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Episode
314

Michael Jackson | The Troubled Life of The King of Pop

Nov 11, 2022
Arts & Culture
-
24
minutes

He was the undisputed King of Pop, with 13 number-one hits, hundreds of millions of fans and a legacy that will continue to inspire artists for generations to come.

But beneath the surface, Michael Jackson's life was plagued by insecurity, loneliness, and deep-rooted demons that would ultimately lead to his untimely and tragic death.

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[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:00:12] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:21] I'm Alastair Budge, and today we are going to be talking about someone you’ve almost certainly heard of - Michael Jackson, “The King of Pop”, or simply “MJ”

[00:00:33] He was a child prodigy that became a teen idol, and then went on to become one of the biggest selling music artists of all time.

[00:00:42] But, as you will know, his later life was plagued with controversy and allegations of the most heinous kind.

[00:00:50] So that is what we are going to be talking about today, the Troubled Life of The King of Pop.

[00:00:56] This episode does come with a slight warning that we will be talking about some of the crimes that Michael Jackson was accused of, so if you would rather not listen to that, please stop listening now.

[00:01:08] OK then, let’s get into it and talk about the life of Michael Jackson.

[00:01:15] Michael Joseph Jackson was born into a working-class African-American family in Gary, Indiana, on August the 29th of 1958.

[00:01:26] He grew up in a modest two-bedroom house along with his eight siblings - quite the squeeze, two parents and 9 children, 11 people in total, in only two bedrooms.. 

[00:01:39] His father, Joe Jackson, worked for U.S Steel and was a tough man, a former boxer who also played guitar in a local RnB band.

[00:01:51] And Jackson’s mother, Katherine Esher Jackson, worked in the department store Sears, and also played piano and clarinet

[00:02:01] Music, clearly, ran in Jackson's blood.

[00:02:05] And the father, Joe, pushed all of the children in a musical direction from an early age.

[00:02:13] The first band was called the Jackson Brothers, which, unsurprisingly, consisted of the young Jackson boys. 

[00:02:21] Michael joined the group when he was only six years old.

[00:02:26] Despite being an otherwise timid, shy boy, Michael was a natural on stage and it quickly became clear that he was a very talented singer and dancer.

[00:02:39] He became the group’s frontman, and soon enough, the Jackson Brothers were playing live shows in strip clubs and burlesque bars - the only places that would have them in Gary.

[00:02:52] They rehearsed relentlessly, and Joe Jackson was a hard man, a disciplinarian who ruled the family - and the band - with fear, with a rod of steel.

[00:03:07] The Jackson boys were allowed few friends, and they were forced to rehearse well into the night. 

[00:03:14] Later in his life, Michael Jackson would state that his father beat them for making minor mistakes in rehearsals, and that he became so terrified of his father that, in his words, "there were times when he'd come to see me and I would start to be sick." 

[00:03:33] In fact, Joe Jackson would often sit with a belt in hand as the Jacksons rehearsed, ready to punish any mistakes, and beat the children fiercely when one slipped up, when one made a mistake.

[00:03:48] Worse still, it would be claimed that the father, Joe, would sexually abuse his children.

[00:03:55] That childhood trauma would live with Michael for the rest of his life, and it's often raised when trying to make sense of the actions and controversy of his later years. 

[00:04:07] In 1964, the group's name was changed to the Jackson 5.

[00:04:13] A year later, in 1965, the group won a talent show, and they were on the way up.

[00:04:20] From 1966 to 1968, the Jackson 5 began touring the Midwest, playing mainly in black bars and clubs.

[00:04:30] And let’s remember here that Michael hasn’t even celebrated his 10th birthday - almost his entire life so far has been spent rehearsing and playing music.

[00:04:43] Although the Jackson boys initially performed covers, their versions of other people’s songs, in 1968 the Jackson 5 recorded their first original record for a local Indiana label, Steeltown Records, and their first single, "Big Boy", was released. 

[00:05:02] That same year, a Canadian singer discovered the group and brought them to the attention of the famous Motown Records. 

[00:05:11] After their audition, Motown president Berry Gordy was so impressed with the Jackson 5 that he immediately signed them, and armed with an experienced group of songwriters, The Jackson 5 managed their first big hit in 1969 with “I Want You Back.” 

[00:05:31] One influence you might not be aware of on the Jackson 5’s early career is another legendary singer, Diana Ross. She played an important role helping them after the entire Jackson family decamped from Indiana and moved to California.

[00:05:49] She presented them to important figures in the music industry, and in August of 1969 the Jackson 5 opened for Diana Ross & the Supremes in Los Angeles.

[00:06:01] They made their first TV appearance that same year, performing at the Miss Black America pageant with a cover of "It's Your Thing". 

[00:06:10] Following the show, the influential Rolling Stone magazine described Michael, in particular, as "a prodigy" with "overwhelming musical gifts."

[00:06:23] Michael Jackson’s life was never - could never - be the same again.

[00:06:28] Yet, though he would later admit that he was unhappy, lonely, and overworked, the successes kept coming for Michael and the Jackson 5. 

[00:06:39] And in early 1970, "I Want You Back" reached number one in the US Billboard Hot 100 - their first number one hit and the first of many in Jackson’s life.

[00:06:51] They quickly went on to top the charts with other well-known classics like "ABC" and "I'll Be There."

[00:06:58] And let’s remember here, in 1970, when the Jackson 5 had their first number one, Michael Jackson was only 11 years old, he was still a young child.

[00:07:10] But as the Jackson 5 grew in fame and popularity, Michael emerged as the star of the family, and moved from being a child prodigy to a teen idol.

[00:07:23] A teen idol, by the way, usually means an artist or actor with a big teenage fanbase, but in this case it was both as Michael was himself also still a teenager. 

[00:07:37] Or you could say, Michael wasn’t even a teenager yet.

[00:07:41] Despite his young age, he was a trailblazer, someone who forges a new path.

[00:07:48] His performance on the group’s record "Dancing Machine" popularised the robot dance. 

[00:07:54] And it was in the late-1970’s that Michael really began to break away from his brothers, to break out on his own.

[00:08:02] In 1978, he made his film debut as the Scarecrow in a remake of The Wizard Of Oz, with Diana Ross playing Dorothy.

[00:08:12] Then a year later, aged still only 21, Jackson recorded the iconic solo album Off The Wall, which brought him his first Number one solo singles with " Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" and "Rock With You".

