Michael Jackson: Ten Years Later
AAA honors the tenth anniversary of the passing of the “King of Pop” with this reprint of his biography, originally published in the August 2009 Daykeeper Journal. Minor additions and corrections have been made, including an analysis of the recent release of “Leaving Neverland“, a documentary chronicling Jackson’s alleged sexual abuse of children.
“Like a comet blazing ‘cross the evening sky, gone too soon;
Like a rainbow fading in the twinkling of an eye, gone too soon;
Shiny and sparkly and splendidly bright, here one day, gone one night.”
—“Gone Too Soon,” lyrics by Michael Jackson
“He was, I think, one of the first artists that transcended everything.”
—Quincy Jones, music producer
“He was a force of nature.”
—Debbie Allen, choreographer
On June 25, 2009 the entire world reacted in shock to the news of the sudden and unexpected death of Michael Jackson, global pop icon, who suffered a cardiac arrest at his Los Angeles home, exact cause as yet undetermined. Jackson was found in his bed shortly after noon, not breathing and unresponsive; his personal physician worked for more than 30 minutes to revive the singer before 911 was called. Paramedics arrived within five minutes and continued to administer CPR for nearly 45 minutes on site, after which he was moved to UCLA Medical Center and attempts to resuscitate continued for another full hour. Jackson was finally pronounced dead at 2:26 PM PDT.
The death sent shockwaves around the globe, and speculation about the cause, Jackson’s testamentary arrangements, and the fate of his children began almost immediately. A public memorial held at Los Angeles’ Staples Center on July 7 was attended by more than 17,000 family, friends and fans, the latter chosen at random from internet applications submitted by more than 1.2 million people. The memorial featured performances and eulogies by Mariah Carey, Usher, Reverend Al Sharpton, Queen Latifah, and Brooke Shields, among others, and was broadcast live over five networks to an estimated worldwide audience of nearly 1 billion.
In the week following his death, Jackson, a major influence on pop culture, music and dance, continued to set records. Sales of Jackson’s music outstripped those of any living artist, with nine out of the top ten spots on the Billboard Pop Catalog Chart held by his albums, and more than 2.6 million digital downloads of his songs purchased within three days of his demise, the first time any artist has sold more than a million downloads in a week. “Number Ones,” a compilation of Jackson’s greatest hits, sold 108,000 copies, with his 1982 tour de force “Thriller,” which remains the best-selling album of all time, adding another 101,000 copies to its 104 million copy total. Radio play of his music increased more than 1700%.
Talented and controversial, Jackson began his career at the age of eight, as lead singer and youngest member of “The Jackson 5,” composed of the elder brothers in a family of nine from Gary, Indiana. Father Joseph was a strict disciplinarian with a sadistic bent, who would sit in a chair with his belt at the ready while the group rehearsed, prepared to literally lash out at any under-performing boy. In a 1993 Oprah Winfrey interview, Michael revealed that as a child he would feel sick and even start to vomit when he saw his father, and that antipathy remained into adulthood; Joseph Jackson was left nothing by the terms of Michael’s will.
After two years of extensive touring in the Midwest, often performing as opening acts in burlesque halls and strip clubs, “The Jackson 5” were signed by Motown’s Berry Gordy in 1968. Their impact was instantaneous. Their first four singles, “I Want You Back,” “ABC,” “The Love You Save,” and “I’ll Be There” all hit number one on Billboard’s Hot 100, the first group ever to achieve that feat. The group’s crossover appeal was also unparalleled among black artists, due in large part to Michael’s youth, which gave “The Jackson 5” a squeaky-clean, non-threatening image, and to Berry Gordy’s brilliant marketing of their style as “bubblegum soul.” Mainstream white audiences became enthralled by Michael, and within mere months the group was being mobbed at airports and hotels in “Beatlemania” fashion.
In their heyday, “The Jackson 5” spawned an entire merchandising industry, including drum kits, stickers, posters, coloring books, and were even animated in a Saturday morning cartoon on ABC, the Rankin/Bass-produced “The Jackson 5ive,” which ran two seasons in the early seventies.
Michael’s solo career developed alongside the group’s success, but long outlived it. In 1971 his first single, “Got To Be There” became a Top Five hit, and in 1972 he followed this with the successful title song from the movie “Ben.” In 1975 Jackson left Motown, but continued as primary songwriter for the group, now renamed “The Jacksons.”
In 1978 he met music producer Quincy Jones while rehearsing for his role as Scarecrow in “The Wiz,” a musical version of “The Wizard of Oz.” The two formed a partnership that produced Michael’s next solo album, 1979’s hugely popular “Off the Wall,” the first album ever to score four top ten singles, including number one hits “Rock With You” and “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough.” “Off the Wall” ultimately sold more than 20 million copies worldwide, but it was its successor that would catapult Jackson to a position of global super-stardom from which he never fully retreated.
