With a reputation for
bizarrely eccentric behavior, Michael Jackson
had been since childhood - and right up until his death on June
25, 2009 - forced to view the world through the prism of show
biz agents, personal managers, and millions of adoring fans.
Michael Joseph Jackson on August 29, 1958, in Gary, Indiana, the future King of
Pop was the fifth son of Joe Jackson, who first began organizing his family into
a musical group in 1962. By the time the Jackson
5 issued their debut Motown album in 1969, it was clear that 11-year old Michael
- with impossibly adult dance moves and singing voice to match - was the star
instant sensation, the pop group became the first ever to have their first four
singles (I Want You Back, ABC, The Love You Save and I'll Be There) hit
number one on the charts. Later, after a brief solo stint that included the hits
Got to Be There and the Oscar nominated theme song, Ben, Michael
rejoined his brothers now simply known as the Jacksons on the Epic label.
again gained notoriety in 1977, starring with Diana Ross in the film musical The
Wizand the following
year his career took another sudden solo leap when he teamed with producer Quincy
Jones, producing the breakout album Off the Wall that resulted in four
top ten singles.
Thriller a Career High
In 1982, Michael Jackson's Thriller topped the charts as the
best-selling album of all time.
compared to Jackson's next solo project, however, when Thrillerwas released in 1982. It stayed on the charts for over two years, spending
37 weeks at number one, and later became the best-selling album of all time with
practically every track spun off as a hit single including: Beat It, Billy
Jean, The Girl Is Mine (a duet with Paul McCartney), Wanna Be Startin'
Somethin' and the title track which also resulted in an award-winning video.
remained squarely on the pop star throughout the rest of 80's as he helped Lionel
Richie pen the mega-hit, We Are The World in support of African famine
relief - with much attention at the time suddenly given his personal eccentricities,
His apparent though frequently denied bouts of plastic surgery, his Neverland
Ranch filled with amusement park rides, and general reclusivity was just the
beginning of increasingly bizarre behavior that became fodder for major tabloids
Despite the negative press, Jackson released his next hit
album, Bad which debuted at number one in 1987, resulting in such mega-hits
as The Way You Make Me Feel, Man in the Mirror and I Just Can't Stop
while many pop stars would have given anything to achieve a success anything near
its equal, Bad was still something of a disappointment compared to the
phenomenal success of Thriller which Jackson never managed to surpass.
The Downward Slide
The train station at Neverland Ranch, named for
the fantasy island in the story of Peter Pan, a
boy who never grows up.
Jackson continued to enjoy success through the early '90's with a new album, Dangerous,
spinning off such hits as Black or White, Remember the Time and In the
Closet. In 1993, however, Jackson faced the first of a series of rumors and
allegations of child molestation when charges were brought against him on behalf
of a 13-year old boy and frequent guest at Neverland. The case was later settled
out of court for a rumored $20 million.
In 1995, Jackson also
began to falter professionally with HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book
I, a two-CD set combining past hits with new material. Also included was a hit duet, Scream, with younger sister Janet
Jackson who by that time had become a pop superstar in her own right.
But as Janet's star continued to rise, Michael's began to fall precipitously
- although he would remain in the news constantly for his behavior both on, and
off, the stage.
The infamous mugshot,
after his arrest on alleged
child molestation in 2003
2003, his Neverland
Ranch was extensively searched by police resulting in the arrest of the former
superstar on new charges of child molestation. Neverland was again searched in
December, 2004 for DNA evidence as part of an ongoing investigation. By the following year, Jackson
was fully embroiled in the court case led by a publicity manager and an
army of attorneys, who helped fight 10 charges against the pop star filed by lawyers
for the the Arvizo
June 13, 2005 Jackson was exonerated of all charges, with a 'not guilty' verdict
on all ten counts by a Santa Maria, California jury.
Now deep in debt over his legal woes, Jackson attempted a major comeback the following year starting with an appearance at the World
Music Awards in London. Meanwhile, Jackson was under threat of losing his beloved Neverland Ranch when a payment of $24 million he still owed on the property came due in 2008. The 2,800 acre estate was kept off the auction block only when
Jackson cut an 11th-hour deal with creditors.
By February 2009,
Jackson was again making headlines over rumors of a reported major comeback in the works
at London's O2 Arena. In a month-long series of appearances, the former
king of pop stood to make $7 million a performance, or just enough to pay off
An autopsy performed initially revealed "no foul play" leading to his
death, but news reports filed pointed to Jackson's
Murray, as a possible suspect in negligence charges. The
official autopsy results were published two months later ruling Jackson's death a
homicide from "acute propofol poisoning" that Jackson was administered as a painkiller and sleep aid. (Dr. Murray was later convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to four years in prison.)
services for the pop idol took place at the Los Angeles Staples
Center on on July 7.
Celebrities from the world of music, sports and politics took part in the Jackson memorial including
Stevie Wonder, Mariah
Lionel Richie, Kobe Bryant, Jennifer Hudson, and John Mayer.
final goodbye to Michael was a private family affair held on September 3, 2009 at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale,
More about Michael Jackson around the Web:
Jackson.com - The official site hosted by record label Sony featuring
news, the complete discography, career history, photo gallery and short films.