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The HIStory / Blood on the Dance Floor Era, 1995-1999, was one of Michael’s busiest eras with two albums, his biggest world tour, some of the most expensive and stunning short films and a heavy media schedule.
At the end of 1994, Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley made their first television appearance together at the MTV Movie Awards, where Michael collected an award for “Will You Be There”. Michael was soon back in the studio during 1994 to create his new album.
The massive promotional campaign for the forthcoming album, HIStory, was launched on MTV and around the world on the 22nd of May 1995, with a stunning teaser film. The 4 minute “HIStory Teaser” was filmed in Budapest in early August 1994, and directed by Rupert Wainwright. Fans were invited to participate in the film, which featured a huge army and stunning special effects. The film created a stir around the world and generated massive interest in Michael’s forthcoming album.
On June 14th, Michael and Lisa Marie Presley appeared on Prime Time Live in an interview with Diane Sawyer. During the 60-minute interview, Michael discussed his music and career and along with Lisa Marie, revealed details of their marriage. The programme was watched by 60 million viewers and was the most watched program of 1995.
The following day, Sony continued its $30 million dollar promotional campaign for HIStory, by floating a huge statue of Michael Jackson down the River Thames in the UK. There were a total of nine statues throughout Europe. Each statue was 10 meters tall, 2,100 kilograms in weight and made from steel and fibreglass. The promotion for HIStory was the largest campaign for a single album at that time.
On the 25th of June, Michael attended a press conference in New York, where it was announced that Michael & Janet Jackson had been nominated for a record 11 MTV Video Music Awards for “Scream”. Michael also announced that he would be performing at a concert for HBO called “One Night Only” at the end of the year. He was then interviewed by Bill Bellamy for a special called “Michael Jackson Changes HIStory” which was televised shortly after.
Michael attended the MTV Video Music Awards on September 7th, where he opened the show with an amazing performance. Slash joined Michael onstage for the performance which included “Black or White”, “Billie Jean”, “Dangerous” and “You Are Not Alone”. Michael and Janet won three awards for “Scream”, including “Best Dance Video”, “Best Art Direction” and “Best Choreography”.
On November 27, HIStory’s third single, “Earth Song”, was released world wide, but not in the US. The short film for the song was directed by Nicholas Brandt and was filmed in four countries. The single went to number 1 in the UK and stayed at the top spot for six weeks. The song also reached the top 10 in 16 different countries and sold 3.5 million copies world wide. The short film was also nominated for a Grammy Award.
While rehearsing for the special “One Night Only”, on December 6th 1995, Michael collapsed and was rushed to hospital suffering dehydration, low blood pressure and a viral infection. He spent several days in hospital. The special was eventually called off due to HBO management changes and insurance reasons.
On March 19th, Michael announced at a press conference in Paris that he was forming a new company with Saudi Prince, Al-Walid Bin Talal, called Kingdom Entertainment. The company’s first major project would be the sponsoring of Michael Jackson’s HIStory World Tour, to begin at the end of the year. They would also be involved in film projects and family entertainment. Also in March, MTV announced that HIStory was the best selling double album ever in the US.
In April, Michael released the fourth single from HIStory, “They Don’t Care About Us”. The single was supported by two music videos, both directed by Spike Lee. One was shot in Brazil with cultural group Olodum, and the other was shot in a New York prison. The “prison version” created controversy due to the use of news footage depicting violence. This version was taken off MTV’s play list and Michael released the “Olodum version” in its place. The single became a top 10 hit in nine countries, including the US.
In May, Michael attended the 1996 World Music Awards and received a record five awards: “Best Selling Artist Ever”, “Best Selling Record of All Time” (for Thriller), “Best Selling Male Artist of 1996”, “Best Selling American Artist” and “Best Selling R&B Artist”. No other artist has won five WMA’s in a single year.