1982’s “Thriller” became the best-selling album of all time, with more than 104 million copies sold to date; at its peak, it was selling at the rate of one million copies per week. It dominated the top ten on Billboard’s 200 for 80 consecutive weeks, 37 of them in the number one spot. Seven of its nine tracks were released as singles, and all hit the top ten of Billboard’s Hot 100. His “Billie Jean” video broke the color barrier at MTV, Jackson becoming the first black artist played there, while the “Thriller” title track video, directed by John Landis, is credited with transforming music video from a promotional vehicle into an art form in itself. The 14-minute epic created a sensation; after its debut, MTV was forced to run it twice hourly to meet viewer demand. Follow-up videos for “Beat It” and “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’” cemented Jackson’s reputation as an innovative leader in the burgeoning genre.
In March 1983 Jackson arguably hit his apex, as he debuted his soon-to-be-iconic “Moonwalk” dance routine at the live airing of the Motown 25th Anniversary special, viewed by some 47 million people. Jackson performed “Billie Jean” and astonished the audience with the technical wizardry of the apparently effortless gliding motion he had perfected, soon to be imitated by many. The Moonwalk was a further development of steps he and his brothers had pioneered in the ‘70s, then called “the Robot,” but Jackson took the style to a level never before seen, and rarely replicated since.
But within this period of unparalleled triumph and success lay the seeds of his future eccentricities and challenges. In 1979 Jackson had broken his nose rehearsing a complex dance routine, and required plastic surgery to repair the damage. The initial surgery was botched, requiring a second procedure, and Jackson remained dissatisfied with the results, beginning a long series of rhinoplasty and cosmetic surgeries which would irrevocably alter his appearance.
Paired with Jackson’s bizarre lightening of skin tone, which he claimed was caused by vitiligo, a skin disease altering pigmentation, and the straightening of his hair, abandoning the various styles of Afro he had previously worn, these changes gave rise to frequent speculation about his motivation in transforming his image. Was Jackson rejecting his genetic inheritance and aspiring to be white? As the singer became more and more self-conscious about his appearance, he began to retreat further into his own private world when not performing, eventually resorting to bizarre tactics such as face masks, veils, head scarves and shrouds when in public.
In January 1984 Jackson’s hair caught fire during the filming of a Pepsi commercial, and he was seriously injured, with third degree burns to his scalp. The painful recovery began a confrontation with another of Jackson’s demons, addiction to prescription medication, initially pain killers, then anti-depressants and sedatives, which likely ended by taking his life.
In 1985 Jackson teamed with lyrics legends Paul McCartney and Lionel Ritchie on a variety of projects. He joined with Ritchie to write “We Are the World,” and was one of 39 artists who performed on the recording. The single sold more than 20 million copies and raised millions of dollars for famine relief in Africa, the first major effort by the US entertainment industry to intervene in world suffering. While partnering with Paul McCartney on several song-writing efforts, including “The Girl Is Mine” and “Say Say Say,” Jackson became intrigued by the business opportunities available in owning other people’s songs, and excited by the prospect of buying the Beatles catalog as an investment. After ten months of rigorous negotiations, wherein his chief rivals were McCartney himself and Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono, he purchased the catalog for $47.5 million, and it remains the foundation of his estate today.
In 1986, in an effort to promote a more masculine image for an upcoming film, Jackson underwent a fourth rhinoplasty and added a cleft to his chin. The film, “Captain EO,” was directed by Francis Ford Coppola, shot in 3D, and the most expensive short film to that date, featured for 11 years at Disneyland’s Tomorrowland and eight years at Disney World’s Epcot Center.
Rumors that Jackson slept in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber to retard the ageing process, and had purchased the bones of the Elephant Man, were untrue, but he did buy and befriend a pet chimp called Bubbles, and formed several unusually strong friendships with child stars of the time, including Emmanuel Lewis and Macaulay Culkin. Cosmetic surgeries continued, including a forehead lift, cheekbone reconstruction, and thinned lips. This was all fodder for the tabloid press, who promptly dubbed him “Wacko Jacko.”
It took Jackson five years to follow up “Thriller.” 1987’s “Bad” was not its equal, but still extremely successful commercially, producing seven hit singles, five of which reached number one on the charts, a record for any single album. Its MTV video releases gave most Americans their first real look at what Jackson had become, further feeding speculation. During “Bad”’s World Tour Jackson broke attendance records right and left, including a Guinness Record when 507,000 people showed up for seven sold-out shows at Britain’s Wembley Stadium. In 123 concerts he performed for 4.4 million people, and the tour grossed a cool $125 million, another Guinness Record. He also premiered his new, somewhat aggressive, military style outfits which would soon become trademark.
In 1988 Jackson used some of his earnings to purchase a 1700-acre, $17 million property near Santa Ynez, California, which would become the Neverland Ranch. With an estimated worth of $100 million in 2003, Neverland eventually included a Ferris wheel, carnival rides, a menagerie and a movie theater. Financial difficulties forced Jackson to abandon the property in 2006, and use it as collateral for loans; he still retained a part interest in the property at his death.
1991’s “Dangerous” album continued the commercial slide that had begun after “Thriller,” with just three singles hitting the top ten lists, and only one, “Black or White,” making it to the top of the Billboard Hot 100. Jackson himself, however, was still big news, and a huge popular draw. He incorporated his “Heal the World Foundation” in 1992, preparatory to the “Dangerous” World Tour, and all profits from the tour went to the charity. Jackson performed for 3.6 million fans in 67 concerts globally, and sold the broadcast rights for the tour to HBO for $20 million, yet another record. He performed live during the halftime show at Superbowl XXVII in January 1993, the first occasion at which the halftime show audience exceeded that for the actual game; 135 million people in the US alone tuned in to watch.
