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Michael Joseph Jackson was born on August 29, 1958, the eighth of ten children, in Gary Indiana an industrial suburb of Chicago to mother Katherine Esther Scruse and father Joseph Walter "Joe" Jackson. At the age of six, Michael joined the “Jackson Brothers”, a band consisting of his brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon. He began as a backup musician playing congas and tambourine and later moved up to performing backup vocals and dancing. By the time, he was eight he was sharing lead vocals with brother Jermaine. The band was renamed “The Jackson 5”. “The Jackson 5” toured the Midwest and in 1966 won a local talent show. They also recorded several songs including “Big Boy”. In 1968, the band signed a record deal with Motown Records. Their debut singles, “I Want You Back”, “ABC”, “The Love You Save”, and “I'll Be There” peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Apart from the group albums, Michael also released four solo albums with Motown between 1972 and 1975. The Jackson 5 left Motown in 1975 and signed with Epic Records renaming themselves “The Jacksons”. They continued to tour internationally and released six more albums between 1976 and 1984. Michael was the lead songwriter producing hits such as “Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)”, “This Place Hotel”, and “Can You Feel It”. In 1978, Michael acted as the scarecrow in the musical, “The Wiz”. Even though, a box office disaster the film brought Jackson in contact with Quincy Jones.
Michael then collaborated with Jones to produce the album “Off the Wall”. Michael’s first solo album was released in 1979 and generated four US top 10 hits including the singles “Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough” and “Rock with You”. “Off the Wall” reached number three on the Billboard 200. At this time, his solo efforts began bringing in the awards. In 1980 Jackson won three American Music Awards: Favourite Soul/R&B Album, Favourite Soul/R&B Male Artist, and Favourite Soul/R&B Single for “Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough”, a Billboard Year-End for Top Black Artist and Top Black Album and a Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for the same song. Jackson won another American Music Awards in 1981 for Favourite Soul/R&B Album and Favourite Soul/R&B Male Artist.
In 1982, Jackson contributed the song “Someone In the Dark” to the storybook for the film “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial”. Towards the end of that year Michael released “Thriller” which was first album to have seven Billboard Hot 100 top 10 singles, including “Billie Jean”, “Beat It” and “Wanna Be Startin' Somethin”. The album achieved Double Diamond status in the United States for becoming 1983's best-selling album worldwide and ultimately the best-selling album of all time in the United States, selling an estimated 110 million copies. The album remained on the top of the Billboard 200 chart for 37 weeks and was in the top 10 of the 200 for 80 weeks. The album’s success led him to win seven Grammy Awards and eight American Music Awards one of which the Award of Merit, the youngest artist to win that award.
The album’s success continued and the documentary “The Making of Michael Jackson's Thriller” sold over 350,000 copies in a few months and won the Grammy for Best Music Video, Long form. A year later Jackson joined up with his brothers for a live performance for the “Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever” television special. The show was broadcast to 47 million viewers and best remembered for Jackson's solo performance of “Billie Jean”, where he first used his signature dance move, the moonwalk.
The awards kept pouring in and besides eight Grammy Awards in 1984, he was presented an award from President Ronald Reagan for his support of charities that helped people overcome alcohol and drug abuse. The same year The Jacksons headlined “The Victory Tour” that highlighted much of Jackson's new solo material the proceeds of which were donated to charity. In 1985 he co-wrote the charity single “We Are the World” with Lionel Richie, which was released worldwide to relieve the poor in the US and Africa. In 1986, Jackson alongside Francis Ford Coppola created a 17-minute 3-D film “Captain EO” which was a popular attraction at the Disneyland parks. “Bad” was released in 1987 and although not a hit as “Thriller,” it was still a great success.
From the album came seven hit singles five of which “I Just Can't Stop Loving You”, “Bad”, “The Way You Make Me Feel”, “Man in the Mirror” and “Dirty Diana” reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 setting a record for most number one Hot 100 singles from one album. The album topped the charts in 25 countries and became the best-selling album worldwide in 1987 and in 1988 earning Jackson an Award of Achievement at the American Music Awards in 1989. The “Bad World Tour” lasted five months from September 1988 to January 1989. The tour broke a Guinness World Record when 504,000 people attended seven sold-out shows at Wembley Stadium. The “Bad World Tour” consisted of 123 concerts where Jackson performed for an audience of 4.4 million people. In 1998 “Moonwalk”, Jackson’s autobiography was released selling 200,000 copies. “Moonwalk” topped The New York Times best sellers' list. A film titled “Moonwalker” featuring live footage and short films with Jackson and Joe Pesci was also released and debuted at the top of the Billboard Top Music Video Cassette chart. Jackson was presented with the Soul Train Heritage Award in 1989 and was designated the White House's “Artist of the Decade” by President George H. W. Bush. Jackson’s philanthropic work continued as between 1985 and 1990 he donated $500,000 to the United Negro College Fund, and all of the profits from his single “Man in the Mirror” went to charity.
