Invincible — the album title was part stone-cold defiance, part self-conscious bravado. [artist id="1102"]Michael Jackson[/artist]'s 10th and, as it would turn out, final studio record dropped in October 2001. The King of Pop was attempting to move forward after a sordid period in the mid-to-late '90s, as news of financial troubles and child-molestation accusations conspired to weaken the singer's commercial prospects.
And though Invincible debuted atop the Billboard albums chart, staying on the list for 28 straight weeks and going double platinum, the scandals continued, right up until the singer's death on June 25.
For a period, though, it seemed as if the new millennium might indeed grant Jackson his elusive comeback. In early September of that year — just days before the September 11 terrorist attacks — Jackson staged two concerts at New York's Madison Square Garden to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the beginning of his career as a solo artist. Reuniting onstage with his brothers, MJ performed Jackson 5 classics and then rocked out alongside Usher, Slash and Britney Spears. On Halloween, Invincible began its ascent to #1, and Jackson seemed on the verge of being welcomed back into the pop mainstream.
A true comeback, though, was not be. Jackson's album sales were a fraction of the sales of earlier albums, like Bad and Dangerous, and his singles failed to perform up to expectations. He also began feuding with his label, Sony, and accused then-chairman Tommy Mottola of using racist language and refusing to promote black artists adequately. Then Jackson's erratic behavior — on display in an awkward "artist of the millenium" acceptance speech at the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards — took a turn for the frightening as he dangled 11-month-old son "Blanket" from a fifth-floor hotel window in Berlin.
At that time, from May 2002 to January 2003, Jackson sat down with British journalist Martin Bashir for a series of lengthy interviews that would become the documentary, "Living With Michael Jackson." If the pop singer was hoping that showing an intimate, televised portrait of himself to the world would help rehabilitate his image, he was mistaken.
"Why can't you share your bed?" Jackson said in response to Bashir's question about sleeping in a bedroom with children. "That's the most loving thing to do, is to share your bed with someone."
"I have slept in the bed with many children," he admitted at another point. "I sleep in the bed with all of them."
It was just such objectionable quotes, however sympathetic Bashir's documentary seemed overall, that captured the public's attention and, ultimately, proved to be the King of Pop's undoing.
Soon after the U.S. airing of the documentary, which contained interview footage of a young cancer patient who had stayed in Jackson's bedroom, the singer was arrested and eventually charged with several counts of child-molestation based on the boy's accusations. The resulting trial — and frenetic media and fan circus — lasted five months, ending a year-and-a-half after his initial arrest, when the singer was acquitted on all 10 felony charges.
Following the verdict in June 2005, Jackson fled to the Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain, where he stayed as the guest of the king's son. Meanwhile, his personal finances continued to deteriorate, as crippling debt from loans negotiated over the years mounted and sales of newly issued greatest hits albums faltered. After failing to pay staff salaries and renew insurance policies at his lavish Neverland estate in Los Olivos, California, authorities ordered the compound's closure.
The singer eventually returned to U.S. soil but never again lived at Neverland. Rumors of potential comeback tours and albums cropped up occasionally but never moved forward. Late last year, after missing payments on a $24.5 million loan and risking foreclosure on the massive property, the singer struck a last minute deal with an investment firm to maintain partial ownership of the ranch.
Part 1: Wiz Kid (1958-78)
Jackson's decade began to wrap up much as it had begun: with real plans for a comeback. He sold out 50 shows at London's O2 Arena — over 1 million tickets in 24 hours, the fastest-selling event in history — and it was hoped that the concert series would jumpstart a world tour and a new album, which would provide Jackson with much-needed revenue. The singer had collaborated with producers like Akon and Will.I.Am for the album and had plunged into rehearsals in Los Angeles. The first concerts were expected to begin in mid-July.
On the afternoon of June 25, however, news broke that the singer was being rushed from his rented home in the Holmby Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles to UCLA Medical Center. The King of Pop was pronounced dead at 2:26 p.m. PT.
Beginning with the Jackson 5 and stretching until his death at the age of 50, Jackson sold more than 750 million records worldwide. He scored eight platinum or multiplatinum albums, 13 #1 singles and 13 Grammy Awards. Thriller is the biggest-selling non-compilation album of all time. And as tributes from contemporary artists and his legions of fans poured forth in the hours and days following his passing, it became clear that Michael Jackson was, and always will be, the King of Pop.
MTV's live coverage of the Michael Jackson public memorial service at the Staples Center in Los Angeles will begin on Tuesday at 12 p.m. ET / 9 a.m. PT.
For complete coverage of the life, career and passing of the legendary entertainer, visit "Michael Jackson Remembered."
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