In Memorium: Michael Jackson

Is Fame and Fortune Wealth?

I always knew I was going to be rich. I don't think I ever doubted it for a minute.

-Warren Buffett


When you think of wealth, who could be a better role model than Michael Jackson? In 1980, Jackson secured the highest royalty rate in the music industry: 37% of wholesale album profit. According to Wikipedia, his Thriller album remains the best selling album of all time. Jackson's attorney, John Branca, is quoted as saying he received royalties of $2 per album, when the average rock star is lucky to get beer money from his royalties. And even when his luck went bad in 1984 and his hair caught fire in a Pepsi commercial, the magic touch of wealth still followed him. Pepsi settled for $1.5 million in damages.

In terms of wordly wealth, perhaps only the Queen of England (about $500 milliont) or J.K. Rowling (worth £600m) have a greater net worth than Michael Jackson.

Jackson was awarded the Diamond Award on November 15, 2006, for selling over 100 million albums at the World Music Awards. According to Forbes, Jackson was still making as much as $75 million a year from his publishing partnership with Sony alone. The music catalog includes the vintage Beatles collection, purchased by him for $47.5 million (he outbid Paul McCartney to purchase it). This collection, along with his own, is valued as high as $1 billion.

In addition to the of fame and recognition of millions of fans, no other pop star has been recognized by two presidents of the United States.

Michael certainly had the love & adoration of millions and inspired a dance revolution. Children in dance schools across the nation are taught the moonwalk and robot, moves perfected and popularized by Michael in his many performances. And in honor of his memorial service, many corporations posted "Please do not watch streaming video at work" messages on their corporate intranet sites. The technicians feared the volume would bring the company intranet crashing to its knees.

Perhaps one component of Michael's near universal appeal was that, in some ways, he WAS Peter Pan, living in Never Land, and he never really grew up. His soft, breathless voice always seemed to hold the innocence of childhood. Yet he combined that with a very hot, sexy dance style, to produce one of those magical juxtapositions that so fires the imagination.

What made Michael Jackson one of the richest men in the world? I think the same thing that works whenever it's been tried: Talent mixed with hard work. Like his friend and mentor James Brown, Michael had a reputation as one of the hardest working performers in the industry. He credited his father's strict discipline as playing a large part in his success.

Rest in peace, Michael. We will miss you.