Thursday, March 13, 2008

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

For other persons named Michael Jackson, see Michael Jackson (disambiguation).

This article may be too long.

Please discuss this issue on the talk page and help summarize or split the content into subarticles of an article series.

Michael Jackson

Background information

Birth name Michael Joseph Jackson

Also known as Michael Joe Jackson

The King of Pop

Born August 29, 1958 (age 49)

Gary, Indiana, USA

Origin Gary, Indiana, USA


R&B, soul, pop, dance-pop, disco, rock, urban, funk, Motown

Occupation(s) singer, songwriter, record producer, arranger, dancer, choreographer, actor


Vocals, percussion, multiple instruments

Years active 1967 - present


Motown, Epic, Sony, The Michael Jackson Company, Inc.

Associated acts The Jackson 5/Jacksons, Janet Jackson, Quincy Jones, Siedah Garrett, Teddy Riley

Influences James Brown, Jackie Wilson, Diana Ross, Joe Tex, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Ray Charles, The Beatles, David Ruffin, Little Richard, The Isley Brothers, Sammy Davis, Jr., Fred Astaire


Michael Joseph Jackson (born August 29, 1958), often referred to as MJ[1] and The King of Pop,[2] is an American musician and entertainer, who debuted on the professional music scene at the age of ten as a member of the Jackson 5,[3] and went on to become a pop icon as a solo artist. His successful career and controversial, enigmatic personal life have been a part of pop culture for almost four decades.[4] Jackson has dominated pop music since the late 1970s,[5] becoming the first black entertainer to amass a strong cross-over following on MTV with his revolutionary transformation of the music video as an art form and as a promotional tool.[6] The popularity of videos aired on MTV such as "Beat It", "Black or White", "Scream" and "Billie Jean" created a tremendous synergy[7] that helped to put the relatively young channel "on the map".[8] BMI, The performing rights organization that represents Jackson and hundreds of other artists, stated that Jackson also popularized physically-complicated dance techniques, such as the robot and the moonwalk, that have redefined mainstream dance and entertainment.[9] His distinctive style, dance moves, and vocals have influenced a whole generation of hip hop, pop, and R&B artists. He has been cited as the "Most Successful Entertainer of All Time" by Guinness World Records,[10] and holds the record for the best-selling album ever, Thriller.

Michael Jackson has received thirteen Grammy Awards[11] (eight on a single night in 1984) and two of his solo albums have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.[12] Jackson has charted thirteen #1 singles in the United States, more than any other male artist in the Hot 100 era.[13] In November 2006, the World Music Awards announced that Jackson had sold over 750 million units worldwide[14] and given $300 million to charity,[15] making Jackson one of the best-selling music artists and the most charitable humanitarians of all time, whose efforts on the latter front have been acknowledged with a Nobel Peace Prize nomination.[16] However, Jackson's controversial appearance and actions have damaged his reputation in the eyes of some of the public and album sales have been in decline since the mid 1990s.[17]

From 1988 to 2005, Jackson lived on his Neverland Ranch property, where he built an amusement park and private zoo that was frequently attended by disadvantaged and terminally ill children. Rumors of sleepover parties received both negative media coverage and public attention after it was revealed that children had slept in his bed or bedroom. This first came to light when he was accused of child sexual abuse in 1993. Michael Jackson's relationship with children was brought into the spotlight again in 2003 when the TV documentary Living with Michael Jackson was broadcast. This resulted in Jackson being tried, and later acquitted, of more child molestation allegations and several other charges in 2005. After this, Jackson went on hiatus, traveling to countries such as Bahrain, before starting work on new material in Ireland. He released an album on February 11, 2008 called Thriller 25 (a special edition of the "Thriller" album) which included some new material.



1 Career

o 1.1 Musical prodigy

o 1.2 Off the Wall

o 1.3 Thriller

o 1.4 Bad

o 1.5 Dangerous

o 1.6 HIStory

o 1.7 Invincible

o 1.8 Trial, career hiatus and reissues

o 1.9 Return to public eye and 25th anniversary of Thriller

o 1.10 Forthcoming studio album

2 Influence

o 2.1 Music videos and MTV

o 2.2 Style and performance

3 Personal life

o 3.1 Childhood

o 3.2 Marriages and children

o 3.3 Humanitarian efforts

o 3.4 Physical appearance

o 3.5 Child molestation charges

o 3.6 Finances

3.6.1 Music catalogs and loans

3.6.2 Neverland Ranch employees

3.6.3 F. Marc Schaffel

3.6.4 Prescient Acquisition Group

4 Discography

o 4.1 U.S. number one singles (13)

o 4.2 Number ones in selected countries

o 4.3 Studio albums

5 Filmography

o 5.1 Notable music videos

o 5.2 Films

6 See also

7 References

8 Further reading

9 External links


Musical prodigy

Main article: The Jackson 5

Jackson showed musical talent early on performing in front of his classmates and other participants during a Christmas recital in his school at five. He joined his brothers first playing congas when they formed a group in 1964 later taking a more pivotal role within a year as a background singer and occasional dancer before ascending to the group's lead singer position at the age of eight. Rolling Stone says of his early years: "First he was a prodigy" with "overwhelming musical gifts," and notes that after Jackson joined the Jackson Family vocal group at age five, "he quickly emerged as the main draw and lead singer."[18] Even though he sang with a "child's piping voice, he danced like a grown-up hoofer and sang with the R&B/gospel inflections of Sam Cooke, James Brown, Ray Charles, and Stevie Wonder."[18] During this period, the boys toured Indiana extensively, and after winning a major local talent show in 1966 with a rendition of Motown hits and James Brown's "I Got You (I Feel Good)", led by Michael, they began playing professional gigs in Chicago, Illinois and across the mid-eastern U.S. Many of these gigs were in a string of black clubs and venues collectively known as the "chitlin' circuit," and the young kids sometimes had to open for strip tease and other adult acts in order to earn money.[19]

Michael Jackson, bottom center, as a member of The Jackson 5 in 1971

Michael took co-lead singing duties with brother Jermaine when the group's name changed from The Jackson Brothers to The Jackson 5 in 1966. The group eventually auditioned for, and signed a contract with, Motown Records in 1968.[20] They hit stardom with their first four singles, "I Want You Back", "ABC", "The Love You Save", and "I'll Be There", which charted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, the first time ever a group had pulled off that feat.[19] While remaining a member of the group, [21]Jackson released a total of four solo studio albums with Motown, among them Got to Be There in 1971 and Ben in the following year. These were released as part of the Jackson 5 franchise and produced successful singles such as "Got to Be There", "Ben", and a remake of Bobby Day's "Rockin' Robin". Between 1971 and 1975, Jackson's voice "descended ever so slightly from boy soprano to his current androgynous high tenor."[22]

The group's sales declined after 1973 and they chafed under Motown's strict refusal to allow them creative control or input. In 1976, the group signed a new contract with CBS Records (first joining the Philadelphia International division and then Epic Records).[23] Motown Records sued the group for breach of contract.[24]

As a result of the legal proceedings, which were further complicated by the fact that Jermaine Jackson was married to the daughter of Motown president (Berry Gordy), the Jacksons lost the rights to use the "Jackson 5" name and logo.[24] Jermaine left the group, choosing to stay at Motown.[25] They changed their name to "The Jacksons", featuring youngest brother Randy in Jermaine's place, and continued their successful career, touring internationally and releasing six more albums between 1976 and 1984, with Jermaine eventually re-joining in 1983, making them a sextet. From 1976 to 1984, Michael was the lead songwriter of the group,[26] writing such hits as "Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)", "This Place Hotel", and "Can You Feel It". In 1978, Jackson starred as the Scarecrow in the film adaptation of the Broadway musical The Wiz with former-label mate Diana Ross playing Dorothy.[27] The songs for the musical were arranged by Quincy Jones, who established a partnership with Jackson during the film's production and agreed to produce his first solo album in four years.[24]

Off the Wall

Main article: Off the Wall

Off the Wall, released in 1979, made music history becoming the first album ever to spawn four top-ten hits, including the number-one hits, "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" and "Rock with You".[21] It reached #3 in the Billboard album charts, spending 48 consecutive weeks on the Top 20.[28] Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson jointly produced the album, with lyrics and music by Jackson, Heatwave's Rod Temperton, Stevie Wonder, and Paul McCartney, among others. The album signaled the arrival of a new Michael Jackson, one not reliant upon his brothers to further his career.[29] Off the Wall, buoyed by its catchy dance rhythms and avoidance of the "shallow excesses...of the period's disco,"[29] eventually sold some 20 million copies worldwide.[28] Despite its commercial success, Jackson felt the album should have made a much bigger impact and was determined to exceed expectations with his next release.

In January 1980, Jackson won his first awards for his solo efforts at the American Music Awards. He won "Favorite Soul/R&B Album" (for Off the Wall), "Favorite Male Soul/R&B Artist" and Favorite Soul/R&B Single (for "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough").[21] Later that month, he also won two Billboard Awards (for "Top Black Artist" and "Top Black Album").[21] On February 27, 1980, Jackson won a Grammy Award for "Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male" (for "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough").[21] In 2003, the TV network VH1 named Off the Wall the thirty-sixth greatest album of all time.[30] Rolling Stone ranked it #68 in their list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[31] In 2008, the Off the Wall album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.[32]


Michael Jackson at the White House in 1984 with then-President Ronald Reagan and his wife.

