For four decades, Michael Jackson has held a significant role in pop culture history. Whether through his unforgettable music, groundbreaking videos, his tabloid headline-filled personal life or his freakish plastic surgary choices, people can't stop talking about him. Michael was born on August 29, 1958, in Gary, Indiana into the talented Jackson family, led by patriarch Joe. Fame came early for Michael, as he and his brothers had a string of hits in the late '60s and early '70s, including 'A.B.C.' and 'The Love You Save.' He also began his solo career at a young age with the hits 'Got to be There' and 'Ben.' After the Jackson 5 left Motown in 1975, they continued to score chart-topping hits like 'Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)' and 'Can You Feel It.'
In 1978, Michael made the leap to the big screen in the musical The Wiz with Diana Ross. The film was a flop, but in working on the film's soundtrack, Michael forged a professional relationship with legendary producer Quincy Jones, who agreed to help Michael produce his next solo album, 1979's Off the Wall. The album produced four top ten hits and was a mere warm-up for the record-setting Thriller, which was released on November 30, 1982. The album produced seven top ten singles, won eight Grammy awards, has been certified 27x Platinum and stayed on the No. 1 spot on the Billboard charts for 38 weeks. With the elaborate14-minute video for the title track, directed by John Landis, and his live performance of 'Billie Jean' at the Motown 25th Anniversary special, where his signature dance, the moonwalk was unveiled, Thriller has earned its place in the Grammy Hall of Fame. With the success of his follow-up, 1987's Bad, Michael earned the title of 'The King of Pop.'
As Michael's popularity grew, so did the tabloid attention - with tales of Michael sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber and trying to purchase the skeleton of The Elephant Man that caused him to be dubbed 'Wacko Jacko.' Michael's next album, 1991's Dangerous also had its share of controversy with the video for the lead single 'Black or White' featuring gratuitous crotch-grabbing and scenes of Michael vandalizing a car. More controversy erupted in 1993 when it was revealed that Michael had children sleeping over at his Neverland Ranch, prompting accusations of sexual abuse and a lawsuit by one of his alleged victims. The matter was settled out of court in 1994, but the damage to Michael's career had been done. Later that year, Michael married Lisa Marie Presley, presenting her with an awkward kiss at the 1994 MTV VMAs. The marriage between the 'King of Pop' and the 'Princess of Rock 'n' Roll' broke up after only two years.
In 1996, he married his dermatologist's nurse Debbie Rowe, and during their brief, three-year marriage had two children, Michael Joseph Jackson Jr. (a/k/a/ Prince) and Paris Michael Katherine. Michael also had a third child, Prince Michael Jackson II (nicknamed 'Blanket') in 2002, who, in another infamous incident, was dangled over a hotel balcony in Berlin. Despite the scandals, Michael's albums continued to sell well, with his 2002 release Invincible sold 10 million copies worldwide. In December of 2003, he was charged with child molestation and went to trail in January of 2005, eventually being acquitted of the charges. As evidence of the singer's continuing popularity, the 25th anniversary edition of Thriller has been a worldwide success, reaching No. 2 on the U.S. album charts. Love him or hate him, Michael Jackson is still the 'King of Pop' - and pop culture.
Unfortunately on June 25, 2009 Jackson passed away at UCLA Medical Center after being rushed from his Los Angeles home. On July 7, 2009, there was a public memorial service held at Staples Center with performances from artists incuding Jennifer Hudson, John Mayer, Usher, and many more.
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