„Be royal in your own fashion“
The DANGEROUS cover by Michael Jackson from 1991 portrays the coronation of the King of Pop and is a statement of power.
Statements of power on the DANGEROUS Cover by the King of Pop Michael Jackson
Anno Domini 1991 Michael Jackson appeared to the public more mysterious than ever before and overturned conventional thinking: Jackson dominated the charts, the headlines and a huge part of the music industry. In 1991, Jackson, the King of Pop, presented the world a dangerous record album and decorated it with a painting he named DANGEROUS. This album cover is the starting point to the art of Michael Jackson. The cover is a dream, perhaps literally Michael Jackson’s dream.
Military. Tradition. Religion. Rebellion. And magic.
The DANGEROUS Cover by the King of Pop from 1991 is adorned with military and power. The album cover presents myths and magicians. The painting is a spectacle of the old masters, it provokes religious traditions and portrays the theater of emperors and kings.
Michael Jackson’s DANGEROUS album cover 1991, SONY Music Entertainment. Painter of the artwork named „King of Pop“ (acrylic on wood 82” x 74”) is Mark Ryden. The original of the painting is exhibited in the Paul Kasmin Gallery, 293 Tenth Ave., New York, NY 10001. source
On DANGEROUS, the gods actually have their place next to pirates and smirking skulls side by side to filigree angels. DANGEROUS features divine children, the dirty industry and dead people who are immortal in the entertainment industry. DANGEROUS is a well-sorted chaos. Death is omnipresent on DANGEROUS and is seen side by side with immortality.
Michael Jackson’s DANGEROUS is a painting full of noises. Jackson’s DANGEROUS is a lesson in history.
Ryden painted in 1991 for Jackson’s DANGEROUS album the artwork: format 90×90 cm, acrylic paints on canvas. Processing time: 6 months. Sony’s artistic director Nancy Donald had recommended Ryden to Jackson. Five similar designs were submitted by Ryden to Jackson in the recording studio during the DANGEROUS session. One design featured a circus poster with skeleton popping out of a clown, another Ryden design had focused on the child with the skull, in another one Michael’s eyes floated in the clouds above Bubbles. 7 „MRYDEN“
The crowning of the King, Michael Jackson
Starting with his global success in 1983 with the album THRILLER, his short films and his sensational concerts, the public crowned the entertainer the „King of Pop“. Then, in 1990, this crowning became quite official. Singer, dancer and entertainer Michael Jackson ruled the decade musically, stunned and shocked with groundbreaking shortfilms and got the world’s attention with his performances. These were just some of the reasons why the former President of the United States, George Bush, declared Michael Jackson on April 5, 1990 as „Entertainer of the Decade“. The celebration held for Michael Jackson at the press conference in the White House was some sort of official ceremony of American royalty and literally the crowning ceremony in his career.
„While it wasn’t a coronation, the Entertainer of the Decade Award was still an achievement, and one for which Michael would solicit our help to mark it, as he did many times and for many different reasons, both large and small. In this manner, he taught us that it was okay to celebrate ourselves, Michael was humble, but humility is not the antithesis of knowing the importance of commemorating milestones. Because as marvelous as accomplishments feel when they happen, those moments are fleeting. Michael caught the magic of his moments and the crown was one of his tricks in doing so.“ 8Michael Lee Bush and Dennis Tompkins, the King’s designer
The King of Pop and the power of the „Imperial State Crown“
Following Jackson’s order, his designers Dennis Tompkins and Michael Lee Bush created a crown based on the original English crown and the most precious one: the Imperial State Crown. This crown is considered a symbol of power to the crowned king. 9
Jackson never actually wore the crown in public; its existence is only known due to Bush’s 2012 memoir. Jackson’s best friend Elizabeth Taylor had already publicly heralded him in 1989 as the true „King of Pop, Rock and Soul“. 10 Since Taylor was born in England and is considered as the „Queen of Hollywood“, the formalities of a coronation ceremony would be basically complete. So to speak.
