Why did Michael Jackson Change His Name?

Why did Michael Jackson Change His Name?
Why did Michael Jackson Change His Name?

Michael Jackson was a legendary musician who is famous worldwide. He had a fan base around the world, and even today, his music continues to enchant us. But do you know what was the original name of Michael Jackson? The questions regarding his name still rattles around people’s minds.

Many people don’t know that Michael Jackson changed his name in 1987. He was named originally as Michael Joe Jackson. This name was given to him by his father Joe Jackson as part of a legacy. However, in later years he changed his name.

1. Why did Michael Jackson Change His Name?

Michael Jackson’s initial name was Michael Joe Jackson. He changed his name to Michael Joseph Jackson in the year 1987. The great career of Michael Jackson began with The Jackson 5.

The Jackson 5 was a famous American band. Later, it was known as Jacksons. It was composed of the members of the Jackson family namely, Michael, Tito, Marlon, Jackie, and Jermaine. The band was managed by his father Joe Jackson.

His father was his prime influence during his early days. Besides, they had a complicated relationship. Michael tried to distance himself from his father to make his own identity. So, to become completely own and have personal influence, he changed his middle name from Joe to Joseph.

why did michael jackson change his name
Image by Jackson_Toonz on Pixabay

However, the name of Michael Jackson’s father is Joseph Walter Jackson. He is better known as Joe Jackson. Michael Jackson didn’t like to go with the same name as his father. So, he took Joseph instead of Joe.

The name Joseph also belongs to his family but has an individual identity when it comes to Michael Jackson. This way he used his father’s name but not the one by which he had to always live under his shadow.

He no longer wanted to be his father’s shadow. So, he decided to work separately from the group and made his own music and dancing career. He died in 2009, but his influence on dancing and music along with his fandom is still the same.

2. A Brief About Michael Jackson’s Early Life

Michael Jackson was an American songwriter, singer, and most of all popularly known for his dancing. Belonged to an African-American family, he was the fifth and youngest child in his family. Further, he joined his family group Jackson 5 as a child star.

2.1. Jackson 5

Jackson’s father shaped his five children into a group of child stars. In 1969, an American musician and businessman Berry Gordy, Jr. was impressed with the group named Jackson 5. He was also the president of Motown Records.

With the soulful excitement, loudest fashion sense, and youthful and cheerful choreography, the group became an ultimate success. In 1970, they gave 4 consecutive popular hits. It includes I Want You Back, ABC, The Love You Save, and I’ll Be There.

Later he topped the charts as a solo performer with the song Ben. He reached second place with his other solo Rockin’ Robin. Further, with amazing tracks like Dancing Machine with Jackson 5, his family remained a big hit throughout 1975.

why did michael jackson change his name
Image by Call Me Fred on unsplash

Until 1975, Jackson 5 composed many trendsetting songs for Motown Records. However, as Michael Jackson matured, his voice changed. Due to this, they broke up with Motown Records. Later, they joined Epic Records as the Jacksons.

However, Jermaine Jackson stayed with Motown Records as a solo performer. Meanwhile, he was replaced by Randy Jackson, who was his younger brother. The Jacksons consistently pursued their successful journey through 1984.

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In the early 1980s, their sister Janet Jackson pursued her singing career. Besides, Michael Jackson’s solo singing career took an entirely distinct status during this time.

3. How did Michael Jackson Become the “King of Pop”?

Michael Jackson’s first solo for Epic Records Off the Wall was composed in 1979. This solo album exceeded all the expectations and became a great hit. It became the best-selling album of the year. Besides, the studio sold over twenty million copies of the album.

This album was produced by Quincy Jones. He was an industry veteran. The album gave enormous international hits like Rock With You and Don’t Stop til’ You Get Enough. Both the singles displayed Jackson’s energetic persona and style.

His style in these albums was entirely based on contemporary disco dance. He collaborated again after three years with Jones for Thriller. It was a tour de force, which featured many international guest stars. This tour helped him to reach worldwide stardom.

Image by anndromediaid on Pixabay

Thriller captured many awards including eight Grammys, which was a record. Michael Jackson composed several songs and generated an album for the tour. It stayed on the charts for over two years. Additionally, 40 million copies of the album were sold.

Further, It became the best-selling album in history. Moreover, The Girl Is Mine was the first single of the album. It was a beautiful and simple duet with Paul McCartney. The song became number one on the rhythm-and-blues charts.

