Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009), often dubbed the "King of Pop," was an American recording artist, widely regarded as one of the greatest entertainers who ever lived. With his trademark black fedora and single, sequinned glove, his unique contributions to music and dance, along with a highly publicized personal life, made him a central part of popular culture around the world for four decades.
One of the few artists to have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, his achievements included multiple Guinness World Records—including the "Most Successful Entertainer of All Time"—13 Grammy Awards, 13 number one singles, and the sale of over 750 million records. He was also a notable philanthropist, donating millions of dollars to the 39 charities he supported, and raising more through his own Heal the World Foundation.
The seventh child of the Jackson family, he made his debut in 1968 as a member of The Jackson 5, beginning a solo career in 1971. His 1982 album Thriller remains the best-selling album of all time, with four others—Off the Wall (1979), Bad (1987), Dangerous (1991), and HIStory (1995)—among the best selling. He popularized several physically complicated dance moves, such as the robot and the moonwalk, now iconic. He is widely credited with having transformed the music video from a promotional tool into an art form, with videos such as Thriller, "Beat It" and "Billie Jean" making him the first African American to amass a strong crossover following on MTV, and others, such as "Black or White" and "Scream", ensuring his popularity well into the 1990s.
Jackson's personal life generated significant controversy. His changing appearance was noticed from the early 1980s, his skin appearing paler and his facial features becoming almost androgynous. He was accused in 1993 of child sexual abuse, and though no charges were brought, his health suffered when he started using painkillers to cope with the stress. He married twice, first in 1994 and again in 1996, and brought up three children, one of them with a surrogate mother, actions that triggered more speculation about his life. In 2005, he was tried and acquitted of different child molestation allegations, which provoked a further decline in his health. Jackson died at the age of 50 on June 25, 2009, in Los Angeles, after suffering a cardiac arrest. His memorial service was broadcast live around the world, watched by up to one billion peopleJackson was born the seventh of nine children on August 29, 1958 in Gary, Indiana, an industrial suburb of Chicago, to an African-American family. His mother, Katherine Esther Scruse, was a devout Jehovah's Witness, and his father, Joseph Walter "Joe" Jackson, a steel mill worker who peformed with an R&B band called The Falcons. Jackson had three sisters, Rebbie, La Toya, and Janet, and five brothers, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, and Randy.
Jackson had a difficult relationship with his father. He said that he was physically and emotionally abused during incessant rehearsals, whippings, and name-calling, though he credited his father's discipline for his success. In one altercation recalled by Marlon, Joseph held Michael upside down by one leg and "pummeled him over and over again with his hand, hitting him on his back and buttocks". Joseph would also trip or push the boys into walls. One night while Jackson was asleep, Joseph climbed into his room through the bedroom window, wearing a fright mask and screaming. He said he wanted to teach the children not to leave the window open when they went to sleep. For years afterward, Jackson said he suffered nightmares about being kidnapped from his room. Joseph acknowledged in 2003 that he had whipped Jackson as a child.
Jackson first spoke openly about his childhood abuse in an interview with Oprah Winfrey broadcast on February 10, 1993. He said that he had often cried from loneliness and would sometimes throw up when he saw his father. In an interview with Martin Bashir, aired on February 3, 2003 as Living with Michael Jackson, he covered his face with his hands and began crying when talking about his childhood abuse. He recalled that Joseph sat in a chair with a belt in his hand as he and his siblings rehearsed, and that "if you didn't do it the right way, he would tear you up, really get you".
He showed talent early in his life, performing in front of classmates during a Christmas recital at the age of five. In 1964, he and Marlon joined the Jackson Brothers—a band formed by brothers Jackie, Tito, and Jermaine—as backup musicians playing congas and tambourine. Jackson later began performing backup vocals and dancing; at the age of eight, he and Jermaine assumed lead vocals, and the group's name was changed to The Jackson 5. The band toured the Midwest extensively from 1966 to 1968, frequently performing at a string of black clubs known as the "chitlin' circuit", where they often opened stripteases and other adult acts. In 1966, they won a major local talent show with renditions of Motown hits and James Brown's "I Got You (I Feel Good)", led by Michael.
The Jackson 5 recorded several songs, including "Big Boy", for the local record label Steeltown in 1967, and signed with Motown Records in 1968.Rolling Stone magazine later described the young Michael as "a prodigy" with "overwhelming musical gifts," writing that he "quickly emerged as the main draw and lead singer." The group set a chart record when its first four singles ("I Want You Back", "ABC", "The Love You Save," and "I'll Be There") peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. During The Jackson 5's early years, Motown's public relations team claimed that Jackson was nine years old, two years younger than he actually was, to make him appear cuter and more accessible to the general public.
