The news of Michael Jackson’s death rocked the world on June 25, 2009. Since his death all of the major television networks have aired special honors highlighting his musical legacy. Those tributes are fitting for the man who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice and whose 1982 Thriller album still holds the title of all-time best selling record in the world. However, Michael Jackson also had many significant non-musical achievements that are rarely mentioned.
The Michael Jackson Burn Center
On January 27, 1984, Jackson suffered second degree burns on his scalp while filming a Pepsi commercial at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. A pyrotechnics accident set his hair on fire in front of the auditorium full of fans who were there for a simulated concert. Jackson sued PepsiCo and settled out of court for $1.5 million. The settlement was donated to the Brotman Medical Center in Culver City, California, where Jackson received treatment for his burns. Using the money donated by Jackson, Brotman was able to get the best available technology for treating burn victims. The burn ward at the hospital was later named the "Michael Jackson Burn Center" to honor Jackson and his generous contribution.
Received Award from President Reagan
Michael Jackson was invited to the White House on May 14, 1984, where he received an award for his support of drug and alcohol abuse charities, presented by President Ronald Reagan.
The 1984 Victory Tour, headlined by the Jacksons, introduced more than two million fans to Jackson’s solo material. Following the tour, Jackson donated his $5 million share from the tour’s profits to charity.
We Are the World, We Are the Children
Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie wrote the charity single "We Are the World" in 1985. Both artists were among the 39 musicians who recorded the song. The single was released around the world to and proceeds went to help the needy in Africa and the U.S. Almost 20 million copies of "We Are the World" were sold, making it one of the best-selling singles of all time. The project raised millions for famine relief.
Treated Underprivileged Children to Free Shows
During the Bad World Tour, Michael Jackson played to sold out crowds and smashed Guinness World records when 504,000 fans packed Wembley Stadium for each of the seven sold out shows and the tour grossed $125 million. During all of this, Jackson invited underprivileged children to the shows and donated to hospitals, orphanages and other charities.
100 Percent to Charity
From 1985 to 1990, Jackson donated $500,000 to the United Negro College Fund.
Honored by President George H. W. Bush
President George H. W. Bush commended Jackson for his achievements and presented him with the White House’s special "Artist of the Decade" award in recognition of his musical influence during the 1980s.
Heal The World Foundation
Jackson founded the "Heal the World Foundation" in 1992. The charity organization brought underprivileged children to Jackson’s Neverland ranch to ride theme park rides the singer had built on the property. Heal the World also gave millions of dollars to help children around the world who were threatened by war and illnesses.
Dangerous Profits Go to Charity
Jackson started the Dangerous World Tour on June 27, 1992 and completed it on November 11, 1993, after entertaining 3.5 million people at 67 concerts. All of the profits from the concerts were donated to the Heal the World Foundation.
Publicly Pleaded for More HIV/AIDS Research
When Ryan White, a hemophiliac teen from Indiana was kicked out of school in 1985 because he contracted HIV from a contaminated blood treatment, Jackson became one of his advocates. After White’s death in 1990, Jackson pleaded with the Clinton Administration at Bill Clinton’s Inaugural Gala for more funding for HIV/AIDS charities and research.
Teamed with Luciano Pavarotti for Charity
Jackson and Pavarottii teamed up for a benefit concert in Modena, Italy in June 1999. The concert was focused on support of the non-profit organization Warchild. The artists raised a million dollars for the refugees of Kosovo and also donated money to help the children of Guatemala.
Michael Jackson and Friends Benefit Concerts
Also in June 1999, Jackson organized a series of benefit concerts in Germany and Korea. He recruited Slash, The Scorpions, Boyz II Men, Luther Vandross, Mariah Carey, A. R. Rahman, Prabhu Deva Sundaram, Shobana Chandrakumar, Andrea Bocelli and Luciano Pavarotti for the Michael Jackson and Friends concerts. The proceeds were donated to the "Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund", the Red Cross and UNESCO.
Guinness Record for Support of Charities
Jackson was listed in the 2000 book of Guinness World Records for his support more charities than any other entertainer or personality. Jackson supported 39 charities through cash donations and sponsorships.
Jackson released his first autobiography, Moon Walk, in 1988. The book took four years to write and detailed alleged abuse Jackson suffered as a child and his plastic surgeries. The book topped the New York Times best seller’s list.
Support After 9/11
After the 9/11 attacks, Jackson helped organize the United We Stand: What More Can I Give benefit concert at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., which aired on October 21, 2001. Dozens of major artists performed at the concert and Jackson sang "What More Can I Give" as the finale.