[00:08:27] And the commercial and critical successes only grew.

[00:08:31] A year after that, in 1980, he won his first Grammy Award for Best R&B Male Vocal Performance, and in 1982 he released Thriller, which had a staggering seven singles from the album in the top 10, including some you probably know well, such as "Billie Jean," "Beat It," and, of course, "Thriller." 

[00:08:54] And you may also know that Thriller wasn’t famous only for its music.

[00:08:59] Thriller might be the most famous music video of all time, where Jackson, who had become a werewolf in the video, first unveiled his signature dance move, the moonwalk.

[00:09:12] By now Michael was the biggest pop star in the world - he was the King of Pop.

[00:09:19] He was rich beyond his wildest dreams, and it seemed that practically everything he released went to Number one.

[00:09:27] His personal life, however, was becoming a bit… well, strange.

[00:09:33] In the 1980s, Jackson became somewhat of a recluse - someone who lives a withdrawn life and avoids other people.

[00:09:41] He was also developing a reputation as a little eccentric, or weird.

[00:09:47] In 1984, he moved to a 1,100 hectare ranch in California called Neverland, where he had an amusement park, zoo, and a Ferris wheel built.

[00:09:59] And in January of that year, Michael and some of his siblings filmed an advert for Pepsi, but as he was dancing the pyrotechnic effects set his Afro hair on fire.

[00:10:14] Unaware of what was happening, he kept dancing, continuing with his routine until someone grabbed him and put the fire out.

[00:10:23] The accident left Jackson with second-degree burns to his scalp, and he had treatment - including a nose job - to hide the scarring, to hide the damage from the burns.

[00:10:37] It was around this time that rumours began to swirl around Hollywood that Jackson was lightening his skin through chemical treatment, that he was changing the colour of his skin.

[00:10:49] Michael Jackson was, as you will know, African American, he was black, but throughout the 1980’s his skin started becoming paler.

[00:11:00] This change in appearance, Jackson claimed, was due to a skin condition known as vitiligo. 

[00:11:09] Vitiligo is, of course, a real skin disorder, but there were other changes in Michael Jackson’s appearance that have nothing to do with vitiligo, and everything to do with someone trying to change their appearance through plastic surgery. 

[00:11:25] His nose was bleached, his lips were thinned, and his chin reshaped.

[00:11:31] He looked, as you will probably know if you have seen pictures of him as a child and then as a man, like a different person.

[00:11:40] But while his appearance may have changed completely, the quality of his music did not.

[00:11:47] After a few years without releasing an album, Jackson’s highly anticipated next release, “Bad”, was a huge hit.

[00:11:56] In August of 1987, this album, "Bad" became the first album to produce five US number-one singles.

[00:12:05] The album was also the first to be number 1 in 25 countries and was the best-selling album around the globe in both 1987 and 1988.

[00:12:17] Now Jackson was not just the King of Pop, he was head and shoulders above anyone else - breaking records and dominating the charts around the world.

[00:12:28] But behind all the success, behind the Number 1 albums and moonwalks and music videos, there was a darker side to Jackson’s life.

[00:12:39] Now, we get to the other part of Michael Jackson.

[00:12:42] The more uncomfortable part.

[00:12:45] The aspect of his life that is, unfortunately, inseparable from the amazing music that he created, and for some people outweighs his enormous success as a musician and for others is so great that they refuse to listen to his music.

[00:13:03] In August of 1993, reports emerged that the Los Angeles Police Department was investigating Jackson.

[00:13:11] The police had received that he molested, abused, four children, including a 13-year-old boy. 

[00:13:22] After searching his Neverland ranch, the police failed to find any incriminating evidence.

[00:13:28] But in September of that year, one of the families filed a lawsuit against Jackson, alleging that he "repeatedly committed sexual battery" on their 13 year old son.

[00:13:42] Defenders of Jackson, and his legal team, claimed the allegations were a way of extorting the star for millions of dollars, they were trying to get money out of the pop star. 

[00:13:55] Many years later, however, it was revealed that Jackson privately settled the lawsuit for more than 20 million dollars, though he denied any "wrongful acts."

[00:14:07] It seems that some of the parents of the children also refused to believe that anything untoward, anything dodgy, had happened.

[00:14:18] In 1993, one of the mother’s spoke publicly about her child's "slumber parties" with the singer at the Neverland ranch.

[00:14:26] "They play so hard, they fall asleep, they're exhausted," she told the interviewer, seemingly unable, or unwilling, to accept the allegations. "There's nothing more to it than that."

[00:14:38] It seemed that prosecutors were also struggling to pin anything on Jackson, to find him guilty of any crimes.

[00:14:47] In September of 1994, after a year of trying, prosecutors announced that they could not make criminal charges against Jackson because the key victim didn’t want to testify.

[00:14:59] Jackson had got away with it, or so it seemed.

[00:15:04] But then, in December of that year, Jackson’s sister La Toya publicly said that the claims were true.

[00:15:14] "This is very difficult for me," she said in a press conference. "Michael is my brother. ... But I cannot, and will not, be a silent collaborator of his crimes against small, innocent children." 

[00:15:29] She also claimed that she knew of ‘hush money’ paid out to the families of young boys going back to the 1980’s.

[00:15:38] Hush money, by the way, is money paid to someone to stop them from disclosing damaging information.

[00:15:46] Other members of the Jackson family, including his mother, defended him, but the rumours and allegations dogged, they followed, Jackson for the rest of his life.

[00:15:58] While all this was all going on, Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley, Elvis’s daughter, in May of 1994, but the marriage only lasted a couple of years, the pair divorced in August of 1996.

[00:16:12] Jackson then married a lady called Debbie Rowe, his dermatologist’s assistant, on November the 13th of 1996, and the pair had two children before they divorced less than three years later.

[00:16:27] Rowe would later claim that she and Jackson never actually had sex, the children were conceived through artificial insemination.

[00:16:37] Rumours of Jackson’s sexuality and private life, including the accusations of child abuse, showed no signs of dying down.

[00:16:47] Then, in November 2003, Jackson was arrested on charges of child molestation after police again raided his Neverland ranch.

[00:16:57] After posting $3 million dollars in bail and giving up his passport, Jackson was indicted on, he was formally accused of 10 criminal charges, including child molestation and false imprisonment.

[00:17:12] In February of 2005 the case went to court, with the whole world watching.