Michael Jackson, crowned King in Africa and the „Star of Africa“
A large diamond on the british Imperial State crown was named „Star of Africa“. Then, quite fittingly, Jackson was crowned in 1992 for a second time: he was crowned „King of Africa,“ in Krindjabo, Ivory Coast. The ceremony was conducted by the Agni tribe, and Jackson thus became King of Sani. Upon his arrival in Gabon, thousands greeted him. „Welcome home!“ their banners read, and „Star of Africa.“ 11
A hero’s celebration.
A crown has always been considered a halo of fame and glory and on the „Imperial Jackson Crown“ Tompkins and Bush replaced the „Star of Africa“ gem with Jackson’s „MJJ“ logo. Michael Joseph Jackson, Star of Africa. A King, not only limited to a single country, but worldwide.
The coronation on DANGEROUS. His Majesty, The King of Pop Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson’s coronation as King of Pop he made in 1991 unforgettable for all generations to come. With the release of the image on the DANGEROUS album, Jackson ensured that his coronation as King would never be forgotten and, like all rulers, he had his coronation immortalized in an artwork.
The King on DANGEROUS: „MJ“. The crowning
The dreamlike DANGEROUS cover by the King of Pop, Rock and Soul Michael Jackson from 1991 presents splendid entertainment. Gold dominates as well as the color blue. And the fiery red color leads directly to the ruler in full regalia.
Red, color of the kings
Red is the color of the Kings long before the release of DANGEROUS. Cardinal red is the sign of dignity and the willingness to become a martyr … Red represents life and threatens life at the same time. The fur of white ermine wraps around this ruler’s chest in a half circle. Like a halo.12
Alpha Leader with global power
The colors white and red in the King’s coat are contradictory. In this way, perfection is indicated. 13 The Regent on DANGEROUS wears the closed crown of the upper nobility. His sparkling, white-gloved right hand embraces a golden scepter in an authoritative manner. The uncovered, dark-skinned left hand holds the „hand of justice“. Thus, the king becomes the judge. This one here is a true alpha leader, because the pillars to the left and right side at his throne symbolize his global power. His single white glove, by the way, is a very famous trademark.
Gold like the sun, the „most magnificent image to represent a great leader“. And halos
The colors of his majesty are warm. It seems he is surrounded by the golden sun. The sun was long before DANGEROUS considered the „most magnificent image to represent a great leader“. Louis XIV chose the golden Sun and was very successful with it. 14 Michael Jackson noted this in the book „48 Laws of Power“:
It is said that each crowned person is under protection of the Gods. 15 Since the crowned are also said to be chosen by God to guide others, it is perhaps because of this that halos are often seen on royal portraits.
Although in 1991 the sunny king on the album cover DANGEROUS does not wear a halo, but the golden semicircle in the back of the throne of King „MJ“ symbolized halos for centuries in this way. Symbolic halos are also found in the semicircle of the collar of the fur and in the coronation chain worn by the King. So is the crowned king on DANGEROUS even a saint? Initials leave no doubt who is actually meant:
„MJ“, the initials of King Michael Jackson on DANGEROUS.
„I have incredible disguises. I can fool my own mother.“
Michael Jackson, 1987 16
Jackson and the throne of the King. Not only on DANGEROUS
Michael Jackson owned this royal throne in the world of entertainment since childhood. Quite naturally, he claims this place to this day without ever abandoning the throne. Despite all attempts to destroy it: he still remains the King.
1972 enthroned at Motown source
1984 musical reign over the decade source: Vincent McKoy
1991 DANGEROUS immortalizes the reign of the King of Pop source
In 1995 Jackson demonstrates his (media) dominance after attempts to overthrow him; he replaces the antique scepter with the remote control. source
In 1997 the king is „completely private“ in his own Neverland. His power is again demonstrated by presenting his foot. At this point in time white socks were already for a long time the trademarks of the King of Pop. source: Harry Benson
The King’s crown
In the 1970s, the child King Michael wore the Afro hairstyle like a symbolic crown. This hairstyle was contemporary African-American and also symbolic.
