Michael Jackson enjoyed a chart-topping career both with the Jackson 5 and as a solo artist. He released the best-selling album in history, 'Thriller,' in 1982.
Known as the "King of Pop," Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 to June 25, 2009) was a best-selling American singer, songwriter and dancer. As a child, Jackson became the lead singer of his family's popular Motown group, the Jackson 5. He went on to a solo career of astonishing worldwide success, delivering No. 1 hits from the albums Off the Wall, Thriller and Bad. In his later years, Jackson was dogged by allegations of child molestation. He died of a drug overdose just before launching a comeback tour in 2009.
At the age of 13, Jackson launched a solo career in addition to his work with the Jackson 5, making the charts in 1971 with "Got to Be There," from the album of the same name.
Jackson’s 1972 album, Ben, featured the eponymous ballad about a rat. The song became Jackson's first solo No. 1 single.
Michael's third solo album, Music and Me was his least successful.
'Forever, Michael' (1975)
This fourth solo album for Michael was his last with Motown records.
An infectious blend of pop and funk, Michael wowed the music world with 1979’s Off the Wall, which featured the Grammy Award-winning single "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough," along with such hits as "Rock with You," "She's Out of My Life" and the title track.
Released in 1982, Michael Jackson’s sixth solo album Thriller is the best-selling album in history, generating seven Top 10 hits. The album stayed on the charts for 80 weeks, holding the No. 1 spot for 37 weeks. In addition to its unparalleled commercial achievements, Thriller garnered 12 Grammy Award nominations and notched eight wins, both records. Jackson's victories showcased the diverse nature of his work. For his songwriting talents, he earned a Grammy (best rhythm and blues song) for "Billie Jean." He also was honored for the singles "Thriller" (best pop vocal performance, male) and "Beat It" (best rock vocal performance, male). With co-producer Quincy Jones, Jackson shared the award for album of the year.
For this album, Jackson teamed up with rock legend Paul McCartney for their 1982 duet, "The Girl Is Mine," which nearly reached the top of the pop charts. His most elaborate music video was for the album's title track. John Landis directed the horror-tinged video, which featured complex dance scenes, special effects and a voice-over by actor Vincent Price. The "Thriller" video was an immense success, boosting sales for the already successful record.
In 1985, Jackson showed his altruistic side by co-writing "We Are the World," a charity single for USA for Africa. A veritable who's who of music stars participated in the project, including Lionel Richie, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Bruce Springsteen and Tina Turner.
Michael Jackson’s album Bad (1987), released as a follow-up to Thriller, reached the top of the charts, with a record five No. 1 hits, including "Man in the Mirror," "The Way You Make Me Feel" and the title track, which was supported by a video directed by Martin Scorsese. Jackson spent more than a year on the road, playing concerts to promote the album. While highly successful, Bad was unable to duplicate the phenomenal sales of Thriller.
In 1991, Jackson released Dangerous, featuring the hit "Black or White." The video for this song, directed by Landis, included an appearance by child star Macaulay Culkin. In the video's final minutes, Jackson caused some controversy with his sexual gesturing and violent actions. Many were surprised to see the Peter Pan-like Jackson act in this manner. Jackson's music continued to enjoy widespread popularity in the following years. In 1993, he performed at several important events, including the halftime show of Superbowl XXVII.
Jackson's musical career began to decline with the lukewarm reception to 1995's HIStory: Past, Present, and Future, Book I, which featured some of his earlier hits as well as new material. The record spawned two hits, "You Are Not Alone" and his duet with sister Janet Jackson, "Scream." The spaceship-themed video for "Scream," which cost a record-setting $7 million to produce, earned a Grammy Award for its slick effects. However, another track from the album, "They Don't Care About Us," brought Jackson intense criticism for using an anti-Semitic term.
Jackson returned to the studio to put together Invincible (2001), his first full album of new material in a decade.
In December 2010, the posthumous album Michael was released amid controversy about whether the singer actually performed some of the tracks. Brother Randy was among those who questioned the authenticity of the recordings, but the Jackson estate later refuted the claims, according to The New York Times.
Another posthumous album, Xscape, was released in May 2014. R&B star and Jackson protege Usher performed its first single, "Love Never Felt So Good," that month at the iHeartRadio Music Awards. The album, which includes eight songs recorded by Jackson between 1983 and 1999, debuted at No. 2 on Billboard's Top 200 Album chart.