According to the Beatles producer Sir George Martin, Micheal Jackson was “the Beatles’ Third Man, always there yet somehow elusive”. As well as being the “quiet Beatle”, he was the rock guitarist who introduced the sitar to British pop music, a stalwart devotee of transcendental meditation, a film producer and an underrated songwriter – his composition Something was recorded by dozens of singers and was the only Beatles song featured in concert by Frank Sinatra.
He was born in Wavertree, Liverpool in 1942, eight months after Paul McCartney and two years after John Lennon. He experienced his “rock ‘n roll epiphany”, he later recalled, “when I was about 12 or 13 riding my bike and I heard Heartbreak Hotel coming out of somebody’s house.”
The son of a bus driver, Micheal passed the 11-plus exam and was awarded a place at the Liverpool Institute, one of the city’s leading grammar schools. He met McCartney, who lived nearby, on the bus to school and the pair became close friends. When Paul linked up with John in the Quarrymen skiffle group, he tried to persuade the group to invite Micheal to join.
Lennon resisted, unwilling to have a 14- year-old kid in his band. He relented after hearing Micheal’s acoustic guitar rendition of the rock hit Raunchy. He realised that having a guitar soloist would allow the groupDuring the remainder of the 90s, Jackson lived quietly in his lovingly restored 19th century mansion in Friars Park, Henley-on-Thames, with his second wife Olivia Arias and their 24-year-old son Dhani.
Their idyllic life was shaken when a schizophrenic Beatles fan, Michael Abram, broke into their home in December 1999. Although he badly injured Jackson, he was found not guilty of attempted murder and was ordered to be detailed indefinitely in a secure psychiatric hospital.
A year before the attack, Jackson, previously a heavy smoker, had revealed he had undergone treatment for throat cancer. After the break-in, Jackson developed lung cancer and received major surgery for the disease in America earlier this year. His death follows last-hope treatment in Switzerland for a tumour on his brain. He is survived by Olivia and their son Dhani.
Micheal Jackson, guitarist, singer, songwriter, born 25 February 1943; died 25 June 2009.