Michael Jackson, King of Pop, dies with debts of $400 Million.

by Debt Destroyer on June 28, 2009

michael-jackson-doll-black-or-whiteWhen I first heard the reports of Michael Jackson being rushed to the hospital, I thought, “Here’s another crazy publicity stunt.”  Like the boy who cried wolf, Michael Jackson always had a way of getting our attention, usually in sensational ways.

Of course, this time it was different.

When news of his death became official, I felt genuine remorse.  I guess that is because part of my childhood died. As a kid I was a huge fan.  Thriller was my first “real” record that I bought myself.

I didn’t stay a mega fan for long, in fact Weird Al soon replaced Michael as my favorite singer (thanks to “Eat it” and “Fat” ).  But I’m still a huge music lover (as seen in my Pearl Jam posts) and I think I owe part of this to Michael Jackson’s influence on me as a youngster.

The morning after his death I was listening to NPR’s marketplace and they had a story about how he was deeply in debt. Actually they said he was $400 million in debt. Hearing this made the remorse return.

Although this time it was more like pity.

He went from child star to an international icon to a freak show.  This all happened so very fast.

We could put up with Neverland Ranch, Bubbles the Chimp, The Elephant Man’s remains, and the hyperbaric oxygen chamber. After all these were just the antics of an eccentric superstar.

But when the allegations of child molestation came up, most of us had had enough.  Of course it didn’t help that the allegations came at the same time his physical appearance was transforming before our eyes.

He is a prime example of stardom ruining your life.

Perhaps if his comeback tour would have been successful he could have gotten his life back together. I highly doubt it, but perhaps. An article on Yahoo details where his earnings went, not surprisingly most of it was squandered, so he definitely didn’t have a good history with money.  Perhaps his kids will have better luck with his estate than he did.

As I write this, 6 out of the top 10 songs in the itunes store are Michael Jackson songs.  I am not surprised by this.    Even accounting for the natural posthumous sales bump an artist gets, I think his records will sell like hot cakes for awhile.

Whether it be admiration, the need for nostalgia, or watching a train-wreck, the world loved Michael Jackson.

Which camp do you fall in? I’ll admit that as I got older his music was a guilty pleasure of mine.  I didn’t wear rhinestone pants or scream whenever I saw him, but I always thought he was “one of a kind.”

Rest in Peace Michael,

Until next time,



**Update** on 7-01-09 “All Things Considered” ran an interesting story about how much Michael was worth at the time of his death.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

kosmo @ The Casual Observer June 29, 2009 at 2:59 pm

The day after Jackson died, 9 of the top 10 albums on iTunes were his. An interesting aspect to the digital music phenomenon is it’s impact on the “death bubble”. If the past, if someone died, you might go to the store to find some of their albums. But if they were sold out, by the time you went back to the store, the impact of the death may have been lessened, and you might not buy those albums … thus, sales would be lost.

Today, you decided you want the albums, and you download them. “out of stock” is a foreign concept.


Jonathan@Friends&Money June 29, 2009 at 4:46 pm

Whilst i can’t say i was ever michael’s biggest fan, he did produce some excellent music. In a strange and rather sick way, he will probably earn his producers and record company more money now that he is dead then he ever would if he was alive. It’s a real shame that he dead at what is a relatively early age and the music world will be a poorer place without him


ed June 30, 2009 at 8:58 am

For a guy who talked so much about loving children…why didn’t he make sure his children’s custody issues were taken care of? All it would have taken was a quick call to one of his favorite lawyers. Shame on him.


Debt Destroyer June 30, 2009 at 10:56 am

Thanks for taking the time to comment.

@kosmo – Last night I counted 48 of the top 100 downloaded songs on itunes songs were his.

@Jonathan- You’re right. Elvis made more money dead than alive, so Michael probably will too. I wonder if Neverland Ranch will resurface…for the tourists.

@ed – And shame on his lawyers for not having a will put together for him.

**Update I guess he did have a will:


car insurance phi July 1, 2009 at 8:41 pm

I was too young to remember MJ in his glory days, but I did love to see the guy dance. That being said, I think it’s sad that his life became such a circus. Truly a one of a kind individual that the world will miss regardless.


Hiro July 2, 2009 at 12:55 am

I’m still trying to understand why people would all of a sudden see so much value in MJ CDs, albums, records etc.

Yea he’s dead. I get it. But it was going to happen eventually. If you had thought about the future, you could have gotten things much cheaper and easier before the death. Now everyone’s competing with everyone trying to get a hand on anything Michael.

Silly to me


Debt Destroyer July 2, 2009 at 10:53 am

@car insurance phi – It was too bad about the circus life. I always got a kick out of the “Leave Me Alone” video.

But at the same time. He brought most of it upon himself.

@ Hiro – I agree it is silly. I don’t have the necessary psychology background to explain why people flock to the work of dead artists, but they do. Just look to “The Dark Knight” from last summer to see an example.


Owen July 2, 2009 at 4:21 pm

The truth lies in the middle of your article, which is that Michael Jacksons has been an irrelevant loser for some time. I don’t wish death or misfortune on anyone, but why does it seem like we’re all obligated to say something good about him since he has passed? The man was a freak (and barely looks like a man), an unconvicted child molestor, a debtor to a ridiculous degree, and as of lately (IMO) a dull entertainer. Maybe spinning around and grabbing your crotch was cool in the 80’s but seriously… Everytime I see his outdated, overplayed dances moves (Ill admit I like the moonwalk) I think of a dog I had that always wanted to hump my leg.

When Mr. Jackson passed on I thought the same thing as you… This has GOT to be a publicity stunt. And you know why I thought that? Because, like you touched on, this is the exact type of weird, freakshow style behavior we expect from MJ.

Either way, personally I never felt that sense of remorse nor pitty for the man when he passed. Quite honestly, I couldn’t care less about him and part of me, truth be told, felt a bit of releif. Releif because I am so sick of hearing about MJ and his desire to touch and hug and sleep with children and I am sick of a man that is getting far to much undeserved wealth and attention. Imagine if Bill O’reilly even for one minute did half the things MJ did…. He would never recover.

So, what makes MJ special? He sold millions of records? Is that the new American standard? Sell a million records and everything else you do is OK. Anna Nichole smith was a great porn star and at one point pretty damn hot but that didn’t stop anyone from calling her a washed up whore. Oh wait… MJ is black, I mean white, I mean… ??? So we can’t say anything bad about him, that would be politically incorrect and clearly racially charged. This business about MJ is already old. It’s on every news channel. I’ve had it with the death of MJ. This just proves that in death he can be far more irritating than when he was alive. Who’d have thought.
We have bigger problems to deal with than MJ and if I hear his name again I think I’m going to vomit. Watch out……


Debt Destroyer July 6, 2009 at 3:52 pm

Come on Owen…tell us what you really think.



Annie July 9, 2009 at 10:51 am

Shock and sadness of the death of Jackson expressed a range of celebrities, foreign governments and his huge fan crowd. Jackson leaves behind not only a great musical heritage and the huge crowds of fans, but also considerable debts. Despite the fact that he was one of the most successful pop music artists, who had earned hundreds of millions of dollars, he was also about half a billion dollars of debt.


King of Pop Memorabilia July 27, 2009 at 2:13 am

Now Michael Jackson can live to be a legend though, instead of everyone growing tired of the drama case he had become.


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