In 1993 came the first accusations of sexual molestation of minors, charges which would dog him and erode his public image for the rest of his life, irrevocably marking him as freakish and fatally flawed. In the spring of 1992 Jackson met and befriended 13-year-old Jordan Chandler and his family, though his relationship with Jordan’s father Evan soon became strained. Jordan joined the coterie of children Jackson kept about him at Neverland Ranch, many of whom commonly shared his bed, though no prior accusation of improper behavior had emerged.
In August of 1993 Evan Chandler, a dentist, extracted a tooth from his son’s mouth, and under the influence of a powerful sedative Jordan confessed to his father, and later repeated to his psychiatrist and police, that he and Jackson had engaged in kissing, masturbation, and oral sex, also giving a detailed description of Jackson’s genitals. The LAPD began an investigation in mid-August, search warrants were issued for Neverland Ranch and the Jackson family home, and more than 30 children who were intimates of Jackson were questioned; all denied any impropriety. Jackson’s sister La Toya accused him of pedophilia, claiming she had proof, but later withdrew her accusations, stating that her current husband had coerced her into making the charges in hope of financial gain. Jackson was forced to submit to a 25-minute strip search to verify Jordan’s description of the singer’s genitals, including extensive photography; doctors determined that there were significant similarities, but no definitive match. Jackson called a press conference to deny the charges and describe the humiliating ordeal; he began abusing anti-depressants and sedatives, and cancelled the remainder of his “Dangerous” tour. The case never went to trial; on advice from Jackson’s lawyers, it was settled out of court on January 1, 1994, with Jordan Chandler receiving a reported $22 million.
Less than five months later, on May 26, Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley. The entertainer’s soft-spoken persona and total lack of adult romantic entanglements by age 35 caused many to assume he was gay, and suspect that this was a sham marriage to help resurrect Jackson’s public image. Lisa Marie has stated that the two were sexually intimate during their marriage, which ended less than two years later. The couple remained friends.
In 1995 Jackson released “HIStory,” another record-setting album. Although it never received the critical acclaim or widespread popularity of his earlier efforts, its single “You Are Not Alone” gained the distinction of being the only song ever to debut at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Controversy followed the release of the album’s fourth single, “They Don’t Care About Us,” which originally contained in its lyrics the phrase “Jew me, sue me; Kick me, kike me.” The Anti-Defamation League charged Jackson with anti-Semitism, and he rewrote the offending lines before the album was released, but he had already performed them live in concert. The “HIStory” World Tour spanned five continents and saw Jackson performing for 4.5 million fans in 82 concerts.
During the tour in November 1996 in Australia, Jackson married Debbie Rowe, who was pregnant with their first child. Rowe had met Jackson as a dermatologists’ assistant in the mid-‘80s, when he was first diagnosed with vitiligo, and their professional relationship had developed into a friendship in the intervening decade. Jackson’s son Michael Joseph Jackson Jr (renamed “Prince Michael Jackson” after his parents’ divorce) was born in 1997. A daughter, Paris-Michael Katherine Jackson, followed in 1998. The couple divorced in 1999, with Rowe ceding all custody rights to Jackson in exchange for an $8 million settlement and a house in Beverly Hills. In a 2008 interview, Rowe stated that she had been artificially inseminated, and she and Jackson had never cohabited as husband and wife. A third child, Prince Michael Jackson II (known within the family as “Blanket”), was born in 2002 to a surrogate mother whose identity has never been revealed. The conception was allegedly performed with artificial insemination of Jackson’s sperm, but none of his three children betray any African American features, skin coloring or hair texture.
In 2001 Jackson released his final album, “Invincible,” which sold well internationally, but received a lukewarm reception in the States. Jackson’s popularity abroad had not been affected by the sexual molestation charges; in Europe and Asia he was as big as ever, but tabloid-driven American audiences tended to treat him as more of a curiosity, focusing on his eccentricities, with his music a footnote. “Invincible”’s release coincided with a special star-studded concert in Madison Square Garden to commemorate Jackson’s 30 years as a solo artist, where Usher, ‘N Sync, Whitney Houston and others performed with Jackson on stage.
In 2003 film-maker Martin Bashir released his documentary, “Living With Michael Jackson,” an intimate portrait of the singer’s lifestyle, which featured his relationship with 13-year-old Gavin Arvizo, a cancer patient whose treatment Jackson had paid for. Jackson and Arvizo appeared holding hands, Arvizo resting his head on Jackson’s shoulder, and the two discussed sharing Jackson’s bed. The footage created concern in official circles, and in June the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department began an investigation; initially Arvizo’s mother denied that there had been anything improper in her son’s relationship with Jackson, but that story changed when it became apparent that the singer’s prior financial support for the family would not be continued. In November police issued a search warrant for Neverland and an arrest warrant for Jackson.