Main articles: Thriller (album), Victory Tour, We Are the World, and Captain EO

In November 1982, the storybook for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was released. It included Jackson reading the story as well as one original song, "Someone in the Dark". The album later won a Grammy for "Best Album for Children".[33] On the first day of the following month, Jackson released his second Epic album, Thriller. Thriller is the best selling album of all time, though sales figures for the album vary between different sources who have cited the album as selling between 45 million copies worldwide[34] and 104 million copies[35][36][37][38][39][40]. The BBC claim that the Guinness Book of World Records lists it as 65 million copies sold as of 2007[41] (note that sales of Thriller 25 will be added to American sales.[42][43] ) and made Jackson's fame global. In 2007, NARM/The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ranked Thriller third on their "Definitive 200" albums list.[29] The album also became the first in history to spawn seven top-ten Billboard Hot 100 hit singles,[44] including "Billie Jean", which was the first music video by a black artist to receive regular airplay on MTV,[45] "Beat It", and the album's title track, which was accompanied by a revolutionary music video. The thirteen-minute "Thriller" video was critically acclaimed and massive airplay lead to it being packaged with the featurette Making Michael Jackson's Thriller on VHS, where it became the best-selling music home video ever.[44] Thriller spent 37 weeks at #1 and remained on the Billboard album chart for 122 weeks. It is currently certified 27x Platinum in the U.S., second only to The Eagles - Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975), which is currently certified as 29x platinum [46].

In 1983, while performing "Billie Jean" at the Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever concert, Jackson debuted what can be regarded as his signature move: the moonwalk.[44] The performance sparked a new wave of interest in Thriller, which continued to sell well throughout the year. In 1983, he started a sponsorship deal with Pepsi-Cola. As part of the deal with Pepsi-Cola, he agreed to star in a commercial. While filming the commercial in front of 3,000 fans the following year, a fireworks display behind him malfunctioned, shooting a shower of sparks on the singer’s head and setting fire to his hair. He suffered second-degree burns and later wore a hairpiece when collecting Grammys that year.[47]

In February 1984, Jackson was nominated for twelve Grammy awards - of which he won eight[44] - breaking the record for the most Grammy awards won in a single year.[48] Seven were awarded for Thriller and the other for the E.T.: The Extra-terrestrial storybook. In 1984, he also won eight American Music Awards and the "Special Award of Merit" and three MTV Video Music Awards.[44]

Thriller was a gigantic hit that made Jackson the seminal icon of American culture at the time. At the age of 25, the New York Times called him a "musical phenomenon", further commenting that "in the world of pop music, there is Michael Jackson and there is everybody else".[49] Time magazine explained that "the fallout from Thriller has given the [music] business its best years since the heady days of 1978, when it had an estimated total domestic revenue of $4.1 billion."[50] Thriller also helped to bring music from African-American artists back into mainstream radio for the first time since the mid-1970s.[50]

Jackson also became something of a sex symbol, as he was described by Time magazine: "Undeniably sexy. Absolutely safe. Eroticism at arm's length".[50] Additionally, Michael Jackson's rhinestone glove and Thriller jacket became iconic aspects of his outfits which American youth sported all too eagerly. As a sign of his stature at the time, Republican officials considered inviting Jackson to their national convention, in 1984, where they would renominate Reagan, but a change of plans left Ron Walker, the convention manager, stating that "We never thought we had a ghost of a chance."[51]

After reuniting with his brothers, he helped to write and produce the Victory album. He then performed and starred in the Victory Tour, which started on July 6, 1984 and lasted for five months.[44] That year, Jackson was invited to the White House and was thanked by President Ronald Reagan at a White House ceremony for allowing the song "Beat It" to be used in drunk driving prevention television and radio public service announcements.[52]

Jackson continued his charity work in 1985 by co-writing with Lionel Richie the hit song "We Are the World", and singing a featured solo on the charity single. The record helped to raise money and awareness for the famine in East Africa and was one of the first instances where Jackson was seen as a humanitarian. The song also won a Grammy for "Song of the Year".[44] "We Are the World" became one of the top five best-selling singles of all time and the best selling single of the 1980s.[53]

Tabloid stories of Jackson sleeping in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber to stall the aging-process, and an allegation claiming Jackson attempted to purchase the bones of the Elephant Man inspired the pejorative sobriquet "Wacko Jacko" (wacko meaning eccentric or irrational). The name "Wacko Jacko," first used by British media, would come to be detested by Jackson.[54]

In 1986, Jackson starred in the George Lucas-produced, Francis Ford Coppola-directed 3-D film Captain EO. The film lasted 17 minutes but had costs estimated at $17 million.[55] At the time, it was the most expensive film produced on a per-minute basis. In the U.S., the Disney theme parks hosted Captain EO. Disneyland featured the film in Tomorrowland from September 18, 1986 until April 7, 1997.[56] It was also featured in Walt Disney World in Epcot from September 12, 1986 until July 6, 1994.[56]

In 2008, the Thriller album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.[57]


Main articles: Bad (album) and Bad World Tour

Michael Jackson's meeting in 1990 with George H. W. Bush

In 1987, Jackson released Bad; his third album for the Epic Records label, and the final album with producer Quincy Jones.[44] He initially wanted to make the album 30 tracks long, but Jones cut this down to 11. According to Jones, Jackson wanted the title track to be a duet with Prince who later declined the duet.[58] Jones said the reason given by Prince was that he thought the song would be a hit whether he was in it or not.[59] With the industry expecting another monster hit, the release was heavily anticipated as it was Jackson's first album in five years.[60] The album had over two million advance orders.[60] Jackson hired film director Martin Scorsese to direct the video for the album's title track.[61] When the 18-minute music video debuted on TV, it sparked a great deal of controversy as it became apparent that Jackson's appearance had changed dramatically.[62]

Bad had lower sales compared to Thriller, but was still a commercial success. In the U.S., it spawned seven hit singles,five of which went to #1: "I Just Can't Stop Loving You", "Bad", "The Way You Make Me Feel", "Man in the Mirror",and "Dirty Diana". [63] Two decades after it was released, Bad still holds the record for generating more #1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 charts than any other album.[63] It went on to sell over 32 million copies worldwide and the RIAA certified Bad at 8x Platinum.[63] At the 1993 Grammy Awards, the album was acknowledged as the second best selling album of all time, but has since been overtaken.[64] In September 1987, Jackson embarked upon his first solo world tour, the Bad World Tour, which had record-breaking attendance figures. In Japan alone, Jackson had 14 sellouts and drew 570,000 people, nearly tripling the previous record of 200,000 in a single tour.[65] The tour lasted sixteen months with Jackson performing 123 concerts to over 4.4 million fans worldwide.[66]

This period saw Jackson enjoy "a level of superstardom previously known only to Elvis Presley, The Beatles, and Frank Sinatra."[67] This success led to him to be dubbed the "King of Pop",[2]. The nickname was conceived by actress and friend Elizabeth Taylor when she presented Jackson with an "Artist of the Decade" award in 1989, proclaiming him "the true king of pop, rock and soul."[68] In 1990, the White House presented the singer with its own special "Artist of the Decade" award, in recognition Michael Jackson's musical influence in the 1980s. It was delivered to Jackson by President George H. W. Bush, who commended Jackson for acquiring a "tremendous following", among other achievements.[69]


Main articles: Dangerous (album) and Dangerous World Tour

In November 1991, Jackson released Dangerous, which, at roughly 30 million copies worldwide,[70] registered sales figures almost identical to those of Bad and became one of the most successful New jack swing albums of all time. Dangerous featured several hits, including "Black or White", "Remember the Time", "In the Closet", "Give In To Me", and "Heal the World". Dangerous was highly anticipated, as highlighted by an incident at the Los Angeles International Airport that witnessed a group of armed robbers stealing 30,000 copies of the new album before its official release [71] .

The biggest hit single in the United States from the album was "Black or White", which reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and remained there for seven weeks,[72] with similar performances around the world. The single was accompanied by a controversial video, premiering as a simulcast on the Fox network, MTV, and BET, which featured scenes construed as having a sexual nature as well as depictions of violent behavior. The offending scenes in the final half of the fourteen minute version of "Black or White" were edited out to prevent the video from being banned.[2] on November 14, 1991, the video for "Black or White" simultaneously premièred in 27 countries with an estimated audience of 500 million people, the largest viewing ever for a music video.[13]

The second single released from Dangerous was "Remember The Time" which spent 8 weeks in the top 5 in U.S..[73] The song hit a peak at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and #1 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart. In 1993, Jackson performed the song at the Soul Train Awards in a wheel chair saying he had an injury in rehearsals.[74]At the ceremony, he was given three awards "Best Male Single" of the year for "Remember The Time", "Best R&B Album" for Dangerous and a Humanitarian Award for his charitable contributions to date.[75]

In the UK, as well as other parts of Europe, "Heal the World" was the biggest hit from the album. In Britain, it sold 455,000 copies alone and spent five weeks at #2. It was the Christmas #2 of 1992 and because of extra seasonal sales it outsold "Black or White".[76]

Later that year, Jackson made most high-profile international visits: a trip to Africa in which he visited several countries, among them Gabon and Egypt.[77] This was the singer's second arrival on the continent, his first having occurred as a 14-year-old with the Jackson 5.[77] His first stop to Gabon was greeted with a sizable reception of more than 100,000 people in "spiritual bedlam", some of them carrying signs that read, "Welcome Home Michael".[77] In his trip to the Ivory Coast, Jackson visited the gold-mining village of Krindjabo, populated by the Agni tribe and located near the capital of Abidjan, and was crowned "King Sani" by a tribal chief.[77] He then thanked the dignitaries in French and English, signed official documents formalizing his kingship, and sat on a golden throne while presiding over ceremonial dances.[77] Jackson finished his stay in Africa by going to Egypt and promoting the Dangerous album. In January 1993, he performed during the halftime show at Super Bowl XXVII. It drew one of the largest viewing audiences in the history of American television.[78] Jackson was given the "Living Legend Award" at the 35th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.[79]


Main articles: HIStory, Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix, HIStory World Tour, and BRIT awards

In June 1995, Jackson released HIStory: Past, Present And Future - Book I,[79] which recieved a Grammy nomination for "Album Of The Year"[80] as well as four more nominations including winning one (seen below). It sold 18 million copies (36 million units) worldwide making it the largest selling multiple-disc album of all time by a solo artist.[81][82]To promote the album, Jackson embarked on the successful HIStory World Tour,[79] which was attended by more than four and a half million people. Jackson also made a promotional "teaser" music video showing him marching with thousands of military personnel as well as shipping statues of himself on boats around Europe[83] and 30 million dollars were spent on its promotion by Sony.[84] The first disc, HIStory Begins, was a fifteen-track greatest hits album (this disc was later released as Greatest Hits - HIStory Vol. I, in 2001 selling an estimated 3 million copies).[citation needed] The second disc, HIStory Continues, contained fifteen new songs.