[00:17:19] Among those defending Jackson in court was the child actor Macaulay Culkin.

[00:17:25] In court it was established that Culkin and other underage boys regularly slept with Jackson in his bed, but Culkin denied that Jackson ever acted inappropriately. 

[00:17:37] Rather, he described Jackson as a ‘special friend.’

[00:17:42] The alleged victim in this case, however, claimed in court that Jackson sexually abused him, plied him with alcohol and showed him pornography.

[00:17:53] A former member of Jackson's housekeeping staff at his Neverland ranch testified that she had seen the singer taking a shower with a young boy, and that her own son alleged that Jackson also molested him.

[00:18:08] As you might imagine, given Jackson’s fame, the trial was a media frenzy and developed a circus-like atmosphere.

[00:18:18] Some in the press felt that Jackson didn’t take the allegations against him, or the trial in general, seriously, and on one occasion Jackson arrived late to the courtroom still in his pyjamas. 

[00:18:32] Yet despite the terrible claims against him, on June the 13th of 2005, Jackson was acquitted of all criminal charges, he was off the hook, he was free. 

[00:18:44] According to media reports at the time, some jurors appeared to blame the alleged victim's mother, rather than Jackson. 

[00:18:53] "What mother in her right mind would allow that to happen?" one female juror reportedly asked.

[00:19:00] Indeed, a few months later, prosecutors would charge one of the alleged victim's mothers with perjury, in other words, lying in court.

[00:19:11] Now, although Jackson was acquitted of all criminal charges, the court of public opinion wasn’t so kind to him, and rumours that he was a child sex abuser continued.

[00:19:23] But then something even more unexpected happened.

[00:19:27] On June the 25th, 2009, Jackson was found unresponsive at his home.

[00:19:35] At a mere 50 years old, The King of Pop was dead.

[00:19:41] Although it was initially believed by the Jackson family that he had died of cardiac arrest, of a heart attack, in November of 2011 a doctor, Conrad Murray, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for giving Jackson a deadly dose of an anaesthetic.

[00:20:00] Jackson, it would be revealed, was heavily addicted to prescription drugs, and it seems that this time his doctor had got the doses wrong, and given him so much it put him to sleep forever.

[00:20:14] Now, in terms of his legacy, there are few individuals who can claim to have had a greater impact on the world of pop music, and certainly few people who have lived more of their life on stage than Michael Jackson.

[00:20:29] For over five decades, Michael Jackson, dominated the music scene with relentless number one hits, his signature dance moves, groundbreaking music videos and unrivalled showmanship.

[00:20:43] Yet the second half of his career was dogged by allegations of child abuse.

[00:20:49] Some of his die-hard fans still refuse to believe the accusations, arguing that he was targeted by people wanting to get money out of him.

[00:20:59] Some accept them but point to his own childhood trauma as justification, arguing that he was never allowed to be a child himself, that he had been abused by his father, and it is ridiculous for anyone to have expected him to behave normally.

[00:21:16] Others simply refuse to listen to his music, disgusted by the accusations of the atrocious acts he is alleged to have committed against children.

[00:21:27] No matter your opinion on Michael Jackson “the man”, it’s undeniable that he had a huge impact on music and defined what it meant to be a pop star.

[00:21:39] Perhaps, when thinking about Michael Jackson, we are presented with the same question as when thinking about the violent but brilliant Renaissance painter, Caravaggio, the artist Pablo Picasso, who has been accused of being a misogynist and once said “women are machines for suffering” or any public figure who has created something wonderful but has views we don’t agree with or who has been accused of something terrible.

[00:22:07] And that is the question of whether we can ever really separate the musician from the music, the artist from the art?

[00:22:18] OK then, that is it for today’s episode on Michael Jackson, the child star who became the King of Pop.

[00:22:26] A man who had, to say the very least, an unhealthy interest in young boys and died in mysterious circumstances.

[00:22:35] I hope it was an interesting one, and whether you knew a lot about Michael Jackson and his life before today, or this was the first time you’d really heard anything about him, well I hope you learned something new.

[00:22:47] As always, I would love to know what you thought about this episode.

[00:22:51] Do you think Jackson was guilty of the accusations against him?

[00:22:54] Do you think we can ever separate the man from his music?

[00:22:58] If you’re a Michael Jackson fan, what’s your favourite song, and why?

[00:23:03] I would love to know, so let’s get this discussion started.

[00:23:06] You can head right into our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com and get chatting away to other curious minds.

[00:23:14] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:23:19] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.

[END OF EPISODE]

Continue learning

Get immediate access to a more interesting way of improving your English
Become a member
Already a member? Login

[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:00:12] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:21] I'm Alastair Budge, and today we are going to be talking about someone you’ve almost certainly heard of - Michael Jackson, “The King of Pop”, or simply “MJ”

[00:00:33] He was a child prodigy that became a teen idol, and then went on to become one of the biggest selling music artists of all time.

[00:00:42] But, as you will know, his later life was plagued with controversy and allegations of the most heinous kind.

[00:00:50] So that is what we are going to be talking about today, the Troubled Life of The King of Pop.

[00:00:56] This episode does come with a slight warning that we will be talking about some of the crimes that Michael Jackson was accused of, so if you would rather not listen to that, please stop listening now.

[00:01:08] OK then, let’s get into it and talk about the life of Michael Jackson.

[00:01:15] Michael Joseph Jackson was born into a working-class African-American family in Gary, Indiana, on August the 29th of 1958.

[00:01:26] He grew up in a modest two-bedroom house along with his eight siblings - quite the squeeze, two parents and 9 children, 11 people in total, in only two bedrooms.. 

[00:01:39] His father, Joe Jackson, worked for U.S Steel and was a tough man, a former boxer who also played guitar in a local RnB band.

[00:01:51] And Jackson’s mother, Katherine Esher Jackson, worked in the department store Sears, and also played piano and clarinet

[00:02:01] Music, clearly, ran in Jackson's blood.

[00:02:05] And the father, Joe, pushed all of the children in a musical direction from an early age.

[00:02:13] The first band was called the Jackson Brothers, which, unsurprisingly, consisted of the young Jackson boys. 

[00:02:21] Michael joined the group when he was only six years old.

[00:02:26] Despite being an otherwise timid, shy boy, Michael was a natural on stage and it quickly became clear that he was a very talented singer and dancer.

