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Michael Jackson Named Top-Earning Dead Celebrity

With $275 million brought in, Jackon earned more last year than the rest of the 'Forbes' Dead Celebs list combined, and more than any living celebrity other than Oprah Winfrey

October 26, 2010 9:59 AM ET

In the year following the death of Michael Jackson, the King of Pop's estate raked in $275 million, more than enough to catapult Jackson to the top of Forbes' 10th annual Top-Earning Dead Celebrities list. The concert rehearsal film This Is It, Jackson's stake in the Sony/ATV catalog, his estate's massive deal for posthumous releases, music royalties and a renewed interest in all things Michael since the singer's June 25th, 2009 death meant Jackson earned four times more than Elvis Presley, whose estate made $60 million in the past 12 months, putting him at Number Two on the Forbes list.

Michael Jackson: The Rolling Stone Covers

During his lifetime, Jackson never even made it onto Forbes' Celebrity 100 list. Not only did Jackson make more money than all the other dead celebrities last year, but he also out-earned every person not named Oprah Winfrey on the Forbes Celebrity 100, which tallies the incomes of living entertainers. Jackson also brought in more than the year's highest-grossing music acts, U2 and AC/DC, put together. "The cash flow on an annual basis is tremendous," estate lawyer Donald David told Forbes. "Sure, it's going to decline eventually, but it's going to be a huge amount in the foreseeable future. [Jackson's] kids are going to have grandkids before that money's gone."

Michael Jackson's life in photos

In other Jackson news, Popeater reports that Dr. Conrad Murray, the physician charged with involuntary manslaughter in Jackson's death, will reportedly face a judge today in Los Angeles at another status hearing prior to his trial.

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Song Stories

“Nightshift”

The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

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