Michael Jackson (1958-2009) was a singer best known for hits such as "Thriller," "Beat It" and "Billie Jean." Jackson was one of the most successful recording artists and entertainers of the 20th century, with his 1982 album, "Thriller." becoming the best-selling album of all time. Eventually known as the "King of Pop," Jackson became famous at a young age despite his humble beginnings.
Jackson was born to a working-class family in Gary, Indiana. He was the fifth son of steelworker Joe Jackson and his wife, Katherine. Jackson had three sisters, including Janet, who would go on to a prominent singing career. At an early age, Jackson demonstrated a talent for both singing and dancing; the talent was not lost on his father, who played in a local R&B band. However, Joe was a strict disciplinarian with a bad temper, and Michael later claimed that his father was violent with him as a child.
In 1962, Joe Jackson formed a signing and dancing troupe around his sons Jackie, Tito and Jermaine. Michael and his brother Marlon soon joined them and the Jackson 5 was born. By this point, Jackson could dance like James Brown and sing soul. The record label Motown signed the group in 1968, and in 1969, the Jackson 5 released its first song when Michael was just 11. The hits "I Want You Back," "ABC," "I'll Be There" and "The Love You Save" all made to No. 1 on the Billboard chart.
Solo Success and Failure
By the early 1970s, Joe Jackson and Motown recognized that Michael was the main draw in the Jackson 5 and began to ready him for a solo career. Between 1972 and 1975, Jackson put out four solo albums on Motown. He had one number single in "Ben" but his albums were not very successful; the Jackson 5 began to lose popularity, prompting the group to leave Motown for Epic Records in 1975.
Making It Big
Jackson's big break came in 1977 when he was filming the "The Wiz" with Diana Ross. There he would meet producer Quincy Jones, the man who would become instrumental in his success. Under the guidance of Jones, Michael recorded "Off the Wall." Released in 1978, it was Jackson's first adult album. It was a smashing success, yielding the No. 1 hits "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" and "Rock with You" and selling more than 7 million copies "Off the Wall" put Jackson on the map but his biggest success was still to come in "Thriller."
End of Life
Jackson's star grew bigger as he put out "Thriller" (1982) and "Bad" (1987). But rumors began to swirl about the singer's behavior. He underwent numerous surgeries and his skin began to appear lighter. He later admitted he suffered from the disease vitiligo, which left spots of the skin without pigmentation. His last big success was "Dangerous" in 1991. In 1993, Jackson was accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy, but no criminal charged were filed. He settled with the family for a reported $20 million. For the rest of his life, Jackson suffered from more allegations of child abuse and allegedly turned to drugs to quell his inner demons. He attempted a few comebacks but he never replicated his earlier success. Jackson died at the age of 50 after taking a large of amounts of prescription drugs. The death was ruled a homicide but as of July 2011, no conviction had been made.
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