He has faced some issues with skin color over his years performing and later in his retirement appeared in the media for his strange actions.
But what makes Michael Jackson so interesting and why is his music so catchy?
Here are 15 strange facts about Michael Jackson that you probably didn’t know.
Jackson’s father forced him to play music.
Whilst growing up Michael Jackson’s father, Joe Jackson would force Michael alongside his siblings to practice music.
He would often hit or whip them if they played the wrong note or made a mistake.
Joe’s mindset was to keep Michael and his siblings off the streets and away from gangs.
As a result, being raised in this way meant that they never had many friends.
Growing up in this environment forced Michael to be the best at what he did musically and caused a lot of mental pressure on him.
He lived in a theme park.
Some people might think this is a dream home, but others might think it is a little odd.
Michael Jackson turned his ranch into a half home half amusement park.
The amusement park had a petting zoo, roller coasters, railroads, bumper cars, a Ferris wheel, and a carousel.
The ranch was called Neverland, after the fictional place that Peter Pan lives.
The property was 3,000 acres (12.14 square kilometers).
It is thought that he could have paid anywhere between $17 million USD to $30 million USD.
The ranch is now worth $100 million USD.
Jackson took his llamas to the recording studio.
On his ranch, Jackson had a petting zoo with many animals including two very special llamas.
They were called Lola and Louis, and they got to visit the recording studio with Jackson!
One particular day caused a big uproar when Jackson brought them in when collaborating with Queen’s frontman Freddie Mercury.
In 1983 during a collaboration recording with Mercury in Los Angeles, Jackson decided to bring along his pet llama Louis.
This became a regular occurrence that Mercury was not fond of.
Amongst other reasons it is said that this was a contributing factor for not completing the song recordings.
He appeared on television in the Soviet Union.
In 1988 Jackson appeared on the first-ever Western advertisement commercial in the Soviet Union.
The USSR was closed off from the rest of the world, but Michael Jackson managed to get through the Iron curtain.
After working with Pepsi Co. for many years, Jackson featured in their advertisements and down the line together they filmed one for the Soviet Union.
Pepsi had been sold across the USSR since the 1960s and was one of the few Western brands that were allowed in the Soviet Union.
The advertisement from Pepsi would showcase Michael Jackson performing “Bad“.
They did not dub the singing to Russian, but it did have Cyrillic text on the screen.
At the time, Jackson’s music was banned in the Soviet Union, so he was not known as a celebrity.
Upon the fall of the Soviet Union, he visited in both 1993 and 1996 to perform.
Michael Jackson was gifted 5,000 pound elephant.
Can you imagine being gifted an elephant?
In 1991, Jackson was gifted an Asian elephant by actress Elizabeth Taylor.
Taylor gifted Jackson the elephant after he allowed her to host her wedding on his ranch.
Jackson called the elephant Gypsy and it weighed around 5,000 lbs (2,268 kg).
Jackson has a medical center named after him.
On the set for filming a commercial for Pepsi on January 27, 1984, Jackson’s hair caught on fire.
The accident was caused by pyrotechnics and Jackson was left with second-degree burns to his scalp.
As a result, to cover the scarring, Jackson underwent rhinoplasty surgery.
Pepsi settled the issue out of court by paying out Jackson.
Michael donated $1.5 million to the medical center in California that treated his burns.
As a thank you, the Brotman Medical Center in California called their burns department “Michael Jackson Burn Center”.
Michael Jackson’s skin color changed because of a skin disease.
If you compare a photo of Jackson early in his career to one towards the end, you will notice a dramatic change in his appearance.
One of the most controversial and noticeable changes was his skin tone.
Jackson’s doctor said that he had Vitiligo, a skin disease where the color of your skin changes, but there are many other thoughts and theories.
A lot of people believe that his change in skin tone was on purpose and that he was ashamed of his natural skin tone.
After his death, an autopsy confirmed that Jackson did suffer from Vitiligo.
He also suffered many mental health disorders such as body dysmorphia disorder which is thought to be a major contributor to his change in appearance.
In 1992 Michael Jackson was crowned a king.
In 1992 Jackson visited the West coast of Africa on his tour and he was warmly welcomed by the locals.
He was loved so much that in one small village on the Ivory Coast they decided to make him king.
Jackson was crowned King Sani and given the name Michael Jackson Amalaman Anoh by the tribal chief.
A full ceremony was held, including dancing and traditional drumming in the village of Krindjabo.
