The circumstances surrounding his death may still be unclear, but make no mistake about it, regardless of the things he did in his personal life, Michael Jackson will always be considered one of the most talented recording stars in music history.
Born in the hard knocks town of Gary, Indiana on August 29, 1958, it was apparent at any early age that Jackson was a star- by the age of eight, he and his brothers began touring all over the country as a part of the Jackson 5. It was here that Jackson was referred to as a prodigy in magazines such as Rolling Stone and where he began to establish his star prescence with hits like “ABC,” “I’ll be There,” “I Want You Back” and “The Love You Save.”
In spite of the success the quintet had however, it was apparent that the youngest Jackson was the real star.
Because of that, Jackson was always under tremendous pressure from his father and later admitted during an interview with Oprah Winfrey in 1993 that he was often the victim of physical abuse, which seemed to haunt him the rest of his life.
Nevertheless, Jackson persevered through those difficult adolescent years and continued to grow as a performer.
He stayed with the group for years in spite of releasing four solo albums between 1972 and 1975. Soon after co-starring in “The Wiz,” in 1978 with Dianna Ross, who he maintained a close relationship with for the rest of his life, Jackson released “Off the Wall,” under the tutelage of Quincy Jones. The album went on to sell over 20 million copies worldwide and cemented his role in music history. Over the next 13 years, Jackson released classic album after classic album, including “Thriller,” “Bad” and “Dangerous,” earning himself the title of “King of Pop” in the process.
It was during this time as well that Jackson began experimenting with plastic surgery, breaking his nose while rehearsing in 1979, starting a trend that continued over the rest of life.
His fans didn’t seem to care what he looked like however and his status as a pop culture icon continued to soar. In 1989, he was the title character of his own video game, “Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker,” which was featured on the succesful Sega Genesis video game system. The title was later inducted into Gamespot.com’s “Greatest Games of All-Time List,” on Feb. 20, 2004.
Despite the release of “HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I” in 1995, an album that currently is the best-selling multi-disc release in music history, the next 14 of Jackson’s life were mired in controversy. Dealing with allegations of child molestation and severe health problems, Jackson was in the tabloids more often than anywhere else, helping to exacerbate his “Jacko” persona, one he garnered for doing things such as living with a chimpanzee named Bubbles, to apparently buying the bones of “The Elephant Man,” John Merrick, a story that was later proved to be false.
Nevertheless, in spite of what was hard fact or urban legend about Jackson, it always seemed like it was possible, due to his eccentric personality and child-like demeanor.
On Nov. 20, 2002, Jackson’s behavior continued to shock the world, as he dangled one of his children out of a hotel room window. Many cited the event equally as scary, not only due to the situation the child was in, but for the bizarre look on Jackson’s face while it took place.
Regardless of the incident however, Jackson maintained a hugely loyal fan base. He even planned to perform 50 sold-out concerts to over one million people, at London’s O2 arena, from July 13, 2009 to March 6, 2010, his first significant tour in over a decade.
However, it wasn’t meant to be, as the 50-year-old legend passed away less than two weeks before the tour was supposed to begin on June 25, 2009.
Living a life marked by simultaneous success, fame, wealth, intrigue, obscurity, exile and loss on a scale seemingly unheard of, Jackson will remain an enigma for eternity, as it is impossible to know the truth behind many of the events that occurred over the course of his life.
To millions though, he’ll remain a shining example of remarkable talent and intrigue, an inspiration that will affect the music that is produced on this planet for much longer than the 50 years he inhabited it.
“I’ve been in the entertainment industry since I was 6 years old,” he told the Associated Press in 2008. “As Charles Dickens says, ‘It’s been the best of times, the worst of times.’ But I would not change my career.”