Jackson had been performing in Las Vegas at the time, but surrendered himself to police on November 20, charged with “lewd and lascivious” acts with a minor, and posted a $3 million bail. On December 18 Jackson was charged on 7 counts of child molestation and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent. The judge issued a gag order preventing all parties from discussing the case with the press. The arraignment on January 16, 2004 was a media circus, with Jackson dancing atop an SUV at his arrival, to cheering crowds of supporters; the pop icon pled not guilty. A Grand Jury was empaneled in March, which indicted Jackson April 21 on additional charges of conspiracy, false imprisonment and extortion, to which Jackson again pled not guilty.
The trial began January 31, 2005, and continued into early June. At one point Jackson, who had tried to beg off a court appearance, citing severe back pain, was given an hour to show or face contempt of court charges; the singer duly arrived with moments to spare, still dressed in his pajamas. Allegations that Jackson had given Arvizo wine in a Coke can, showed him internet pornography, and masturbated him to orgasm were embarrassing for the pop star, but without corroborating evidence, on June 13, 2005 the jury found Jackson not guilty on all counts. Perhaps more damaging was a series of prior incidents involving minor boys, not previously made public, and raised by the prosecution to establish a pattern of abuse.
Despite his victory, Jackson retreated into his private life, spending increasingly frequent periods abroad, including lengthy stays in Bahrain and Dubai. In November 2006 he resurfaced in London to accept awards from Guinness World Records as “First Entertainer to Earn More than 100 Million Dollars in a Year,” and “Most Successful Entertainer of All Time.” Earlier, in 2000, Guinness had granted him a record for his support of 39 charities globally, more than any other entertainer or personality. That same month he received the Diamond Award at the World Music Awards, in recognition of more than 100 million albums sold.
At the time of his death, Jackson was heavily involved in preparation for a comeback tour, “This Is It!,” to kick off with 50 sold-out concerts in London’s O2 Arena, performing for more than one million fans. Set to begin July 13, 2009, Jackson’s grueling rehearsal schedule, and the added strain that placed on his body, may have led directly to his demise on June 25. In retrospect, the name of the tour seems strangely prophetic—for Michael Jackson, this was, indeed, it.
Born 29 August 1958, in Gary, Indiana (multiple times given, all in dispute), Michael Jackson’s birth chart shows dramatic deep space and asteroid activity which well describes his life story. The Sun at 6 Virgo is exactly conjoined a Black Hole, giving Jackson the power to mesmerize, captivate, and draw others into his orbit, but also creating a basic dichotomy between the inner man and the outer persona, one who feeds off the attentions and adulation of others, but is left ultimately unfulfilled, never feeling sated or satisfied.
The ability of this combination to pull a rabbit from the cosmic hat, changing conditions in the twinkling of an eye and completely reversing what has gone before, is well in evidence in Jackson’s phenomenally rapid rise to super-stardom. As described by Suzanne de Passe, a Motown executive who mentored Michael and his brothers when the group was first signed, dressing them for success and honing their choreography, “It absolutely went from complete anonymity to total celebrity in one beat.” But she also confirms that it was Michael specifically, and not the group as a whole, which created their astounding success: “It became a disproportionate kind of worship for him and interest in him and obsession for the little one.”
Black Hole Sun can create an unsettled, topsy-turvy, world-turned-upside down existence where up is down and black is white, a life full of drama and sudden change, with extreme ups and downs, highs and lows. Such was the case for Jackson, careening from the heights of pop culture stardom and success to the depths of alleged utter sexual depravity, isolation and drug addiction. Black Hole Sun also speaks to Jackson’s startling alteration in appearance over the last twenty-five years of his life, an all too literal “black is white” transformation that mirrors the Black Hole’s ability to remake or revision itself, by whatever means. 2008 “American Idol” runner-up Adam Lambert’s comments in an interview after Jackson’s death neatly encapsulate this aspect of the pop icon’s life, that seemingly limitless creativity with which some Black Hole Sun natives are gifted: “Michael was a genius at inventing himself, inventing music, inventing imagery.”
The Sun also conjoins Pluto at 2 Virgo, dramatically increasing the potential for expression of Jackson’s personal power, and identifying him as a catalyst for others’ transformations, but conveying a darker, hidden side, a temptation for the taboo or forbidden, and issues with control or manipulation. Jackson was extremely controlling when it came to his creative output, although any manipulative tendencies he may have harbored in interpersonal relationships seem to have been projected onto others, as the pop star was noted for picking and retaining staff and assistants whom others thought unsuitable, and who were allegedly not acting in his best interests. This combination is also the source of his fans’ obsession, and Michael’s own tendencies to act in obsessive or compulsive ways, not fully cognizant or aware of his urges and desires.
Perhaps most dramatic is an exact conjunction of the Sun with asteroid Polyhymnia, named for the ancient Greek muse of song, and nothing could be more appropriate for one of the greatest lyricists of the late twentieth century. Jackson wrote 14 number one hits, and another 15 that placed in the top ten list; his vocal artistry, another aspect of Polyhymnia, was uniquely identifiable and broadly appealing. Music was Jackson’s life, and the Sun/Polyhymnia conjunction speaks eloquently to his self-identification with his art and the phenomenal talent with which he was gifted.