Starting in 1972, Jackson released a total of four solo studio albums with Motown, among them Got to Be There and Ben, released as part of the Jackson 5 franchise, and producing successful singles such as "Got to Be There", "Ben," and a remake of Bobby Day's "Rockin' Robin". The group's sales began declining in 1973, and the band members chafed under Motown's strict refusal to allow them creative control or input. Although they scored several top 40 hits, including the top 5 disco single "Dancing Machine" and the top 20 hit "I Am Love", the Jackson 5 left Motown in 1975. Jackson contributed the song "Someone In the Dark" to the storybook for the film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial; the record won a Grammy for Best Album for Children. That year Jackson issued his second Epic album, Thriller. The album remained in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 for 80 consecutive weeks and 37 of those weeks at the peak position. It was the first album to have seven Billboard Hot 100 top 10 singles, including "Billie Jean", "Beat It," and "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'." Thriller was certified for 28 million shipments by the RIAA, giving it Double Diamond status in the United States. It is often cited as the best-selling album of all time, with worldwide sales between 47 million and 109 million copies.Sadly,Jackson's skin had been a medium-brown color for the entire duration of his youth, but starting in the early 1980s, it gradually grew paler. The change gained widespread media coverage, including rumors that he was bleaching his skin. In 1986, he was diagnosed with vitiligo and lupus; the vitiligo partially lightened his skin, and the lupus was in remission; both illnesses made him sensitive to sunlight. The treatments he used for his condition further lightened his skin tone, and, with the application of pancake makeup to even out blotches, he could appear very pale. The structure of his face changed too: several surgeons speculated that he had undergone multiple nasal surgeries, a forehead lift, thinned lips, and cheekbone surgery.
He lost weight in the early 1980s because of a change in diet and a desire for "a dancer's body." Witnesses reported that he was often dizzy and speculated that he was suffering from anorexia nervosa; periods of weight loss would become a recurring problem later in life.Some medical professionals have said he was suffering from body dysmorphic disorder, a psychological condition whereby the sufferer dislikes his appearance and has no concept of how he is viewed by others. He had a fourth rhinoplasty in 1986, and had a cleft put in his chin.
Jackson two years after he was diagnosed with vitiligo, here in the early stages of the disease
He became the subject of increasingly sensational reports. In 1986, The National Enquirer published a series of photographs of him lying in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, claiming that he slept in the chamber to slow the aging process. When Jackson bought a chimpanzee called Bubbles from a laboratory, it was reported as an example of increasing detachment from reality. In 2003, the singer claimed that Bubbles had been trained to use the toilet and to clean his own bedroom. Later, it was reported that he had offered $1 million for the bones of Joseph Merrick, the "Elephant Man." The reports became embedded in the public consciousness, inspiring the nickname "Wacko Jacko." Despite Jackson's insistence that the reports were completely invented, a biographer said in 2004 that Jackson's publicists had leaked the rumors to the press for promotional reasons. Jackson remarked to a reporter:
Why not just tell people I'm an alien from Mars. Tell them I eat live chickens and do a voodoo dance at midnight. They'll believe anything you say, because you're a reporter. But if I, Michael Jackson, were to say, "I'm an alien from Mars and I eat live chickens and do a voodoo dance at midnight," people would say, "Oh, man, that Michael Jackson is nuts. He's cracked up. You can't believe a damn word that comes out of his mouth."
Jackson wore a gold-plated military style jacket with belt in the Bad era.
Jackson starred in the Francis Ford Coppola-directed 3-D film Captain EO. It was the most expensive film produced on a per-minute basis at the time, and was later hosted in Disney theme parks. Disneyland featured the film in its Tomorrowland area for nearly 11 years, while Walt Disney World screened the film in its Epcot theme park from 1986 to 1994. With the industry expecting another major hit, Jackson's first album in five years, Bad (1987), was highly anticipated. It had lower sales than Thriller, but was still a substantial commercial success, spawning seven hit singles in the U.S., five of which ("I Just Can't Stop Loving You", "Bad", "The Way You Make Me Feel", "Man in the Mirror" and "Dirty Diana") reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, more than any other album.As of 2008, the album had sold 30 million copies worldwide.
In 1987, Jackson disassociated himself from the Jehovah's Witnesses, in response to their disapproval of the Thriller video. The Bad World Tour began on September 12 that year, finishing on January 14, 1989.In Japan alone, the tour had 14 sellouts and drew 570,000 people, nearly tripling the previous record of 200,000 in a single tour. He broke a Guinness World Record when 504,000 people attended seven sold-out shows at Wembley Stadium. He performed a total of 123 concerts to an audience of 4.4 million people, and gained a further Guinness World Record when the tour grossed him $125 million. During the trip he invited underprivileged children to watch for free, and gave donations to hospitals, orphanages, and other charities.
At the age of 50 Jackson died
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