On July 16, 1996, Michael held a special concert for the Sultan of Brunei’s birthday. The private concert was held at Jerudong Park Garden in Brunei and was attended by 60,000 fans. Michael was careful not go give away the set list of his forthcoming HIStory Tour, and performed 18 songs, mostly from his previous Dangerous Tour set list.
Michael then embarked on his HIStory World Tour on September 7th, 1996, starting in Prague, Czech Republic. The amazing show featured 20 songs, special effects in several performances, a bigger light show than ever before, a specially built stage, breathtaking costumes and stunning choreography. His crew consisted of over 200 personnel and each concert was 2.5 hours long. As Michael travelled Europe, he set new attendance records in many countries. One of the concerts at Seoul, Korea, was filmed and released in Asia on home video.
While on tour, it was revealed that Michael was expecting a baby with his long time friend, Debbie Rowe. They married on the 14th of November 1996, at Sheraton on The Park in Sydney, Australia in a private ceremony.
“Stranger in Moscow” was released in November 1996 world wide, but would not be released in the US until August 1997. The short film was again directed by Nicholas Brandt and was black and white; using a number of special effects methods, depicting Michael walking down a busy street on a rainy day. The single became a top 10 hit in 8 countries and also reached number 1 on the UK Club Chart.
Michael wrapped the first leg of his HIStory World Tour after two sold out nights at Hawaii’s Aloha Bowl on January 3rd and 4th. Michael became the first pop artist in history to sell out the 35,000 capacity venue.
Michael Jackson’s first son, Prince Michael Joseph Jackson was born on the 13th of February 1997 in Los Angeles. February soon became a busy month for Michael. He performed an original song he had composed at Elizabeth Taylor’s 65th Birthday Gala, called “Elizabeth I Love You”. Later in the month he also announced that he had split from his manager of six years, Sandy Gallin, and that Kingdom Entertainment would now be managing his career.
In Early April, 1997, Michael was interviewed and photographed with his family by OK! Magazine. OK! paid for the pictures and interview and Michael donated all the funds to his Heal The World foundation.
On May 20th, 1997, Michael released Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix. It was a compilation of eight remixed tracks from the HIStory album plus five brand new songs. The five new tracks were all written by Michael Jackson; “Blood On the Dance Floor”, “Morphine”, “Superfly Sister”, “Ghosts” and “Is It Scary”. They were recorded in different studios all over the world while Michael was on the first leg of his HIStory World Tour. The album was very well received despite little promotion. It peaked at number 1 in eight countries around the world, including the UK.
The second leg of Michael’s HIStory World Tour began in Bremen, Germany on 31st of May and concluded on October 15th in South Africa. Michael sold his millionth concert ticket at the Wembley Stadium and sold out four concerts in a row there. He also played on his 38th birthday in Copenhagen where 50,000 fans wished him Happy Birthday. Michael did not tour North America, but the tour was so successful that he had played 82 concerts to 4.5 million fans in 35 countries on 5 continents. The estimated grosses totalled more than $160 million and again, it was the biggest concert tour of its time.
On the third of April, 1998, Michael announced the birth of a daughter, Paris Katherine Michael Jackson.
By the end of 1999, Michael had released two albums, had seven singles, released a feature film, toured the world and broke several records. The HIStory album to date has sold over 18 million copies (36 million units) and is currently listed as one of the best selling double albums of all time. Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix has sold approximately 6 million copies to date and is currently listed as the best selling remix album of all time.
King Magazine: Michael Jackson 1997 Tour Special
Prime Time Live Interview June 1995
Footage viewed: The Making of Scream & Stranger In Moscow, The Making of Ghosts, Ghosts by Michael Jackson, HIStory Tour behind the scenes in Capetown, News footage from the US and Australia from 1995-1999, Michael Jackson and Friends Concert live from Munich, MTV Awards 1995, Soul Train Awards 1995.
Article written solely for allmichaeljackson.com by Marni Carlsson.
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