Michael Joseph Jackson was born in 1958 in Gary, Indiana. As the seventh child in the Jackson family, Michael endured a great deal of abuse as a child. His father, Joseph would demand constant music rehearsals from the children and would whip Michael. The abuse he experienced was kept quiet for quite some time, but in 1993, Michael Jackson confessed about the abuse in an interview with Oprah.
Before Michael pursued his solo career, he worked extensively as a young child with his brothers. In 1964, Michael and Marlon Jackson joined their brothers in a group called the Jackson Brothers. Originally, Michael only contributed by playing instruments and backup vocals, but by eight, he had assumed a role as lead vocalist alongside his brother Jermaine Jackson.
In 1968, the guys got their chance and were signed to Motown Records. Around the same time, Michael Jackson was considered a musical prodigy by Rolling Stone magazine. The Jackson 5 quickly climbed to success as their first four singles "I Want You Back," "ABC," "The Love You Save," and "I'll Be There" all topped the Billboard Hot 100, a chart record. The group continued to perform under Motown until 1975, when the group left due to frustrations with Motown's refusal to give the group any creative control. During this time, Michael Jackson recorded several solo tracks released under the group moniker, including "Got to Be There," "Rockin Robin," and "Ben."
The group then signed with CBS Records, joining the Philadelphia International Records division and then Epic Records. Michael began playing a lead role in the group creatively, writing many of the group's tracks. Under these new labels, the group went on to release six more albums between 1976 and 1984.
During this time, Michael Jackson developed a crucial relationship with Quincy Jones. Jones arranged the music to the musical The Wiz, in which Michael Jackson played the Scarecrow in 1978. With this relationship, Quincy Jones produced Michael Jackson's debut album, Off the Wall alongside Michael. The album was an immediate hit, being the first album to score four top 10 hits. Two of its singles "Don't Stop Til You Get Enough," and "Rock With You" topped the Hot 100 charts. Other singles "Off the Wall," and "She's Out of My Life" reached #10 on the Hot 100. The album went on to sell fifteen million copies.
While Jackson's debut did well, he went above and beyond with his sophomore effort Thriller in 1982. The album shook the world, standing at the top of the charts for 37 weeks, and 80 in the top 10. The album had seven Hot 100 top 10 singles, and sold 27 million copies in the US. Amongst its singles, "Billie Jean" and "Beat It" both topped the Hot 100 while "Thriller," "The Girl Is Mine," and "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin" all were top 5 hits on the Hot 100. The album's other two singles, "Human Nature," and "P.Y.T" were both top ten hits, reaching #7 and #10 respectively. Following the release of the album in 1983, Michael Jackson debuted his signature dance move, the moonwalk, on television during Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever.
Throughout this time, Michael Jackson was very active with charities, donating tremendous amounts of money to a variety of charities. When he suffered severe burns during a Pepsi commercial and received $1.5 million in compensation, the money was donated to charity to help develop technology to aid burn victims. Likewise, when he earned five million dollars for a 1984 tour, he donated the entire thing to charity. This act of charity continued throughout, with him co-writing the song "We Are the World," which sold 20 million copies and went to aid people in Africa.
Around the same time in 1985, Michael Jackson made a tremendous acquisition, buying Northern Songs, a music catalog that included The Beatles back catalog. The purchase cost him $47.5 million. Ironically, the idea to purchase the catalog was inspired by Paul McCartney who told Jackson that he made millions of dollars from music catalogs.
In 1986, Jackson began a troubling relationship with the tabloids. Strangely enough, this relationship was provoked by Michael Jackson, who submitted a story in 1986 to the tabloids in which he was pictured lying down in a glass box. The tabloids depicted Jackson as sleeping in an oxygen chamber to slow the aging process, something Jackson sought to depict in order to promote his sci-fi movie, Captain EO.
Jackson's interesting relationship with the press continued as he bought a pet chimpanzee Bubbles which he developed a friendship with. He then reported (falsely) to the tabloids that he bought the bones of The Elephant Man, earning him the moniker "Wacko Jacko." By this time, Michael began to realize his mistake in submitting these falsehoods to the tabloids but it was too late and the tabloids never would leave Michael Jackson alone.
As the 1980s went on, Michael also began to experience tabloid coverage as his skin began to pale. He was diagnosed with vitiligo and lupus, which made him sensitive to sunlight and caused his skin to pale. The treatment of these illnesses caused his skin to bleach further.
Despite the beginning of negative tabloid press, Michael Jackson released his album Bad in 1987 to strong success. The album scored seven hit singles, with five topping the Hot 100. These 5 #1 hits were "I Just Can't Stop Loving You," "Bad," "The Way You Make Me Feel," "Man in the Mirror," and "Dirty Diana." The album's other singles, "Another Part of Me," and "Smooth Criminal," reached #11 and #7 respectively. In the United States, the album sold eight million copies. Even more impressive, the album's tour, The Bad World tour, set records with 14 sellouts and 570,000 attendees in Japan alone. He broke a Guinness World Record when 504,000 people attended seven sold out shows at Wembley Stadium. In total, 4.4 million people attended the shows, and Jackson continued his charitable acts by inviting underprivileged children to watch for free and by donating to hospitals.
It was around this time that Michael Jackson acquired his well-known Neverland Ranch. In 1988, Jackson purchased the property in Santa Ynez, California. The 2,700 acres of property cost $17 million and would include Ferris wheels, a menagerie, a movie theater and security.
Michael Jackson's next album, Dangerous was released in 1991, after a $65 million deal with Sony. The album sold 7 million copies in the US and 27 million copies worldwide. Its biggest single was the #1 hit "Black or White," and its other top singles "Remember the Time," and "In the Closet" reached #3 and #6 respectively. The album's tour had similar success to Bad World Tour, with 3.5 million people attending 67 concerts. Similar to Bad's tour, all profits from the tour were donated to help underprivileged children.
It was during this time, in 1993, that Michael Jackson performed in Super Bowl XXVII. The performance was tremendous with fireworks and Jackson in a statue stance. The performance captivated audiences and was the first Super Bowl in which the audience actually grew during half time.
In 1993, Michael Jackson's bout with the tabloids and a negative public image returned with sexual abuse charges. The case started when a 13-year-old boy named Jordan Chandler and his father Evan Chandler accused Jackson of committing sexual acts on the child. A lengthy court case arose with Jackson being forced into a 25-minute strip search and tabloids erupting with claims of Jackson being a pedophile. The event created a tremendous amount of stress on Jackson, causing him to become addicted to several painkillers and to stop eating. Finally, on January 1, 1994, the case was resolved out of court for $22 million but its implications would haunt Jackson forever.
During 1993, Michael Jackson married the daughter of Elvis Presley, Lisa Marie Presley. The marriage was sprung off of a crucial friendship role that Lisa Marie played during Michael Jackson's struggles with the child molestation charges. The two spoke every day over the phone and Lisa Marie Presley served as Michael Jackson's confidant. In the fall, Michael proposed over the phone and the two married in 1994. While they divorced two years later, they remained friendly.
In 1995, Jackson returned with a double album, HIStory: Past, Present, and Future Book 1. The album featured one disk of greatest hits and a second disc of original tracks which included #1 hit "You Are Not Alone." It went on to become the best selling multiple-disc album, selling 18 million copies worldwide and seven million in the US. The album's tour, HIStory World Tour started on September 7, 1996 and was Jackson's final tour, attracting 4.5 million fans in 82 concerts across 5 continents and 35 countries.
During the tour, Jackson married Deborah Jeanne Rowe, with whom he had a son, Michael Joseph Jackson, Jr and a daughter, Paris Michael Katherine Jackson. The two had a long relationship prior to the marriage, having met in the 1980s with Rowe treating Michael's illness and building a strong friendship with him. While the couple divorced in 1999, Michael was given full custody of the kids and the two remained good friends.
As Michael Jackson geared up to release his album Invincible in the early 2000s, conflicts arose with Sony. Michael had been waiting for ownership of the masters of his albums to revert back to him when he found out that the lawyer who had negotiated for him in the deal had been in work with Sony and allowed fine print that prevented Michael's gains. Michael had a falling out with Sony and all promotion for his Invincible album was cancelled. Despite the loss of support, the album was released in 2001 and sold 10 million copies worldwide. In the United States, the album went double platinum and had success with the singles "You Rock My World," and "Butterflies."
During 2002, Michael had his third child, a son Prince Michael Jackson II.
Since then, Michael Jackson faced another series of trials in 2003 around a new child, Gavin Arvizo. An investigation by Dr. Stan Katz of Michael Jackson's mental health ruled that Jackson had become a regressed 10-year-old, making his actions not fit the profile of a pedophile.
In addition to the trials, Michael Jackson has suffered significant financial troubles. In 2006, the main house of Neverland Ranch closed and he had delayed payments on a $270 million loan. In 2007, Michael Jackson and Sony bought Famous Music LLC, giving him rights to songs by Eminem, Shakira and others.