Michael Joseph Jackson was born in Gary, Indiana on August 29, 1958, and entertained audiences nearly his entire life. His father, Joe Jackson, had been a guitarist but was forced to give up his musical ambitions following his marriage to Katherine Jackson (née Katherine Esther Scruse). Together, they prodded their growing family’s musical interests at home. By the early 1960s, the older boys Jackie, Tito, and Jermaine had begun performing around the city; by 1964, Michael and Marlon had joined in.
A musical prodigy, Michael’s singing, and dancing talents were amazingly mature, and he soon became the dominant voice and focus of the Jackson 5. An opening act for such soul groups as the O-Jays and James Brown, it was Gladys Knight (not Diana Ross) who officially brought the group to Berry Gordy’s attention, and by 1969, the boys were producing back-to-back chart-busting hits as Motown artists (“I Want You Back,” “ABC,” “Never Can Say Goodbye,” “Got to Be There,” etc.). As a product of the 1970s, the boys emerged as one of the most accomplished black pop/soul vocal groups in music history, successfully evolving from a group like The Temptations to a disco phenomenon.
Solo success for Michael was inevitable, and by the 1980s, he had become infinitely more popular than his brotherly group. Record sales consistently orbited, culminating in the biggest-selling album of all time, “Thriller” in 1982. A TV natural, he ventured rather uneasily into films, such as playing the Scarecrow in The Wiz (1978) but had much better luck with elaborate music videos.
In the 1990s, the downside as a 1980s pop phenomenon began to rear itself. Michael grew terribly child-like and introverted by his peerless celebrity. A rather timorous, androgynous figure, to begin with, his physical appearance began to change drastically, and his behavior grew alarmingly bizarre, making him a consistent target for scandal-making, despite his numerous charitable acts. Two brief marriages — one to Elvis Presley’s daughter Lisa Marie Presley — were forged and two children produced by his second wife during that time, but the purposes behind them appeared image-oriented. Despite it all, Jackson’s passion and artistry as a singer, dancer, writer, and businessman are unparalleled, and it is these prodigious talents that will ultimately prevail over the extremely negative aspects of his seriously troubled adult life.
• Scored four No. 1 hits (“I Want You Back,” “ABC,” “The Love You Save” and “I’ll Be There”) with the Jackson 5 in 1970 when he was 12.
• His first solo No. 1 single was “Ben,” from the movie of the same name, in 1972.
• His Thriller is the best-selling album in history. From its debut in 1982 through 1995, it sold more than a million copies a year.
• Premiered his most famous dance move, the moonwalk, in 1983 on NBC’s Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever.
• In 1985, paid $40 million for the rights of much of the Beatles’ song catalog.
• A 1993 appearance on Oprah Winfrey drew 62 million viewers.
• Was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, along with his brothers, in 1997; was inducted again, as a solo artist, in 2001.
• 1983, Grammy — Best Male R&B Vocal Performance: Winner
• 1995, Grammy — Best Short Form Music Video: Winner
• 1983, Grammy — Best Recording for Children: Winner
• 1983, Emmy — Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program: Nominee
• 1984, People’s Choice Awards — Favorite All-Around Male Entertainer: Winner
• 1989, Grammy — Best Short Form Music Video: Winner
• 1983, Grammy — Best R&B Song: Winner
• 1989, People’s Choice Awards — Favorite Music Video: Winner
• 1984, People’s Choice Awards — Favorite Music Video: Winner
• 1983, Grammy — Producer of the Year, Non-Classical: Winner
• 1985, Grammy — Song of the Year: Winner
• 1984, Grammy — Best Long Form Music Video: Winner
• 1983, Grammy — Record of the Year: Winner
• 1983, Grammy — Best Male Rock Vocal Performance: Winner
• 1979, Grammy — Best Male R&B Vocal Performance: Winner
• 1990, Emmy — Outstanding Achievement in Music and Lyrics: Nominee
• 1983, Grammy — Album of the Year: Winner
• 1983, Grammy — Best Male Pop Vocal Performance: Winner
1 “Just doing as well as you did last time is not good enough.”
2 “Lies run sprints, but the truth runs marathons. The truth will win this marathon in court.”
3 “To give someone a piece of your heart, is worth more than all the wealth in the world.”
4 “A star can never die. It just turns into a smile and melts back into the cosmic music, the dance of life.”
5 “Hope is such a beautiful word, but it often seems very fragile. Life is still being needlessly hurt and destroyed.”
6 “The greatest education in the world is watching the masters at work.”
7 “I’m just like anyone. I cut and I bleed and I embarrass easily.”
8 “This world we live in is the dance of the creator. Dancers come and go in the twinkling of an eye, but the dance lives on.”
9 “You can’t hurt me, I found peace within myself.”
10 “The meaning of life is contained in every single expression of life. It is present in the infinity of forms and phenomena that exist in all of creation.”
11 “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.”