The first single released from HIStory was "Scream", sung and performed with his sister Janet Jackson. The single had the best ever debut at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and had a Grammy nomination for "Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals" [85]. The music video for "Scream" is one of his most critically acclaimed winning three MTV awards in 1995 and a Grammy in 1996.[79] "Scream" is currently the most expensive music video ever made.[86] "You Are Not Alone" was the second single released from HIStory and would become the first song ever to debut at #1 on the Hot 100,[87](beating his previous single "Scream"). It reached #1 in various international markets, including Britain. It was seen as a major artistic, commercial success and receieved a Grammy nomination for "Best Pop Vocal Performance".[88]

"Earth Song" was the third single released from HIStory, it was accompanied by a well received expensive music video that was nominated for a grammy in 1996 but lost to his earlier video "Scream".[89] The song topped the UK singles chart for six weeks over Christmas in 1995 and sold one million copies there, making it his most successful UK single, surpassing the success of "Billie Jean". At the 1996 BRIT Awards, Jackson was awarded as the Artist of A Generation.[90] At the ceremony Jackson performed the track "Earth Song", dressed in white and surrounded by children and an actor portraying a rabbi. Pulp lead singer Jarvis Cocker leapt onstage and made rude gestures, and in the ensuing scuffle, several children received minor injuries.[91]

During the "HIStory World Tour", Slash joined Jackson onstage for some shows, including one in Seoul, South Korea in 1996. This was held at the Chamsil Olympic Stadium and filmed for a live broadcast and commercial release on VHS.[92] Slash also appeared at Jackson's MTV Music Video Awards 1995 performance during "Black or White", played a solo, then played along to the opening of "Billie Jean".[93]

In 1997, Jackson released an album of new material titled Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix, with remixes of hit singles from HIStory, and five new songs;[79] it sold six million copies worldwide and became the greatest selling remix album ever, reaching #1 in Britain. [94] Of the new songs, three were released globally: the title track, "Ghosts" and "Is It Scary". The title track reached #1 in the UK. The singles "Ghosts" and "Is It Scary" were based on a film created by Jackson called "Ghosts".[95] The short film, written by Jackson and Stephen King and directed by Stan Winston, features many special effects and dance moves choreographed to original music written by Jackson.[96] The music video for "Ghosts" is over 35 minutes long and is currently the world's longest music video.[97]


Main article: Invincible (album)

In October 2001, Invincible was released[98] and debuted at number-one in thirteen countries.[78] Invincible went on to sell nearly 8-10 million copies worldwide. [99] The album spawned three singles: "You Rock My World," "Cry," and "Butterflies." Around the same time that Invincible came out, Jackson and 35 other artists recorded a charity benefit single entitled "What More Can I Give", designed to raise money for 9/11 victims, which was never released. Just before the release of Invincible, Jackson informed the head of Sony Music Entertainment, Tommy Mottola, that he was not going to renew his contract;[2] the contract was about to expire in terms of supplying the label with albums of full-new material for release through Epic Records/SME. In 2002, all singles releases, video shootings, and promotions concerning the Invincible album were canceled.

Subsequently, Jackson made allegations that Mottola was a "devil" and a "racist" who did not support his African American artists[2] and who used black artists for his own personal gain[2] [100][101]. Sony disputed these allegations, pointing out that Mottola was once married to biracial pop star Mariah Carey.[102][103] The sales for this album were poor compared to his previous releases, which may be due to the lack of a supporting world tour and because only one music video was released to promote the album. While most reviewers called the album Jackson's least impressive effort,[104][105][106] the reviews that were negative often discussed the singers perceived eccentric image rather than the music.[107]

On September 7 and September 10, 2001, Jackson organized a special 30th Anniversary celebration at Madison Square Garden for his 30th year of being a solo artist. The show aired on November 13, 2001 and[98] featured performances by Mýa, Usher, Whitney Houston, 'N Sync, the Jacksons, Slash, and a number of other artists.[108] In wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Jackson helped organize the United We Stand: What More Can I Give benefit concert at RFK Stadium in Washington D.C.. The concert was aired on October 21, 2001, and included performances from dozens of major artists, including Jackson, who performed his song "What More Can I Give" as the finale.

Trial, career hiatus and reissues

Main articles: Number Ones, People v. Jackson, Post trial lawsuits against Michael Jackson, and Visionary: The Video Singles

In November 2003, Jackson and Sony Records released a compilation of his number-one hits on CD and DVD titled Number Ones. The compilation has sold over six million copies worldwide.[109] On the album's scheduled release date, Jackson was in Las Vegas filming the video for "One More Chance" (the only new song included in the Number Ones compilation), the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department searched Jackson's home, the Neverland Ranch, and issued an arrest warrant for Jackson on new charges of child molestation.[110] Jackson was accused of sexual abuse by Gavin Arviso, who appeared in the Living with Michael Jackson documentary earlier that year .[111]

After being acquitted of the charges June 13, 2005 , Jackson relocated to the Persian Gulf island of Bahrain, where he reportedly bought a house formerly owned by a Bahrain MP.[112] Jackson reportedly spent his time in the Persian Gulf writing new music. In September 2005, Jackson's spokesperson Raymone Bain announced that Jackson was busy producing an all-star charity single — called "I Have This Dream" — to help raise relief funds for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Some of the artists initially announced by Bain as involved were never confirmed, and were omitted from later mentions of participants.[113] After many delays, the single remains unreleased.

In February 2006, Jackson's label released Visionary: The Video Singles, a box set made up of twenty of his biggest hit singles, each of which were issued individually week by week over a five-month period.[114] Sony released the Visionary box set in the US on November 14, 2006.[115]

Return to public eye and 25th anniversary of Thriller

Main article: Thriller 25

Jackson's first documented public appearance since his trial was in November 2006 when he visited the London office of the Guinness World Records. There, he received eight awards, among them the "First Entertainer to Earn More Than 100 Million Dollars in a Year" and the "First Entertainer to Sell More Than 100 Million Albums Outside the U.S.".[116] Jackson was awarded the Diamond Award on November 15, 2006, for selling over 100 million albums, at the World Music Awards. Despite tabloid rumors prior to the event,[117][118][119] he did not perform Thriller, instead joining a choir on stage for a verse of "We Are the World" reaching an estimated worldwide audience of around one billion viewers, in over 160 countries. [120]

Following the death of James Brown, more than 8000 people watched as several artists, including Jackson, paid tribute during Brown's public funeral on December 30, 2006.[121] Reverend Al Sharpton, who was close to Brown, delivered his sermon at the funeral, in which he stated that in the last conversation he had with Brown, he had said that artists like Jackson needed to continue to make positive music for all people.[121]

In October and November 2007, Jackson did photo shoots to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of Thriller in L'Uomo Vogue, the Italian men's version of Vogue magazine[122] and Ebony Magazine.[123] In the US, Jackson sold 650,000 albums and dvds in 2007, 250,000 more than Madonna.[124]

On February 11, 2008, Jackson released a 25th anniversary edition of his top-selling album Thriller called Thriller 25. It is a double disc album; disc one contains the original nine tracks from "Thriller", five remixed "Thriller" tracks, a new song called "For All Time" and a voice over by Vincent Price. Disc two is a DVD which contains the three music videos from "Thriller" and Jacksons performance of "Billie Jean" at Motown 25. The album featured, Fergie, Kanye West, and Akon[125] with single releases along side the album.

Internationally, "The Girl Is Mine 2008" was released as a downloadable single on January 14[126] and on CD on January 25.[127] In the United Kingdom the CD release was pushed back to February 4.[128] In the United States, "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' 2008" was the first single released on January 23.[129][130] "The Girl Is Mine 2008" reached #2 in Japan, #4 in Mexico, #6 in the Netherlands, #7 on the United World Airplay Chart, a top 20 position in the major European markets but saw disappointing sales in Canada.[131][132][133][134][135][136] "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' 2008" reached #3 in Sweden, #4 in New Zealand, #8 in Australia, #32 in Canada, but saw disappointing sales in America.[137][138][139][140][141] On March 21, "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' 2008" will see its physical release in Europe.[142] These are Jackson's first singles since "One More Chance" in 2003.

Album track "Beat It 2008" began charting, reaching #26 in Switzerland, #31 in Denmark, #43 in Sweden, #60 in Japan, #74 in Germany, #75 in Austria and #77 in Canada[143][144][145][146][147][148][149] as did "Billie Jean 2008", reaching #91 in Germany.[150] Unusual for Jackson, no music videos have been released yet.