In 1984, the roaring success of Jackson’s album THRILLER, the best-selling album of all time, was accompanied with the real crown. Michael carries the halo in this painting subtly, but nevertheless unmistakably through the semi-circular window behind him.
Already in 1984 Jackson decorated his status as „King“ with pillars symbolizing worldwide power and ermine on his red robe. In line with the mentality of this king, the position of his crown contradicts any conventions, his hand emphasizes his spirit. Weapons are completely absent, because this ruler here came with peaceful intentions.
In 1991, everything royal around Michael Jackson became official and engraved in the album cover DANGEROUS and thus immortalized for eternity.
By 1997, the King’s hat had long been a trademark and had somehow become a crown. In Jackson’s own special aRt.
The King’s Throne and Halo Despite Attempted Overthrow
Halo and throne, insignia of power. Michael Jackson SCREAM source
In 1993, an attempt was made to overthrow the King of Pop. The overthrow had its origin in jealous ex-husbands with disappointed hopes for a career in Hollywood and culminated in horrendous demands of money. The result was an outrage, in which only the tabloids pronounced its verdict ‚child abuse“ against Jackson. But no judge and no jury.
A judgment by tabloids that has never been reached in courtrooms. At the end of 1993 the entertainer’s throne, however, was shaking badly . In 1995, the King’s black and white scream was heard in his shortfilm SCREAM, in which he claimed his throne and halo relentlessly with the HIStory album.
Next to the King of Pop on DANGEROUS: The King of Horror Vincent Price
Since the first coronation anno Domini 1982 was preceded by Jackson’s album THRILLER, the regent of all music albums and the most successful of all time, the bust of another majesty stands appropriately on DANGEROUS on the right side of the royal throne: Vincent Price, King of Horror with a smoky voice, Hollywood grandeur of older days. Vincent Price was an actor and somehow also the first white „rapper“ in a duet with a black singer on THRILLER. Opposite the statue of Vincent Price in the niche on DANGEROUS is the equivalent Michael from that era: Michael Jackson, the THRILLER.
l.: The bust of Vincent Price, King of horror movies on DANGEROUS
r.: source r.: In 1984 Jackson was honored with the „Star“. source YouTube
The Regent. A hunting dog?
The king on the DANGEROUS cover is also a dog. Afghan hound could be the name of this species, which is marked here as „MJ“. Elegance and smooth movements characterize him. (The hunting dog of course.) This dog whose flowing hair looks like a wig, is always surrounded by a touch of vanity. Probably the only dog with feminine features. In private surroundings (say those who know him) he is amazingly quiet and unremarkable but out in public he is immediately driven to hunt.
„Impossible to ignore him, if you are lucky enough to meet him.“ 19
Stubborn and independent he is, the dog. Obedience, to fulfill typical expectations of the people, is not necessarily on the priority list of this proud character. He is said to be a trickster and at the same time highly sensitive. He is suspicious of strangers and never forgets bad treatment. Children, however, he loves very much.
The above description applies to the persona of the Afghan hound on Michael Jackson’s album cover. The one with the initials ‚MJ‘. He seems energetic, attentive and friendly. Not a king who keeps his distance, this „MJ“. Maybe he wants to play a little bit?
The non-traditional scepter of the King on DANGEROUS as a connection to the queen
The King (Michael Jackson) on the DANGEROUS cover carries an unusual scepter, which goes against tradition. The scepter of the regent carries the head of a royal bird. This is the connection to another crowned head. She is his equal and ruler of the right side of this world on the DANGEROUS cover.
The Queen in her female form is the counterpart to the male King (Michael Jackson) on DANGEROUS. One of many opposites that adorn the painting and thus form a Whole.
