Harman Patil (Editor)

Victory Tour (The Jacksons tour)

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Location  North America
Victory Tour (1984)  Bad (1987–89)
Attendance  2,000,000
Victory Tour (1984)  Unity Tour (2012)
Dates  6 Jul 1984 – 9 Dec 1984
Associated albums  Victory, Thriller
Victory Tour (The Jacksons tour) httpsiytimgcomvis6OoLtWoD8Mmaxresdefaultjpg
Start date  July 6, 1984 (1984-07-06)
End date  December 9, 1984 (1984-12-09)
No. of shows  47 in United States 8 in Canada 55 played
Box office  75 million USD ($172.89 million in 2016 dollars)

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The Victory Tour was a concert tour of the United States and Canada by Michael Jackson and The Jackson family between July and December 1984. It was the first and only tour with all six Jackson brothers (even though Jackie was injured for most of the tour). The group performed 55 concerts to an audience of approximately 2 million. Most came to see Michael, whose album Thriller was dominating the popular music world at the time. Many consider it to be his Thriller tour, with most of the songs on the set list coming off of his Off the Wall album and from the Thriller album. The tour reportedly grossed approximately $75 million (US$172,893,978 in 2016 dollars) and set a new record for the highest grossing tour. It showcased Michael's single decorated glove, black sequined jacket and moonwalk.


Despite its focus on Michael, it was named after the newly released Jacksons' album Victory although none of the album's songs were performed. Marlon confirmed this was because Michael refused to rehearse or perform them; in fact, he had only reluctantly joined his brothers, who needed the income while he himself did not. On the tour, tensions between Michael and his brothers increased to the point that he announced at the final show that it would be the last time they would perform together, ending plans for a European leg.

The Jacksons did make money from the tour, along with promoter Don King. Michael donated his share to several charities as he had promised before it, but the rancour between him and his brothers had a deep and lasting effect on the Jacksons as a family, alienating him from them for most of his later life and it effectively ended the Jacksons as a performing group. The tour was also a financial disaster for promoter Chuck Sullivan, who along with his father Billy was eventually forced to sell the New England Patriots football team they owned, along with Foxboro Stadium, the team's home field, as a result of the losses he incurred.

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In November 1983, The Jacksons announced plans for a major tour in 1984 at a press conference, with boxing promoter Don King offering $3 million (US$6,915,759 in 2016 dollars) in upfront advances. That spring, the Victory album was recorded, to be released shortly before the tour itself. On the eve of the tour in July, Michael announced, in response to complaints about the lottery system for allocating tickets, that his entire earnings for the tour would go to charities—The United Negro College Fund, the Michael Jackson Scholarship Fund, Camp Good Times for terminally ill children and the T.J. Martell Foundation for Leukemia and Cancer Research.

At the time the tour was announced, the Jacksons had not lined up a promoter for the shows. In the spring of 1984, Chuck Sullivan, son of Billy Sullivan owner of the New England Patriots of the National Football League (NFL), went to Los Angeles to see if he could get the Jacksons to choose the team's home, Sullivan Stadium, which the family also owned, for the group's Boston-area shows. After using his financial and legal expertise to help his father regain control of the team he had founded and built in the wake of a 1974 boardroom coup, the younger Sullivan, who had promoted concerts as an undergraduate at Boston College and during his Army service in Thailand, had begun staging concerts at the stadium to generate extra income for the team.

Planning and organization

At a meeting, Frank DiLeo, a vice president at Epic Records, the Jacksons' label, told Sullivan that the group's talks with its original promoter had broken down and they were seeking a replacement. Sensing an opportunity, Sullivan returned to Boston and began putting together the financing to allow Stadium Management Corp. (SMC), the Patriots' subsidiary that operated the stadium, to promote the entire Victory tour. Initially he partnered with Eddie DeBartolo, then owner of another NFL team, the San Francisco 49ers, in putting together a bid offering the Jacksons two-thirds of the tour's gross revenue against a guaranteed $40 million ($92.2 million in modern dollars).