On February 3, 2008 a televised Pepsi ad featuring super model Naomi Campbell singing and dancing to "Thriller" aired during Super Bowl XLII, exposing the song to over 95 million Americans. The ad also aired at the Grammys on February 10 and marked the first time Jackson has been associated with the Pepsi label since 1993.[151][152][153]

Forthcoming studio album

Main article: Michael Jackson's forthcoming studio album

Shortly after Thriller 25, Jackson is expected to release the new album he has been working on. There have been reports of collaborations with,[154] Teddy Riley,[155] Akon,[154] and Chris Brown.[154] Initially, it was thought that the Bahrain-based label Two Seas would release the album, but, in September 2006, it was made apparent that Jackson and Two Seas were no longer affiliated with each other.[156] Consequently, Jackson formed The Michael Jackson Company, Inc. which will oversee both his finances and the release of his new album.[156]


See Also: Legacy of Thriller

In the mid-1980s, Time Magazine called Jackson the biggest solo star since Elvis Presley. [50] He has had a notable impact on music and culture throughout the world while also tearing down racial barriers and paving the way for modern pop music and the concept of the modern pop star in his own country.[9] The recording rights organization that represents Jackson, BMI, calls him a person with "planetary influence"[9]. He has also been described as an "extremely important figure in the history of popular culture" and a "genius"[157]. Jackson holds the record as the most awarded recording artist in history.[citation needed] Throughout his four-decade career, he has received numerous honors and awards, including the World Music Award's Best-Selling Pop Male Artist of the Millennium, the American Music Award's Artist of the Century Award,[158] and the Bambi's Pop Artist of the Millennium Award.[159] He is a double-inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (once as a member of The Jackson 5 in 1997 and as a solo artist in 2001)[67] and an inductee of the Songwriters Hall of Fame.[160] He is characterized as "an unstoppable juggernaut, possessed of all the tools to dominate the charts seemingly at will: an instantly identifiable voice, eye-popping dance moves, stunning musical versatility, and loads of sheer star power".[6] In 1990, Vanity Fair magazine named him the "Most Popular Artist in the History of Show Business".[161] Jackson's work has influenced and spawned a whole generation of a wide variety of artists, including Mariah Carey,[162] Usher,[163] Britney Spears,[162] Justin Timberlake,[164] Omarion,[165] Ne-Yo,[166] and Chris Brown,[167] among others.

Music videos and MTV

Further information: Michael Jackson's Music Videos

Michael Jackson is widely regarded as being the first artist to elevate music videos to a meaningful art form,[9] setting off new trends of story-telling, mini-movies, and choreographed dance sequences that dominate the genre to this day.

Style and performance

Among the most celebrated aspects of Jackson's career have been his dance, fashion, and vocal styles, which have given rise to impersonators all over the world. In 1984, TIME magazine wrote the following on the singer's notable style: "His high-flying tenor makes him sound like the lead in some funked-up boys choir, even as the sexual dynamism irradiating from the arch of his dancing body challenges Government standards for a nuclear meltdown. His lithe frame, five-fathom eyes, long lashes might be threatening if Jackson gave, even for a second, the impression that he is obtainable".[50]

Jackson at Motown 25.

On March 25, 1983, Jackson debuted "Billie Jean" before a live audience during taping of the tribute special Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever. Having reunited with the Jackson 5 for a medley of their hits, he remained onstage for a solo performance and as he addressed the crowd they began chanting for "Billie Jean". Dressed in a glittery black jacket, sparkling silver shirt, tight black pants cuffed high to showcase white spangled socks and black penny loafers, and a single sequined glove, Jackson signalled the start of his routine by grabbing his crouch and snapping a black fedora to his head. Half way through the performance Jackson threw his fedora into the crowd causing audience members to scream and shout. It was during this performance that Jackson also debuted a set of dance moves which included the "Moonwalk" (which was named by the media). The "moonwalk" followed by a tornado spin and then balancing up on his toes have since gone on to become Jackson's trademark dance piece, and is virtually synonymous with the song. The performance sealed his position as a dance legend up against the likes of Fred Astaire (who actually called Jackson the next day to congratulate him) and its also said to match the affect on popular culture that Elvis Presley and The Beatles had when they appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. Ironically, the move is not featured at any point during the music video. Despite Jackson lip-syncing his song the audience rose to their feet giving an ovation and is often cited as one of the greatest life performances of all time. Upon its broadcast on May 16, over forty-seven million viewers witnessed Jackson's performance.[168] Of the performance The New York Times stated "The moonwalk that he made famous is an apt metaphor for his dance style. How does he do it? As a technician, he is a great illusionist, a genuine mime. His ability to keep one leg straight as he glides while the other bends and seems to walk requires perfect timing".[169]

In the late 1980's, Jackson experimented with an innovative 'leaning' move in his music video performances for which he was granted U.S. Patent 5,255,452[170].

Jackson's outfits have been central components of his image. In the early 1980's he wore a sequined white glove, which has led to some dubbing him as "The Gloved One", the jackets in the "Thriller" and "Beat it" music videos, white socks (with short pants to emphasis them) and sparkly jackets. In the late 1980's to late 1990`s Jackson shifted to wearing Fedoras, military jackets, shin pads, sun glasses and plasters on his fingers(or occasionally a pair of black sparkly gloves). He continued to wear white socks with short pants. In the 2000's Jackson rarely appeares in flamboyant costumes, occasionally wearing shin pads, but usually a red shirt, black full lengh pants and sunglasses. Over time his hair went from short curly, to long curly , to long and straight.

Personal life

Michael Jackson's personal life has been under the spotlight for decades. His marriages, children, physical appearance, humanitarian efforts, and accusations of child molestation have all received considerable media coverage world-wide.


Michael Joseph Jackson was born in Gary, Indiana to a working-class family, the sixth of seven brothers and the eighth of ten children of Joseph Walter (Joe) and Katherine Esther (née Scruse) of African American descent. Katherine, a Jehovah's Witness, raised the children in that faith, while Joe, who initially started studying with the Witnesses, eventually decided not to join.[24] Jackson's father was a steel mill employee who often performed in an R&B band called "The Falcons" with his brother Luther. The father was a strict disciplinarian, and many of the Jackson children recall being spanked or whipped by their father for misbehaving.[171]

Marriages and children

Michael Jackson with his children in Disneyland Paris in 2006

Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of Elvis Presley, in 1994. Presley maintained during their marriage that they shared a married couple's life and were sexually active.[172] They divorced less than two years later, although still remain friends.[173] Jackson's second wife, Debbie Rowe, spoke about the couple's post-marriage friendship amidst "stories about Michael having an affair with his ex-wife Lisa Marie Presley",[173] saying that: "They have a relationship, and what people don't understand is his relationship with her is separate from his relationship with me. They're friends, they're very good friends... [and] I am glad that they have a relationship together. I am glad to see them together; they have a lot in common."[173]

On November 14, 1996, during the Australian leg of the HIStory World Tour, Jackson married his dermatologist's nurse Deborah Jeanne Rowe, with whom he fathered a son, Michael Joseph Jackson, Jr. (also known as "Prince"), and a daughter, Paris Katherine Jackson. Jackson and Rowe divorced in 1999. Jackson later said that Rowe wanted him to have the children as a "gift".[174] Both Jackson and Rowe have always maintained that his first two children were conceived naturally.[citation needed] Jackson's third child, Prince Michael Jackson II (a.k.a. Blanket) was born in 2002[175][176][177]

In November 2002, Jackson traveled to Berlin to accept an award for his humanitarian efforts. He was surrounded by fans outside his room at the Hotel Adlon who were chanting in approval of the singer. According to the pop star, they also called out to see his baby. In response, Jackson brought his son onto the balcony, holding him in his right arm with a cloth loosely draped over the baby's face in order to protect his identity from the media. Jackson briefly extended the baby over the railing of the balcony. This raised concern as some perceived his actions as child endangerment, although Jackson has vehemently denied these accusations saying that he was holding the baby tightly. Jackson said that the media was wrong in their comments about him being irresponsible with his children, "I love my children," he explained. "I was holding my son tight. Why would I throw a baby off the balcony? That's the dumbest, stupidest story I ever heard."[178]

The controversial documentary Living with Michael Jackson aired in the UK on February 3, 2003 and in the US on February 6, 2003. The documentary included interviews with Jackson which included information on his private life.[179] British journalist Martin Bashir and his film crew filmed Jackson for 18 months, also capturing his controversial behavior in Berlin. One particular part of the documentary, which stirred controversy and raised a significant level of concern, showed Jackson holding hands with a then 13-year-old cancer victim Gavin Arviso, and admitting to sharing his bedroom with him (but not in the same bed) as well as sharing his bed (non-sexually) with other children.

Jackson felt betrayed by Bashir and complained that the film gives a distorted picture.[180] In response to the media scrutiny, two specials were aired: Michael Jackson: The Footage You Were Never Meant to See and Michael Jackson's Private Home Movies.[181] Michael Jackson: The Footage You Were Never Meant to See which aired later in February showed uncut footage of the Living with Michael Jackson documentary. The Michael Jackson's Private Home Movies aired in April was a 2-hour special with footage of Michael Jackson's home videos and included commentary by Jackson.

