MICHAEL JACKSON claimed the spotlight again Thursday with an expected announcement that he is to stage his first major shows for over a decade. Four years after his infamous child abuse trial, MICHAEL JACKSON was expected to stage 10 gigs at the giant London O2 arena, according to posters that appeared in the London Underground ahead of the announcement and cited by the BBC.
Reports suggest the 50-year-old MICHAEL JACKSON could make tens of millions of dollars from the residency-style string of London CONCERTS, helping pay legal bills and debts racked up since the collapse of the abuse trial against him in 2005. Promoters AEG Live have not given details of what will be revealed at a 1600 GMT news conference at the O2, which hosted a comeback gig by legendary rockers Led Zeppelin in 2007, as well as a 21-night residency by Prince in 2007.
Reports have differed about how many concerts Jackson will perform -- a source close to the promoters told AFP last month he was in talks to perform up to 30 London shows this year. London's Evening Standard reported Wednesday that up to 50 concerts could be scheduled at the 20,000-seat O2 Arena in June and July, in a deal with AEG worth more than 100 million pounds (112 million euros, 141 million dollars). But hours before the ANNOUNCEMENT, posters appeared in London Underground stations trumpeting "MICHAEL JACKSON: This is It -- 10 shows, July '09, The O2 Arena," according to the BBC.
If confirmed, the concerts would be a spectacular return for MICHAEL JACKSON, who dominated the pop world with hit albums like "Thriller" and "Bad" in the 1980s but has virtually vanished from public view since his trial. MICHAEL JACKSON is reportedly close to completing his first new album since 2001, and has collaborated with a younger generation of stars like rapper Kanye West. But MICHAEL JACKSON has been dogged by rumours of ill health and bookmakers William Hill are already offering 5-1 odds that, should the London concerts go ahead, he will not turn up on the first night. However, the Daily Mirror tabloid reported Thursday that MICHAEL JACKSON had passed 50 health tests set by insurers to prove he was fit enough to perform.
The 02 Arena is in the giant former Millennium Dome in southeast London. MICHAEL JACKSON last performed in Britain at the 2006 World Music Awards, where he sang a few lines of "We Are The World". MICHAEL JACKSON's last official tour was the 1996-7 History World Tour, although he has played one-off gigs since. The singer became a phenomenally successful star, first with the Jackson Five alongside his brothers and then as a solo artist. MICHAEL JACKSON fame led him to withdraw into a private world at his Neverland ranch in California and he underwent a physical transformation, his skin lightening and his face showing signs of plastic surgery. MICHAEL JACKSON has denied undergoing cosmetic surgery, although it is fairly evident.
MICHAEL JACKSON's career hit trouble in 1993 when a 13-year-old boy made sex abuse allegations against him and prosecutors and police launched an investigation. A year later, MICHAEL JACKSON reached an out-of-court settlement with the boy's family, paying out 23.3 million dollars and the criminal case was dramatically stopped. MICHAEL JACKSON says he now regrets the payment.