- Greene, Robert, THE 48 LAWS OF POWER, Auktionshaus Bonhams. 1998, A Joost Elfers Production, A Penguin Book, www.bonhams.com/auctions/19036/lot/262/
- Greene, Robert, THE 48 LAWS OF POWER, Auktionshaus Bonhams. 1998, A Joost Elfers Production „Understand: Words put you on the defensive. If you have to explain yourself your power is already in question …; images bring people together. They are quintessential in statements of power.“ A Penguin Book, Seite 282, www.bonhams.com/auctions/19036/lot/262/
- Michael Jackson, unauthorized Interview. source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WKFYivQ6sE
- Michael Jackson’s DANGEROUS cover 1991, source: https://www.michaeljackson.com/photo/michael-jackson-dangerous-album/
- Webseite, www.markryden.com/
- Mark Ryden, Interview 2001 „One DANGEROUS Artist“, MJFC, MJFC auf https://www.michaeljacksonmasterworks.com.
- Bush, Michael Lee, Michael Jackson-King of Style – Die Fashion-Ikone, 2012/2013, Inside Edition/Seemann Henschel Verlag, Leipzig, Seite 136
- Lurker, Manfred, Wörterbuch biblischer Bilder und Symbole, 1973, Kösel Verlag Gmbh & Co.KG, München, Seite 209
- Taylor, Elizabeth, Soul Train Awards, 12.04.1989: “Ladies and Gentlemen, the 1989 Heritage Award and Sammy Davis Jr. Award recipient and in my estimation, the true King of Pop Rock and Soul, Mr. Michael Jackson.“, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s92BVuQbuyg&feature=related. The New York Post had in 1984 already titled Michael Jackson „King of Pop“.
- Michael Jackson. Crowned in Africa – King of Sani, 1992.05., 2017.12.21, EBONY Magazin, http://www.mj-777.com/?p=1569
- Lurker, Manfred, Wörterbuch biblischer Bilder und Symbole, 1973, Kösel Verlag Gmbh & Co. KG, München, page 281
- Lurker, Manfred, Götter und Symbole der alten Ägypter. Die mythische Welt des Pharaonenreichs, 1992, Bastei Lübbe, page 82
- Greene, Robert, THE 48 LAWS OF POWER, Auktionshaus Bonhams. 1998, A Joost Elfers Production „[…] I chose the sun as the most magnificent image to represent a great leader.“ Louis XIV, the Sun King, Statement. „Michael Jackson wrote the following comment on this statement: „Look/ like Me and Military/Great on arm Band/ do this find an image“, A Penguin Book, https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/19036/lot/262/
- Lurker, Manfred, Wörterbuch biblischer Bilder und Symbole, 1973, Kösel Verlag Gmbh & Co.KG, München, page 209
- Interview with Molly Meldrum, Australia https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nM06G8VfqjY
- Greene, Robert, THE 48 LAWS OF POWER, Auktionshaus Bonhams. 1998, A Joost Elfers Production „Understand: Words put you on the defensive. If you have to explain yourself your power is already in question …; images bring people together. They are quintessential in statements of power.“ A Penguin Book, page 282, www.bonhams.com/auctions/19036/lot/262/ excerpt from „48 Laws of Power“, Auctioned 2011 in Bonhams Auction
- Greene, Robert, THE 48 LAWS OF POWER, Auktionshaus Bonhams. 1998, A Joost Elfers Production „Be royal in your own fashion: Act like a king to be treated like one. …. By acting regally and confident of your powers, you make yourself seem destined to wear a crown.“ The book was in Jackson’s possession and was sold at auction on June 29, 2011. It contains Jackson’s marginal notes and annotations: „Make yourself respected, a God Demand Worship and No more talking silence is more powerful, and you create your own circumstances even in the manner in wich you are treated and looked upon, and deer are special because they hide if they walked the streets like dogs no one would care the moon comes every night so people don’t care to look to the heavens Haleys Comet,the fact it comes once in a lifetime makes it important.“ A Penguin Book, page 282, www.bonhams.com/auctions/19036/lot/262
- Deutscher Windhundzucht- und Rennverband e.V., Greyhound description https://www.dwzrv.com/112-0-DWZRV—Deutscher-Windhundzucht–und-Rennverband-eV.html.