A quick-moving yet comprehensive narrative of the singer's career, downfall and unlikely post-mortem second act.
Forbes senior editor Greenburg (Empire State of Mind: How Jay-Z Went from Street Corner to Corner Office, 2011) focuses on Jackson's financial acuity throughout his career, only briefly recounting the many well-known, sordid aspects of his life. As the precocious preteen star of the Jackson 5, he sought to learn how to write, record, market and, notably, profit from a song. The author charts the progress and breadth of Jackson's accomplishments through his collaborations with the best in many aspects of the entertainment industry, including his chart-breaking, three-album collaboration as a solo artist with legendary record producer Quincy Jones. Though he is a business writer, Greenburg adroitly reviews Jackson's artistic growth and achievements not with pecuniary jargon or obsequious praise, but as a narrative of the fruitful relationships the artist established with others. He includes surprising facts about Jackson's recording breakthroughs—he and his recording team developed nascent, innovative technologies such as digital music sampling and multitrack recording—as well as his ambitious, and very expensive, long-form music videos, which became the industry standard. Greenburg maintains an even narrative flow in his overview of Jackson's business acumen and how he surrendered it. Upon Jackson's death in 2009, dozens of creditors laid claim to his estate; though Jackson earned $1.1 billion in his career, he was in financial ruin. Greenburg doesn't overanalyze the complex deals and maneuverings of the private equity firm charged to manage his debt, and admirers will be gratified to learn how, five years after Jackson's death, the executors negotiated record deals, eliminated his personal debts and helped make him more popular than he had been since the 1990s.
A useful, informative examination of this important artist’s career.