album in history to spend its first 80 weeks in the album chart’s top 10, which has only been replicated once since.
The Quincy Jones and Jackson-produced LP was also the first ever certified RIAA 20 times multi-platinum, doing so after 112 weeks on the album chart — less than two years in all. Seven tracks off the album became top 10 singles with three — “Beat It,” “Billie Jean” and “Thriller” — topping the singles chart.
Worldwide, Thriller topped charts in nearly every market, hitting No. 1 in the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Australia, Denmark, Belgium, South Africa, Spain, Ireland, New Zealand, Canada and apartheid South Africa. The album won a record-setting 8 Grammys with nominations in 12 categories — another first.
“It is crystal clear that Michael Jackson is simply the greatest and biggest artist of all time,” Epic Records chairman and CEO LA Reid said in a statement. “Not only are his charts hits and sales stats staggering, but his pure musicality was other-worldly. Thriller was groundbreaking and electrifying…it was perfection. I am extremely proud that Michael is the heart and soul of Epic Records and he will forever remain the one-and-only King of Pop.”
For the first time, Billboard has ranked the top albums and artists ever on our signature Billboard 200 albums chart.
This unique recap of the chart begins with the Aug. 17, 1963-dated chart, whenBillboard combined our two leading pop album charts for stereo and mono releases into one all-encompassing weekly chart. The new chart, then-called Top LP’s, would later become known as the Billboard 200.
On this all-time list, albums are ranked based on an inverse point system, with weeks at No. 1 earning the greatest value and weeks at the lower reaches of the chart earning the least. Due to changes in chart methodology through the years, eras are weighted differently to account for chart turnover rates over various periods. Artists are ranked based on the combined point totals of their albums, as outlined above.
ALL-TIME No. 1 BILLBOARD 200 ALBUM: ADELE’S ’21’
Adele’s blockbuster 21 tops the Billboard 200’s all-time albums ranking, fueled not only by the set’s 24 nonconsecutive weeks atop the list (the most weeks at No. 1 for an album by a woman), but also its lengthy chart run in the upper reaches of the tally.
21 debuted on the chart dated March 12, 2011 and spent its first 78 weeks in the top 10 (and then returned for three more frames … so far). The album has yet to leave the list since its release, and has lingered on the tally for more than 245 consecutive weeks.
At the end of 2011, Billboard spoke to Adele about the success of 21 and what the future held for her. “I’m just going to lay some concrete, set up home and just ‘be’ for a bit,” she said. “I’ll disappear and come back with a record [when it’s] good enough. There will be no new music until it’s good enough and until I’m ready.”
Clearly, Adele is now ready, as 21’s follow-up, 25, will be released globally Nov. 20. And, who knows, perhaps 25 will find its way to the next all-time Billboard 200 ranking.
Below Adele’s 21 on the Billboard 200 recap is the soundtrack to The Sound of Music, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2015. The album, led by the film’s star Julie Andrews, spent two weeks at No. 1 on the weekly Billboard 200, and earned a record 109 weeks in the top 10. The album was so hot that it was in the weekly top 10 from the May 1, 1965-dated chart through July 16, 1966. It was a regular (but not quite weekly) presence in the top 10 off and on through early 1968.
Earlier in 2015, Andrews spoke to Billboard about the movie’s half-century anniversary and its enduring appeal. “I don’t think I could have possibly guessed, ever, that it was going to be iconic as it has become. If anyone had told me that 50 years after the fact I’d be still speaking to you about it and its magic, I could not have anticipated that or believed it.”
At No. 3 on the all-time list is Michael Jackson‘s Thriller, which clocked 37 weeks at No. 1 on the chart in 1983-84. In total, the set (which would also be the first to spawn seven top 10 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart) would spend 78 weeks in the top 10.
ALL-TIME No. 1 BILLBOARD 200 ACT: THE BEATLES
The Beatles triumph as the top all-time act on the Billboard 200, bolstered by the band’s record 19 No. 1s which spent 132 weeks atop the list (again, another record).
Five of the group’s albums are among the all-time Billboard 200 titles, led by, at No. 54, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which spent 15 straight weeks at No. 1 in 1967.
Some might wonder how a 15-week run at No. 1 didn’t enable the album to place higher on the all-time list. Although Sgt. Pepper’s spent a long stretch at the summit, it totaled a relatively short amount of time in the top 10 (33 weeks) and in the top 40 (63 weeks) compared to other high-ranking titles on the all-time list. As noted earlier, titles on the recap earn a greater number of points from spending a long time in the upper reaches of the tally.
Another British band places second on the all-time artists list: The Rolling Stones. The group, which owns a record 36 top 10 albums, debuted on the chart four months after the arrival of The Beatles. The Rolling Stones bowed on the June 27, 1964 chart with England’s Newest Hit Makers, shortly after The Beatles’ chart debut: Meet the Beatles! (Feb. 1, 1964).
While both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones started their Billboard 200 chart careers in 1964, there’s an act among the top 10 that wasn’t even born until 25 years later: Taylor Swift.
The country-to-pop superstar, who was born Dec. 13, 1989, made her Billboard 200 chart debut Nov. 11, 2006. Since then, she’s logged eight chart entries, all of which reached the top 20, with four albums hitting No. 1.
The sustained performance of Swift’s albums (four of which are on the all-time titles list) enable her to rank at No. 8 on the all-time artists list. She is the only act among the all-time top 30 to have started their chart career since 2000.