Today in MJJ HIStory
1970 – Michael is on the cover of Soul magazine.
In the early years, no publication covered the Jackson 5 like Soul, a weekly newspaper devoted to Black music that was published in Los Angeles, kind of the Black version of Rolling Stone.
In July and August of 1970, each Jackson brother had his own cover story in Soul. Later, all of the profiles and pictures were compiled in a special J5 Extra edition of Soul.
Michael’s cover story appeared in the August 10 issue. It’s filled with rare photos and interesting tidbits, including a mini photo-drama about finding and capturing a snake while on the ABC photoshoot, with the assistance of Motown singer, Chris Clark. It gives an interesting portrait of Michael as a child and as a performer. Here it is, in all its glory.
1979 – Michael released Off The Wall, his first solo album on Epic and first co-produced with Quincy Jones, and it became a tremendous success. With hit singles like Don’t Stop (Til You Get Enough) and Rock With You, it became an instant smash on the pop and disco charts.
It was his fifth overall solo album, but his first ever for Epic records. The album was recorded between December 4 1978 and July 7, 1979. Michael contributed three songs to Off The Wall: “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough”, “Working Day and Night” and “Get on the Floor” (co-written with Louis Johnson). Michael and Quincy sought top writers and musicians for the album, with Rod Temperton who contributed three tracks: “Rock With You”, “Off The Wall” and “Burn This Disco Out”, Paul McCartney contributed the playful “Girlfriend”, Tom Bahler gave the emotional “She’s Out of My Life” and Stevie Wonder and Susaye Greene offered the quirky “I Can’t Help It”. There was one duet between Michael and Patti Austin called “It’s the Falling in Love”, which was written by Carole Bayer Sager and David Foster.
A flawless album of exuberant celebration, orchestrated with unforgettable summer sounds, Michael proved that he was more than just a mere performer or group leader, but a complete recording artist, with the skills to make the hottest music out of nothing but his own imagination. It was the album he had been trying to make all along.
The album was hailed as a major breakthrough for Michael, and received amazing reviews. The album went to number 3 in the US chart and number 1 on the US soul chart and stayed on the top 20 for a massive 48 weeks.
Michael Jackson is the first singer ever to spawn 4 Top Ten singles in the US from one album [“Off The Wall”], two of which became number one hits. In Britain, for the first time in music history, a record 5 hit singles were released, “Girlfriend” being one of them.
The album exceeded all expectations and was hugely successful on both the Pop and Black album charts. With the release of this album, the world got to see a new Michael Jackson.
With “Off The Wall” Michael becomes the Prince of Pop!
At the Grammy Awards for 1979, Michael got nominated for “Best R&B Vocal Performance” and also won in his category.
Michael: “Although ‘Off The Wall’ had been one of the most popular records of the year, it received only one nomination: ‘Best R&B Vocal Performance’. I remember where I was when I got the news. I felt ignored by my peers and it hurt. People told me later that it surprised the industry too… I said to myself, ‘Wait until next time – they won’t be able to ignore the next album.’ I watched the ceremony on television and it was nice to win in my category, but I still was upset by what I perceived as the rejection of my peers. I just kept thinking ‘Next time, next time.'”
“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. ‘Off The Wall’ was well received by my fans and I think that’s why the Grammy nominations hurt. That experience lit a fire in my soul. All I could think of was the next album and what I would do with it. I wanted it to be truly great.”
The release of “Off The Wall” in August of 1979, the same month Michael turned 21 and took control of his own affairs, was definitely one of the major landmarks of Michael’s life. It meant a great deal to him because the album’s eventual success proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that a former “child star” could mature into a recording artist with contemporary appeal.
1981 – The Jacksons perform Triumph tour at Veterans Memorial Auditorium, Columbus, U.S.
1985 – In August of 1985 Michael Jackson purchased the “ATV Back Catalogue” for US$ 47.5 million. The catalogue [publishing rights], today worth 3 times as much, comprises over 4’000 compositions, including 251 songs by The Beatles as well as hits by Pat Benatar, Little Richard, The Pointer Sisters and The Pretenders. Michael already owns the publishing rights to the Sly Stone collection as well as a collection of 60’s hits. Michael rewarded his attorney John Branca and then-manager Frank Dileo each with a Rolls Royce for their help in negotiating the “Beatles deal”.
Michael’s decade-old friendship with Paul McCartney was brought to an abrupt end, when he spent $47.5 million buying ATV Music, the company that owned the Lennon-McCartney songwriting catalog. Ironically, McCartney had been the one to suggest Michael invest in music publishing a few years earlier, not suspecting how that advice would affect him personally. Jackson stayed at the home of McCartney and his wife Linda during the recording sessions of #1 hit single “Say, Say, Say”, becoming friendly with both. One evening whilst at the dining table, McCartney brought out a booklet displaying all the songs to which he owned the publishing rights. He explained that music publishing was a way to make big money. Jackson replied by telling McCartney that he would buy The Beatles’ songs one day. “Great. Good joke“, McCartney laughed.
McCartney, who along with Beatles partner John Lennon had lost ownership of their songs in 1969 due to bad business deals, had declined earlier opportunities to buy it back due to the high asking price, but was nonetheless incensed by Michael’s opportunism. Michael, who finalized the deal in Perth, Australia two months later, quickly put his new purchase to work, and soon sold the rights to Lennon’s song Revolution for a Nike shoe advertisement.
However, Yoko Ono (Jonh Lennon’s widow) was pleased that Michael had acquired Northern Songs and called it a “blessing”. In 1990, she stated, “Businessmen who aren’t artists themselves wouldn’t have the consideration Michael has. He loves the songs. He’s very caring!“
- In 1995 ATV Music Publishing was merged with Sony and renamed Sony/ATV Music Publishing, and become the 3rd largest music publisher in the world.
- In 2001, Michael declares: “I want to clarify a silly rumour – the Beatles catalogue is not for sale, has not been for sale and will never be for sale.”
- Today, Sony/ATV Music Publishing owns & administers more than 500,000 song copyrights, valued at about $4-5 billion.
1992 – Michael performs Dangerous World tour at Volkspark Stadium, Hamburg, Germany attending 51,000.
1997 – Michael performs HIStory world tour at Hockenheimring stadium, Hockenheim, Germany.