Michael Jackson was one of the most iconic singers of his generation. Born on August 29, 1958, he was the eighth of ten children born to Joseph Walter and Katherine Esther. At the age of 5, he became the lead singer of his family band named “Jackson 5” which included him and his four older brothers. The band quickly became popular and began touring and performing at clubs, high schools and talent shows. Some of their hits included “I Want You Back”, “ABC” and “I’ll Be There”. In 1975, the band was signed by Epic Records and began touring extensively both locally and internationally. They released six albums between 1975 to 1981.
In 1979, Michael released his first solo album called “Off The Wall”. It became the first album by a solo artist to have 4 top 10 singles including “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” and “Rock with You”. The album peaked at #3 on the Billboard 200 charts and ended up selling 20 million copies worldwide. It won him 3 American Music Awards, 2 Billboard Year-End awards and 1 Grammy Award. His next album was “Thriller”, released in 1982, which had seven top 10 singles including “Beat It”, “Billie Jean” and “Thriller”. It stayed at the top of the Billboard 200 charts for 37 weeks, and remained in the top 10 position for 80 consecutive weeks. It reached Diamond Status in the United States, becoming the bestselling U.S. album of all time, as well as the bestselling album in the world. It won Michael numerous AMAs, Grammy Awards and Billboard Awards, among others. The music video for “Thriller” was the first of its kind, and won several laurels as well.
In 1984, Michael Jackson signed a contract to make a commercial for Pepsi Cola. However, he was badly injured during the filming of the same, and suffered major burns on his face and scalp. He had extensive plastic surgery to repair the damage, which was the beginning of his experimentation with his appearance. In 1985, he co-wrote and sang “We Are the World” which was a charity single for support of Africa. He collaborated on the song with a number of other artists including Tina Turner, Lionel Richie, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles and Bruce Springsteen, among others. His next album “Bad” was released in 1987. This broke further records in the music industry, becoming the first album to have five #1 hit singles, including “Man in the Mirror” and “The Way You Make Me Feel”. Some of his subsequent albums include “Dangerous” and “HIStory: Past, Present, and Future, Book I”. He came to be known as “The King of Pop”.
Michael Jackson’s phenomenal and unsurpassed excellence as an artist was sadly mixed with a deeply troubled personal life. He built his own ranch called “Neverland” in California, which included exotic pets, an amusement park and a helipad, amongst other luxuries. The public began to criticize him for his increasingly white appearance, a result of extensive plastic surgery, and it was rumored that he slept in an oxygen chamber. He was married twice, and had three children. Some say the ranch was an attempt to relive his childhood, because of a troublesome relationship with his abusive father. Rumors of child molestation also began to creep up in the media as early as 1993, although no legal action was taken until 2004, when a 13 year old boy filed charges of harassment and abuse.
Michael was acquitted of all charges but his reputation was duly destroyed. He was also under severe financial pressure, due to his legal bills and the cost of maintaining his ranch. He was financed for some new projects by the Prince of Bahrain but failed to deliver on his promises. He took out large amounts of loans, on which he eventually defaulted. In 2008, he planned a comeback tour of the UK, tickets to which were sold out within four hours. Tragically, Michael never got to perform due to his unexpected death at the age of 50 due to a heart attack. It was later ruled to be involuntary homicide by his doctor, who was charged with four years in prison. Fans worldwide displayed their grief at the loss of this amazing artist, and Michael Jackson was awarded a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award, which was accepted by his children.