DeBartolo withdrew when he began to see the deal as too risky, but Sullivan persevered by himself, and in late April DiLeo told him at another meeting in Los Angeles that SMC, which had never handled a tour, would be the promoter of the year's most eagerly anticipated concert tour, expected to gross $70–80 million. The deal was very generous to the Jacksons. Sullivan had agreed that they would receive 83.4% of gross potential ticket revenues, which meant in practical terms that the group would be paid as if the show had sold out regardless of whether it actually did. That percentage was at least 25 points above what was at that time the industry standard for artists on tour.

Sullivan also guaranteed the Jacksons a $36.6 million ($84.4 million in modern dollars) advance. He put the stadium up as collateral for a $12.5 million loan to pay the first installment shortly before the tour started. The balance was due two weeks later.

The month after winning the tour bid, Sullivan approached stadium managers at the NFL's meetings, many of whom were there to bid for future Super Bowls. He sought changes to their usual arrangements with touring performers in order to make the Victory Tour more profitable. Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Chiefs, agreed to accept only a $100,000 fee for the three opening concerts instead of its usual percentage of ticket sales and concessions. The Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida, provided nearly half a million dollars' worth of free goods and services. Ultimately, 26 of the 55 dates were played in 17 stadiums that were home to NFL teams.

But some others balked at Sullivan's demands. To use John F. Kennedy Stadium, he asked the city of Philadelphia for almost $400,000 in tax breaks and subsidies. Among them were free hotel rooms and suites for all tour workers, free use of the stadium and waiver of concession revenue. He said the Jacksons' presence would generate revenue that would make up the difference, but the city stood firm on some provisions. Outside of negotiations, his behavior on tour further embarrassed the Jacksons on some occasions. At Washington's RFK Stadium, he forgot his pass and was denied entry.

Sullivan was particularly humiliated when the board of selectmen in Foxboro, where his family's team and stadium were located, uncharacteristically denied a permit for the concert, citing "the unknown element." What that meant has never been clear. It has been suggested that they were racially motivated. There had been continuing security concerns about the stadium during Patriots' games and previous concerts, but the board had never denied permits on that basis before.

To help defray the tour's costs, the Jacksons sought a corporate sponsor. They had all but concluded a lucrative deal with Quaker Oats when King came to them with a deal he had already signed with Pepsi. Although it would pay them less money, they had to take it and break off talks with Quaker. Part of the deal was that Michael, who did not drink Pepsi, would have to do two commercials. He made sure that his face appeared minimally in them to avoid overexposing his image. During filming of one of the two commercials, Michael suffered second and third degree burns on his scalp when a firework effect malfunctioned, catching his hair on fire. Many people, including friends and associates of his, believe this incident is what sparked his problems with prescription drug abuse.

Ticket controversy and other business issues

King, Sullivan and the Jacksons' father Joe Jackson (who no longer managed any of his sons by now) came up with a way to generate additional revenue from ticket sales. Those wishing to attend would have to send a postal money order for $120 ($280 in modern dollars) along with a special form to a lottery to buy blocks of four tickets at $30 apiece, ostensibly to curtail scalpers. Upon receipt the money was to be deposited into a standard money market account earning 7% annual interest; it would take six to eight weeks for the lottery to be held and money to be refunded to the unsuccessful purchasers. Since only one in ten purchasers would win the lottery and receive tickets, there would be more money in the bank for that time period than there were tickets to sell, and they expected to earn $10–12 million in interest.

Joe, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Randy were all in favor of the scheme, but Michael was not and he warned them that it would be a public relations disaster. The $30 ticket already higher than most touring acts (namely Prince and Bruce Springsteen) charged at the time, was compounded by the requirement to buy four. This put tickets out of reach of many of his African-American fans who were not financially secure. That community was joined by many commentators in the media in vociferously criticizing the Jacksons over the scheme. Nevertheless, when newspapers published the form for tickets to the first show in Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium in late June, fans lined up at stores before they opened to buy them. A local radio disk jockey said some newspapers were even stolen from lawns.