Backing up Polyhymnia in Jackson’s celestial choir is asteroid Singer, which at 9 Taurus is trine Sun/Pluto, showing music’s powerful impact in his life, and is slowing to its retrograde station, which would occur ten days later, making it an additional embedded factor in his life. Singer is well-positioned in the chart, being square to a Venus/Uranus conjunction in Leo (with Venus ruling entertainers and Uranus showing innovation and tech prowess), and opposing Neptune at 2 Scorpio, which also has affinities with music and lyric poetry.
Not to be outdone, asteroid Terpsichore, named for the Muse of Dance, is also strongly placed; significantly, she exactly conjoins the Black Hole at 13 Libra, and is in exact sextile to natal Uranus at 13 Leo, allowing Jackson the creative freedom to adopt new dance forms (Terpsichore), as if from an alternate reality (Black Hole) no one else had experienced, while becoming an innovative figure always on the cutting edge (Uranus). This Uranian contact also reflects his two most popular dance innovations, the Robot and the Moon Walk, both of which have the futuristic, avant garde tone of Uranus’ contributions. Terpsichore is also conjunct asteroid Jackson at 11 Libra, a fitting combination for the man who was easily as famous for his dance moves as his songs.
Saturn’s placement is also extremely significant, ruling Jackson’s career as well as issues with his father and authority figures or legal entanglements. At 19 Sagittarius, natal Saturn exactly conjoins another Black Hole, indicating the potential for dramatic success and achievement, but also major, sudden reversal, and denoting huge amounts of energy expended in career pursuits. Both sides of the Black Hole coin can be seen in Jackson’s career path, though the success predominates, and the reversals, born of issues in his personal life, never completely deflated his achievements, even if they tarnished his reputation.
The extremely abusive relationship with his father is also a result of this conjunction, as Black Hole Saturn natives can experience their fathers as overly controlling, devouring, and unapproachable. Legal difficulties and his arrest and trial for child sexual abuse also stem from Black Hole Saturn, which further acted in Jackson’s case to create an atmosphere of hyper-critical perfectionism in his career, and a grueling work schedule which would have defeated many who did not harbor a Black Hole’s virtually unlimited reserves of energy. Saturn is also closely tied to a pair of Quasars at 4 Scorpio and Taurus, by exact semisquare and sesquiquadrate aspects, and these are likely the source of his phenomenal career. Black Holes may open doors and provide unexpected opportunities, but they do not guarantee success. Quasars do promote achievement, recognition and reward, placing a bright spotlight upon our efforts and calling others’ attention to them. These would be the contacts that allowed Jackson to thrust wide the career doors unlocked by the Black Hole, and push boldly through them, reaping countless accolades and awards and routinely setting multiple records.
But it is the minor celestials which constellate about Jackson’s Saturn which are especially revealing, and even emerge in startling fashion in the titles of several of his songs. Asteroid Orpheus, named for the famed musician and singer of Greek Myth, stands close by Saturn at 20 Sagittarius, identifying his chosen (perhaps “fated” would be a better word) career path, with Icarus and Industria within orb at 15 and 12 Sagittarius respectively. Icarus is the rash risk-taker, and Jackson was never averse to pushing the envelope and trying something new, always active on the cutting edge of music technology, popular appetite and dance innovation. He also acted rashly in his private life, in ways which affected his career.
Industria conjures images of hard work and self-application; no one was more industrious in work matters than Jackson, who frequently put in extremely long days and committed himself to rehearsal schedules that taxed his strength and pushed his body to, and beyond, its limits, always in search of a perfection that seemed to forever elude him. Jackson often commented that he was never really happy with a performance, always felt he could have done better, even with iconic moments such as the premiere of the Moonwalk at Motown 25; this hyper-perfectionism and self-criticism is typical of Black Hole Saturn natives, for whom nothing is ever good enough.
Asteroid Pandora at 16 Sagittarius is also conjunct Saturn, and there is a sense that once Jackson opened that Pandora’s Box of his career, he unleashed forces over which he was unable to maintain control—the career ran him, he didn’t run it. Perhaps the most intriguing placements with Saturn are those of asteroids Narcissus at 24 Sagittarius and Panacea at 21 Sagittarius—Jackson was very self-focused in performance, seeming to enter his own separate reality at these times, like mythic Narcissus captivated by his own reflection. In footage of the Pepsi commercial accident released shortly after his death, Jackson is seen continuing to perform for a full six seconds after his hair catches fire, completely oblivious to the flames; this type of total immersion in his performance and self-absorption in the task at hand speaks to Narcissus’ obsessive self-focus.
Jackson also used his music as a healing force redolent of Panacea, Greek goddess of cures and medicinal healing, both indirectly, in the messages he attempted to convey of peace and harmony, and also more substantially, in the many charitable foundations he created or supported. The mythic themes of these asteroids are also reflected in two of his popular songs—Narcissus with “Man in the Mirror,” and Panacea with “Heal the World.” Saturn is also exactly sextile to Chiron at 19 Aquarius, another indicator of his desire to heal via the work he did, and the internal woundedness that work revealed.
Asteroid Neverland at 14 Gemini is widely squared the Sun, suggesting that Neverland Ranch was a self-defining location for Jackson, one with which he would become strongly identified. Asteroid Jackson at 11 Aries exactly squares TNO Salacia at 11 Capricorn, an indication that the singer would be embroiled in scandal of a sexual, titillating nature (Salacia is the root of our word “salacious”, and refers to crude, lewd or lascivious acts).