Also, it secured second position on the pop charts at the end of 1982. Many of his hit singles topped the pop charts. These singles include Billie Jean, which was a dance track based on Michael Jackson’s moonwalk style. Top hits Billie Jean followed by the massive single Beat It.

Beat It featured Eddie Van Halen, a famed guitarist. Michael Jackson became King of Pop in 1984 and was renowned worldwide.

3.1. Life After Becoming King of Pop

By 1984, he had already become the King of Pop. In 1984, his Victory tour became an extremely popular concert worldwide. It was a reunion tour with his brothers. In 1985, his designated single for the USA and Africa “We Are The World” was composed.

It was co-written with Lionel Richie. This was an all-star project that was particularly based on famine relief. Further, in 1987, his solo album Bad, topped charts with his five hits. Man in the Mirror and the title track were among the five hits of this album.

Image by scrubtalk on Pixabay

Later in 1991, another solo album came out named Dangerous. Most of the parts of Dangerous were produced by Teddy Riley. He was an American musician and producer, who was the sensation of New Jack Swing at that time.

In 2001, he was introduced into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It is a rock hall and hall of fame, where renowned musicians are introduced. Besides, the Jackson 5 was already introduced into it in 1997.

4. Lifetime Work List of Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson was a famous personality around the world. His persona and style were so unique that people still remember him and have a huge fandom until now. He has worked throughout his life as an actor, dancer, songwriter, composer, and music artist.

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why did michael jackson change his name
Image byImageCollect on unlimphotos.com

Following is a detailed list of his lifetime work in each field.

4.1. MJ as an Actor

As an actor, Michael Jackson aka MJ has acted in many music videos. These music videos are given below:

4.1.1. 1972 – 1980

  • The ABC Comedy Hour – TV Series as The Jackson 5 (1972)
  • The Jacksons: Enjoy Yourself (1977)
  • Even Though You’re Gone (1977)
  • The Jacksons: Goin’ Places (1977)
  • Blame It on the Boogie (1978)
  • The Wiz (1978)
  • Wiz on Down the Road (1978)
  • Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough (1979)
  • Rock With You (1979)
  • Shake Your Body (1979)
  • She’s Out of My Life: Michael Jackson (1980)

4.1.2. 1981 – 1990

  • The Jacksons: Can You Feel It (1981)
  • Billie Jean (1983)
  • Beat It (1983)
  • Paul McCartney Feat. Michael Jackson: Say Say Say (1983)
  • Michael Jackson: Thriller (1983)
  • Pepsi New Generation (1984)
  • Captain EO – Short (1986)
  • Captain EO Promo & Pre-show (1986)
  • Bad (1987)
  • The Way You Make Me Feel (1987)
  • Man in the Mirror (1988)
  • Dirty Diana (1988)
  • Another Part of Me (1988)
  • Smooth Criminal (1988)
  • Speed Demon (1988)
  • Moonwalker (1988)
  • Michael Jackson: Smooth Criminal (II) (1988)
  • Come Together (1988)
  • Leave Me Alone (1989)
  • The Jacksons: 2300 Jackson Street (1989)
Image by RitaE on Pixabay

4.1.3. 1991 – 2000

  • The Simpsons – TV Series (1991)
  • Black or White (1991)
  • Remember The Time (1992)
  • Jam (1992)
  • Heal The World (1992)
  • Top of the Pops – Television Series (1992)
  • Pepsi: Dreams (1992)
  • In the Closet (1992)
  • Give in to Me (1993)
  • Scramble Training – Video Game (1993)
  • Who Is It (1993)
  • Eddie Murphy Feat. Michael Jackson: Whatzupwitu (1993)
  • Will You Be There (1993)
  • Pepsi: ‘I’ll Be There (1993)
  • HIStory Teaser (1995)
  • Scream: Michael Jackson Feat. Janet Jackson (1995)
  • You Are Not Alone (1995)
  • Earth Song (1995)
  • 3T: I Need You (1996)
  • They Don’t Care About Us (1996)
  • Prison Version: They Don’t Care About Us (1996)
  • Stranger in Moscow (1996)
  • 3T Feat. Michael Jackson: Why (1996)
  • Ghosts: Short (1996)
  • Blood on the Dance Floor (1997)
  • Ghosts – Short Version (1997)
  • Mad TV (1998)
  • Space Channel 5 (1999)
Image by samULvisuals on unlimphotos.com