Jackson dressed in a traditional gown for his coronation and papers were signed to make his kingship official.
He remained the king of the Ivory Coast until his death.
It is said that his ancestry is from this part of the world and some said that he was the rightful heir to the Sanwi tribe.
Upon his death, the chief requested Jackson’s body for an official burial for the king, but it was denied and he was buried in Southern California.
Despite this, a two-day ceremony was held in his memory and more than 1,000 local villagers gathered.
He invented gravity-defying shoes!
You might be familiar with his famous moonwalk and the ability to lean at what should be a near-impossible angle for humans.
This was all because of his gravity-defying shoes.
The US Patent No. 5,255,452 was given to Jackson to use for his famous performance.
Although Jackson did not invent the “moonwalk,” he was the expert at it.
The shoes had specially designed slots where they could clip into the stage to hold him in place whilst he did his stunt against gravity.
Unfortunately, the patent expired in 2005 when Jackson missed a payment, so the design was out in the open.
Jackson became an action figure.
That’s right, alongside the likes of Barbie and G.I Joe, there was a Michael Jackson children’s doll.
In 1997, Street Life produced a Michael Jackson doll to sell to the European market.
The design was of Jackson when he recorded the music video for Black or White in 1991.
It was released to the European market at the same time as Jackson’s HIStory World Tour.
There was also a singing version of the doll which sang a clip from his famous Black or White hit.
This doll showed Jackson dressed as he was on tour in 1991.
Street Life also produced another doll that sang a clip from “Beat it.” This version had Jackson in a red outfit.
He once tried to buy Marvel Comics.
In the late 1990s, Jackson tried to purchase the well-known comic book company, Marvel.
Marvel Comics had filed for bankruptcy and Michael Jackson was in the market.
The main reason for wanting to purchase Marvel was so that he could feature as a superhero himself.
Jackson saw himself as being a great Spider-Man for Marvel.
This wasn’t his only attempt at trying to become a superhero.
As soon as he heard there was going to be a new X-Men movie, he put himself forward to play Professor X.
Once again he was not chosen for this role.
The mother of one of Jackson’s son’s is unknown.
Michael Jackson had three children but one of them has an unknown mother.
Jackson had two marriages. The first to the daughter of Elvis Presley, Lisa Marie Presley but they got divorced in 2019.
He had two children with his wife Debbie Rowe who was a nursing assistant.
They named their son Michael Joseph Jackson and their daughter Paris-Michael Katherine Jackson.
But Jackson has another son named Prince Michael Jackson II, but his mother’s identity has remained a mystery to the public.
The mother of Prince Michael Jackson II was a surrogate, but that is all that is publicly known.
Jackson once had a pet chimpanzee called Bubbles.
The stunt caught the eye of the media and before he knew it people were comparing him to the likes of a Disney character that befriended a chimp.
Bubbles became Jackson’s double and went on tour with him. Bubbles retired in 2005, 4 years before Jackson’s death.
Jackson used stand-in apes for Bubbles called Max and A.J.
It is said that Bubbles was not mentioned in Jackson’s will, however it was confusing as Jackson would often refer to Bubbles as his son.
After Jackson’s death, Bubbles started his new retired life in the Center for Great Apes in Florida.
Michael Jackson is the world’s most successful dead celebrity.
The year of Jackson’s death was his most successful.
Around 35 million copies of his albums were sold within the first 12 months after his death.
Since his death, he has made approximately $2.1 billion USD, half of the $4.2 billion USD he made whilst he was alive.
In 2016, Michael earned $825 million USD, breaking the record for the highest-earning celebrity in a single year.
In 2018 he became the highest-paid dead celebrity of the year making $400 million USD.
Jackson’s animals have disappeared.
Following Jackson’s death, it is unknown where many of his animals are.
His petting zoo was closed down and no one knows where all the exotic animals went.
Many were given to zoos or rehomed to private owners, but some have just vanished entirely.
A strange theme is that most of the pets or animals Jackson was most fond of were the ones who have disappeared.
In particular, there is no record of the whereabouts of his elephant named Gypsy.
His much-loved llamas have also disappeared.
This mystery is a sad one, as many of these animals may have ended up in the wrong hands.
Michael Jackson will forever be a musical legend, despite his strange life.
His music is catchy, with its sing-along capability with lyrics that stay with you.
Jackson is a curious character that left many questions unanswered upon his death in 2009.