It’s safe to say most music fans will know that Billie Jean was not Michael Jackson’s lover, but she was inspired by some true and disturbing events.
Jackson released the track in 1982, after he’d moved on from the Jackson 5 to continue a solo career. It featured on his sixth studio album, Thriller, and earned the singer two Grammy awards and an American Music Award.
While I’m sure he welcomed the recognition, Jackson probably could have lived without the inspiration behind Billie Jean, a woman he has confirmed was based on people he and his brothers were ‘plagued with over the years’ after they rose to fame.
In his 1988 autobiography, Moonwalk, Jackson said: “There never was a real Billie Jean. The girl in the song is a composite of people my brothers have been plagued with over the years. I could never understand how these girls could say they were carrying someone’s child when it wasn’t true.”
Jackson’s explanation for the track is reflected in the lyrics, which read: “Billie Jean is not my lover / She’s just a girl who claims that I am the one / But the kid is not my son.”
However, in 1991, Jackson’s biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli wrote in his book The Magic and the Madness that Jackson had received letters 10 years prior from a woman who claimed he was the father of her twins, which could inform Jackson’s reference to women claiming to be carrying his children.
Whether that woman was the inspiration or not, the King of Pop was adored by fans across the globe and it’s clear some went further than others.
One fan, who identified herself as Billie Jean Jackson, is said to have believed that Jackson had asked her to marry him, and that he was the father of her children.
“He loves me dearly,” Billie Jean said, before claiming that the lyric ‘Billie Jean is not my lover’ actually indicated the opposite; that Jackson was her lover.
When her fascination with Jackson became too much, Billie Jean was hit with a court order to stay away from the pop star. She had been found to have sent her medical bills to Jackson, and even encouraged a boutique to charge him for her wedding dress.
Billie Jean was arrested and jailed for two years after violating the court order, but she continued to express hopes that Jackson would come and get her out from behind bars, telling him: “I miss you.”
The fan is said to have continued to harass Jackson until his death in 2009.
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