[00:02:39] He became the group’s frontman, and soon enough, the Jackson Brothers were playing live shows in strip clubs and burlesque bars - the only places that would have them in Gary.

[00:02:52] They rehearsed relentlessly, and Joe Jackson was a hard man, a disciplinarian who ruled the family - and the band - with fear, with a rod of steel.

[00:03:07] The Jackson boys were allowed few friends, and they were forced to rehearse well into the night. 

[00:03:14] Later in his life, Michael Jackson would state that his father beat them for making minor mistakes in rehearsals, and that he became so terrified of his father that, in his words, "there were times when he'd come to see me and I would start to be sick." 

[00:03:33] In fact, Joe Jackson would often sit with a belt in hand as the Jacksons rehearsed, ready to punish any mistakes, and beat the children fiercely when one slipped up, when one made a mistake.

[00:03:48] Worse still, it would be claimed that the father, Joe, would sexually abuse his children.

[00:03:55] That childhood trauma would live with Michael for the rest of his life, and it's often raised when trying to make sense of the actions and controversy of his later years. 

[00:04:07] In 1964, the group's name was changed to the Jackson 5.

[00:04:13] A year later, in 1965, the group won a talent show, and they were on the way up.

[00:04:20] From 1966 to 1968, the Jackson 5 began touring the Midwest, playing mainly in black bars and clubs.

[00:04:30] And let’s remember here that Michael hasn’t even celebrated his 10th birthday - almost his entire life so far has been spent rehearsing and playing music.

[00:04:43] Although the Jackson boys initially performed covers, their versions of other people’s songs, in 1968 the Jackson 5 recorded their first original record for a local Indiana label, Steeltown Records, and their first single, "Big Boy", was released. 

[00:05:02] That same year, a Canadian singer discovered the group and brought them to the attention of the famous Motown Records. 

[00:05:11] After their audition, Motown president Berry Gordy was so impressed with the Jackson 5 that he immediately signed them, and armed with an experienced group of songwriters, The Jackson 5 managed their first big hit in 1969 with “I Want You Back.” 

[00:05:31] One influence you might not be aware of on the Jackson 5’s early career is another legendary singer, Diana Ross. She played an important role helping them after the entire Jackson family decamped from Indiana and moved to California.

[00:05:49] She presented them to important figures in the music industry, and in August of 1969 the Jackson 5 opened for Diana Ross & the Supremes in Los Angeles.

[00:06:01] They made their first TV appearance that same year, performing at the Miss Black America pageant with a cover of "It's Your Thing". 

[00:06:10] Following the show, the influential Rolling Stone magazine described Michael, in particular, as "a prodigy" with "overwhelming musical gifts."

[00:06:23] Michael Jackson’s life was never - could never - be the same again.

[00:06:28] Yet, though he would later admit that he was unhappy, lonely, and overworked, the successes kept coming for Michael and the Jackson 5. 

[00:06:39] And in early 1970, "I Want You Back" reached number one in the US Billboard Hot 100 - their first number one hit and the first of many in Jackson’s life.

[00:06:51] They quickly went on to top the charts with other well-known classics like "ABC" and "I'll Be There."

[00:06:58] And let’s remember here, in 1970, when the Jackson 5 had their first number one, Michael Jackson was only 11 years old, he was still a young child.

[00:07:10] But as the Jackson 5 grew in fame and popularity, Michael emerged as the star of the family, and moved from being a child prodigy to a teen idol.

[00:07:23] A teen idol, by the way, usually means an artist or actor with a big teenage fanbase, but in this case it was both as Michael was himself also still a teenager. 

[00:07:37] Or you could say, Michael wasn’t even a teenager yet.

[00:07:41] Despite his young age, he was a trailblazer, someone who forges a new path.

[00:07:48] His performance on the group’s record "Dancing Machine" popularised the robot dance. 

[00:07:54] And it was in the late-1970’s that Michael really began to break away from his brothers, to break out on his own.

[00:08:02] In 1978, he made his film debut as the Scarecrow in a remake of The Wizard Of Oz, with Diana Ross playing Dorothy.

[00:08:12] Then a year later, aged still only 21, Jackson recorded the iconic solo album Off The Wall, which brought him his first Number one solo singles with " Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" and "Rock With You".

[00:08:27] And the commercial and critical successes only grew.

[00:08:31] A year after that, in 1980, he won his first Grammy Award for Best R&B Male Vocal Performance, and in 1982 he released Thriller, which had a staggering seven singles from the album in the top 10, including some you probably know well, such as "Billie Jean," "Beat It," and, of course, "Thriller." 

[00:08:54] And you may also know that Thriller wasn’t famous only for its music.

[00:08:59] Thriller might be the most famous music video of all time, where Jackson, who had become a werewolf in the video, first unveiled his signature dance move, the moonwalk.

[00:09:12] By now Michael was the biggest pop star in the world - he was the King of Pop.

[00:09:19] He was rich beyond his wildest dreams, and it seemed that practically everything he released went to Number one.

[00:09:27] His personal life, however, was becoming a bit… well, strange.

[00:09:33] In the 1980s, Jackson became somewhat of a recluse - someone who lives a withdrawn life and avoids other people.

[00:09:41] He was also developing a reputation as a little eccentric, or weird.

[00:09:47] In 1984, he moved to a 1,100 hectare ranch in California called Neverland, where he had an amusement park, zoo, and a Ferris wheel built.

[00:09:59] And in January of that year, Michael and some of his siblings filmed an advert for Pepsi, but as he was dancing the pyrotechnic effects set his Afro hair on fire.

[00:10:14] Unaware of what was happening, he kept dancing, continuing with his routine until someone grabbed him and put the fire out.

[00:10:23] The accident left Jackson with second-degree burns to his scalp, and he had treatment - including a nose job - to hide the scarring, to hide the damage from the burns.

[00:10:37] It was around this time that rumours began to swirl around Hollywood that Jackson was lightening his skin through chemical treatment, that he was changing the colour of his skin.

[00:10:49] Michael Jackson was, as you will know, African American, he was black, but throughout the 1980’s his skin started becoming paler.

[00:11:00] This change in appearance, Jackson claimed, was due to a skin condition known as vitiligo. 

[00:11:09] Vitiligo is, of course, a real skin disorder, but there were other changes in Michael Jackson’s appearance that have nothing to do with vitiligo, and everything to do with someone trying to change their appearance through plastic surgery. 

