Michael Joseph Jackson was born as the seventh of nine children of Katherine Esther and Joseph Walter Jackson in Gary, Indiana (USA) on August 29, 1958.
When Michael was only five years old his father Joseph Jackson, a steel mill worker, founded the Jackson Five with Michael as lead singer and his four older brothers Jackie, Jermaine, Marlon, and Tito. Despite his young age, little Michael showed incredible talent, charisma and a great voice. At first the group sang at small talent contests and bars but after being signed to the famous Motown label in 1969, the Jackson 5 had 4 consecutive #1 hits in the US: 'I Want You Back', 'ABC', 'The Love You Save,' and 'I'll Be There'. They became one of the most popular singing stars of the 70s. While at Motown, Michael also recorded several solo albums with solo singles that topped the charts ('Got To Be There', 'Ben').
The Jackson 5 left Motown in 1976 and signed with Epic Records. Since Motown owned the rights to their group name, they renamed themselves The Jacksons and focused on writing and producing their own material. They subsequently released several albums, such as 'Destiny' (1978) and 'Triumph' (1980).
In 1978, Michael Jackson starred as the Scarecrow in his first feature film 'The Wiz', with Diana Ross as Dorothy. It was here that he met producer Quincy Jones.
Michael Jackson collaborated with Quincy Jones on his next solo album 'Off The Wall' (1979). The album received very positive critical reviews and sold more than 15 million copies worldwide. Jackson was the first artist to have four Top 10 hits from one album, including two #1 hits: 'Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough' and 'Rock With You'.
The two teamed up again for the 'Thriller' album in 1982. It became the best-selling album of all time (with over 50 million copies sold worldwide), and remained at # 1 on Billboard pop album chart for a record of 37 weeks. The singles off the 'Thriller' album were accompanied by innovative short films that made Jackson a pioneer in the production of the new genre of music videos, popularized by the newly launched MTV Channel. In fact, Michael Jackson broke a barrier when 'Billie Jean' became the first video by a black artist to be shown on MTV. Both music and videos were praised by critics, and the album produced a record 7 Top 10 singles, including three #1 hits ('Thriller', 'Billie Jean', and 'Beat It'). During this time, he also narrated the Story Book record to the Steven Spielberg movie 'E.T. - the Extra-Terrestrial'. Jackson won 8 Grammy awards in one year (7 for Thriller and 1 for his E.T. narration) - a record that hasn't been broken since. Unforgettable is also Michael Jackson's unique 'Billie Jean' live performance at the "Motown 25" show, where he presented his famous Moonwalk for the first time.
In 1985, Michael Jackson, along with Lionel Richie, composed the song 'We Are The World' for the charitable organization 'USA For Africa'. The song was recorded and produced with numerous artists lending their voices. The song eventually raised millions of dollars used to fight famine in Africa, and has won numerous awards, including Grammys.
The 'Bad' album followed in 1987, producing another record of 5 consecutive #1 singles. The album was accompanied by Michael Jackson's first major solo world tour, which included the most successful concert series ever by selling out the Wembley Stadium (London) for seven nights (504,000 people), and played to sellout crowds around at each stop. During this time, Jackson published a long awaited autobiography ("Moonwalk", 1988) and made a full length film titled "Moonwalker" starring him in the title role and co-starring Joe Pesci and Sean Lennon (son of John Lennon). He also became the highest paid commercial spokesperson ever, after signing a contract with Pepsi Cola that reportedly paid him US$12 million for 4 TV commercials.
In 1988, Michael Jackson purchased the Neverland Valley Ranch in California. Eventually, he transformed Neverland according to his dream, and it now houses an amusement park, a full size movie theatre, and a zoo. Michael opens the doors to Neverland, as he often invites terminally ill children to come and enjoy themselves.
In the early 90s, Jackson signed the largest recording contract ever with Sony Music. He also established his own music label MJJ Music in the following years.
His next album was entitled 'Dangerous' (1991, 'Remember The Time', 'Heal The World') and the release started with the very much talked about premiere of the 'Black Or White' video. The album also contained the song 'Will You Be There', which became the theme song of the blockbuster movie 'Free Willy'.
The "Heal The World Foundation" (HTW) was founded by Michael Jackson in 1992 as a charitable organization to aid children and the environment. He later donated all his proceeds from the Dangerous world tour to HTW. That same year Jackson published yet another book entitled 'Dancing The Dream', containing poems and writings about topics that were most important to him - music, dance, animals, and children.
On May 26, 1994 Michael Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of Elvis Presley, in the Dominican Republic but they divorced two years later (January 1996).
'HIStory : Past, Present and Future Book I', a double album with re-mastered old songs and new hits ('They Don't Care About Us'), was released in June 1995. The first single 'Scream' was a duet with his sister Janet and both starred in an award winning innovative and futuristic video which is the most expensive video of all time with a $7 million price tag. The 2-CD set 'HIStory' sold more than 15 million copies worldwide and was accompanied by Jackson's third world tour which was attended by more than 4.5 million people.
On November 14, 1996 Michael Jackson married Deborah Rowe, whom he had known for 15 years as the assistant to his dermatologist, and the two have two children: Prince Michael Junior and Paris Michael Katherine. After nearly 3 years of marriage they filed for divorce in October 1999 but released a statement saying that they will remain friends.
'The Essential Michael Jackson' (2005) is an album which journeys through the career and musical genius of Michael Jackson from his early recordings with the Jackson 5 to recent musical works.
On February 11, 2008, Jackson issued Thriller 25, a 25th anniversary edition of Thriller. The album consists of two discs; disc one contains the original nine tracks from Thriller, five remixed Thriller tracks, a song originally recorded in the Thriller era called "For All Time", and included renditions by will.i.am, Fergie, Kanye West, and Akon. Disc two is a DVD which contains the three music videos from "Thriller" and Jackson's performance of "Billie Jean" at Motown 25. Two singles "The Girl Is Mine 2008" and "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' 2008" were released to moderate success.
Thriller 25 was a commercial success, having done particularly well as a re-issue, peaking at number one in eight countries and Europe. It reached number two in the United States, number three in the United Kingdom, and Top 10 on over thirty national charts. In the United States, Thriller 25 was just 14,000 copies short of reaching the number one position selling 166,000 copies. It was ineligible for the Billboard 200 chart as a re-release, but entered the Pop Catalog Charts at number one, where it stayed for ten non-consecutive weeks and had the best sales on that chart since December 1996. In 12 weeks the album had sold 556,000 copies in the United States. It sold 3 million copies worldwide after 12 weeks.