More than a decade has passed since the world mourned the loss of Michael Jackson, renowned as the “King of Pop,” who tragically passed away in June 2009 at the age of 50 due to acute propofol intoxication. Jackson’s musical journey began as a member of The Jackson 5 alongside his older brothers. He later ascended to superstardom with iconic hits such as “Beat It,” “Bad,” “Billie Jean,” and “Thriller.” In 1993, he was honored with the Grammy Legend Award for his significant contributions to the music industry and lasting impact on pop culture. Posthumously, Jackson received the Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the 52nd Grammys in 2010.
In addition to his illustrious career, Jackson’s personal life was marked by two marriages; first to Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of rock legend Elvis Presley, and subsequently to Debbie Rowe. His union with Rowe, whom he met while she worked as a nurse for his dermatologist, Dr. Arnold Klein, culminated in their marriage in 1996. The couple welcomed two children, Paris and Michael Joseph “Prince” Jackson Jr., before parting ways in 1999.
In a documentary released 13 years after his passing, Debbie Rowe opened up about her complex relationship with the pop icon and acknowledged feeling a sense of responsibility for his untimely demise.
In the 2022 documentary “TMZ Investigates: Who Really Killed Michael Jackson?,” which delves into Jackson’s protracted battle with addiction and his final months, Debbie Rowe disclosed her struggle to come to terms with her former spouse’s passing. Tearfully, she expressed remorse for not being able to assist Jackson when he became entangled in a dependence on painkillers. She remarked, “I feel horrible about not trying to stop it… To me, it’s like, I should’ve tried harder. I should’ve tried to stop it. I should have done more … and I didn’t.”
While in a marital relationship with Jackson, Rowe was employed by his dermatologist, Dr. Arnold Klein, who prescribed potent painkillers and other medications like Botox and Restylane to the superstar, who grappled with addiction. Despite Klein being absolved of any involvement in Jackson’s passing, Rowe expressed regret to TMZ, stating, “I was basically as bad as [Klein], and I am so sorry I participated in that.”
In addition to her ex-husband, Rowe harboured a sense of self-blame for enabling others’ addictions during her tenure with Dr. Klein. She lamented, “There is a number of people that died from addictions and in some way, I was part of it.”
Lisa Marie Presley, Jackson’s first wife who passed away in January 2023, also grappled with feelings of culpability for his tragic demise. In a blog post written in 2009, she shared, “The person I failed to help is being transferred right now to the L.A. County Coroner’s office for his Autopsy. All of my indifference and detachment that I worked so hard to achieve over the years has just gone into the bowels of hell and right now I am gutted.” Reflecting on their marriage, Presley revealed that her desire to save Jackson from his pain ultimately led to her own loss of self. She wrote, “I wanted to save him from the inevitable which is what has just happened… We all worried that this would be the outcome then… I was in over my head while trying.”
Despite the complexities of their relationship, Presley expressed her love for being married to Jackson, describing it as a profoundly significant period in her life.