[00:11:25] His nose was bleached, his lips were thinned, and his chin reshaped.

[00:11:31] He looked, as you will probably know if you have seen pictures of him as a child and then as a man, like a different person.

[00:11:40] But while his appearance may have changed completely, the quality of his music did not.

[00:11:47] After a few years without releasing an album, Jackson’s highly anticipated next release, “Bad”, was a huge hit.

[00:11:56] In August of 1987, this album, "Bad" became the first album to produce five US number-one singles.

[00:12:05] The album was also the first to be number 1 in 25 countries and was the best-selling album around the globe in both 1987 and 1988.

[00:12:17] Now Jackson was not just the King of Pop, he was head and shoulders above anyone else - breaking records and dominating the charts around the world.

[00:12:28] But behind all the success, behind the Number 1 albums and moonwalks and music videos, there was a darker side to Jackson’s life.

[00:12:39] Now, we get to the other part of Michael Jackson.

[00:12:42] The more uncomfortable part.

[00:12:45] The aspect of his life that is, unfortunately, inseparable from the amazing music that he created, and for some people outweighs his enormous success as a musician and for others is so great that they refuse to listen to his music.

[00:13:03] In August of 1993, reports emerged that the Los Angeles Police Department was investigating Jackson.

[00:13:11] The police had received that he molested, abused, four children, including a 13-year-old boy. 

[00:13:22] After searching his Neverland ranch, the police failed to find any incriminating evidence.

[00:13:28] But in September of that year, one of the families filed a lawsuit against Jackson, alleging that he "repeatedly committed sexual battery" on their 13 year old son.

[00:13:42] Defenders of Jackson, and his legal team, claimed the allegations were a way of extorting the star for millions of dollars, they were trying to get money out of the pop star. 

[00:13:55] Many years later, however, it was revealed that Jackson privately settled the lawsuit for more than 20 million dollars, though he denied any "wrongful acts."

[00:14:07] It seems that some of the parents of the children also refused to believe that anything untoward, anything dodgy, had happened.

[00:14:18] In 1993, one of the mother’s spoke publicly about her child's "slumber parties" with the singer at the Neverland ranch.

[00:14:26] "They play so hard, they fall asleep, they're exhausted," she told the interviewer, seemingly unable, or unwilling, to accept the allegations. "There's nothing more to it than that."

[00:14:38] It seemed that prosecutors were also struggling to pin anything on Jackson, to find him guilty of any crimes.

[00:14:47] In September of 1994, after a year of trying, prosecutors announced that they could not make criminal charges against Jackson because the key victim didn’t want to testify.

[00:14:59] Jackson had got away with it, or so it seemed.

[00:15:04] But then, in December of that year, Jackson’s sister La Toya publicly said that the claims were true.

[00:15:14] "This is very difficult for me," she said in a press conference. "Michael is my brother. ... But I cannot, and will not, be a silent collaborator of his crimes against small, innocent children." 

[00:15:29] She also claimed that she knew of ‘hush money’ paid out to the families of young boys going back to the 1980’s.

[00:15:38] Hush money, by the way, is money paid to someone to stop them from disclosing damaging information.

[00:15:46] Other members of the Jackson family, including his mother, defended him, but the rumours and allegations dogged, they followed, Jackson for the rest of his life.

[00:15:58] While all this was all going on, Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley, Elvis’s daughter, in May of 1994, but the marriage only lasted a couple of years, the pair divorced in August of 1996.

[00:16:12] Jackson then married a lady called Debbie Rowe, his dermatologist’s assistant, on November the 13th of 1996, and the pair had two children before they divorced less than three years later.

[00:16:27] Rowe would later claim that she and Jackson never actually had sex, the children were conceived through artificial insemination.

[00:16:37] Rumours of Jackson’s sexuality and private life, including the accusations of child abuse, showed no signs of dying down.

[00:16:47] Then, in November 2003, Jackson was arrested on charges of child molestation after police again raided his Neverland ranch.

[00:16:57] After posting $3 million dollars in bail and giving up his passport, Jackson was indicted on, he was formally accused of 10 criminal charges, including child molestation and false imprisonment.

[00:17:12] In February of 2005 the case went to court, with the whole world watching.

[00:17:19] Among those defending Jackson in court was the child actor Macaulay Culkin.

[00:17:25] In court it was established that Culkin and other underage boys regularly slept with Jackson in his bed, but Culkin denied that Jackson ever acted inappropriately. 

[00:17:37] Rather, he described Jackson as a ‘special friend.’

[00:17:42] The alleged victim in this case, however, claimed in court that Jackson sexually abused him, plied him with alcohol and showed him pornography.

[00:17:53] A former member of Jackson's housekeeping staff at his Neverland ranch testified that she had seen the singer taking a shower with a young boy, and that her own son alleged that Jackson also molested him.

[00:18:08] As you might imagine, given Jackson’s fame, the trial was a media frenzy and developed a circus-like atmosphere.

[00:18:18] Some in the press felt that Jackson didn’t take the allegations against him, or the trial in general, seriously, and on one occasion Jackson arrived late to the courtroom still in his pyjamas. 

[00:18:32] Yet despite the terrible claims against him, on June the 13th of 2005, Jackson was acquitted of all criminal charges, he was off the hook, he was free. 

[00:18:44] According to media reports at the time, some jurors appeared to blame the alleged victim's mother, rather than Jackson. 

[00:18:53] "What mother in her right mind would allow that to happen?" one female juror reportedly asked.

[00:19:00] Indeed, a few months later, prosecutors would charge one of the alleged victim's mothers with perjury, in other words, lying in court.

[00:19:11] Now, although Jackson was acquitted of all criminal charges, the court of public opinion wasn’t so kind to him, and rumours that he was a child sex abuser continued.

[00:19:23] But then something even more unexpected happened.

[00:19:27] On June the 25th, 2009, Jackson was found unresponsive at his home.

[00:19:35] At a mere 50 years old, The King of Pop was dead.

[00:19:41] Although it was initially believed by the Jackson family that he had died of cardiac arrest, of a heart attack, in November of 2011 a doctor, Conrad Murray, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for giving Jackson a deadly dose of an anaesthetic.

[00:20:00] Jackson, it would be revealed, was heavily addicted to prescription drugs, and it seems that this time his doctor had got the doses wrong, and given him so much it put him to sleep forever.

