On August 29, 1958, the world witnessed the birth of a new era in pop music. Michael Joseph Jackson was born in Indiana, U.S. to Joe and Katherine Jackson. As the eighth child born into a family of entertainers, Michael started singing at an early age of 5. However, little did the young one know that one day he will be the king of all entertainers.
With a voice that could pierce through mountains and dancing skills that put professional dancers to shame, Jackson was everything that a star wanted to be. Here’s a look back at the successful career of Michael Jackson.
Skip to Content
The Jackson 5
Michael Jackson began his singing career with The Jackson 5, a music group formed by four of his older siblings. Michael was the youngest in the group but his unique voice made him stand out as the lead singer.
Big Hits – “I Want You Back” (1969), “ABC” (1970), “The Love You Save” (1970), “I’ll Be There” (1970) – All number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100
The talent within young Michael was slowly being recognized by a larger audience. The child performer began to emerge as a teen idol. While still associated with his family group, the young artist dropped four solo albums – Got to be there (1972), Ben (1972), Music & Me (1973) and Forever, Michael (1975). The first two of his solo albums became successful singles.
Four years later, Michael Jackson won numerous awards for his hit single, “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” and was named the Billboard Top Black Artist of 1979.
The sixth album of Michael Jackson shattered all records and was a sensational hit. MJ dropped Thriller in late 1982 and it became the best-selling album worldwide in 1983. Till date, an estimated 65 million copies of the album have sold around the world. Seven songs in the album made their way into the Billboard Hot 100 top 10 songs.
Album Name: Thriller
Release Year: 1982
Top Singles: “Billie Jean”, “Beat It” and “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin”
Records: Album of the Year (1983), Best-selling album of all-time in the United States and Best-selling album of all-time Worldwide.
Following the massive success of Thriller, Michael Jackson was a star who arrived with a bang. During a live performance of the album, Michael reunited with his brothers and performed his trademark moonwalk for the very first time.
Record Producer Berry Gordy recounted the experience saying that it was pure magic to see Michael Jackson floating across the stage.
The amazing career of Michael Jackson was only beginning with Thriller. He inked a $5 million promotional deal with PepsiCo in 1983 that broke all advertising industry records.
Michael Jackson who was turning heads with a distinct voice and amazing dance skills was also involved in charity. He toured around the world performing live and raising money for different charities. In 1984, MJ was honoured by President Ronald Reagan with the Presidential Humanitarian Award for raising $3 to $5 million for charities.
In 1985, Michael Jackson released a single “We Are the World” which was aimed at aiding the poor in United States of America and Africa. The song won four Grammy awards and was announced the Song of the Year.
Bad and Dangerous
After being involved in many business deals for over four years, Michael Jackson was ready to drop his first album in five years. The expectations were sky-high and MJ delivered as expected. The singing and dancing sensation gave seven successful singles with his new album.
Album Name: Bad
Release Year: 1987
Top Singles: “Bad”, “Man in the Mirror”, “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”, “The Way You Make Me Feel” and “Dirty Diana”.
Records: Best-selling album worldwide in 1987 & 1988, First album to top lists in 25 countries and First album ever to generate five no.1 singles in U.S.
After the huge success of Bad came MJ’s eighth album, Dangerous which was released in March 1991. The album went on to become a certified seven times platinum in U.S. and sold over 30 million copies worldwide. The first single from the album, “Black or White” was a massive hit and topped Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks in a row.
Album Name: Dangerous
Release Year: 1991
Top Singles: “Black or White”, “Remember the Time” and “Heal the World”.
Records: Best-selling album of the year worldwide
It was during the release of these two albums that Michael Jackson immortalised his military styled golden jacket and white gloves – two of the items which would draw instant references to MJ even after his death.
This was also the time when the anti-gravity bend was demonstrated by Jackson. During a live performance of the single, “Smooth Criminal” from Bad, Michael Jackson showcased yet another one of his trademark moves that instantly evoked a “Whooooww” from the crowd.
However, this was a gimmick that was possible through a special shoe that Jackson patented.
Time to Write HIStory
The pop superstar returned to business after four years with yet another breakthrough album, “HIStory”. It became the best-selling multiple-disc album of all-time with over 20 million copies selling worldwide. The album was a commercial success and received a Grammy nomination for “Best Pop Vocal Performance”.
The track “They Don’t Care About Us” turned out to be controversial with its antisemitic lyrics. MJ was forced to quickly change the offending lyrics and release a second version of the song.
Album Name: HIStory
Release Year: 1995
Top Singles: “Scream/Childhood”, “You Are Not Alone” and “Earth Song”
Records: Grammy Award for Best Music Video and American Music Award for Favourite Pop/Rock Male Artist.
Towards the End
It was during the turn of the century that Jackson began having trouble with Sony which he eventually fixed. Then came the news of beginning a clothing line with famed French fashion designer, Christian Audigier. However, the plan did not materialise as Jackson was found unconscious in his bed on June 25, 2009. Efforts to recover him by his personal physician went in vain. Jackson was pronounced dead when he was rushed to the hospital.
10 Unknown Facts About Michael Jackson
1. Michael Jackson is the most awarded artist ever. He has 23 Guinness World Records, 13 Grammy Awards and 26 American Music Awards.
2. Contrary to the belief that skin bleaching led to the whitening of skin, Michael Jackson in fact, had Vitiligo, a rare skin disease which causes white patches on the skin.
3. He was a big animal lover and had many pets including mice, snakes, tigers, dogs and cats. His favorite however, was his chimpanzee named Bubbles.
4. MJ was planning a comeback to the big stage with a series of 50 shows in London alone. This was before his sudden death in 2009.
5. Michael Jackson along with his sister Janet Jackson holds the record for the most expensive music video. Their music video for “Scream” cost a whopping $7 million to make.
6. While filming for a Pepsi ad, MJ got burns to his face and scalp. This was what led Jackson to experiment with plastic surgery.
7. He has a 2,700-acre property in California which is called the Neverland Ranch. The property has a theme park, a menagerie and a movie theatre.
8. Michael Jackson’s father, Joe Jackson used to scare him when he was young with a monster mask.
9. He played the character of scarecrow in the movie, The Wiz released in 1978.
10. Micheal Jackson’s memorial service was watched by over 2.5 billion viewers worldwide which made it the most watched live television broadcast ever.
Here’s wishing the “King of Pop” a very happy birthday!