Spike Lee documentary to explore early Michael Jackson

Pop superstar Michael Jackson performs in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in this Oct 15, 1993, file photo.
Pop superstar Michael Jackson performs in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in this Oct 15, 1993, file photo.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - Spike Lee, the acclaimed director who explores African American life, will release a documentary on the rise to stardom of Michael Jackson.

Promoters for the late "King of Pop" announced on Thursday that the documentary would go on sale on Feb 26 in a bundle with a reissue of Jackson's breakthrough 1979 album Off The Wall.

The documentary, Michael Jackson's Journey From Motown To Off The Wall, will premiere Jan 24 at Sundance, the film festival earlier announced, and later will air on cable network Showtime.

Jackson was the child star of "The Jackson Five," a chart-topping music group he was part of, along with his four brothers, in the 1970s.

He recorded Off The Wall as a solo artist when he was 20 years old, ushering in a new era in pop music through crossover R&B.

"To Black America, Off The Wall transcended music and entertainment altogether," the promoters said in the announcement.

"The success of the album marked a level of national and international achievement that conjured pride in a culture that as late as the end of the 1970s was still fighting for the kind of social acceptance that Michael's album received," it said.

Jackson's subsequent 1982 release, Thriller, remains the top-selling album in history.

The documentary, which uses archival material from Jackson, looks at the beginnings of his mass-market success, including his signing with Epic Records and relationship with producer Quincy Jones.

Spike Lee is known for shining a harsh light on the state of US race relations, with his 1989 film Do The Right Thing often making lists of the greatest films of all time.

His documentaries include When The Levees Broke on Hurricane Katrina and more recently a film on boxer Mike Tyson.