The Michael Jackson biography is one that could fill up volumes. With five decades in the music industry, the biggest selling album of all time and a personal life filled with strife and controversy, his story is a long one. Here, take a look at some major events in Michael Jackson's biography that helped shape the King of Pop.
Michael Jackson Biography: Childhood and Jackson 5
Born August 29, 1958 in Gary, Indiana, Michael Joseph Jackson was the seventh out of nine children in the Jackson family. His father, Joe Jackson, was determined to get his children involved in show business, and it didn't take long for Michael's talent to shine through. The Jackson boys, with the help of Joe, formed the Jackson Brothers in 1964. Michael sang back-up in the Jackson Brothers, but by age 8, it had become clear that Michael belonged in the front. Michael and brother Jermaine took over lead vocals and the group was renamed the Jackson 5.
After signing to Motown, the Jackson 5 had a string of hits during the 1960s and 1970s, including The Love You Save, ABC, I'll Be There and I Want You Back. They toured extensively and appeared with some of the biggest names in music of the day. Michael was always the star and wowed audiences, industry pros and critics alike with the stage presence and talent he displayed at such a young age.
Michael also released a series of solo albums during his time with the Jackson 5, but they were part of the Jackson 5 brand and marketing campaign rather than true solo records.
Behind the scenes, Michael's childhood was a difficult one. Joe Jackson abused his children both physically and mentally - something he has admitted. Michael pointed to this abuse frequently throughout his adult life as the stem of many of his problems. He never reconciled with his father before his death.
Michael Jackson Biography: Music Career Basics
After working with Quincy Jones on The Wiz, Michael solicited Jones' help to launch his solo career on Epic Records. The subsequent release was Off The Wall, the first "real" solo album by Jackson and one that suggested that he would be able to make the transition from Jackson 5 to a solo artist seamlessly.
In 1982, Jackson changed music history when he released the album Thriller. It became the most successful album of all time. Thriller was more of a cultural phenomenon than a simple album. More than twenty years later, people all over the world still know the songs from Thriller, the dances from the videos and Jackson's style from the time. It was also a merchandising bonanza.
At the Motown 25th anniversary concert in 1983, Michael performed with The Jackson 5 as well as performing a solo number, Billie Jean from Thriller. During his performance, he showed off his moonwalk dance - the first introduction the public had to this now iconic dance.
In 1984, Michael was injured on the set of a Pepsi video when the special effects caused his hair to catch fire. He was left with second degree burns and required surgery.
Though Michael never relinquished his King of Pop crown and his albums still sold significantly more than many artists, his popularity slowly waned after Thriller. His fanbase decreased significantly during the 1990s. He attempted to relaunch his career with the album Invincible in 2000, but label disputes disrupted the plans. Michael had long been keen for his contract with Sony Music to expire so the rights to his masters would be his own again, and he expected the masters to be his in 2000. When the time rolled around, Michael discovered his contract actually gave Sony the rights for a much longer time. He then discovered that his lawyer was also working for Sony. The nature of the contract meant that Sony actually benefited from seeing Michael's albums fail, because financial problems would force him to sell the masters to them.
Using the lawyer's conflict of interest as a basis, Michael was able to get out of his contract. In retaliation, Tommy Mottola, then head of Sony, pulled promotion on Invincible - at least that was Michael's story. The label blames his refusal to tour for the album's (relative) flop.
Michael Jackson Life Story - Behind the Scenes
Michael dealt with two sexual abuse allegations - one in 1993 and one in 2003 (which lasted until 2005). The first case was settled out of court and he was found not guilty on the second charge. The stigma remained with him, however.
There was also much public speculation about his appearance over the years. His skin became significantly lighter in tone. He claimed to be suffering from vitiligo. He also had many plastic surgeries that drastically altered his appearance. His changed look was the butt of many jokes.
Michael raised three children, though there is much speculation about whether or not he could be the father of them. Regardless of the paternity, he was the sole guardian for all three.
Michael Jackson Death
Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009 of cardiac arrest. The reason for the heart failure is as yet unknown, and the police are investing the case as a crime, suspecting that he was improperly provided with prescription medication. He was preparing for a comeback tour at the time and had a sold out 50 show run planned in London.