“Dangerous” his eighth studio album released in 1991. The album's first single “Black or White” peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 where it remained for seven weeks, with similar chart performances worldwide. “Remember the Time” was also successful and spent eight weeks in the top five in the United States. “Heal the World” was a bigger success internationally and sold 450,000 copies in the UK alone. “Dangerous” was awarded 1992's best-selling album worldwide and “Black or White” was awarded 1992's best-selling single worldwide at the Billboard Music Awards, where he also won an award for best-selling artist of the '80s. In1992 Jackson released his second book, “Dancing the Dream” a collection of poetry. In June of that year, the artist set off on “The Dangerous World Tour” during which he performed to 3.5 million people in 67 concerts. In January 1993, Jackson appeared at the halftime show at Super Bowl XXVII, the first half-time show where the audience figures increased. Due to the album’s success Jackson won three American Music Awards for Favorite Pop/Rock Album, Favorite Soul/R&B Single and the first International Artist Award, for global performances and humanitarian concerns. That year he also won the “Living Legend Award” at the 35th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.
Following “Dangerous” the double album “HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I”, a double album, was released. The first disc, “HIStory Begins, was a 15-track greatest hits album while the second, “HIStory Continues”, contained 15 new songs. The album debuted at number one on the charts. The singles produced from the albums were “Scream/Childhood” a duet with Jackson's youngest sister Janet, “You Are Not Alone” which holds the Guinness World Record for the first song ever to debut at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and “Earth Song” which sold a million copies. The album’s promotional tour, “HIStory World Tour” consisted of 82 concerts. “Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix” was released in 1997 and became the best selling remix album ever released. During June 1999 Michael was involved in philanthropic events; he joined Luciano Pavarotti for a benefit concert in Modena, Italy for the nonprofit organization War Child and organized a set of "Michael Jackson & Friends" benefit concerts in Germany and Korea.
In September 2001, two 30th Anniversary concerts were held at Madison Square Garden to celebrate the singer's 30th year as a solo artist. The two shows were presented on a two-hour TV special entitled “Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Celebration: The Solo Years”. After 9/11 Jackson helped organize the “United We Stand: What More Can I Give” benefit concert at RFK Stadium in Washington and performed “What More Can I Give” as the finale. The turn of the century also brought the release of “Invincible” in October 2001, which debuted on the top of the charts in 13 countries and sold approximately 13 million copies worldwide. “Invincible” produced three singles, “You Rock My World”, “Cry” and “Butterflies”. In 2002, Michael Jackson won his 22nd American Music Award for Artist of the Century. The same year “Number Ones” Sony (on CD and DVD) released a compilation of Jackson’s hits. Sony also repackaged 20 singles from the 1980s and 1990s in a box set titled “Michael Jackson: Visionary series”. In November 2006, Jackson performed at the World Music Awards in London and walked away with the Diamond Award for selling over 100 million records. In 2008, Jackson and Sony released “Thriller 25” to mark the 25th anniversary of the original “Thriller”. Before the artists 50th birthday a series of greatest-hits albums called “King of Pop”, which varied slightly from country to country, were released. “King of Pop” reached the top 10 in most countries where it was issued.
Michael Jackson passed away on June 25, 2009 triggering a global outpour of grief. However, Jackson’s impact was such that even after his passing his memory, his achievements and musical legacy continues to live on. He became the best-selling albums artist of 2009 selling over 8.2 million albums in the US and 35 million albums worldwide in the 12 months that followed his death. At the 2009 American Music Awards Jackson won four awards posthumously for a total of 26 American Music Awards. The single “This Is It”, based on an old demo tape with his brothers on backing vocals, was released posthumously and a documentary film about the rehearsals entitled “Michael Jackson's This Is It” was released on October 28, 2009 becoming the highest grossing documentary or concert movie of all time. It brought in more than $260 million worldwide. The film came with a compilation album of the same name, including two versions of the new song. The album also featured original masters of Jackson's hits in the order in which they appear in the movie, together with a bonus disc consisting of previously unreleased versions of more Jackson hits as well as a spoken word poem entitled “Planet Earth”. “Michael” was released by Sony on November 4, 2010 and was promoted with the single “Breaking News”. A game entitled “Michael Jackson: The Experience”, a dancing-and-singing game featuring Michael Jackson, was released by Ubisoft for the 2010 holiday season. Cirque du Soleil launched the “Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour” combining Jackson's iconic musical oeuvre and choreography with the Cirque's signature artistry, dance and aerial displays involving 65 artists. Moreover, in 2011 Jackson's long time friend and billionaire businessman Mohamed Al-Fayed, chairman of Fulham F.C., unveiled a statue of Jackson outside the club's Craven Cottage stadium. Michael Jackson, The King of Pop, will be greatly missed by many, always remembered for his numerous musical achievements but also for his humanitarian efforts.