Humanitarian efforts

Jackson began his charity work in 1981 with his brothers following the Triumph tour where they raised $100,000 for the Atlanta Children's Foundation.[182] In 1984, following his burning accident with Pepsi the drinks manufacture gave Jackson a $1.5 million out of court settlement which he donated to the Michael Jackson Burn Centre set up in his Honour.[183] In July 1984 he donated his $5million share from the Victory tour to charity.[183] In 1985 Jackson co-wrote with Lionel Richie the hit song "We Are the World", and sung a featured solo on the charity single. The record helped to raise money and awareness for the famine in East Africa and was one of the first instances where Jackson was seen as a humanitarian. All profits from his 1988 hit single "Man in the Mirror" went to charity.[184]

From 1985–1990 Jackson had donated $500,000 to the United Negro College Fund.[185] In 1992, Jackson founded the "Heal the World Foundation" (named after his humanitarian single "Heal the World"). The charity organization brought underprivileged children to Jackson's Neverland Ranch, located outside Santa Ynez, California, to go on theme park rides which Jackson had built on the property after he purchased it in 1988. All profits from the Dangerous World Tour went to his foundation raising many millions of dollars in relief. Jacksons 1995 international #1 hit Earth Song showed a shift in his concerns to environmental issues and ends with a disclaimer asking for donations for his "Heal the World Foundation". In 1998 Jackson was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.[16]

In late 2002, Jackson's Heal the World Foundation had net assets of just US$3,542 and reported $2,585 in expenses, mostly for management fees. The foundation was suspended in California since April 2002 for supposedly failing to file annual statements required of tax-exempt organizations, according to John Barrett, spokesman for the state Franchise Tax Board. The "Heal the World Foundation spread millions of dollars around the globe to help children threatened by war and disease," thanks to the efforts of Michael Jackson, but the forced closure of the Foundation leaves many of these children without aid.[186] At the World Music Awards in 2006 Beyonce announced that Jackson had given $300 million to charity.[187] and that Jackson has been actively involved with 39 charity organizations around the world.[188]

Physical appearance

Michael Jackson after being acquitted of child molestation charges on June 13, 2005

Jackson's skin was a medium-brown color for the entire duration of his youth, but starting in 1982 his skin gradually became paler. This change became so noticeable that it gained widespread media coverage, with some media outlets claiming that he was bleaching his skin. The structure of his face has changed as well, and several surgeons have speculated that Jackson has undergone multiple nasal surgeries as well as a forehead lift, thinned lips and cheekbone surgery.[189]

Appearing on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1993, Jackson addressed the rumors claiming that the change in his skin color was due to the disease vitiligo.[190] In the interview, Jackson became emotional, saying that: "I'm a black American, I am proud of my race. I am proud of who I am. I have a lot of pride and dignity... I have a skin disorder that destroys the pigmentation of my skin, it's something that I cannot help, OK? But when people make up stories that I don't want to be what I am it hurts me... It's a problem for me that I can't control."[190] Jackson also responded to tabloid rumors about the amount of plastic surgery he had had done, insisting that he's had "Very, very little. I mean you can count on my two fingers," and furthermore said that "I've never had my cheekbones done, never had my eyes done, never had my lips done and all this stuff, they just go too far."[190] These assertions echoed what Jackson wrote in his 1988 autobiography Moon Walk: that he only had two rhinoplastic surgeries and the surgical creation of a cleft in his chin. In the book, he attributed the noticeable change in the structure of his face to puberty and diet.[191] Despite Jackson's protests, some news sources, particularly tabloid newspapers, have pointedly continued to express skepticism about his claims.[192]

Child molestation charges

Main article: People v. Jackson

Fans protest Jackson's innocence in Amsterdam, 2004

Jackson was reported to be allowing children to sleep over at his Neverland ranch. This practice came under much media and public scrutiny, in 1993, when child molestation allegations were brought against Jackson by a child who had stayed with him on several occasions. That year, Jordan Chandler, the son of former Beverly Hills dentist Evan Chandler, represented by civil lawyer Larry Feldman, accused Jackson of child sexual abuse. On December 22, Jackson responded to the allegations via satellite from his Neverland compound and claimed to be "totally innocent of any wrongdoing". On January 25, 1994, Jackson settled out of court with the accuser for an undisclosed sum, reported to be US$20 million. The family dropped the charges.[193]

I have spent my entire life helping millions of children across the world. I would never harm a child. It is unfortunate that some individuals have seen fit to come forward and make a complaint that is completely false. Years ago, I settled with certain individuals because I was concerned about my family and the media scrutiny that would have ensued if I fought the matter in court. These people wanted to exploit my concern for children by threatening to destroy what I believe in and what I do. I have been a vulnerable target for those who want money.[194]

– Michael Jackson

On December 18, 2003, Jackson was charged with seven counts of child molestation and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent in order to commit that felony, all regarding the same boy, Gavin Arvizo, under 14 at the time of the incident. The felony complaint stated that Jackson had committed seven lewd acts and two acts of administration of an intoxicating agent to enable the former accusations. Jackson denied these allegations, saying that the sleepovers were in no way sexual in nature. Jackson's friend, Elizabeth Taylor, defended him on Larry King Live, saying that she had been there when they "were in the bed, watching television. There was nothing abnormal about it. There was no touchy-feely going on. We laughed like children, and we watched a lot of Walt Disney. There was nothing odd about it."[195]

The People v. Jackson trial began in Santa Maria, California, on January 31, 2005, and lasted until the end of May 2005, with Jackson being acquitted on all counts in June. It was one of the largest and most documented trials in world history. About 2,200 media credentials to over 30 news organizations from around the world were issued to cover the trial, more than what was given for the trials of O. J. Simpson and Scott Peterson combined.[1] Jackson's popularity outside the United States ensured a distinctly international crowd of reporters.[1] On top of the media, Santa Maria was also flooded with Jackson fans, 1,200 of whom heard and celebrated the ten not guilty verdicts right outside the courthouse.[196]

The District Attorney of Santa Barbara County in California, Tom Sneddon, has led two efforts against Jackson involving child molestation.[197] The first incident, in 1993, resulted in no charges and the second, at the end of 2003, culminated in a trial two years later in which Jackson was acquitted on all counts. These repeated prosecutions have led to suggestions that Sneddon was motivated by a "mission" or "vendetta" against Jackson. Although Sneddon has a good track record, evidence to support Jackson's claim is quite strong, as Sneddon joked about Jackson's greatest hits album being released on the same day as his arrest, called him "Wacko Jacko" and also shouted "we got him, we finally got him" to the world media when he had at the time minimal evidence.[198][199][24]


This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards.

Please improve this article if you can. (January 2008)

Music catalogs and loans

Michael Jackson purchased ownership in ATV Music Publishing in 1985, which owns the publishing rights to songs written by The Beatles and many other acts. In 1995, Jackson and Sony Music Publishing merged their two catalogues to create Sony-ATV. Jackson's 50% interest in the company (Sony Music Entertainment owns the other half) is estimated to be worth USD $500 million. Jackson also owns his own music catalogue called MiJac Publishing, which contains all of his songs and songs from Sly & the Family Stone.[200]

Over the past 10 years, Jackson has secured two loans for USD $200 million and USD $70 million. The USD $200 million loan was secured by using Jackson's share of the Sony-ATV Catalogue as collateral. He later secured the USD $70 million loan by using his MiJac Catalogue as collateral. However, because of his declining sales, his MiJac Catalogue's value declined to under USD $100 million, therefore he was forced to use his Neverland Ranch and Hayvenhurst as added collateral to keep the loan.[citation needed]

In April 2005, Bank of America sold the loan to Fortress Investments. Jackson continued to miss payments on the loan, and as of December 20, 2005, Fortress had the right to foreclose on the loan, allowing Sony Music the first right to buy Jackson's share of the loan. However, Fortress extended the loan, allowing Jackson time to get money together.[citation needed]

In a move named by Jackson's advisors as "refinancing," it was announced on April 14, 2006 that Jackson had struck a deal with Sony and Fortress Investments. In the deal Sony may be allowed to take control of half of Jackson's 50% stake in Sony/ATV Music Publishing (worth an estimated $1 billion) which Jackson co-owns. Jackson would be left with 25% of the catalogue, with the rest belonging to Sony.[citation needed]

In exchange, Sony negotiated with a loans company on behalf of Jackson. Jackson's $200m in loans were due in December 2005 and were secured on the catalogue. Jackson failed to pay and Bank of America sold them to Fortress Investments, a company dealing in distressed loans. However, Jackson has not as yet sold any of the remainder of his stake. The possible purchase by Sony of 25% of Sony/ATV Music Publishing is a conditional option; it is assumed the singer will try to avoid having to sell part of the catalogue of songs including material by other artists such as Bob Dylan and Destiny's Child. As another part of the deal Jackson was given a new $300 million loan, and a lower interest rate on the old loan to match the original Bank of America rate. When the loan was sold to Fortress Investments they increased the interest rate to 20%.[201] None of the details are officially confirmed.[citation needed] An advisor to Jackson, however, did publicly announce he had "restructured his finances with the assistance of Sony."[202]

Michael Jackson owes a $5 million interest payment to Fortress Trust, the publicly traded hedge fund that bought his $272 million loan from Bank of America in April 2005 (the loan has been refinanced to $325 million by Fortress). The payment is due on Oct. 31, 2007.[203]

Neverland Ranch employees

On March 9, 2006, California state labor officials closed the singer's Neverland Ranch and fined him $69,000 for failure to provide employment insurance. The state "stop order" bars Jackson from "using any employee labor" until he secured required workers' compensation insurance. In addition to being fined $1,000 for each of his 69 workers, Jackson is liable for up to 10 days pay for those employees who now are no longer allowed to report to Neverland for work.[204] Thirty Neverland employees have also sued Jackson for $306,000 in unpaid wages.[205]