4.1.4. 2001 – 2009

  • You Rock My World (2001)
  • Cry (2001)
  • Men in Black II (2002)
  • Space Channel 5: Part 2 – A Video Game (2002)
  • Miss Castaway and the Island Girls (2004)
  • Cheater (2004)
  • Black or White – Shortened Version (2009)
why did michael jackson change his name
Image by JorgelgMar on Pixabay

4.2. MJ as Composer

He worked as a composer for many music videos, these videos include:

  • Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough (1979)
  • Shake Your Body – Down to the Ground (1979)
  • Diana Ross: Muscles (1982)
  • Billie Jean (1983)
  • Beat It (1983)
  • Say Say Say (1983)
  • Rebbie Jackson: Centipede (1984)
  • Diana Ross: Eaten Alive (1985)
  • The Way You Make Me Feel (1987)
  • Smooth Criminal (1988)
  • Weird Al Yankovic: Fat (1988)
  • Leave Me Alone (1989)
  • Liberian Girl (1989)
  • Bryt Grenser – TV Mini Series (1990)
  • Remember the Time (1992)
  • Pepsi: Dreams (1992)
  • In the Closet (1992)
  • Who Is It (version 2) (1992)
  • Superbowl Half-Time Show (Television Special) (1993)
  • Who Is It (1993)
  • Will You Be There (1993)
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (Video Game) (1994)
  • HIStory (1995)
  • Earth Song (1995)
  • MC Lyte Feat. Xscape: Keep On, Keepin’ On (1996)
  • Ghosts – Short (1996)
  • Blood on the Dance Floor (1997)
  • HIStory: Tony Moran’s HIStory Lesson (1997)
  • Ghosts (Short Version) (1997)
  • Smooth Criminal (2001)
  • 2Pac: Letter to My Unborn (2001)
  • You Rock My World (2001)
  • The One (2004)
  • Cheater (2004)
  • Bitte Lachen – TV Series (2006)
  • Rihana: Don’t Stop the Music (2007)
  • Fall Out Boy Feat. John Mayer: Beat It (2008)
  • Jamie Cullum: Don’t Stop the Music (2009)
  • This is It (2009)
See also  Heaven Can Wait
why did michael jackson change his name
Image by Mathew Browne on unsplash

Furthermore, the music videos and a few video games were originally composed by Michael Jackson. But came out in the later years.

  • The Experience – Video Game (2010)
  • Hollywood Tonight (2011)
  • Behind the Mask, Version 1 (2011)
  • Behind the Mask, Version 2 (2013)
  • Michael Jackson & Justin Timberlake: Love Never Felt So Good (2014)
  • A Place with No Name (2014)
  • They Don’t Care About Us – 2020 Version (2020)

4.3. MJ as a Producer

Michael Jackson also produced numerous music videos and a few television shows. These are:

  • The Jacksons: Can You Feel It (1981)
  • Thriller (1983)
  • The Making of ‘Thriller’ (1983)
  • Bad (1987)
  • Speed Demon (1988)
  • Moonwalker (1988)
  • Leave Me Alone (1989)
  • The Legend Continues (1989)
  • Liberian Girl (1989)
  • Video Greatest Hits: HIStory (1995)
  • One Night Only (1995)
  • Number One (2003)
  • The One (2004)
Image by RJA1988 on Pixabay

4.4. MJ as Director

Michael Jackson worked as a director for:

  • 3T Feat. Michael Jackson: Why (1996)
  • Blood on the Dance Floor (1997)
  • HIStory on Film – Volume II (1997)
  • Number One (One)
Image by RitaE on Pixabay

5. Conclusion

A name defines and identifies a person. Some of us continue with names our parents gave us while others change them. Changing names is quite common among actors, musicians, and those in the entertainment industry. Most of the time, a change in the name may not do much to your popularity, the same was not the case with Michael Jackson.

Michael Jackson was a renowned character. He became a popular star because of his unique voice and outstanding talent in dance. He made the moonwalk famous all around the world.

Unfortunately, Michael Jackson’s life was full of controversies. He was accused of being a pedophile and even his death was controversial. Notwithstanding, his talent and music continue to resonate with the world even today.

There is a background to his name change. Both the names Michael Joe Jackson and Michael Joseph Jackson resembled his father’s name. But, his father was widely popular as Joe Jackson. So, instead of Joe, he took Joseph to develop his own identity without being a shadow of his father. Additionally, there was a rift between his father which may also have been a reason for changing his name.

It was not a simple decision to make suddenly. Due to his complex relationship with his father and to carve out his own identity, the decision was made. He did it in 1987 when his career was already rising.

Do you know any other personalities who have changed their names?

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