[00:20:14] Now, in terms of his legacy, there are few individuals who can claim to have had a greater impact on the world of pop music, and certainly few people who have lived more of their life on stage than Michael Jackson.

[00:20:29] For over five decades, Michael Jackson, dominated the music scene with relentless number one hits, his signature dance moves, groundbreaking music videos and unrivalled showmanship.

[00:20:43] Yet the second half of his career was dogged by allegations of child abuse.

[00:20:49] Some of his die-hard fans still refuse to believe the accusations, arguing that he was targeted by people wanting to get money out of him.

[00:20:59] Some accept them but point to his own childhood trauma as justification, arguing that he was never allowed to be a child himself, that he had been abused by his father, and it is ridiculous for anyone to have expected him to behave normally.

[00:21:16] Others simply refuse to listen to his music, disgusted by the accusations of the atrocious acts he is alleged to have committed against children.

[00:21:27] No matter your opinion on Michael Jackson “the man”, it’s undeniable that he had a huge impact on music and defined what it meant to be a pop star.

[00:21:39] Perhaps, when thinking about Michael Jackson, we are presented with the same question as when thinking about the violent but brilliant Renaissance painter, Caravaggio, the artist Pablo Picasso, who has been accused of being a misogynist and once said “women are machines for suffering” or any public figure who has created something wonderful but has views we don’t agree with or who has been accused of something terrible.

[00:22:07] And that is the question of whether we can ever really separate the musician from the music, the artist from the art?

[00:22:18] OK then, that is it for today’s episode on Michael Jackson, the child star who became the King of Pop.

[00:22:26] A man who had, to say the very least, an unhealthy interest in young boys and died in mysterious circumstances.

[00:22:35] I hope it was an interesting one, and whether you knew a lot about Michael Jackson and his life before today, or this was the first time you’d really heard anything about him, well I hope you learned something new.

[00:22:47] As always, I would love to know what you thought about this episode.

[00:22:51] Do you think Jackson was guilty of the accusations against him?

[00:22:54] Do you think we can ever separate the man from his music?

[00:22:58] If you’re a Michael Jackson fan, what’s your favourite song, and why?

[00:23:03] I would love to know, so let’s get this discussion started.

[00:23:06] You can head right into our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com and get chatting away to other curious minds.

[00:23:14] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:23:19] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.

[END OF EPISODE]

[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:00:12] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:21] I'm Alastair Budge, and today we are going to be talking about someone you’ve almost certainly heard of - Michael Jackson, “The King of Pop”, or simply “MJ”

[00:00:33] He was a child prodigy that became a teen idol, and then went on to become one of the biggest selling music artists of all time.

[00:00:42] But, as you will know, his later life was plagued with controversy and allegations of the most heinous kind.

[00:00:50] So that is what we are going to be talking about today, the Troubled Life of The King of Pop.

[00:00:56] This episode does come with a slight warning that we will be talking about some of the crimes that Michael Jackson was accused of, so if you would rather not listen to that, please stop listening now.

[00:01:08] OK then, let’s get into it and talk about the life of Michael Jackson.

[00:01:15] Michael Joseph Jackson was born into a working-class African-American family in Gary, Indiana, on August the 29th of 1958.

[00:01:26] He grew up in a modest two-bedroom house along with his eight siblings - quite the squeeze, two parents and 9 children, 11 people in total, in only two bedrooms.. 

[00:01:39] His father, Joe Jackson, worked for U.S Steel and was a tough man, a former boxer who also played guitar in a local RnB band.

[00:01:51] And Jackson’s mother, Katherine Esher Jackson, worked in the department store Sears, and also played piano and clarinet

[00:02:01] Music, clearly, ran in Jackson's blood.

[00:02:05] And the father, Joe, pushed all of the children in a musical direction from an early age.

[00:02:13] The first band was called the Jackson Brothers, which, unsurprisingly, consisted of the young Jackson boys. 

[00:02:21] Michael joined the group when he was only six years old.

[00:02:26] Despite being an otherwise timid, shy boy, Michael was a natural on stage and it quickly became clear that he was a very talented singer and dancer.

[00:02:39] He became the group’s frontman, and soon enough, the Jackson Brothers were playing live shows in strip clubs and burlesque bars - the only places that would have them in Gary.

[00:02:52] They rehearsed relentlessly, and Joe Jackson was a hard man, a disciplinarian who ruled the family - and the band - with fear, with a rod of steel.

[00:03:07] The Jackson boys were allowed few friends, and they were forced to rehearse well into the night. 

[00:03:14] Later in his life, Michael Jackson would state that his father beat them for making minor mistakes in rehearsals, and that he became so terrified of his father that, in his words, "there were times when he'd come to see me and I would start to be sick." 

[00:03:33] In fact, Joe Jackson would often sit with a belt in hand as the Jacksons rehearsed, ready to punish any mistakes, and beat the children fiercely when one slipped up, when one made a mistake.

[00:03:48] Worse still, it would be claimed that the father, Joe, would sexually abuse his children.

[00:03:55] That childhood trauma would live with Michael for the rest of his life, and it's often raised when trying to make sense of the actions and controversy of his later years. 

[00:04:07] In 1964, the group's name was changed to the Jackson 5.

[00:04:13] A year later, in 1965, the group won a talent show, and they were on the way up.

[00:04:20] From 1966 to 1968, the Jackson 5 began touring the Midwest, playing mainly in black bars and clubs.

[00:04:30] And let’s remember here that Michael hasn’t even celebrated his 10th birthday - almost his entire life so far has been spent rehearsing and playing music.

[00:04:43] Although the Jackson boys initially performed covers, their versions of other people’s songs, in 1968 the Jackson 5 recorded their first original record for a local Indiana label, Steeltown Records, and their first single, "Big Boy", was released. 

[00:05:02] That same year, a Canadian singer discovered the group and brought them to the attention of the famous Motown Records. 

[00:05:11] After their audition, Motown president Berry Gordy was so impressed with the Jackson 5 that he immediately signed them, and armed with an experienced group of songwriters, The Jackson 5 managed their first big hit in 1969 with “I Want You Back.” 

[00:05:31] One influence you might not be aware of on the Jackson 5’s early career is another legendary singer, Diana Ross. She played an important role helping them after the entire Jackson family decamped from Indiana and moved to California.

[00:05:49] She presented them to important figures in the music industry, and in August of 1969 the Jackson 5 opened for Diana Ross & the Supremes in Los Angeles.