Soon after this payment, Jackson's spokesperson announced on March 16, 2006 that Jackson was closing his house at Neverland and had laid off some of the employees but added that reports of the closing of the entire ranch were inaccurate.[206]

F. Marc Schaffel

On July 14, 2006, the jury awarded Schaffel $900,000 of the original $3.8 million he sued Jackson for, which Schaffel later reduced to $1.6 million, and finally to $1.4 million.[207] The jury also awarded Jackson $200,000 plus interest of the $660,000 that Jackson claimed he was owed by Schaffel.[208]

Prescient Acquisition Group

On July 31, 2006, a federal judge allowed a $48 million claim against Jackson and one of Jackson's trusts (MJ Publishing Trust) for unpaid fees and breach of contract. "Prescient Acquisition Group" claimed the singer owed fees for the company's help in refinancing his debts and claiming a larger stake in a library of Beatles songs. All parties were ordered to reappear in court in September.[209]


Main articles: Michael Jackson album discography and Michael Jackson singles discography

U.S. number one singles (13)

1972: "Ben"

1979: "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough"

1980: "Rock with You"

1983: "Billie Jean"

1983: "Beat It"

1983: "Say Say Say" (with Paul McCartney)

1987: "I Just Can't Stop Loving You"

1987: "Bad"

1987: "The Way You Make Me Feel"

1988: "Man in the Mirror"

1988: "Dirty Diana"

1991: "Black or White"

1995: "You Are Not Alone"

Number ones in selected countries

Spain (26)

Zimbabwe (10)

France (7)

United Kingdom (7)

Canada (5)

Australia (4)

Studio albums

Motown releases

1972: Got to Be There

1972: Ben

1973: Music & Me

1975: Forever, Michael

1984: Farewell My Summer Love

Epic releases

1979: Off the Wall

1982: Thriller

1987: Bad

1991: Dangerous

1995: HIStory: Past, Present and Future - Book I

1997: Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix

2001: Invincible

Sony BMG releases

2008: TBA


Main article: Michael Jackson filmography

Notable music videos

1983: "Billie Jean"

1983: "Beat It"

1983: "Thriller"

1987: "Bad"

1987: "The Way You Make Me Feel"

1988: "Smooth Criminal"

1989: "Leave Me Alone"

1991: "Black or White"

1992: "Remember the Time"

1995: "Scream"

1995: "Earth Song"

2001: "You Rock My World"


1978: The Wiz

1986: Captain EO

1988: Moonwalker

1997: Ghosts

Source:- Wikipedia

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Atal Bihari Vajpayee

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Atal Bihari Vajpayee

अटल बिहारी वाजपेयी

Atal Bihari Vajpayee

11th Prime Minister of India

First Term

In office

16 May 1996 – 1 June 1996

Preceded by P.V. Narasimha Rao

Succeeded by H.D. Deve Gowda

Second Term

In office

19 March 1998 – 22 May 2004

Preceded by I. K. Gujral

Succeeded by Manmohan Singh

Born 25 December 1924 (1924-12-25) (age 83)

Gwalior, Gwalior State, British India

Political party Bharatiya Janata Party

Spouse Single; Never married

Occupation Politician; Poet

Religion Hinduism

Atal Bihari Vajpayee (Hindi: अटल बिहारी वाजपेयी, IPA: [əʈəl bɪhaːɾiː ʋaːdʒpeiː]) (born 25 December 1924) was the Prime Minister of India, briefly in 1996, and again from 19 March 1998 until 22 May 2004. He retired from active politics in December 2005, but still comments on and participates in national debates of policy, welfare and defence.

He is a senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Indian politics in general. He has served as a member of the Parliament of India for nearly 50 years. He is also a poet, writing in his native language, Hindi.



* 1 Early political career

* 2 The Janata phase

* 3 The rise of the BJP

* 4 Prime Minister of India

o 4.1 First Term: 1996

o 4.2 Second Term: 1998-1999

+ 4.2.1 Nuclear Bomb Testing

+ 4.2.2 Lahore summit

+ 4.2.3 Kargil Invasion

o 4.3 Third Term: 1999-2004

+ 4.3.1 Reform

+ 4.3.2 Attack on Parliament

* 5 Life and legacy, praise and criticism, after the 2004 elections

* 6 References

* 7 External links

Early political career

Vajpayee's involvement in politics began as a freedom-fighter during the Quit India Movement of 1942-1945. Later he joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), an organization propounding Hindutva, or Hindu Nationalism and considered Right-Wing in Indian politics.

He became a close follower and aide to Syama Prasad Mookerjee, the leader of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS). Vajpayee was at Mookerjee's side when he went on a fast-unto-death in Kashmir in 1953, to protest the identity card requirement and what he claimed was the "inferior" treatment of Indian citizens visiting Kashmir, and the special treatment accorded to Kashmir because it had a Muslim majority. Mookerjee's fast and protest ended the identity card requirement, and hastened the integration of Kashmir into the Indian Union. But Mookherjee died after weeks of weakness, illness and confinement in jail. These events were a watershed moment for the young Vajpayee. Taking the baton from Mookerjee, Vajpayee won his first election to parliament in 1957.

As the leader of BJS, he expanded its political appeal, organization and agenda. In spite of his youth, he soon became a respected voice in the opposition -- one of reason and intelligence. His broad appeal brought respect, recognition and acceptance to a rising nationalist cultural movement. He is considered as "The man of Honor" by his followers.

See also: Indian Nationalism, Hindutva, and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh

The Janata phase

While the Bharatiya Jana Sangh had strong constituencies of support, it failed to dislodge the Indian National Congress as the leading party in Indian parliament. Indira Gandhi's vast majorities in 1967 and 1971 further diminished other political parties.

When Prime Minister Gandhi imposed a national state of emergency in 1975, the RSS and BJS joined a wide-array of parties in opposing the suspension of elections and civil liberties. Vajpayee was briefly jailed during that period.

When Indira Gandhi called elections in 1977, the BJS joined the Janata coalition, a vast collage of regional groups, socialist, communist and right-wing forces. Janata swept the polls and formed the next government under Prime Minister Morarji Desai. Vajpayee took office as the Minister for External Affairs.

In a tenure lasting two years, Vajpayee achieved several milestones. He went on a historic visit to China in 1979, normalizing relations with China for the first time since the 1962 Sino-Indian War. He also visited Pakistan and initiated normal dialogue and trade relations that were frozen since the 1971 Indo-Pak War and subsequent political instability in both countries. This act was particularly surprising for a man perceived as a hard-right Hindu nationalist. Minister Vajpayee represented the nation at the Conference on Disarmament, where he defended the national nuclear program, the centerpiece of national security in the Cold War world, especially with neighboring China being a nuclear power. (India had become the sixth nuclear power in the world with an underground nuclear test at Pokhran in 1974) Although he resigned in 1979 when the government politically attacked the RSS, he had established his credentials as an experienced statesman and respected political leader. During this tenure, he also became the first person to deliver a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in Hindi (in 1977), the "most unforgettable" moment in his life by his own admission.

The rise of the BJP

Part of a series on

Hindu politics

Major parties

Bharatiya Janata Party

Shiv Sena

Hindu Mahasabha

Defunct parties

Bharatiya Jana Sangh

Ram Rajya Parishad


Integral humanism

Hindu nationalism


Major figures

Bal Gangadhar Tilak

Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar

Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar

Keshava Baliram Hedgewar

Syama Prasad Mookerjee

Deendayal Upadhyaya

Bal Thackeray

Related authors

B.C. Chattopadhyay

Koenraad Elst

Francois Gautier

Sita Ram Goel

K.S. Lal

Harsh Narain

Yvette Rosser

Arun Shourie

Ram Swarup

Politics · Govt of India

This box: view • talk • edit

Vajpayee resigned from government with Morarji Desai's resignation as prime minister, and the Janata coalition dissolved soon after. The BJS had devoted political organization to sustain the coalition and was left exhausted by the internecine wars within Janata.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee, along with many BJS and RSS colleagues, particularly his long-time and close friends Lal Krishna Advani and Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, formed the Bharatiya Janata Party in 1980 as the new home of Hindutva, right-wing social and economic ideas and nationalism. Vajpayee became its founding President. The BJP was a strong critic of the Congress government, and while it opposed the Sikh militancy that was rising in the state of Punjab, it also blamed Indira Gandhi for divisive and corrupt politics that fostered the militancy at national expense. Leader Darasingh opines that Vajpayee thus "brought in Hindu-Sikh harmony."[1]

Although supporting Operation Bluestar, the BJP strongly protested the violence against Sikhs in Delhi that broke out in 1984 following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. Vajpayee was known and commended for protecting Sikhs against Congress-followers seeking to avenge the death of their leader. While the BJP won only two parliamentary seats in the 1984 elections, in which the Congress party led by Rajiv Gandhi (son of Indira Gandhi) won in a historic landslide, the BJP however had established itself in the mainstream of Indian politics, and soon began expanding its organization to attract younger Indians throughout the country. During this period Vajpayee remained center-stage as party President and Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, but increasingly hard-line Hindu nationalists began to rise within the party and define its politics.

The BJP became the political voice of the Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir Movement, which was led by activists of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the RSS, and was seeking to build a temple dedicated to Lord Rama at the site of the Babri mosque in the city of Ayodhya. Hindu activists believed the site was the birthplace of the Lord, and thus qualified as one of the most sacred sites of Hinduism.

