Few artists can boast to having influenced not only an entire genre, but an entire culture. Yet Michael Jackson did just that. His style, his songs, even the way he walked, was always a statement, a standout performance that led to him becoming the most awarded music artist in history.
Jackson was always meant to shine on his own – but he didn’t begin his career that way.
One Of The Jackson Five
Jackson was born to a musical, working class African American family in 1958. He soon became a member of his father’s band, the Jackson Brothers, which later morphed into the Jackson Five. The group toured for several years before finally finding critical acclaim with their first hit single, “I Want You Back” in 1970
Young Michael was always a standout in the group, despite being its youngest member. He eventually became the group’s main songwriter, until he decided to purse a solo career.
Making It Solo
In 1979, Jackson released an album called Off the Wall that cemented his new identity as a solo performer in the music industry. It reached number 3 on the US Billboard 200 and featured four hit tracks: “Off the Wall,” “She’s Out of My Life,” “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” and “Rock With You.”
Following the release of Off the Wall, Jackson won three American Music Awards and one Grammy. He was now a famous artist in his own right.
Becoming The King Of Pop
Jackson released his next album in 1982. It was titled Thriller, and it smashed previous album records. It became the best-selling album in US to date, and it was the first album to feature 7 Billboard Hot 100 top 10 singles. From this era, you’ll find popular hits like “Billie Jean,” “Thriller,” “Beat It,” and “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’.”
With Thriller, Jackson came into his element. He also debuted some of his most iconic looks and performances, including the famous rhinestone-covered glove and the moonwalk.
Throughout the early 80s, Jackson’s fame continued to rise. He gained a Pepsi partnership, collaborated with other famous artists like Paul McCartney, and was recognized by President Ronald Reagan for his support of drug and alcohol abuse charities. Jackson was also a generous philanthropist.
Tribulations And Tragedy
Jackson’s fame and fortune was sobered by health complications and scandal. The public were shocked by his changing appearance with plastic surgery on his nose and skin lightening creams, which he used to treat his vitiligo.
In the 90s and again in the 2000s, Jackson was accused of sexually abusing children, but either settled or was acquitted out of both cases. He denied any wrongdoing on his part and maintained that he never committed the crimes of which he was accused.
Meanwhile, Jackson continued to perform and release new music. His final album was This Is It. Less than three weeks before his first show to promote the new album, he died from cardiac arrest in his home in Los Angeles.
Jackson was like no other artist, in his time or any other since. He redefined Pop, more than earning his status as the King of the genre. The sad circumstances and dark days surrounding his final years did not dim the brightness of his star.
You can listen to your favorite Michael Jackson tracks on Retro Radio Australia by requesting them here.