On July 5, 1984, after receiving a letter from eleven-year-old fan Ladonna Jones, who accused the Jacksons and their promoters of being 'selfish and just out for money,' Michael held a press conference to announce changes in the tour's organization and also to announce that his share of the proceeds from the tour would be donated to charity. Following a controversy with the way tickets were purchased, lead-singer Michael Jackson donated his proceeds, approx. $5 million (US$11,526,265 in 2016 dollars), from the tour to three charities, including the T.J. Martell Foundation for Leukemia and Cancer Research, The United Negro College Fund, and Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times.

Jones later received VIP treatment at the Dallas concert. The following is Michael's speech at a press conference on July 5, 1984, the day before the tour began:

"A lot of people are having trouble getting tickets. The other day I got a letter from a fan in Texas named Ladonna Jones. She'd been saving her money from odd jobs to buy a ticket, but with the turned tour system, she'd have to buy four tickets and she couldn't afford that. So, we asked our promoter to work out a new way of distributing tickets, a way that no longer requires a money order. There has also been a lot of talk about the promoter holding money for tickets that didn't sell. I've asked our promoter to end the mail order ticket system as soon as possible so that no one will pay money unless they get a ticket. Finally, and most importantly, there's something else I am going to announce today. I want you to know that I decided to donate all my money I make from our performance to charity. There will be further press statements released in the next two weeks."

Afterwards, the procedures were modified, but all sales continued to be made by mail (except for the six final shows at Dodger Stadium, where tickets were also sold through Ticketmaster.) Tickets were typically made available only a week to ten days in advance, and many tickets ended up in the hands of ticket brokers.

Financial difficulties

The tour sold what was then a record number of tickets despite the high price. The opening shows were widely covered in the national media and sold out. "Anybody who sees this show will be a better person for years to come", King told the media before the first date in Kansas City. "Michael Jackson has transcended all earthly bounds. Every race, color and creed is waiting for this tour."

Sullivan had estimated in June that he would make up to $13 million, but by August he had reduced that estimate by more than three-quarters, to $3 million. Transporting the 365-ton (331 t) stage Michael had designed, which took up one-third of a football field (approximately 19,200 square feet (1,780 m2)), required over 30 tractor trailers. It was so large it required using some of the seating area, in some venues taking as much as a quarter of the potential available seats off the market.

Before the tour began Sullivan had spent nearly a million dollars on legal fees and insurance. Among the 250 workers on the tour payroll was an "ambiance director" who provided "homey touches" to the traveling parlor the group relaxed in before and after shows. Overhead costs were soon averaging around a million dollars a week, far over expectations, and Sullivan was unable to pay the $24 million balance on the advance. He renegotiated the deal down to 75% of gross potential seat revenues soon after the tour began.

Tensions among The Jackson family

Tensions between Michael and his brothers increased during the tour. He stayed at his own hotels and flew between stops on a private jet while the rest of the family flew commercial. At one point he demanded that a publicist be fired and when he found out right before a show that she had not been, he refused to go on until she was. Michael had also been disappointed that his idol James Brown declined his invitation to join the group on stage at Madison Square Garden in New York City due to Brown's continued outrage about the ticket lottery.

The other Jacksons also had grievances with Michael. He turned down a multimillion-dollar offer from a movie producer to film one of the shows that his brothers had accepted, only to have a crew he had hired show up to shoot its own film several nights later (they subsequently blocked its release). Despite a pretour agreement that only the Jacksons themselves could ride in the van chartered to take them to shows, Michael began taking child star Emmanuel Lewis along with them. Later, after a similar agreement over a helicopter that took the brothers to a show at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, Michael showed up with Julian Lennon (son of slain ex-Beatle John Lennon), and his brothers glared at him for the entire flight. Before the tour was halfway completed the brothers were taking separate vehicles to concerts.

The brothers all stayed on different floors of their hotels, and refused to talk to each other on the way to shows. Meetings broke down among factions, with two lawyers frequently representing Michael's interests, another Jermaine's, and one more for the other three. "It was the worst experience Michael had ever had with his brothers", said a longtime family friend. "Some were jealous, there was denial, the whole gamut of human emotions."

Other issues

Health issues also affected the tour. Jackie Jackson missed the first half with a leg injury, supposedly sustained during rehearsals. At one point Michael became so exhausted and dehydrated from the stress of quarreling with his brothers that he was placed under medical care.