Was Jackson gay, and a pedophile? Many chart indicators suggest he had issues with this. Venus at 16 Leo is exactly squared a Black Hole at 16 Taurus, a placement which often indicates the choice of partners or romantic encounters which others see as unsuitable or in some way unnatural or alien. Black Hole Venus further describes the excessive windfall profits from his music, as well as the constant financial strain of his later years and the frivolous buying habits for which Jackson was noted. Black Hole Venus can provide windfall profits and amass huge wealth, but often unexpected expenditures also arise, so that what comes in is immediately paid out, and the native plays financial catch-up throughout the life.
Venus also conjoins a Maser at 13 Leo, indicative of controversy in romantic matters as well as constellating volatile issues about appearance, such as Jackson’s cosmetic surgeries produced. This is a placement which further grants an ability to provoke extreme excitement, even exhilaration, in others, stemming from one’s creative output, which is certainly the case for Jackson.
But Venus’ placement is even more complex than this. Conjoined by Uranus also at 13 Leo, this is a common combination in charts of gay men and women, who refuse to conform to societal norms in matters of love and intimacy, choosing instead to express their unique individuality. Venus is also broadly conjoined Mercury at 25 Leo, indicating a potential attraction for young persons, as well as Jackson’s ability to retain a youthful appearance well into middle age. Minor celestials also intrude: incredibly, Jackson had asteroid Child at 21 Leo, conjoined Venus, and exactly conjunct asteroid Sphinx. His relationships with children and young people were certainly loving; the issue of whether or not he crossed any lines is one which, Sphinx-like, will probably remain an inscrutable mystery. Also in the mix are asteroid Aphrodite at 24 Leo, suggesting flirtation and affairs of the heart, as opposed to mere, base sexual gratification. Asteroid Amor, emblematic of platonic love, appearing at 12 Leo suggests that his affections were innocent, but asteroid Pecker is here also, at 14 Leo, lending a potentially much more sexual, earthy component to his interactions with minors.
Additionally, the Sun is squared by asteroid Sappho, often indicative of both poetic genius and homosexual attraction, at 7 Sagittarius, and asteroid Lust, betraying a more animalistic nature, at 5 Sagittarius, itself exactly conjunct a Black Hole, suggesting sexual passion and arousal were a very strong pull on Jackson’s psyche, possibly directed by Sappho into homosexual outlets. Mars at 21 Taurus conjoins Nessus, a centaur associated with inappropriate expression of sexual urges, while asteroid Eros at 4 Aries, ruling romantic passion, combines with Trans-Neptunian Objects Eris, goddess of contention, discord and strife, at 9 Aries and Chaos, indicative of lack of control and turbulent disorder, at 7 Aries. Asteroid Circe is also here, at 8 Aries, suggestive of an irresistible siren call, one which the native cannot fail to listen to, but which leads him astray. These certainly describe the apparently compulsive nature of Jackson’s repeat-offender-style interactions with young boys, and the controversy, calumny, and disruption which these created in the singer’s personal and private life, a pattern of interactions to which he continued to return despite the negative experiences which they evoked.
Ganymed is another asteroid associated with gay themes, named for Zeus’ cupbearer and lover, an underage boy whose beauty so captivated the King of the Gods that he spirited him away to Olympus to fulfill more than one need. Jackson has Ganymed at 22 Libra, inconjunct natal Mars at 21 Taurus, semisquare the natal Sun at 6 Virgo and conjunct natal Jupiter, Zeus’ Roman counterpart, at 28 Libra. It may also be significant that Jackson’s two primary accusers have asteroid variants of their names which are strategically placed in the pop star’s chart. Asteroid Jordaens, for Jordan Chandler, lies at 28 Libra, exactly conjunct natal Jupiter and a Black Hole, and within orb of Ganymed. This certainly describes their relationship, that of the powerful, larger-than-life (Jupiter) adult who plucks a young boy (Ganymed) from his ho-hum everyday life and whisks him off to the exciting alternate reality (Black Hole) of Neverland Ranch, here a stand-in for mythic Olympus.
The Black Hole’s tendency to reversal also describes the effect Jordan’s accusations had on Jackson’s reputation (Jupiter), which never fully recovered. But Black Hole events are not always what they seem, and it is possible to put a kinder interpretation on the situation than that which has commonly been applied. Asteroid Gavini, for Gavin Arvizo, is perhaps even more strongly placed; at 0 Sagittarius it squares the Sun and joins the Lust/Sappho conjunction at 5 and 7 Sagittarius, again combining gay themes (Sappho) with rampant sexuality (Lust), but Lust’s position exactly atop another Black Hole once again indicates that appearances can be deceiving, and nothing is cut-and-dried.
