Born29 August 1958
Died25 June 2009
“When they say the sky is the limit, to me that's really true”, these lines by Michael Jackson beautifully suffice his life and his love for music. A music aficionado and enthusiast, Jackson changed the way people looked on to music and created a never-ending craze with his chartbusters and best-sellers. He gave pop and rock its life and blood and wrote chapters in the history of music that would long live for centuries to come. A music propeller in the truest sense, it was his outstanding gift and prodigious talent that made him a sensation globally. His countless awards and honorific titles, such as ‘King of Pop’ and ‘Artist of the Decade, Generation, Century and Millennium’ are a glaring testimony to his enthralling musical career. His supremely endowed music won the hearts of millions worldwide, making him a global figure in the popular culture for almost four decades. While his distinctive sound and style has been of great influence to numerous hip hop, post-disco, contemporary R&B, pop, and rock artists, it was his angelic dance style that continues to be one of the popular styles of dance. He was the man behind today’s popular dance styles, moonwalk and robot, both of which bear the name MJ style. It was for his relentless contribution to music, dance and fashion that he was named ‘the most successful entertainer of all time’.
Childhood & Early Life
Born in an African-American working class family, he was eighth of the ten children of the couple Joseph Walter "Joe" Jackson and Katherine Esther Scruse. While his father worked as a steel mill worker, his mother was a sincere Jehovah Witness.
From a very young age, he was a music lover. Initially starting as a backup musician, he soon found his way as a lead singer in the family band, the Jackson 5.
The Jackson 5 started touring Midwest, extensively performing at black clubs. In 1967, they released their first single, ‘Big Boy’ with Steeltown record label but the same failed to interest the audience.
In 1968, they signed a contract with Motown Records, which required them to relocate to Los Angeles. Following year, they came up with their first album, ‘Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5’. Its first single, ‘I Want You Back’ was a chartbuster and was followed by bestsellers ‘ABC’, ‘The Love You Save’, and ‘I'll Be There’, each of which peaked at No 1 on Billboard Hot 100.
In addition to the band, he launched his solo career as well - his first ever solo single being ‘Got to Be There’. The song met with runaway success and established his reputation as a solo artist.
The Jackson 5 band withdrew its association with Motown Records in 1975. The same year, they tied up with Epic Records under a new name ‘the Jacksons’.
From 1976 to 1984, the band toured internationally and released six new albums. He became a leading songwriter for the group, writing numerous hits one after the other.
Meanwhile, he launched his solo album in association with Quincy Jones, ‘Off the Wall’ in 1979. The album was a tremendous hit and the first ever to generate four U.S. top 10 hits. It peaked at the number three on the Billboard 200 and eventually sold over 20 million copies worldwide.
The desire to make a bigger impact than what ‘Off the Wall’ made, led to the 1982 release of the album ‘Thriller’. A grand blockbuster, the album broke all records to become the best-selling album of all time worldwide. It topped the Billboard 200 chart for 37 weeks and was in the top 10 of 200 for 80 weeks at a stretch. The album sold 65 million copies and achieved a Double Diamond status in the US.
In 1983, he reunited with his brothers for a live performance. It was there that he showed his signature dance style, the moonwalk, which became an epic. Magic was created on stage as he sung the chartbuster ‘Billie Jean’ whilst performing the moonwalk.
In 1985, along with Lionel Riche, he co-wrote ‘We Are the World’, originally a charity single which became the best-selling singles of all time, selling about 30 million copies.
A follow-up to ‘Thriller’ came in 1987 when he released the album, ‘Bad’. Though the album was unable to replicate the runaway success of ‘Thriller’, it nevertheless was a convincing chartbuster. Seven of its singles peaked at No 1 position on the Billboard Hot 100. The album sold about 45 million copies worldwide.
In 1988, the exemplary pop star released his autobiography titled Moonwalk. The book duplicated the success of his music albums by selling about 200, 000 copies and making it to the New York Times best-seller list.
By now, he had achieved an iconic status. Right from his music albums to his autobiography to his cosmetic surgeries, everything made big news. One such news was his buying a 2,700-acre property, which he named Neverland, near Santa Ynez California
Year 1991 witnessed the release of his eighth album, ‘Dangerous’. Much like its predecessors, ‘Dangerous’ became the best-selling album of the year worldwide, with its singles, ‘Black or White’, ‘Remember the Time’ and ‘Heal the World’ topping the charts
He founded the ‘Heal the World’ foundation in 1992, and the same year, he released his second literary offering, ‘Dancing the Dream’, which gained commercial success but lacked critical acclaim.