On December 6, 1992, hundreds of VHP and BJP activists broke down an organized protest into a frenzied attack on the mosque.[citation needed] By the end of the day, the mosque had crumbled to pieces. Over the following weeks, waves of violence between Hindus and Muslims erupted in various parts of the country, killing over 1000 people. The VHP organization was banned by the government, and many BJP leaders including Lal Krishna Advani were arrested briefly for provoking the destruction. Although widely condemned by many across the country for playing politics with sensitive issues, the BJP won the loyalty and support of millions of Hindus, as well as national prominence.[citation needed]

Prime Minister of India

First Term: 1996

Political energy and expansion made BJP the single-largest political party in the Lok Sabha elected in 1996. Mired down by corruption scandals, the Congress was at a historic low, and a vast medley of regional parties and break-off factions dominated the hung Parliament. Asked to form the government, A.B. Vajpayee was sworn in as prime minister, but the BJP failed to gather enough support from other parties to form a majority. Vajpayee resigned after just 13 days, when it became clear that he could not garner a majority.

Second Term: 1998-1999

After a third-party coalition governed India between 1996 and 1998, the terribly divided Parliament was dissolved and fresh elections held. These elections again put the BJP at the head. This time, a cohesive bloc of political parties lined up with it to form the National Democratic Alliance, and A.B. Vajpayee was sworn in as the prime minister. The NDA proved its 286 vote majority in a narrow vote of confidence. Towards the end of 1998 however, the AIADMK under J.Jayalalitha withdrew its support from the 13-month old government. The government lost the ensuing vote of confidence motion by a single vote.Chief Minister of Orissa state voted in the parliament as sitting congress member. As the opposition was unable to come up with the numbers to form the new government, the country returned to elections with Vajpayee remaining the "care-taker prime minister". After the election in 1999, Vajpayee was sworn in as the Prime Minister for the third time. The coalition government that was formed lasted its full term of 5 years – the only non-Congress government to do so.

His premiership began at a decisive phase of national life and history: the Congress Party, dominant for over 40 years, appeared irreparably damaged, and fractious regional parties seemed to threaten the very stability of the nation by continually fracturing government work.

Nuclear Bomb Testing

In May 1998, India conducted five underground nuclear weapon tests in Pokhran, Rajasthan. The five tests shocked and surprised the world, especially considering that the government had been in power for only a month. Two weeks later, Pakistan responded with its own nuclear weapon tests, making it the newest nation with nuclear weapons.

While some nations, such as Russia and France, endorsed India's right to defensive nuclear power, others including USA, Canada, Japan, UK and the European Union imposed sanctions on the sale of military equipment and high-tech scientific information, resources and technology to India or Pakistan. In spite of the intense international criticism steady decline in foreign investment and trade, the nuclear tests were popular domestically and the Vajpayee's popularity and the BJP's prestige rose in response.

During his premiership, Vajpayee introduced many important economic and infrastructural reforms domestically including, encouraging the private sector and foreign investments; reducing governmental waste; encouraging research and development and privatizing of government owned corporations.

Lahore summit

In late 1998 and early 1999, Vajpayee began a push for a full-scale diplomatic peace process with Pakistan. With the historic inauguration of the Delhi-Lahore bus service in February 1999, Vajpayee initiated a new peace process aimed towards permanently resolving the Kashmir dispute and other territorial/nuclear/strategic conflicts with Pakistan. The resultant Lahore Declaration espoused a commitment to dialogue, expanded trade relations and the goal of denuclearized South Asia, and mutual friendship. This eased the tension created by the 1998 nuclear tests, not only within the two nations, but also in South Asia and the rest of the world.

The Vajpayee led government was faced with two crises in mid-1999. The AIADMK party had continually threatened to withdraw support from the coalition and national leaders repeatedly flew down from Delhi to Chennai to pacify the AIADMK chief J. Jayalalitha. Finally, in May 1999, the AIADMK did pull the plug on the NDA, and the Vajpayee administration was reduced to a caretaker status pending fresh elections scheduled for October.

Kargil Invasion

(see main article Kargil War) More importantly and soon after, it was revealed that thousands of terrorists and non-uniformed Pakistani soldiers (many with official identifications and Pakistan Army's custom weaponry) had infiltrated into the Kashmir Valley and captured control of border hilltops, unmanned border posts and were spreading out fast. The incursion was centered around the town of Kargil, but also included the Batalik and Akhnoor sectors and include artillery exchanges at the Siachen Glacier.

Indian army units were rushed into Kashmir in response. Operation Vijay (1999), launched in June 1999, saw the Indian military fighting thousands of terrorists and soldiers amidst heavy artillery shelling and while facing extremely cold weather, snow and treacherous terrain at the high altitude. Over 500 Indian soldiers died in the three-month long Kargil War, and it is estimated around 600 Pakistani militants and soldiers died as well. Pakistan's army shot down two air force jets. The mutilation of the body of pilot Ajay Ahuja inflamed public opinion in India. After the United States refused to condone the incursion or threaten India to stop its military operations, Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif asked the militants to stop and withdraw to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Third Term: 1999-2004

On 13 October 1999, General Pervez Musharraf, chief of Pakistan's army and the chief planner of the Kargil conflict, seized power from the civilian, democratic government of Pakistan, and established his own dictatorship. On the same day, Atal Bihari Vajpayee took oath as Prime Minister of India for the third time. The BJP-led NDA had won 303 seats in the 543 seat Lok Sabha, a comfortable, stable majority, without the AIADMK.

A national crisis popped up in December 1999, when an Indian Airlines flight (IC 814 from Nepal) was hijacked by Pakistani terrorists and flown via Pakistan to Taliban ruled Afghanistan. The media and the relatives of the hijacked passengers built up tremendous pressure on the government to give in to the hijackers' demand to release certain Kashmiri terrorists, including high-ranking Maulana Masood Azhar, from prison. The government ultimately caved in and Jaswant Singh, the Indian External Affairs minister, flew with the terrorists to Afghanistan and exchanged them for the passengers. No explanation was given by the Indian government for the External Affairs minister personally escorting the terrorists. The crisis also worsened the relationship between India and Pakistan, as the hijacked plane was allowed to re-fuel in Lahore, and all the hijackers, except one, were Pakistanis.

A.B.Vajpayee meeting President Bush in the White House in 2003

A.B.Vajpayee meeting President Bush in the White House in 2003


Vajpayee oversaw his National Highway Development Project begin construction, in which he took a personal interest.

In March 2000 Bill Clinton, the President of the United States made the second visit by any American President to India and thus gave a fillip to the government. Since the visit followed barely two years after the Pokhran tests, and one year after the Kargil invasion and the subsequent coup in Pakistan, it was read to reflect a major shift in the post-Cold War U.S. foreign policy. The Indian Prime Minister and the U.S. President discussed strategic issues, but the chief achievement was a significant expansion in trade and economic ties.

Domestically, the BJP led government was under constant pressure from its ideological mentor, the RSS, and the hard-line VHP to enact the Hindutva agenda. But owing to its dependence on coalition support, it was impossible for the BJP to push items like building the Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir in Ayodhya. The BJP was however accused of saffron-ising (saffron is the color of the flag of the RSS, symbol of the Hindu nationalism movement) the official state education curriculum and apparatus. Home Minister L.K. Advani and Education Minister Murli Manohar Joshi were indicted in the 1992 Babri Mosque demolition case for inciting the mob of activists. The RSS also routinely criticized the government for free-market policies which introduced foreign goods and competition at the expense of home industries and products.

Vajpayee's administration earned the ire of many unionized workers groups and government workers for their aggressive campaign to privatize government owned corporations. Vajpayee promoted pro-business, free market reforms to reinvigorate India's economic transformation and expansion that were started by former PM Narasimha Rao but stalled after 1996 due to unstable governments and the 1997 Asian financial crisis. Increased competitiveness, extra funding and support for the information technology and high-tech industries, improvements in infrastructure, deregulation of trade, investments and corporate laws - all increased foreign capital investment and set in motion an economic expansion.

These couple of years of reform however were accompanied by infighting in the administration and confusion regarding the direction of government. Cabinet portfolios were created and shuffled every six months apparently to pacify restless coalition partners. Vajpayee's weakening health was also a subject of public interest, and he underwent a major knee-replacement surgery at the Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai to relieve great pressure on his legs.

In 2000, the Tehelka group released incriminating videos of the BJP President Bangaru Laxman, senior army officers and NDA members accepting bribes from journalists posing as agents and businessmen. While the scandals were not linked to Vajpayee's personally, the Defence Minister George Fernandes was forced to resign following this Barak Missile Deal Scandal, another scandal involving the botched supplies of coffins for the soldiers killed in Kargil, and the finding of an inquiry commission that the Government could have prevented the Kargil invasion. These developments as well as an ambiguous response of the economy to the reforms, reduced the Vajpayee administration's popularity and undermined its future.

Vajpayee again broke the ice in the Indo-Pak relations by inviting Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to Delhi and Agra for a joint summit and peace talks. His second-major attempt to move beyond the stalemate tensions involved inviting the man who had planned the Kargil invasions, but accepting him as the President of Pakistan, Vajpayee chose to move forward. But after three days of much fanfare, which included Musharraf visiting his birthplace in Delhi, the summit failed to achieve a breakthrough as President Musharraf declined to leave aside the issue of Kashmir.

