MJ Studies Today XCVII

Abstract: Michael Jackson’s favourite number was 7 – being the seventh of nine children and displaying the number on various outfits throughout his adult career. Was there more to it than that? Sparked by Jackson’s recent presence on seven Billboard charts, Kerry Hennigan looks at the number 7 as it pertains to Jackson himself, and as the focus of various responses from members of his audience – his dedicated fans.

Column by Kerry Hennigan, editor of the free monthly newsletter A Candle for Michael, administrator of the fan group “Michael Jackson’s Short Film Ghosts” on Facebook, and an MJ blogger on WordPress. Kerry is a life-long student, has Certificates in the Archaeology of the Ancient World and the Archaeology of Ancient Britain from Cambridge University in the UK and is currently focused on the Viking Age.


Hennigan, Kerry. “MJ Studies Today XCVII: The 7 Charts of Michael Jackson. The prevalence of the Number Seven in his life, career, recent chart success and fan expression.” (14-01-2024). The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studies Vol 10, No. 3 (2024). https://michaeljacksonstudies.org/mj-studies-today-xcvii/

The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studies asks that you acknowledge The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studies as the source of our content; if you use material from The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studies online, we request that you link directly to the stable URL provided. If you use our content offline, we ask that you credit the source as follows: “Courtesy of The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studies.”

The 7 Charts of Michael Jackson. The prevalence of the Number Seven in his life, career, recent chart success and fan expression. By Kerry Hennigan

Photo collage © Kerry Hennigan

“It’s well known throughout his fanbase that over the course of his career, it is clear that Michael Jackson’s favourite number was seven.” – MJWN, 2014.[1]

For years now, a few Michael Jackson albums have continued to sit in a comfortable niche on various music charts. Thriller, Number Ones and The Essential Michael Jackson have possessed such longevity, with Thriller invariably enjoying a surge in sales and/or streaming annually around Halloween. In 2023 the release of the official Thriller 40 documentary, celebrating the phenomenon of Jackson’s bestselling album and its famous short film, also prompted more sales and more streaming. In addition to his solo recordings, the Jackson 5 Christmas album, originally released in 1970, and two singles from it, “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” and “Santa Clause is Coming to Town,” saw Michael represented on seven Billboard charts during the Christmas holiday season. [2]

To his dedicated fans, the chart tally as reported was significant for the fact that 7 was Jackson’s favourite number. (Michael was the seventh of Katherine and Joseph Jackson’s nine offspring – although this tally only results from omitting Marlon Jackson’s twin brother Brandon who did not survive their premature births.) In any case, it’s hardly a surprising choice – 7 has been a popular number since ancient times and has had significance in almost every major religion, as explained in Psychology Today. “The fact is that, historically, the number 7 has played a significant role in society, culture, religion, and even psychology.” [3]

The number 7 was emblazoned on clothes designed for Michael by the team of Tompkins and Bush, and then multiplied to 777 in some instances, such as on the armband he wore in the HIStory teaser promotional video. Was this purely a personal preference on the part of this seventh child in a family of nine? Or was he deliberately aiming to tap into the mystique of the number, which crops up time and again throughout human history? “The number seven symbolizes countless elements in human civilization,” according to Study.com. “There are seven days of the week, seven continents, seven colours of the rainbow, seven chakras, and seven wonders of the world.” [4]

Given his upbringing as a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses church, Jackson would also have been aware of the times that 7 appears in the Bible – which he continued to read even after he officially left the church. Genisis tells us that after creating the world, God rested on the seventh day. “The number seven is featured extensively in Christianity and other religions,” confirms Study.com, and what might be considered equally or even more relevant in Jackson’s career, “the number seven forms the basis of Western musical scales.” [5]

Whatever his reason – which was perhaps nothing more mysterious than wanting to keep his fans guessing, Jackson’s devoted international audience duly noted the significance of the number to Michael. This has produced a variety of fan-generated expressions in terms of art and academia inspired by Jackson’s preference for the number seven. [6] Some of these expressions are creatively quite profound, e.g. Brenda Jenkyn’s parable-like tale for children and adults, The 7th Child, is inspired by Jackson, his life, his art and his humanitarian endeavours, as well as his trials and tribulations. This story tells how those who are jealous of a prodigiously talented and immensely popular individual (called “the Maestro”) suggest he is not to be trusted. “He doesn’t look like us, he doesn’t act like us, he doesn’t think like us. He is not one of us,” they insist. [7]