By the later shows on the tour, its novelty had worn off and the strains were having an effect. The Victory album had not sold well, and shows were increasingly failing to sell out. Dates planned for Pittsburgh were canceled; extra shows in Chicago made up the difference. By early October, the time of the shows in Toronto's Exhibition Stadium, a total of 50,000 tickets had gone unsold. Sullivan renegotiated again, getting the Jacksons to agree to revenues based on actual sales.

Things did not improve as the tour reached its final leg on the West Coast. In late November, the shows at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona, just outside Phoenix, were canceled. Officially the reason was that Jermaine was too sick with the flu to perform, but there was some speculation that slow ticket sales played a role as well. Sullivan was so short of cash he stopped payment on a $1.9 million check to the group after the Vancouver dates. Immediately afterwards, he suffered a minor heart attack, and left the hospital early to renegotiate with the Jacksons again, claiming losses of $5–6 million. By this time the parties were no longer meeting in person. The Jacksons agreed to waive the stopped payment in return for a greater share of revenue from the six final shows in Los Angeles's Dodger Stadium. Sullivan's estimated profit was down to half a million dollars.

The Jacksons and Don King had made money even though Sullivan had not, and near the end of the tour they began making plans for a European leg. When word reached Michael, he let them know through his representatives that he would not be taking part. At the rain-soaked tour finale in Los Angeles' Dodger Stadium, after six sold-out shows, Michael announced at the end of the show, to his brothers' shocked expressions, that this would be the last time they all performed together. The plans to go to Europe were ended.


Michael's announcement generated some great backlash from his brothers. Don King's reaction was blunt:

There's no way Michael should be as big as he is and treat his family the way he does. He feels his father done him wrong? His father may have done some wrong, but he also had to do a whole lot right ... What Michael's got to realize is that he's a nigger ... He's one of the megastars of the world, but he's still going to be a nigger megastar. He must accept that. Not only must he understand that, he's got to accept it and demonstrate that he wants to be a nigger. Why? To show that a nigger can do it.

Michael was so upset when he learned of King's remarks that he called his lawyer John Branca and said "Sue the bastard. That guy has been pushing my last nerve since day one." Branca calmed him down and persuaded him to drop the idea.

Financially, the Jacksons themselves ended up making very good money based on excellent ticket sales and the financial deal they struck with Sullivan. The Jacksons netted approximately $36 million, which worked out to about $7 million for each brother, most of which they spent on expensive lifestyles. Michael, who alone did not need the money, donated his share to charity as he had promised. He had also received an $18 million advance from Sullivan for a Michael Jackson designer jeans brand, few of which were ever produced and sold before Sullivan had to stop production.

Estimates of SMC's losses have ranged from $13 million to $22 million ($30 million to $50.7 million in modern dollars) Sullivan and his father quietly put the word out around the NFL that the Patriots and their stadium were for sale. Their $100 million asking price for the combined package made more sense when the Patriots qualified for Super Bowl XX after the next season, the first time they had ever done so.

An early deal for the team collapsed, and the Patriots limped on. Even after making the Super Bowl, the team's revenue was not nearly enough for the Sullivans to service the debt from the Victory Tour. At one point they were so close to bankruptcy that the NFL had to advance them $4 million to make their payroll. Sullivan's woes increased when his wife filed for divorce, and he had to set up a luxury box at the stadium as his personal living quarters. He allegedly wrote several letters to Michael, begging the star for money to bail the team out, but Michael never replied.

The Sullivans finally gave up and sold the Patriots to Victor Kiam in 1988. However, Kiam was unable to keep himself or the team financially stable either, and eventually they were sold again in 1992 to James Orthwein, who nearly moved the team to St. Louis before selling it in 1994 to Robert Kraft, their current owner, under whose management have appeared in seven Super Bowls, winning five. Kraft had entered the picture some years earlier, when he bought Sullivan Stadium out of bankruptcy. He has a Victory Tour poster in his office as a reminder of how he was able to realize his lifelong dream of owning the Patriots.


