10 Iconic Michael Jackson Live Performances: A Look Back On the Fifth Anniversary of His Death

michael jackson live performances

Today marks the five-year anniversary of the death of pop icon Michael Jackson. Since that day, Jackson’s estate has been rolling in dough, due to booming music royalties, two successful posthumous albums and Cirque Du Soleil’s “Immortal World Tour,” which has logged in over 500 sold-out performances since its launch in 2011. It certainly seems as if Michael never left us.

In a way he will always live on. While many have formed their own opinion of the King Of Pop, we have to admit there will never be an entertainer like Michael Jackson in our lifetime. His dance moves will remain uncomparable (still trying to do the moonwalk?) and his music will remain timeless, but it was his incredible live performances where we got the to see the icon and legend in his other-wordly element. From his early days performing with the Jackson 5, to his breathtaking performance of “Billie Jean” at the Motown 25th anniversary party we round up 10 of  his most memorable live performances.

“Billie Jean” during the Motown 25th Anniversary telecast—the moment when we first saw the  moonwalk.


Michael’s 1993 Super Bowl halftime performance — still considered one of the most watched television events in history. In fact, it kickstarted the NFL’s trend of signing big acts to attract more viewers.


We’ve seen him shimmy, moonwalk and crotch grab, but his iconic spin moves gave his performances life.

“Smooth Criminal” while on the HIStory World Tour in Munich in 1997. That lean!


Michael teams with Slash at the 1995 VMAs. On paper it seemed weird, but this incredible 15-minute (!) performance was all anyone was talking about that year.


His disco-tastic duet with Diana Ross on her television special in 1981—not longafter he released Off the Wall.

“The Way You Make Me Feel” and “Man in the Mirror” at the 1988 Grammy Awards, a performance Grantland‘s Rembert Browne calls “the greatest awards show performance of all time.”

“Thriller” on the “Bad” tour in Yokohama, Japan, in 1987


This beginning of Michael’s venture as a solo artist—and on the Sonny and Cher show. Back then, it didn’t get any better than that.

“Black or White” in Munich in 1997.