In 1993, he performed at several significant events, including Super Bowl XXVII. The same year, he was charged of molestation but since there were no proofs to support the allegation, the charges were withdrawn.
He came up with the album, HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I in 1995. Barring the single, ‘Scream’, which he sung with sister, Janet Jackson, the album received lukewarm response.
In October 2001, he released the album, Invincible. This was his last full-length album. Though the album gained decent success, it was his eccentric and disoriented behaviour that caught the headlines.
His eight albums have made whooping sales of 1 billion units worldwide and earned him $750 million in his lifetime, with five of his albums gaining world’s best-selling records. ‘Thriller’ has been the biggest selling album with reported sales of 65 million units.
Awards & Achievements
He received numerous awards including 31 Guinness World Records, 13 Grammy Awards, Grammy Legend Award and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, 26 American Music Awards and 18 World Music Awards.
He was inducted in the Hollywood Hall of Fame, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Songwriters hall of Fame and Dance Hall of Fame.
Family, Personal Life & Legacy
He married twice in his lifetime. His first marriage was with Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of Elvis Presley, in 1994, but this union did not last long and the two divorced in 1996.
He married his long-time friend Deborah Jeanne Rowe, a dermatology nurse, in 1997. The couple was blessed with two children, Michael Joseph Jackson Jr and Paris-Michael Katherine Jackson. The two separated in 1999. He had a third child, Prince Michael Jackson II, from a surrogate mother through artificial insemination.
The King of Pop passed away unexpectedly following a cardiac arrest on June 25, 2009. His sudden and tragic death raised a global outburst of grief as millions mourned his death.
A televised memorial was held on July 7, 2009, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. While 17,500 free tickets were issued to fans via lottery, an estimated 1 billion viewers watched the memorial on TV or online.
Memorials were constructed and statues were unveiled all over the globe in the aftermath of his death. The Lunar Republic Society renamed a crater on the moon Michael Joseph Jackson in his honor.
1. “In a world filled with hate, we must still dare to hope. In a world filled with anger, we must still dare to comfort. In a world filled with despair, we must still dare to dream. And in a world filled with distrust, we must still dare to believe.”
2. “If you enter this world knowing you are loved and you leave this world knowing the same, then everything that happens in between can be dealt with.”
3. “We have to heal our wounded world. The chaos, despair, and senseless destruction we see today are a result of the alienation that people feel from each other and their environment.”
4. “To live is to be musical, starting with the blood dancing in your veins. Everything living has a rhythm. Do you feel your music?”
5. “People ask me how I make music. I tell them I just step into it. It's like stepping into a river and joining the flow. Every moment in the river has its song.”
6. “Sometimes the heart is so heavy that we turn away from it and forget that its throbbing is the wisest message of life, a wordless message that says, "Live, be, move, rejoice -- you are alive!" Without the heart's wise rhythm, we could not exist.”
7. “When children listen to music, they don't just listen. They melt into the melody and flow with the rhythm. Something inside starts to unfold its wings - soon the child and the music are one.”
8. “When I step out on stage in front of thousands of people, I don't feel that I'm being brave. It can take much more courage to express true feelings to one person. In spite of the risks, the courage to be honest and intimate opens the way to self-discovery. It offers what we all want, the promise of love. ”
9. “I love to read. I wish I could advise more people to read. There’s a whole new world in books. If you can’t afford to travel, you travel mentally through reading. You can see anything and go any place you want to in reading.”
10. “But for me the sweetest contact with God has no form. I close my eyes, look within, and enter a deep soft silence. The infinity of God's creation embraces me.”
11. “And that's what innocence is. It's simple and trusting like a child, not judgmental and committed to one narrow point of view. If you are locked into a pattern of thinking and responding, your creativity gets blocked. You miss the freshness and magic of the moment. Learn to be innocent again, and that freshness never fades.”
12. “I'm going to search for my star until I find it. It's hidden in the drawer of innocence, wrapped in a scarf of wonder.”
13. “Please go for your dreams. Whatever your ideals, you can become whatever you want to become.”
14. “Each song is a child I nourish and give my love to. But even if you have never written a song, your life is a song. How can it not be?”
15. “But I will never stop helping and loving people the way Jesus said to.”