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 of modern times. 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.
Michael Joseph Jackson (born August 29, 1958) is an American musician and entertainer whose successful music career and controversial personal life have been at the forefront of pop culture for the last quarter-century. It is a shame that this incredibly talented, but vulnerable artist should have left himself open to all manner of attacks in such open and innocent fashion. However, his music is a lasting legacy.
Jackson began his musical career at the age of seven as the lead singer of The Jackson 5 and released his first solo recording, Got to Be There in 1971, while remaining a member of the group. He began a full-fledged solo career in 1979 and formally parted with his siblings in 1984. In his solo career, Jackson recorded and co-produced the best-selling album of all time, Thriller, which was named as the world’s best-selling album at the 2006 World Music Awards. It has worldwide sales exceeding that of 104 million. Michael Jackson has received thirteen Grammy awards and charted thirteen number-one singles in the United States.
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 people, more than the likes of Princess Diana or Elvis Presley.
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