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.”


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.

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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!

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.

Janet Jackson Pregnancy: ‘All For You’ Singer Postponed ‘Unbreakable’ Tour To Plan Family

Janet Jackson revealed in a Twitter message that her “Unbreakable” tour would have to suffer from delays because she will be planning her family.

Though Jackson didn’t expressly say that she is pregnant, many can’t help but wonder if the real reason behind the postponement is a bun in the oven.

The 49-year-old singer has already finished her first leg of the tour, but unexpected family changes, involving her husband, Wissam Al Mana, 41, would cost her to delay the tour.People reported that it was Jackson herself who announced the postponement of the tour’s second leg in a video message.

Jackson attributed the delay to a “sudden change.” She clarified: “I thought it was important that you be the first to know. My husband and I are planning our family. So I’m going to have to delay the tour.”

A message from Janet…https://t.co/KrzYZ4eyvD

– Janet Jackson (@JanetJackson) April 6, 2016

Reuters reported that Jackson was asking fans to understand why there was a necessity for her to delay the tour. She said she had to rest up as it was doctor’s orders. Since there was no confirmation as to the status of her health, Jackson’s pregnancy rumors abound. Some speculations included that the singer was planning to adopt or she just needed the rest to conceive.

Health reasons like suffering from cancer also surfaced after Jackson made the announcement.

One can’t help but recall how her “Unbreakable” world tour was also delayed in December due to a surgery, which gave rise to cancer rumors.

Aside from the announcement, Jackson also reiterated in the video how she loves her fans. She thanked them for their undying love and loyalty which meant so much to the singer. She added that she truly appreciates her fans, who have been with her “every step of the way.”

Jackson is the youngest sibling of Michael Jackson. Wissam Al Mana is her third husband, whom she married in 2012.

Paris Jackson celebrates 18th birthday with a kiss from her 26-year-old drummer boyfriend Michael Snoddy


The late Michael Jackson’s only daughter Paris celebrated her 18th birthday Sunday with a kiss from her new boyfriend Michael Snoddy.

The 26-year-old mohawked drummer is the privileged heiress’ first beau since splitting with Chester Castellaw in December.

It’s likely that the 5ft9in millennial met the Virginia-born musician – who reportedly sports a Confederate flag tattoo – at one of her AA meetings.


Dan Harmon Will Produce Surreal Stop-Motion Tale of Michael Jackson’s Pet Chimp, Bubbles

Chimp Haven Sanctuary in Keithville, LA

There is hope for original ideas in Hollywood after all! Isaac Adamson’s Black List-topping script told from the point of view of Michael Jackson’s pet chimp, Bubbles, will be made into a stop-motion animated film produced by Community’s Dan Harmon.

There’s even a method to this madness. Harmon executive produced Anomalisa, Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson’s stop-motion dramedy, which earned a Best Animated Film Oscar nomination. That film used 3D printed puppets to bring its characters to life, and presumably Bubbles will be created using similar methods.


Really, it makes perfect sense for this unique story to be told using a similarly unique technique. Here’s how Deadline describes it:

Bubbles tells the story of Michael Jackson’s life and history from the perspective of the pet Chimp which got a close-up view after being adopted by Jackson from an Austin, Texas research facility and took up residence at the Neverland Ranch in 1983. He became Jackson’s constant companion until he became overaggressive and was moved to a monkey sanctuary in Florida. The script has been considered a very inventive way to tell an unauthorized story of Jackson without needing permission.

Thus far, there’s no director or actors (who will be the voice of Bubbles?) attached, which doesn’t hamper our enthusiasm for any of this one bit.