[00:06:01] They made their first TV appearance that same year, performing at the Miss Black America pageant with a cover of "It's Your Thing". 

[00:06:10] Following the show, the influential Rolling Stone magazine described Michael, in particular, as "a prodigy" with "overwhelming musical gifts."

[00:06:23] Michael Jackson’s life was never - could never - be the same again.

[00:06:28] Yet, though he would later admit that he was unhappy, lonely, and overworked, the successes kept coming for Michael and the Jackson 5. 

[00:06:39] And in early 1970, "I Want You Back" reached number one in the US Billboard Hot 100 - their first number one hit and the first of many in Jackson’s life.

[00:06:51] They quickly went on to top the charts with other well-known classics like "ABC" and "I'll Be There."

[00:06:58] And let’s remember here, in 1970, when the Jackson 5 had their first number one, Michael Jackson was only 11 years old, he was still a young child.

[00:07:10] But as the Jackson 5 grew in fame and popularity, Michael emerged as the star of the family, and moved from being a child prodigy to a teen idol.

[00:07:23] A teen idol, by the way, usually means an artist or actor with a big teenage fanbase, but in this case it was both as Michael was himself also still a teenager. 

[00:07:37] Or you could say, Michael wasn’t even a teenager yet.

[00:07:41] Despite his young age, he was a trailblazer, someone who forges a new path.

[00:07:48] His performance on the group’s record "Dancing Machine" popularised the robot dance. 

[00:07:54] And it was in the late-1970’s that Michael really began to break away from his brothers, to break out on his own.

[00:08:02] In 1978, he made his film debut as the Scarecrow in a remake of The Wizard Of Oz, with Diana Ross playing Dorothy.

[00:08:12] Then a year later, aged still only 21, Jackson recorded the iconic solo album Off The Wall, which brought him his first Number one solo singles with " Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" and "Rock With You".

[00:08:27] And the commercial and critical successes only grew.

[00:08:31] A year after that, in 1980, he won his first Grammy Award for Best R&B Male Vocal Performance, and in 1982 he released Thriller, which had a staggering seven singles from the album in the top 10, including some you probably know well, such as "Billie Jean," "Beat It," and, of course, "Thriller." 

[00:08:54] And you may also know that Thriller wasn’t famous only for its music.

[00:08:59] Thriller might be the most famous music video of all time, where Jackson, who had become a werewolf in the video, first unveiled his signature dance move, the moonwalk.

[00:09:12] By now Michael was the biggest pop star in the world - he was the King of Pop.

[00:09:19] He was rich beyond his wildest dreams, and it seemed that practically everything he released went to Number one.

[00:09:27] His personal life, however, was becoming a bit… well, strange.

[00:09:33] In the 1980s, Jackson became somewhat of a recluse - someone who lives a withdrawn life and avoids other people.

[00:09:41] He was also developing a reputation as a little eccentric, or weird.

[00:09:47] In 1984, he moved to a 1,100 hectare ranch in California called Neverland, where he had an amusement park, zoo, and a Ferris wheel built.

[00:09:59] And in January of that year, Michael and some of his siblings filmed an advert for Pepsi, but as he was dancing the pyrotechnic effects set his Afro hair on fire.

[00:10:14] Unaware of what was happening, he kept dancing, continuing with his routine until someone grabbed him and put the fire out.

[00:10:23] The accident left Jackson with second-degree burns to his scalp, and he had treatment - including a nose job - to hide the scarring, to hide the damage from the burns.

[00:10:37] It was around this time that rumours began to swirl around Hollywood that Jackson was lightening his skin through chemical treatment, that he was changing the colour of his skin.

[00:10:49] Michael Jackson was, as you will know, African American, he was black, but throughout the 1980’s his skin started becoming paler.

[00:11:00] This change in appearance, Jackson claimed, was due to a skin condition known as vitiligo. 

[00:11:09] Vitiligo is, of course, a real skin disorder, but there were other changes in Michael Jackson’s appearance that have nothing to do with vitiligo, and everything to do with someone trying to change their appearance through plastic surgery. 

[00:11:25] His nose was bleached, his lips were thinned, and his chin reshaped.

[00:11:31] He looked, as you will probably know if you have seen pictures of him as a child and then as a man, like a different person.

[00:11:40] But while his appearance may have changed completely, the quality of his music did not.

[00:11:47] After a few years without releasing an album, Jackson’s highly anticipated next release, “Bad”, was a huge hit.

[00:11:56] In August of 1987, this album, "Bad" became the first album to produce five US number-one singles.

[00:12:05] The album was also the first to be number 1 in 25 countries and was the best-selling album around the globe in both 1987 and 1988.

[00:12:17] Now Jackson was not just the King of Pop, he was head and shoulders above anyone else - breaking records and dominating the charts around the world.

[00:12:28] But behind all the success, behind the Number 1 albums and moonwalks and music videos, there was a darker side to Jackson’s life.

[00:12:39] Now, we get to the other part of Michael Jackson.

[00:12:42] The more uncomfortable part.

[00:12:45] The aspect of his life that is, unfortunately, inseparable from the amazing music that he created, and for some people outweighs his enormous success as a musician and for others is so great that they refuse to listen to his music.

[00:13:03] In August of 1993, reports emerged that the Los Angeles Police Department was investigating Jackson.

[00:13:11] The police had received that he molested, abused, four children, including a 13-year-old boy. 

[00:13:22] After searching his Neverland ranch, the police failed to find any incriminating evidence.

[00:13:28] But in September of that year, one of the families filed a lawsuit against Jackson, alleging that he "repeatedly committed sexual battery" on their 13 year old son.

[00:13:42] Defenders of Jackson, and his legal team, claimed the allegations were a way of extorting the star for millions of dollars, they were trying to get money out of the pop star. 

[00:13:55] Many years later, however, it was revealed that Jackson privately settled the lawsuit for more than 20 million dollars, though he denied any "wrongful acts."

[00:14:07] It seems that some of the parents of the children also refused to believe that anything untoward, anything dodgy, had happened.

[00:14:18] In 1993, one of the mother’s spoke publicly about her child's "slumber parties" with the singer at the Neverland ranch.

[00:14:26] "They play so hard, they fall asleep, they're exhausted," she told the interviewer, seemingly unable, or unwilling, to accept the allegations. "There's nothing more to it than that."