Aside from a few months in mid-1975, the Victory Tour era marked the only time that all six Jackson brothers worked together at the same time as a band. Jackie Jackson missed most of the tour because of a leg injury. That injury was described at the time as a knee injury incurred during strenuous rehearsals. Margaret Maldonado (the mother of two of Jermaine Jackson's children) has alleged that Jackie in fact broke his leg in an automobile accident: his first wife Enid ran him over in a parking lot after catching him with another woman. (allegedly Paula Abdul) In any case, Jackie made a speedy recovery and was able to rejoin his brothers on stage for the last portion of the tour.

Michael sang all the lead vocals, except for a medley of Jermaine's solo hits.

Eddie Van Halen made at least two special guest appearances doing the "Beat It" guitar solo.

Shortly after the tour ended, Michael returned to his solo career and Marlon left the group to start his own solo career without The Jacksons.

Set list

The set list included songs from the Jackson's albums Destiny and Triumph. Despite the name of the tour, the Victory album was not represented. There were also songs on the list from Jermaine's and Michael's solo careers. Songs from Michael's albums Off the Wall and Thriller were both represented. The set list did not include "Thriller" itself because Michael did not like the way the song sounded live (it was later performed regularly during Michael's solo tours).

  1. "Sword in the Stone" (Introduction)
  2. "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'"
  3. "Things I Do for You"
  4. "Off the Wall"
  5. "Human Nature" (contain excerpts from "Ben")
  6. "This Place Hotel"
  7. "She's Out of My Life"
  8. Jermaine Jackson Medley: "Let's Get Serious" / "You Like Me, Don't You?"/"Dynamite" / "Tell Me I'm Not Dreamin' (Too Good to Be True)" (with Michael)
  9. The Jackson 5 Medley: "I Want You Back" / "The Love You Save" / "I'll Be There"
  10. "Rock with You"
  11. "Lovely One"
  12. "Workin' Day and Night"
  13. "Beat It"
  14. "Billie Jean"
  15. "Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)" (contain excerpts from "State Of Shock" and "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough)"


  • Jermaine sometimes performed the song "Dynamite" during his solo medley in place of the usual "You Like Me, Don't You?"
  • Performers

    Lead Performers

  • Michael Jackson: vocals
  • Randy Jackson – vocals, percussion, keyboards
  • Jermaine Jackson: vocals; bass
  • Tito Jackson: vocals; guitar
  • Marlon Jackson: vocals; percussion
  • Jackie Jackson: vocals; percussion (First performance during the Quebec concerts.)
  • Keyboards: Rory Kaplan, Pat Leonard & Jai Winding
  • Guitar: David Williams & Gregg Wright
  • Drums: Jonathan Moffett
  • Credits

  • Tour Coordinator and Co-Producer with the Jacksons: Larry Larson
  • Assistant Coordinator: Marla Winston
  • Production Manager: Peyton Wilson
  • Assistant Production Managers: Gary Bouchard & Debbie Lyons
  • Stage Manager: Mike Hirsh
  • Assistant Stage Manager: Pee Wee Jackson
  • Production Consultant: Ken Graham
  • Site Coordinators: John "Bugzee" Hougdahl, Jose Ward
  • Stage Construction and Engineering: Plainview, Inc. – John McGraw
  • Robotic Lighting: Design – Michael Jackson
  • Eidophor Video Projection: M.B. Productions, Inc.
  • Design Execution & Manufacturing: Applied Entertainment Systems
  • Lighting Company: TASCO
  • Site Coordinators : Bugzee Hougdahl & Jose Ward
  • Sound Company: Clair Brothers Audio
  • House Mixers: ML Procise & Mike Stahl
  • Monitor engineer: Rick Coberly
  • Laser Effects: Showlasers, Inc., Dallas, Texas
  • Laser Special Effects Operator: Michael Moorhead
  • Laser Technician: Steve Glasow
  • Musicians Costumes Design: Enid Jackson
  • Magical Illusions: Franz Harary
  • Video Director: Sandy Fullerton
  • Jackson Crew Sportswear: Nike
  • Community Affairs: Harold Preston
  • Consultant to Community Affairs: Cynthia Wilson
  • References

    Victory Tour (The Jacksons tour) Wikipedia