This is a tough call, but my personal feeling is that Jackson does not conform to the “typical” pederast profile. He seems to have been genuinely emotionally stunted at about the threshold of puberty, when super-stardom intervened in his normal development. If so, then his interactions with boys of 12 to 14 are perhaps best viewed not as those of an adult with a child, but rather as peer to peer. As such, it is highly likely that, for a boy with the types of astrological and psychological inclinations toward homosexuality such as Jackson’s chart reveals, some of these interactions with peers might lead to infatuation or even sexual contact typical of experimentation common to that stage of maturation. Jackson’s adult self certainly knew he was wrong to make these contacts, but his childlike inner self, stuck in early puberty, simply couldn’t prevent him from sometimes crossing the line, in particular with boys for whom he felt a strong bond, as noted by their asteroid namesakes’ placements in his chart. It is also quite possible, with Black Hole activation, that nothing untoward ever occurred, and these allegations are nothing more than malicious fantasy directed at a vulnerable individual who is just odd enough to gain notice for his actions, and rich enough to make an irresistible target.
Key moments of Jackson’s life and career show additional deep space and asteroid activity. The period from the fall of 1982 through the spring of 1983 was the apex of Jackson’s career, and saw transit Pluto crisscrossing natal Jupiter, inflating his status and bringing him unparalleled opportunity and good fortune. At both the November 30 1982 release of “Thriller,” Jackson’s biggest success and the best-selling album ever, and his now-iconic premiere of the Moonwalk at the Motown 25th anniversary special on March 25 1983, this conjunction of Pluto with Jupiter was exact.
“Thriller” established Jackson as a music innovator without equal, and its release was accompanied by a Sun/Uranus transit conjunction at 8 and 5 Sagittarius (Uranus exact on a Black Hole), squaring his natal Sun at 6 Virgo, with the Sun also within orb of conjunction to an exact pairing of transit Mercury and Venus at 14 Sagittarius, highlighting his natal Terpsichore (dance) at 13 Libra by sextile, and natal Venus/Uranus (cutting edge creative expression) at 16/13 Leo by trine. Transit Polyhymnia, muse of song, at 22 Virgo was squared the Galactic Center, denoting the universal appeal of Jackson’s work, and exactly opposed transit asteroid Jackson at 22 Pisces, itself conjunct asteroid Michel (for Michael) exactly on the Black Hole at 28 Pisces, emphasizing the dramatic change in his status which “Thriller”’s release would evoke.
When Jackson first performed his Moonwalk, Terpsichore at 1 Sagittarius combined with Uranus at 9 Sagittarius and Jupiter atop the Black Hole at 10 Sagittarius, evoking the futuristic (Uranus) dance routine (Terpsichore) seemingly from an alternate reality (Black Hole), which greatly boosted Jackson’s reputation and public image (both Jupiter); all points were again squared his natal Sun. Transit asteroid Jackson at 23 Aries conjoined the Black Hole at 24 Aries, while asteroid Michel at 4 Taurus was exactly conjunct an illumining Quasar, turning a spotlight on the entertainer and bringing him into further prominence.
By the time of the pyrotechnics accident during the filming of the Pepsi commercial on 27 January 1984, which caused severe scalp burns and may have led directly to Jackson’s painkiller addiction, transit Pluto had moved away from natal Jupiter and was now at 2 Scorpio, exactly conjunct Jackson’s natal Neptune, ruling drugs. Thus began a transformation (Pluto) in his relationship with prescription medication (Neptune) which would affect the remaining 25 years of his life. Following Pluto in quick succession were Mars (accidents, injuries) at 8 Scorpio, Panacea (healing medicaments) at 9 Scorpio, Polyhymnia (songs, singers) at 12 Scorpio and Saturn (career, restriction or limitation) at 15 Scorpio. A cluster of transit Neptune, Jupiter, and Venus at 0, 1 and 2 Capricorn, all in trine to Jackson’s natal Sun, suggests the increased (Jupiter) drug use (Neptune) for the artist (Venus).
A decade later, the stress and anxiety of the sexual molestation accusations would put a further strain on Jackson’s health, as he turned increasingly to sedatives and anti-depressants for relief from sleeplessness and worry. The $22 million settlement in the Jordan Chandler case came on 1 January 1994, and incredibly, shows asteroids Jordaens and Jackson conjoined at 28 and 29 Pisces, conjunct the 28 Pisces Black Hole. Asteroids Nemesis and Child combine at 12 and 14 Sagittarius, in trine to the natal Uranus/Venus conjunction, within orb of natal Saturn.
It signals an undoing (Nemesis) based in an unorthodox (Uranus) affection (Venus), wrought by a child (Child), affecting career (Saturn). A stellium of Achilles at 6 Capricorn, Venus at 7, Karma at 8, Mars and Mercury both at 9 and the Sun at 11 Capricorn, all in trine to Jackson’s natal Sun, bespeaks a comeuppance (Karma) relating to a congenital weak spot (Achilles), namely his affection (Venus) for and possible sexual involvement (Mars) with youths (Mercury).
Saturn and Pluto exactly square each other from 27 Aquarius, with Saturn atop a reality-contorting Black Hole, to 27 Scorpio, where Pluto activates an attention-getting Quasar, indicating the highly public case and its irreversible damage to Jackson’s reputation and career. The truth or falsity of the accusations remains in doubt, astrologically—asteroid Askalaphus (named for the tale-bearing busybody who informed on Persephone’s ingestion of pomegranate seeds in the Underworld, thus necessitating her annual return) lies at 19 Capricorn, exactly atop a Black Hole and conjoined both Neptune (lies and deception) at 20 Capricorn and Uranus (truth and revelation) at 21, building a case for either interpretation.