Attack on Parliament

On 13 December 2001, a group of masked, armed men with fake IDs stormed the Parliament building in Delhi. The terrorists managed to kill several security guards, but the building was sealed off swiftly and security forces cornered and killed the men, who were later proven to be Pakistan nationals. Coming just three months after the September 11 terrorist attacks upon the United States, this fresh escalation instantly enraged the nation. Although the Government of Pakistan officially condemned the attack, Indian intelligence reports pointed the finger at a conspiracy rooted in Pakistan. Prime Minister Vajpayee ordered a mobilization of India's military forces, and as many as 500,000 servicemen amassed along the international boundary bordering Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Kashmir. Pakistan responded with the same. Vicious terrorist attacks and an aggressive anti-terrorist campaign froze day-to-day life in Kashmir, and foreigners flocked out of both India and Pakistan, fearing a possible war and nuclear exchange. For as long as two years, both nations remained perilously close to a terrible war.

The Vajpayee administrations passed the Prevention of Terrorist Act against vigorous opposition of non-NDA parties. Human rights groups have condemned the act which gives wide authority to the government to crack down and hold anybody. Its repelling was advocated by human rights organisations. [2]

But the biggest political disaster hit between December 2001 and March 2002: the VHP held the Government hostage in a major standoff in Ayodhya over the Ram temple. At the 10th anniversary of the destruction of the Babri mosque, the VHP wanted to perform a sheela daan, or a ceremony laying the foundation stone of the cherished temple at the disputed site. Tens of thousands of VHP activists amassed and threatened to overrun the site and forcibly build the temple. A grave threat of not only communal violence, but an outright breakdown of law and order owing to the defiance of the government by a religious organization hung over the nation.[citation needed]

Just a week following the standoff, a train carriage carrying hundreds of Hindu pilgrims returning from Varanasi were attacked by a Muslim mob in Godhra, Gujarat and the bogey was set afire, killing 59 pilgrims. Such an assault on pilgrims inflamed local Hindus engendering an episode of communal violence in which nearly 1,000 people were killed and displaced across Gujarat. The State government at that time led by the Chief Minister Narendra Modi, a prominent BJP leader, was accused of preventing the onset of the violence. Vajpayee visited the state and publicly criticized the Chief Minister for not doing his moral duty to protect the people; he also spoke at the BJP National Party Convention in Goa in June, 2002 allegedly denouncing Muslims for having tolerated the Godhra mob which attacked the train carrying pilgrims, and not doing enough to counter the spread of Islamic terrorism entering the country. In a Cabinet reshuffle, his long-time and close associate Lal Krishna Advani was designated Deputy Prime Minister of India, and increased power in the party and the Cabinet, and more credibility with the RSS and the conservative Hindu base. In September 2002, Narendra Modi led the BJP to a major victory, and thus vindication through the state assembly elections. His defiant victory was seen standing right against the moral criticism handed down by the Prime Minister. (See also:2002 Gujarat violence)

In late 2002 and 2003 the government pushed economic reforms, and the country's GDP growth accelerated at record levels, exceeding 6-7%. Increasing foreign investment, modernization of public and industrial infrastructure, the creation of jobs, a rising high-tech and IT industry and urban modernization and expansion improved the nation's national image. Good crop harvests and strong industrial expansion also helped the economy. The Government reformed the tax system, increased the pace of reforms and pro-business initiatives, major irrigation and housing schemes and so on. The political energies of the BJP shifted to the rising urban middle-class and young people, who were positive and enthusiastic about the major economic expansion and future of the country.

In August 2003, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced before Parliament his "absolute last" effort to achieve peace with Pakistan. Although the diplomatic process never truly set-off immediately, visits were exchanged by high-level officials and the military stand-off ended. The Pakistani President and Pakistani politicians, civil and religious leaders hailed this initiative as did the leaders of America, Europe and much of the world.

In November-December 2003, the BJP won three major state elections, fought mainly on development issues, without ideological campaigns. A major public relations campaign was launched to reach out to Muslims and stop the 2002 controversies from haunting the party's future. But the attention of the media and of millions now moved from Vajpayee to his more possible successor, L.K. Advani, although the question was never directly raised or contested in any way. Vajpayee's age, failing health and diminished physical and mental vigor were obvious factors in such speculations. Advani assumed greater responsibilities in the party, and although no perceivable conflict has been known to arise between the longtime friends and political colleagues, several embarrassing statements were made. Once Vajpayee said "Advani would lead the BJP in the elections," prompting Advani to clarify that he would merely lead the election campaign, not the party. And then the BJP President Venkiah Naidu used mythological references to depict Vajpayee as a Vikas Purush, (Man of Progress), comparing him toBhishma Pitamah of the Mahabharata epic, a man respected by all political outfits and hundreds of millions of people. Advani was called the "Loh Purush" (Iron Man), a more potent reference suggestive of future developments.

As the BJP prepared for general elections in 2004, either early or late, Vajpayee was still the choice of the BJP, and crucially of the wider NDA for the prime minister's job.

Life and legacy, praise and criticism, after the 2004 elections

A.B. Vajpayee's BJP and the National Democratic Alliance were expected to pick up more seats and score a major victory in the 2004 elections. The parliament was dissolved earlier than necessary in order to capitalize on the national economic boom and improved security and cultural atmosphere.

A vigorous BJP campaign did its best to highlight the major progress achieved, and win the votes of the traditionally averse Muslims for the BJP candidates. Controversial and ideological issues were side-stepped in favor of bread-butter economic issues. But by the time the first three phases of voting were over, it was clear that the BJP was losing too many important seats to retain a formidable position in Parliament. The BJP and its flagship coalition, the NDA, lost almost half their seats in parliamentane several prominent cabinet ministers were defeated, and regional, socialist and Communist parties quickly grouped round the resurgent Indian National Congress led by Sonia Gandhi to form a left-of-center United Progressive Alliance, which formed the government under Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.

The fact that Vajpayee attended the swearing-in of the new government despite his party's decision to boycott it symbolized the growing acrimony to come. Many criticized Vajpayee for sacrificing core issues like Hindutva and the Ram Temple, and going overboard to woo Muslims (the BJP lost the Muslim vote by a heavy margin), and even moving too early to elections. The pro-Vajpayee activists accused Narendra Modi's controversial regime in Gujarat and the obstructiveness of the Hindu hard-right VHP and RSS for the defeat. A possible factor behind the defeat was the widespread disenchantment amongst hundreds of millions of farmers, labourers and workers who were on the bottom-rung of society, mired in poverty, illiteracy and debt, and yet to cash in any benefit from the boom. While the BJP pandered to the rising middle-class of the cities, India's villages and small towns rallied behind pro-poor, socialistic political forces like the Congress and left parties.

A.B. Vajpayee expressed his anger and frustration with repeated signals of resignation and retirement. But at a high-level party meeting, he decided to give up the position of the Leader of the Opposition to his long-time friend, second-in-command and successor, Lal Krishna Advani, who also became BJP President. Always a figure of consensus, Vajpayee became Chairman of the National Democratic Alliance. It is a widespread feeling with critics, journalists and many people that Vajpayee's time at the pinnacle of national politics and the BJP, and his position as the obvious BJP choice for Prime Minister is steadily fading. Vajpayee himself is taking more backseat roles and responsibilities, and his health ailments limit his ability to deal with the premier position in national life.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee's six years at the Prime Minister's Office led to a major transformation and expansion of the national economy. In the 1999 Kargil War, his leadership defended the country's integrity and security, while his broad-minded statesmanship in 1999, 2001 and 2004 kept the country's safety, peace and future on the high-course despite many discouraging events, failures and threats. During his 50 years as Member of Parliament, Vajpayee has established impeccable and virtually infallible credentials as a man of principle, integrity and commitment in the world of Indian politics, and as a leading visionary and statesman of the world.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee sowed the seeds and rose with the growing nationalist movement in Indian politics. For four decades he was the flag-bearer, icon and undisputed leader of the Hindu nationalist political movement, working steadily through years of defeat and desolation to foster a major national movement, broad support amongst hundreds of millions and the leadership of the world's largest democracy and most diverse nation.

Vajpayee's government is criticized over its ignorance of the issues and concerns of India's poor millions, over the famous corruption scandals, and the episodes of communal violence and rise of both Hindu and Muslim radicalism in politics. While praised for his leadership during the Kargil War and for his peace efforts with Pakistan, the Vajpayee administration is blamed for not being able to detect and prevent two serious terrorist attacks on the country, and an incursion into Indian sovereign territory.

In addition, his opponents in the Congress have accused Vajpayee of having turned an approver against freedom fighters during the British regime in 1942. They have circulated certain documents in support of this accusation, and solicited testimonies. Vajpayee has denied these accusations. [3] [4] [5]

Vajpayee led a diverse, fractious coalition to complete a full five-year term in office, be the guiding light over a collage of political chaos. He gave stability and unity when the country was the least united, and security when the country was most susceptible. This included not only the security of the borders from invasion, but of the security of 100 million families with the provision of jobs and education in a solid, hopeful economic future, and the strategic national future security.

Despite the rejection of his party in 2004, Vajpayee has retained a position of esteem and respect amongst common people seldom offered to politicians in India. He was conferred Padma Vibhushan in 1992, Lokmanya Tilak Puruskar and the Pt. Govind Ballabh Pant Award for the Best Parliamentarian, both in 1994.

In December 2005, Vajpayee announced his retirement, declaring that he would not participate in the next general election. At a rally in the western city of Mumbai, Vajpayee said "I will not participate in any electoral politics. There are many other leaders to take forward the work which I and other senior leaders have been doing. In a now famous statement at the BJP's silver Jubilee rally at Mumbai's historic Shivaji Park, Vajpayee announced that "from now onwards, Lal Krishna Advani and Pramod Mahajan will be the Ram-Laxman of the BJP.

Source:- Wikipedia