[00:14:38] It seemed that prosecutors were also struggling to pin anything on Jackson, to find him guilty of any crimes.

[00:14:47] In September of 1994, after a year of trying, prosecutors announced that they could not make criminal charges against Jackson because the key victim didn’t want to testify.

[00:14:59] Jackson had got away with it, or so it seemed.

[00:15:04] But then, in December of that year, Jackson’s sister La Toya publicly said that the claims were true.

[00:15:14] "This is very difficult for me," she said in a press conference. "Michael is my brother. ... But I cannot, and will not, be a silent collaborator of his crimes against small, innocent children." 

[00:15:29] She also claimed that she knew of ‘hush money’ paid out to the families of young boys going back to the 1980’s.

[00:15:38] Hush money, by the way, is money paid to someone to stop them from disclosing damaging information.

[00:15:46] Other members of the Jackson family, including his mother, defended him, but the rumours and allegations dogged, they followed, Jackson for the rest of his life.

[00:15:58] While all this was all going on, Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley, Elvis’s daughter, in May of 1994, but the marriage only lasted a couple of years, the pair divorced in August of 1996.

[00:16:12] Jackson then married a lady called Debbie Rowe, his dermatologist’s assistant, on November the 13th of 1996, and the pair had two children before they divorced less than three years later.

[00:16:27] Rowe would later claim that she and Jackson never actually had sex, the children were conceived through artificial insemination.

[00:16:37] Rumours of Jackson’s sexuality and private life, including the accusations of child abuse, showed no signs of dying down.

[00:16:47] Then, in November 2003, Jackson was arrested on charges of child molestation after police again raided his Neverland ranch.

[00:16:57] After posting $3 million dollars in bail and giving up his passport, Jackson was indicted on, he was formally accused of 10 criminal charges, including child molestation and false imprisonment.

[00:17:12] In February of 2005 the case went to court, with the whole world watching.

[00:17:19] Among those defending Jackson in court was the child actor Macaulay Culkin.

[00:17:25] In court it was established that Culkin and other underage boys regularly slept with Jackson in his bed, but Culkin denied that Jackson ever acted inappropriately. 

[00:17:37] Rather, he described Jackson as a ‘special friend.’

[00:17:42] The alleged victim in this case, however, claimed in court that Jackson sexually abused him, plied him with alcohol and showed him pornography.

[00:17:53] A former member of Jackson's housekeeping staff at his Neverland ranch testified that she had seen the singer taking a shower with a young boy, and that her own son alleged that Jackson also molested him.

[00:18:08] As you might imagine, given Jackson’s fame, the trial was a media frenzy and developed a circus-like atmosphere.

[00:18:18] Some in the press felt that Jackson didn’t take the allegations against him, or the trial in general, seriously, and on one occasion Jackson arrived late to the courtroom still in his pyjamas. 

[00:18:32] Yet despite the terrible claims against him, on June the 13th of 2005, Jackson was acquitted of all criminal charges, he was off the hook, he was free. 

[00:18:44] According to media reports at the time, some jurors appeared to blame the alleged victim's mother, rather than Jackson. 

[00:18:53] "What mother in her right mind would allow that to happen?" one female juror reportedly asked.

[00:19:00] Indeed, a few months later, prosecutors would charge one of the alleged victim's mothers with perjury, in other words, lying in court.

[00:19:11] Now, although Jackson was acquitted of all criminal charges, the court of public opinion wasn’t so kind to him, and rumours that he was a child sex abuser continued.

[00:19:23] But then something even more unexpected happened.

[00:19:27] On June the 25th, 2009, Jackson was found unresponsive at his home.

[00:19:35] At a mere 50 years old, The King of Pop was dead.

[00:19:41] Although it was initially believed by the Jackson family that he had died of cardiac arrest, of a heart attack, in November of 2011 a doctor, Conrad Murray, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for giving Jackson a deadly dose of an anaesthetic.

[00:20:00] Jackson, it would be revealed, was heavily addicted to prescription drugs, and it seems that this time his doctor had got the doses wrong, and given him so much it put him to sleep forever.

[00:20:14] Now, in terms of his legacy, there are few individuals who can claim to have had a greater impact on the world of pop music, and certainly few people who have lived more of their life on stage than Michael Jackson.

[00:20:29] For over five decades, Michael Jackson, dominated the music scene with relentless number one hits, his signature dance moves, groundbreaking music videos and unrivalled showmanship.

[00:20:43] Yet the second half of his career was dogged by allegations of child abuse.

[00:20:49] Some of his die-hard fans still refuse to believe the accusations, arguing that he was targeted by people wanting to get money out of him.

[00:20:59] Some accept them but point to his own childhood trauma as justification, arguing that he was never allowed to be a child himself, that he had been abused by his father, and it is ridiculous for anyone to have expected him to behave normally.

[00:21:16] Others simply refuse to listen to his music, disgusted by the accusations of the atrocious acts he is alleged to have committed against children.

[00:21:27] No matter your opinion on Michael Jackson “the man”, it’s undeniable that he had a huge impact on music and defined what it meant to be a pop star.

[00:21:39] Perhaps, when thinking about Michael Jackson, we are presented with the same question as when thinking about the violent but brilliant Renaissance painter, Caravaggio, the artist Pablo Picasso, who has been accused of being a misogynist and once said “women are machines for suffering” or any public figure who has created something wonderful but has views we don’t agree with or who has been accused of something terrible.

[00:22:07] And that is the question of whether we can ever really separate the musician from the music, the artist from the art?

[00:22:18] OK then, that is it for today’s episode on Michael Jackson, the child star who became the King of Pop.

[00:22:26] A man who had, to say the very least, an unhealthy interest in young boys and died in mysterious circumstances.

[00:22:35] I hope it was an interesting one, and whether you knew a lot about Michael Jackson and his life before today, or this was the first time you’d really heard anything about him, well I hope you learned something new.

[00:22:47] As always, I would love to know what you thought about this episode.

[00:22:51] Do you think Jackson was guilty of the accusations against him?

[00:22:54] Do you think we can ever separate the man from his music?

[00:22:58] If you’re a Michael Jackson fan, what’s your favourite song, and why?

[00:23:03] I would love to know, so let’s get this discussion started.

[00:23:06] You can head right into our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com and get chatting away to other curious minds.

[00:23:14] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:23:19] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.

[END OF EPISODE]