The “not guilty” verdict in Jackson’s only trial for sexual molestation came at 2:13 PM PDT, 13 June 2005, at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse in Santa Maria, California. Asteroid Gavini, for accuser Gavin Arvizo, at 8 Cancer is exactly conjunct a Quasar, prominent at the 9 Cancer Midheaven, and also conjoined Venus (romance, affection) at 12 Cancer and Mercury (young people) at 4 Cancer, itself exactly on a Black Hole and exactly squared Jackson’s natal asteroid Eros (homosexual attraction, sexual passion). Gavini also squares transit Jupiter at 9 Libra on the 8 Libra Ascendant, with these points and asteroid Karma at 10 Libra all conjoin Jackson’s natal asteroid Jackson at 11 Libra. Judgment (Jupiter) has been rendered, the past (Karma) laid to rest, Jackson (the eponymous asteroid) vindicated. Transit asteroid Jackson at 24 Taurus also exactly conjoins a Black Hole, and is semisquare to the Gavini/Midheaven conjunction.
When Michael Jackson was officially pronounced dead at the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles at 2:26 PM PDT 25 June 2009, the Sun at 4 Cancer exactly conjoined a Black Hole, as did asteroid Michel at 19 Capricorn and asteroid Jackson at 28 Aquarius, these three factors combining to transport the pop star into the alternate reality of death. From that degree, asteroid Jackson is conjoined by Neptune (prescription drugs, addiction) at 26 Aquarius and Chiron (wounding) at 25 Aquarius, with asteroid Atropos the Cutter, named for the Fate who severs the thread of life at death, in exact trine from 28 Gemini, from where she also exactly opposes a Pulsar at 28 Sagittarius, a deep space anomaly ruling newsworthy events and the media. Asteroids Polyhymnia (the singer) and Requiem (the funeral hymn for the dead) combine at 10 and 12 Aquarius, with asteroid Terpsichore (the dancer) aligned with the Quasar at 4 Taurus and in sextile to the Sun, turning the spotlight once again on the famed entertainer. Mercury, representing the songwriter, at 15 Gemini was tightly squared Saturn, ancient Lord of Death, at 16 Virgo.
In January 2019, almost 10 years after his death, a new wrinkle was added to the Michael Jackson saga, with the release at the Sundance Festival of a controversial four hour documentary, “Leaving Neverland.” Directed by Dan Reed, the film focuses on two other alleged Jackson abuse victims, Wade Robson and James Safechuck. Robson was an Australian child dance prodigy, now a choreographer, whom Jackson befriended and allegedly abused from ages 7 through 14; Safechuck met Jackson when he filmed the Pepsi commercial, and the family was quickly drawn into the singer’s orbit, with Safechuck accompanying him on tour. He alleges sexual abuse from age 10 to 14.
In Jackson’s birth chart, asteroid James at 6 Aquarius conjoins Michel, a Michael variant, at 3 Aquarius, denoting their close relationship. Asteroid Askalaphus, the tale-bearer, is also at 3 Aquarius, a foreboding that at some point James might tell all. Asteroid Wade at 2 Leo conjoins asteroids Karma at 0 Leo and Hebe at 1 Leo, and this grouping squares Neptune at 2 Scorpio. Karma suggests a fated relationship, Hebe is the root of our word “hebephilia”, sexual attraction for pubescent youths, and Neptune adds elements of deceit, subterfuge and fantasy. Asteroid Robson at 11 Gemini conjoins asteroid Neverland at 14, and squares Jackson’s Sun, indicating someone who may come to define Jackson’s image, or with whom Jackson became self-identified, perhaps via their shared love of dance and experiences as child stars.
When “Leaving Neverland” premiered on January 25, 2019, asteroids Wade at 8 Gemini and Robson at 8 Libra were in a Grand Trine with the 5 Aquarius Sun, itself conjoined by asteroid Michel at 0 Aquarius. Wade and Robson are both at station, with Wade turning direct five days prior and Robson five days later, cementing Wade Robson’s importance in the moment. Wade conjoins both Nemesis at 5 Gemini, that source of undoing or ruin, and gay-themed Sappho at 11 Gemini, the precise degree of asteroid Robson in Jackson’s birth chart. Asteroid James (for Safechuck) at 27 Scorpio is widely conjunct asteroid Jackson at 19, linking the two. Asteroids Michela and Michelle, two more Michael variants, appear at 23 and 14 Aries, both conjoined controversy-provoking Uranus at 28 Aries for the shocking revelations, and opposing asteroid Child at 23 Libra, defining the issue at hand. Asteroid Reid (homonym for director Reed) at 4 Aries and Neverland at 10 Aries conjoin Mars at 16 Aries, combining the director, the locale for the abuses and the theme of sexuality. These conjoin asteroids Eros and Jackson at 4 and 11 Aries, bringing it home to the King of Pop personally, and also square natal TNO Salacia at 11 Capricorn, signaling lewd, lascivious behaviors and scandal.
Whatever his faults or foibles, Michael Jackson’s was an undeniable talent which influenced music history and impressed itself upon generations of music lovers the world over. Such an impact is rare indeed, and we are not likely to see his peer.