Although Michael Jackson never performed a ticketed show in Las Vegas during his adult career, he had a high profile in the city and was a frequent visitor and sometimes resident in the recent years.
A teenage Jackson and his brother performed on the Las Vegas Strip as the Jackson 5, starting in April 1974 at the original MGM Grand (now Bally’s). They performed several times that year.
The King of Pop was also a guest for long stretches in the poolside villas of The Mirage during the ‘90s, when his friend Steve Wynn was the hotel chairman.
The closest Jackson came to a ticketed performance in Las Vegas was in February 1994, when “The Jackson Family Honors” was taped in front of a live audience at the MGM Grand Garden arena for an NBC special. The crowd screamed and cheered so much when Jackson came onstage that it took several minutes for him to be able to continue with his presentation, with his longtime friend and confidante Elizabeth Taylor finally quieting the crowd.
Jackson started turning up more frequently in Las Vegas beginning in 2002. He received the key to Las Vegas from Mayor Oscar Goodman in October 2003, and lived in Las Vegas with his children during a six-month stretch in 2007.
On and off during the past decade he lived in Las Vegas in a Spanish Trails mansion owned by the Prince of Brunei, a home on West Palomino Lane (near Wasden Elementary School), and a rented house just west of Decatur Boulevard near Sahara Avenue.
It is not immediately known how recently he lived in Las Vegas, but CNN reported he relocated from the Las Vegas to Los Angeles in May.
During the filming of a controversial British documentary that aired in 2003, journalist Martin Bashir followed Jackson on shopping sprees around Las Vegas.
Jackson created a media circus on November 20, 2003, when he returned to Las Vegas from Santa Barbara, California after posting his $3 million bail following charges of child molestation. A slow-speed car chase ensued in the evening as local and national media followed from the air and ground Jackson’s Lincoln Navigator as it wandered the streets of Las Vegas and Henderson.
Jackson stayed during that period at Green Valley Ranch and the Ritz-Carlton at Lake Las Vegas before moving back to California to await his trial. After being exonerated in June 2005, he left the United States for 18 months, spending time between Dubai and Ireland, before flying to Las Vegas on Christmas Eve 2006 with his children.
He ended his stay in Las Vegas in June 2007, leaving a Summerlin rental home in filthy shambles, with piles of junk left on the curb in his wake.
During his stay in Las Vegas, Jackson and his children were often spotted at local shows and attractions, fueling reports that Jackson three years ago was pursuing a Celine Dion-type residency on the Strip. Eventually, Steve Wynn, chairman of Wynn Resorts, had to issue an official denial of any plans to host Jackson in June 2005.
In December 2008, Jackson was bailed out of the $24.5 million he owned on Neverland Ranch in California when Colony Capital, owned by billionaire Tom Barrack, bought the loan that also owns the Las Vegas Hilton. That fueled speculation that Jackson would perform in La s Vegas to pay off the debt.
The Wall Street Journal reported the possible tribute show at the Hilton similar to Cirque du Soleil’s Beatles show “Love” at The Mirage in Las Vegas. Although talks and dinner meetings ensued with potential promoters, his “This is It” tour ended up planned in London.
He was rumored to be a possible headliner at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. AEG Live, which books the Colosseum, said only that Jackson’s performance in London there would be judged for viability before discussing plans to bring him to Las Vegas.
About a year and a half ago, Jackson resided and recorded at the Studio at the Palms Casino & Hotel in Las Vegas for two months, with Akon and RedOne producing. Some of the material appeared on the 25th anniversary of his “Thriller” album, released last year. It is not known how much more his work recorded there remains unreleased or the future of it.