Musician, Entertainer. He was called the "King of Pop," and is best remembered for his singing as a boy with The Jackson Five and then, later, for videos such as "Thriller" (1982), and "Dangerous" (1991), as well as two Guinness World Records: Most successful entertainer of all time (with 13 Grammy Awards, 13 Number One single hits in a solo career, and sales of over 750 million in albums worldwide), and for having the biggest-selling album of all time ("Thriller"). He is also remembered for his trademark single sequined white glove, and for The Moonwalk. Born Michael Joseph Jackson in Gary, Indiana, he was the seventh of nine children to Joseph Walter "Joe" Jackson and Katherine Esther Scruse Jackson, a working-class family. His father was a steel mill worker who also played guitar in a rhythm and blues band, "The Falcons." Jackson showed his musical abilities early, performing in front of his kindergarten classmates at the age of 5, and later joining his four brothers in a singing group, The Jackson Brothers, which was changed to the Jackson 5 when Michael was eight. In 1968, the group signed with Motown Records, their initial break into the recording industry. Michael was recognized as a singing prodigy. Their first four records set a Motown record when all four hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100. By the early 1970s, the group was one of the most successful pop/soul groups in history. In June 1975, the Jackson 5 signed with CBS Records, and became known as "The Jacksons." Berry Gordy, the head of Motown Records, would not let them keep their name. The brothers wanted more creative freedom, as in writing their own music. Michael became the principal songwriter of the group. In 1978, he broke into film, playing the Scarecrow in "The Wiz," but had better luck with his music videos, which evolved from just a video recording of his singing to a short musical story of intense drama. He called them "short films" instead of videos because they had a beginning, a middle, and an end. He was the first black performer to have such a short film, "Thriller" play on MTV, breaking the race barrier at that network. In 1979, he left his brothers to go solo, as he had become more popular than any of them, and he had his own creative vision. During the 1980s, his record sales consistently hit number one, to be topped by the best-selling album of all time, "Thriller" (1982). In a 1988 autobiography, "Moon Walk," he dealt with his father's abuse during his childhood. In 1993, he said in an interview with Oprah Winfrey that he suffered from vitiligo, a rare disease that depigments the skin, turning it white, which his autopsy confirmed, though he also had plastic surgery. He also suffered from Discoid Lupus. In the 1990s, Jackson purchased The Sycamore Valley Ranch, re-naming it "Neverland," as his home. He built it not only for himself to enjoy, but for inner-city, disabled, and other children so that they could have a day and sometimes a night of fun. He invited select fans into his home. Jackson was accused of child sexual abuse in 1993 and settled out of court, paying his accuser 22 million dollars. He stipulated that the settlement would include his denial of all charges. Similar accusations were later made, though he was never convicted. In 2019, the documentary "Leaving Neverland" featured the stories of two men, who'd earlier denied being molested by Jackson as young boys, giving detailed accounts of grooming and predatory behavior by the star. He was married twice, first to Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of Elvis, in 1994, but the marriage ended in less than a year. He then married Debbie Rowe in 1996. They had two children, a daughter, Paris Michael Katherine, and a son, Michael Joseph Jackson, Jr. nicknamed "Prince." This marriage ended in 1999. During this period, Jackson became addicted to painkillers. In 1997, he dedicated his album, "HIStory," to Elton John; it sold over 6 million copies worldwide. Jackson fathered a third child in 2002, a son named Prince Michael Jackson II who he nicknamed "Blanket." To date, the name of the mother, who was a surrogate, has not been revealed. In 2003, Jackson was again accused of child molestation, but was acquitted. He was very active in a number of charities, and donated upwards of $300 million to various organizations. For much of his 50 years, Jackson experienced severe stress, beginning with his father's alleged mental and physical abuse and his own early fame. His final project was the "This is It" tour, consisting of fifty planned shows at the O2 Arena in London. The tour was just weeks from starting at the time of his death. He had hoped it would put him back on financially solid ground. On June 25, 2009, Jackson was found unconscious at his home. His doctor did not immediately call for help, and by the time the EMTs arrived, he was already dead. It was first reported that he had suffered a heart attack. On July 7, 2009, the Jackson family held a private service for him at Forest Lawn Memorial Park near L.A., followed by a memorial service at the Staples Center. Michael Jackson was inducted twice into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in 1997 as a member of the Jackson 5, and in 2001, as a solo artist. In 2002, he was inducted into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame. He also received numerous awards for his contributions to pop music. On August 28, 2009, the Los Angeles County Coroner officially ruled the cause of death as homicide due to acute intoxication from the drug Propofol. In November 2011, Dr. Conrad Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to four years in prison, plus restitution to the Jackson estate.
Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson