Final years (2006–09)
Jackson with his children in Disneyland Paris, 2006
Reports of financial problems for Jackson became frequent in 2006, after the closure of the main house on the Neverland Ranch as a cost-cutting measure. One prominent financial issue concerned a $270 million loan secured against his music publishing holdings. After delayed repayments on the loan, a refinancing package shifted the loans from Bank of America to debt specialists Fortress Investments. A new package proposed by Sony would have had Jackson borrow an additional $300 million and reduce the interest rate payable on the loan, while giving Sony the future option to buy half of Jackson's stake in their jointly owned publishing company (leaving Jackson with a 25% stake). Jackson agreed to a Sony-backed refinancing deal, although details were not made public. Despite these loans, according to Forbes, Jackson was still making as much as $75 million a year from his publishing partnership with Sony alone.
Jackson was awarded the Diamond Award on November 15, 2006, for selling over 100 million albums, at the World Music Awards. Following the death of James Brown, Jackson returned to the U.S. to pay tribute during Brown's public funeral on December 30, 2006. In late 2006, he agreed to share joint custody of his first two children with ex-wife Debbie Rowe. Jackson and Sony bought Famous Music LLC from Viacom in 2007. This deal gave him the rights to songs by Eminem, Shakira and Beck, among others.
I've been in the entertainment industry since I was six-years-old... As Charles Dickens says, "It's been the best of times, the worst of times." But I would not change my career... While some have made deliberate attempts to hurt me, I take it in stride because I have a loving family, a strong faith and wonderful friends and fans who have, and continue, to support me.
The 25th anniversary of Thriller was marked by the release of Thriller 25, recorded in Ireland, it featured the previously unreleased song "For All Time" and re-mixes. Two remixes were released as singles to moderate success: "The Girl Is Mine 2008" and "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' 2008". Thriller 25 sold well as a re-issue, peaking at number one in eight countries and Europe. In 12 weeks Thriller 25 sold over three million copies worldwide. To celebrate Jackson's 50th birthday, Sony BMG released a series of compilation albums called King of Pop. King of Pop did reach the top 10 in most countries where it was issued, and also sold well as an import in other countries.
Fortress Investments threatened to foreclose on Neverland Ranch, which Jackson used as collateral for loans running into many tens of millions of dollars. However, Fortress opted to sell Jackson's debts to Colony Capital LLC. In November, Jackson transferred Neverland Ranch's title to Sycamore Valley Ranch Company LLC, which was a joint venture between Jackson and Colony Capital LLC. This deal cleared Jackson's debt, and he reportedly even gained an extra $35 million from the venture. At the time of his death, Jackson still owned a stake in Neverland/Sycamore Valley, but it is unknown how large that stake was.
In September 2008, financial concerns prompted Jackson to enter negotiations with Julien's Auction House to display and auction a large collection of memorabilia amounting to approximately 1390 lots. The auction was scheduled to take place between April 22 and April 25. Though an exhibition of the lots opened on 9900 Wilshire Blvd between April 14 and 25, the auction was eventually cancelled at Jackson's request.
Jackson at the Staples Center days before his death.
In March 2009, Jackson announced in a press conference at London's O2 arena that he would perform there in major comeback concerts titled This Is It. The shows were to be Jackson's first major series of concerts since the HIStory World Tour finished in 1997, and had been cited as one of the year's most important musical events with over one million people attending in total. Jackson suggested possible retirement after the shows; in his own words it would be his "final curtain call". Although initially a 10 date concert, it was increased to 50 dates after record breaking ticket sales. Jackson rehearsed in Los Angeles in the weeks leading up to the tour under the direction of choreographer/director Kenny Ortega. The concerts would have commenced on July 13, 2009 and finished on March 6, 2010. Less than three weeks before the first show was due to begin in London and with all concerts being sold out, Jackson died of a cardiac arrest.
AEG Live, the concert promoters, released a promotional video that took up an entire commercial break, setting a record for ITV. According to Jackson's website, ticket sales for the concerts broke several records. Randy Phillips, president and chief executive of AEG Live, stated that the first 10 dates alone would have earned the singer approximately £50 million. Columbia Pictures made a feature documentary concert-film from the rehearsal and pre-recorded footage. The contract for the film stipulated that a cut of the film must be screened for Jackson's estate, which stands to receive 90 percent of the profits. A final cut was done on October 28, 2009, for a limited 2 week run in theatres worldwide.
A new single titled "This Is It" was released on October 12, 2009, with a new album of the same name, This Is It which was released worldwide on October 26, 2009, and in North America on October 27, 2009, the day before the Michael Jackson's This Is It documentary film, which became the highest grossing documentary or concert movie ever (more than $252 million worldwide). Two versions of the new song appear on the second "This Is It" album's first disc, which also features original masters of Michael Jackson's hits in the order in which they appear in the movie. The album's second disc features previously unreleased versions of more Jackson hits, as well as a previously unheard spoken word poem entitled "Planet Earth
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Final years (2006–09)