Musician, Entertainer. He was called the "King of Pop," and is best remembered for his revolutionary 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 greatest 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 living in an industrial suburb of Chicago. His father was a steel mill employee 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 years old. Michael was soon singing lead to the others playing, and in 1968, the group signed with Motown Records, their initial break into the recording industry. Even then, 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 considered 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, and to be able to write their own music. Michael also became the principal songwriter of the group. In 1978, he attempted to break into film, playing the Scarecrow in "The Wiz" but had better luck with his music videos, to which he changed 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 his short film, "Thriller" to play on MTV, breaking the race barrier there. In 1979, Michael broke away from his brothers to go solo, since he had become more popular than any of his brothers, and had his own creative vision for himself. During the 1980s, his record sales consistently hit number one in the charts, to be topped by his best selling album of all time, Thriller (1982). During this period, Jackson would claim to be suffering from both lupus and vitiligo. In a 1988 autobiography, "Moon Walk," Jackson would speak of facing his father's abuse during his childhood. In 1993, he would, once again, state 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. 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 he often opened it up to inner city and disabled children so that they could have one day of fun. He also invited fans, whom he dearly loved, into into his home as well. Jackson was accused of child sexual abuse in 1993, but settled out of court, paying his accuser 22 million dollars, at the insistence of his lawyers and insurance company. He was told to give the family the money they wanted, and to get on with his life and career. Jackson stipulated that the settlement would include that he denied any and all charges. This decision led to others to seize the opportunity to make similar charges to gain money. He was never convicted of any child abuse charges. He was married twice, first to Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of Rock King Elvis Presley, on May 26, 1994, but the marriage ended in divorce in January 1996. He then married Debbie Rowe on November 15, 1996. They had two children, a daughter Paris Michael Katherine, and a son, Michael Joseph Jackson, Jr. nicknamed "Prince", which was a family name. This marriage also ended in divorce in October 1999, as Rowe couldn't take the constant media attention. During this period, Jackson became addicted to painkillers, and was able to break the habit with the help of his singer friend, Elton John and Elizabeth Taylor. In 1997, Jackson would dedicate his album, HIStory, to Elton John; it would sell over 6 million copies worldwide. Jackson would have a third child in 2002, a son, Prince Michael Jackson II, and nicknamed "Blanket." He now goes by the name "Bigi". 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 found "not guilty" on all charges during a media circus trial that ended in June 2005, due to lack of evidence. Many court watchers believe that he was a victim of being a rich celebrity target for blackmailers, hoping to score a quick multi-million dollar settlement from him. During his lifetime, Jackson has been very active in a number of charities, and has donated upwards of $300 million to various charities; he is considered one of the top celebrity donators. For much of his 50 years of life, Jackson, a sensitive man, was subjected to severe stress, beginning with what he considered his father's mental and physical abuse, his early fame and continuous success in the music world, followed by the hard work to set up the tour "This is It" consisting of fifty shows which were set to be performed, in residence, at the O2 concert hall in London. The tour was just weeks from coming to fruition at the time of his death which he hoped would put him back on financial solid ground. This along with his unsuccessful marriages, the continual hounding of the tabloid press, hurtful jokes of late night television hosts, his addiction to pain killers, and the false allegations of child abuse, all took their toll on him physically, psychologically and emotionally. About noon 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 deceased. He was pronounced dead at the hospital, believed at the time to be from a fatal heart attack. On July 7, 2009, the Jackson family held a private service for him at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, followed by a memorial service at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. 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 has also received numerous awards for his contributions to the world of pop music, and for his numerous best selling albums. On August 28, 2009, the Los Angeles County Coroner officially ruled the cause of death as a homicide, caused by acute intoxication from the drug Propofol and other conditions. In November 2011, Dr. Conrad Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Michael Jackson, and was sentenced to four years imprisonment plus restitution to the Jackson estate.
Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson