Michael Jackson obituary
The death of Michael Jackson has seen the passing of one of pop music's most successful and controversial performers. Hailed as "The King Of Pop", Jackson has also been named as the first great star of the "MTV generation".
Born in Gary, Indiana on August 29, 1958, Michael Joseph Jackson was the seventh of nine children. Their father, Joe, was keen to see his children move into show business and when Michael first showed his incredible ability for singing and dancing at age five, he forced him into a constant and brutal regime of rehearsals. The emotional and physical abuse may have honed Michael's talent, but it left deep scars that would plague him for the rest of his life.
Aged eight, Michael joined the band formed by his brothers Jackson and Marlon, later taking over the lead vocals with Jermaine to form the all-new Jackson 5. Signing to the world-famous Motown label, Michael's talent quickly became the focus for the group, with public and critics alike marvelling at the pre-teen prodigy.
The Jackson 5 hit the Billboard number one with four singles in a row - 'I Want You Back', 'ABC', 'The Love You Save' and 'I'll Be There', with Michael's popularity earning him a solo career at the age of 14. He had enormous hits with 'Ben', 'Rockin' Robin' and 'Got To Be There', but as the 1970s rolled on, the hits started to dry up for The Jackson 5 and the group left Motown in 1975.
Signing to Epic a year later, the band was now renamed The Jacksons for legal reasons, and with Michael on songwriting duties, scored some monster disco-era hits such as 'Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground)' and 'Can You Feel It'. But the time was right for Michael to move onto a proper solo career as an adult.
1979's 'Off The Wall' album was the first of Jackson's multi-million sellers, spawning the hits 'Rock With You' and 'Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough'. But Michael was unhappy with the finished product and vowed to producer Quincy Jones that the next album would be bigger.
He wasn't wrong. 'Thriller' arrived in 1982 and went on to be the biggest-selling record of all time, notching up over 109 million copies sold around the world... The album changed the record industry in so many ways, including setting the standard for videos, particularly the zombie-filled title track that was so expensive, Channel 4 in the UK broadcast it as a stand-alone programme.
Michael Jackson was now a superstar - his appearance on the 'Motown 25' celebratory TV show stunned viewers as the King of Pop unveiled his signature dance move, the Moonwalk. However, there was darkness behind the scenes... an injury to his nose in 1979 had kicked off a series of plastic surgery operations, while an accident on set during the shooting of a Pepsi commercial in 1984 caused severe burns to Michael's scalp.
The follow-up album, 'Bad' didn't sell as many copies as 'Thriller', but it was still a huge hit, with the singles 'Man In The Mirror', 'The Way You Make Me Feel' and the title track all smashing the charts, thanks to a series of impressive videos. Michael took the video idea to the limit with the 1988 film 'Moonwalker', that wasn't a critical success, but was box office gold.
Michael enjoyed hits into the 1990s and the new century, with albums such as 'Dangerous', 'HIStory' and 'Invincible', but his musical achievements were overshadowed by speculation about his private life. Strange stories such as "Michael sleeps in an oxygen chamber' and 'Michael has bought the Elephant Man's bones' soon headed into darker territory. There were continual rumours about further plastic surgey and even accusations (thoroughly denied) that he was "bleaching" his skin to make it whiter.
Marriages to Elvis Presley's daughter Lisa Marie and nurse Debbie Rowe were the subject of much tabloid gossip and the child abuse allegations that plagued Michael towards the end of his life increasingly intruded on his career. In 2009, Michael was due to make a comeback to live performance with 50 dates at London's O2, but there was increasing concern over his health and ability to perform.
His death on June 25 2009, aged 50 leaves an enormous legacy, including 13 Grammy awards and 13 number one singles. He leaves three children.