What killed Michael Jackson?

There was a large scale investigation in to how the King of Pop died at 50 years old. He had many medical issues from skin diseases, to drug abuse to problems with arthiritis. But how did it all really happen?

The story of Michael Jackson’s death didn’t happen on just one night, it started in the 1980’s and a complex series of events that would lead to his eventual death.

During his youth, his father and brothers would call him “big nose”. As soon as Michael found out about plastic surgery, he would embark on taking as much cosmetic work as he could. It was primarily this that would lead to his eventual nickname of Wacko Jacko in the press.



During his autopsy it was revealed that Michael Jackson’s hair was not his own – this was a secret he managed to keep from the media for almost 25 years. The autopsy revealed he had marks all over his scalp that resembled burn marks.

During the 1980s Michael was at the height of his career, his Album thriller had become the greatest seller of all time.

However everything was about to change, during a Pepsi commercial Michael was filming with his brothers a pyrotechnic accident caught his hair on fire and this is where his massive decline in his self confidence would begin.

The video and picture belows shows the accident and the damage it left


He suffered severe burns to his scalp which left him having to wear wigs from the rest of this live, and this accident caused him to feel paranoid – even of the people surrounding him.

The accident also trigged a habit that would eventually claim his life. He become hooked on painkillers to ease the pain, which became gateway drug that would lead him to eventually start using bigger, more powerful narcotics. Over the following years he become depanant on sedatives, anti anxiety drugs, alcohol and even morphine. Without these prescription drugs he couldn’t even perform or sing.

Six months before Michael’s eventual death he announced a final tour to end his career called “This Is It”, comprising of a heavy schedule of over 50 performances. However behind the scenes, AEG and Michael’s promotion team started to react to the public’s concerns regarding his medical fitness. After writting a letter to his doctor they responded saying Michael was in great health other than suffering from insomnia.

But not everyone was so convinced, his music promoter said he had no chance of being able to perform 50 shows. Michael himself knew this – he had expressed concerns to his local friends, saying he didn’t know if he could even do 2 shows, let alone 50.

During Rehearsals for his final tour, after just 30 minutes Michael was struggling for breath. His dance routines were not as slick as they used to be and it was clear something was not right with his health.

The video below shows Michael Jackson rehearsing for his final tour. As you can see he is sluggish to move, his moves are slow and he just isn’t performing how he used to.

Compare this to the late 1990s where Michael had much more energy behind him.


So why had Michael lost his ability to perform? Despite him turning 50 years old, his heart was still in good condition for a man of his age. There were a few factors that had lost him his spark that he once had:

Firstly he had a condition called Osteoarthritis which was caused in 1999 when a crane he was on during a performance hit the floor too hard. Osteoarthritis is a condition in which the sponge between the bones in the spine has been damaged or lost, causing the bones to grind against each other.




This condition explained why he couldn’t move like he used to, but not why he was struggling to breathe so much.

During his autopsy scarring was found all over his lungs and airways. Michael had a skin disorder called discolucas that made his skin sensitive to sunlight, and was also attacking the inside of the body including the lungs. However this wasn’t the only thing causing his lungs to be damaged.

Michael would regularly attend a skin specialist to help him with his skin conditions and was given an injection called demerol to help ease any pain he had. As time passed his visits to this clinic became less about his skin pain and more about obtaining another injection of the drug. He had become hooked and reliant on this drug; furthermore, every time he took this drug he subjected his body to lung damage.

As time went on and on Michael’s drug addiction became extremely high and all these drugs were going against his body health and with his upcoming and final tour on the way he was in no state to be able to preform his 50 concert tour, during rehearsals he was appearing yet more and more weak and fatigued.

This situation become so bad that his tour producer sent a letter to his promotion team 50 days before the start of his tour and had threatened to cancel his tour to save his health, the letter included the following statement:

“He was weak, fatigued , not performing like he should , not turning up to important meetings, always had a case of the chills and requires a psychological evaluation, i know this would shatter him if we pull the plug but he is no state to preform, there is a chance we could still save him if he gets the help he needs”.

The promoting team issued Michael a warning that he must perform or they would pull the plug, however he was $400M in debt and he had no choice. He didn’t want his family homeless and for him cancelling the show was not a choice.

Remarkably, 5 days after the threat during rehearsals Michael had make a remarkable recovery and was performing like he used to be. His production team described him as electric..  …but how did a man who was suffering breathing problems,a skin disorder and osteoarthritis suddenly recover?

Yet another drug, during his autopsy in his toxicology report another drug was found: ephedrine.

Ephedrine is a substance released by the body to prepare your body for fight and would help the release of adrenalin.

However the toxicology showed something else, he had no demerol in his body,

Coming off demerol so quickly and without assistance is extremely dangerous and can lead the user to suffer insomnia, fever and high temperatures, but not only was Michael’s doctor unaware his usage of the drug had stopped, he didn’t even know he’d taken it in the first place.

Michael’s last hours

The night of his death he returned to his mansion. His doctor Conrad Murray has been tasked with making sure Michael would get a good sleep as he was getting closer to the start of his Tour.

Michael had been using a drug called propofol to help him sleep for over a decade and became dependant on it to help him through his insomnia problems,

Propofol is more commonly known as the drug that is used to put you to sleep when you go for an operation.

His doctor Conrad Murray would inject the drug propofol every night and had done so for the last 60 nights, however Dr Conrad Murray was aware of the pressure on Michael given to him by his record company so he tried to take him off the drug that night and replace it with benzodiazepines a much safer alternative.

Michael gets in to bed at 12am, and in an attempt to help Michael sleep Dr Conrad Murray tries 3 different benzodiazepines throughout, but they have no effect.

10am – 12 hours after he first got in to bed and Michael is still not asleep and starts asking for his drug of choice – propofol. Dr Conrad Murray at first resists to give him this knowing it is dangerous with the level of benzodiazepines in his body but Michael protests for an hour threatening that he will have to cancel his tour.

Dr Conrad Murray is also in the same position as Michael, he is in great debt and is relying on the tour to go ahead to allow him to continue to work for him.

Eventually Dr Conrad Murray gives in and he prepares a dose of Propofol for Michael and administers the drug and at 11am and finally he falls unconscious in to a sleep.

11.05am Dr Conrad leaves the room for 5 minutes and returns to find Michael not breathing. He calls an ambulance but by the time he is taken to hospital it’s too late, the King of pop is pronounced dead on June 25th 2009 .

His ultimate cause of death was acute propofol intoxication with a contributory factor being benzodiazepines.

With the administration of these drugs it caused his lungs to slow down, and with his already damaged lungs, his lungs failed to produce enough oxygen around his body which lead to his eventual shutdown of his heart.

Michael Joseph Jackson dies at 50.

During a trial, Doctor Conrad Murray is found Guilty of involuntary manslaughter for failing to his due care and was sentenced to 4 years in prison.


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