Like some real life peacemakers before him whom Jackson admired (e.g. Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Mandela etc), being “connected to the deep wisdom of Life” meant that Jenkyn’s fictional Maestro became a target, [8] just as Jackson’s character in his film Michael Jackson’s Ghosts (1997) is pressured to leave the town because he is considered bizarre and weird. [9][10] Of course, in the end, the Maestro in Ghosts has the last laugh, and as for the one in “The 7th Child,” you’ll have to read the book to find out. [11] In real life, the outcome for Jackson has been varied, depending on which version of his persona you subscribe to – the complex, creative, kind individual, or the media caricature.

“The seventh child was not concerned about the expectations of others. He was listening to the Music of Life. His ideas and creativity were boundless. His joy came from expressing his connection to his Soul, and sharing his gifts with others. His dream was to allow the magic and wonder that he saw to reveal the harmony and Love in all of Creation.” – Brenda Jenkyns. The 7th Child. [12]

Kerry Hennigan
14 January 2024.


Joseph Vogel, author of Man in the Music: the Creative Life and Work of Michael Jackson (2011 and 2019), Michael Jackson and the Reinvention of Pop (2017), and Earth Song: Michael Jackson and the Art of Compassion (2017), discussed the significance of the number seven for Jackson’s art with Karin Merx and Elizabeth Amisu of the Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studies in Episode 10 of the podcast “Michael Jackson’s Dream Lives On – MJAS Exclusive: 7 Albums, 7 Songs, 7 Years (with Dr. Joe Vogel).” Published electronically 24/06/16 to mark the seventh anniversary of Jackson’s death. https://michaeljacksonstudies.org/episode-10-mjas-exclusive-7-albums-7-songs-7-years/


[1] Michael Jackson World Network. “Michael Jackson and the number 7.” Published electronically 8 Apl 2014. https://www.mjworld.net/news/2014/04/08/michael-jackson-and-the-number-7/ Retrieved 4 Jan 2024.

[2] McIntyre, Hugh. “Michael Jackson Claims A Top 40 Hit On Seven Billboard Charts This Week.” Forbes, 13 Dec 2023.  https://www.forbes.com/sites/hughmcintyre/2023/12/13/michael-jackson-claims-a-top-40-hit-on-seven-billboard-charts-this-week/ Accessed 2 Jan 2024.

[3] Winch, Guy. Ph.D. “Seven Reasons We Are Captivated by the Number Seven.” Psychology Today. Published electronically 27 Jun 2015. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201506/seven-reasons-we-are-captivated-the-number-seven Retrieved 3 Jan 2024.

[4] “Number Seven Facts, Symbolism & Meaning.” Study.com. January 9, 2023. https://study.com/academy/lesson/number-seven-symbolism-facts-numerology.html Retrieved 3 Jan 2023.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Amisu, Elizabeth. “Horcruxes: Michael (Split Seven Ways) Jackson.” The Dangerous Philosophies of Michael Jackson. Page 127

[7] Jenkyns, Brenda. Artwork by Siren. The 7th Child. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015. https://www.amazon.com/7th-Child-Key-Creations/dp/151941921X Accessed 3 Jan 2024.

[8] Jenkyns, Brenda. 2015, page 11.

[9] Michael Jackson’s Ghosts, 1997 was released on VHS as part of a box set in Europe, and as a VCD in Asia. Otherwise the complete version (remastered) is only available on Jackson’s official YouTube channel for limited periods of time, usually around Halloween. Meantime, it is accessible unofficially at https://vimeo.com/474315292 Accessed 3 Jan 2024.

[10] O’Toole, Kit. “Ghosts (1997).” Michael Jackson FAQ: All that’s left to know about the King of Pop.  Backbeat Books, 2015, pages 208-210.

[11] Hennigan, Kerry. “Book Review: The 7th Child story by Brenda Jenkyns, artwork by Siren.” Published electronically, 21 August 2017. https://kerryhennigan.wordpress.com/2017/08/21/book-review-the-7th-child-story-by-brenda-jenkyns-artwork-by-siren/ Accessed 3 Jan 2024.

[12] Jenkyns, Brenda. 2015, page 9.

Illustration: “seven” photo collage by Kerry Hennigan using a professional photograph of Michael Jackson on stage during his HIStory world tour. No infringement of photographic copyright is intended in this not-for-profit, educational exercise.