The Jackson 5 and Early Career:
Michael Jackson is one of the most successful and influential pop recording artists of all time. Born in 1958, he began his career as a member of the Jackson 5 recording for Motown with four of his brothers. They hit #1 on the pop singles chart with "I Want You Back" in 1969. It was followed by three more consecutive #1 hits. The group's popularity faded in the mid 1970's, but, after moving to the CBS record label and calling themselves simply the Jacksons, they consistently hit the charts in the late 1970's and early 1980's.
Michael Jackson Becomes an Adult Artist With 'Off the Wall':
Michael Jackson hit #1 on the pop singles chart as a solo artist in 1972 serenading a rat with the title song from the movie Ben. He didn't near the top of the charts again until seven years later with the release of the album Off the Wall in 1979 produced by Quincy Jones. It was simultaneously a last gasp of disco and an R&B classic that ushered in the 80's. The album peaked at #3 on the album chart, sold over seven million copies and included four top 10 pop singles.
In 1982, three years after Off the Wall, Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson collaborated once again and created Thriller, the bestselling album of all time. It was preceded by the single "The Girl Is Mine," a collaboration with Paul McCartney, which reached #2 on the pop singles chart. A month after the album hit stores, the second single "Billie Jean" was unleashed, and the masterpiece that is Thriller began to unfold. Ultimately, 28 million copies sold in the US and seven singles hit the top 10.
It was almost five years after the release of Thriller before Michael Jackson's next album appeared in 1987. Bad was Jackson's third album co-produced by Quincy Jones. The single "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" preceded the album and hit the top of the pop singles chart. Ultimately, Bad became the first and thus far only album to include five #1 pop singles. The album sold over eight million copies in the US.
By 1991, four years after the release of Bad, some critics wondered whether Michael Jackson was still relevant in the pop world. He signed a 15 year 6 album deal with Sony Music, and recorded Dangerous with new jack swing pioneer Teddy Riley and Bill Botrell as producers. The album was another major success selling seven million copies, topping the album chart, generating four top 10 singles and spending over two years on the album chart.
Michael Jackson's Controversies:
Michael Jackson's career and life have had their fair share of controversies. In the mid 1980's he was the subject of widespread tabloid stories including tales of sleeping in an oxygen chamber to slow aging, bleaching his skin, and undergoing multiple rounds of plastic surgery. In the early 1990's Michael Jackson was accused of sexually abusing a child in a case ultimately closed for lack of evidence. In 2005 Jackson was put on trial for allegations of sexual molestation. He was acquitted on all counts.
In 1995 Michael Jackson released his first compilation album HIStory. It was a two-disc set and sold over 3 million copies in the US as well as earning a Grammy Award for Album of the Year. However, an all-new studio album did not appear until 2001. Invincible became the first significant commercial disapppointment for Jackson since the 1970's. It sold only two million copies and did not include any #1 hit singles.
Top Michael Jackson Hits:
- 1979 - "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" (One week at #1)
- 1979 - "Rock With You" (Four weeks at #1)
- 1983 - "Billie Jean" (Seven weeks at #1)
- 1983 - "Beat It!" (Three weeks at #1)
- 1983 - "Say Say Say" with Paul McCartney (Six weeks at #1)
- 1987 - "Bad" (Two weeks at #1)
- 1987 - "The Way You Make Me Feel" (One week at #1)
- 1988 - "Man In the Mirror" (Two weeks at #1)
- 1991 - "Black Or White" (Seven weeks at #1)
- 1995 - "You Are Not Alone" (One week at #1)
More details about each song in Top 10 Michael Jackson Songs.
Top Michael Jackson Videos:
- 1979 - "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough"
- 1983 - "Beat It!"
- 1983 - "Billie Jean"
- 1984 - "Thriller"
- 1987 - "Bad"
- 1991 - "Black Or White"
- 1992 - "Remember the Time"
- 1995 - "Scream" with Janet Jackson
- 1995 - "You Are Not Alone"
- 1996 - "They Don't Care About Us"
More details about the videos, and a complete listing, in the Guide to Michael Jackson Videos.
Michael Jackson's Comeback Efforts:
In 2008 Michael Jackson released Thriller 25, a 25th anniversary re-issue of his bestselling album Thriller that include re-recordings of some of the tracks by top contemporary pop stars including Fergie and Kanye West.
In March 2009 Michael Jackson announced that he would perform a series of concerts in London at the O2 arena over the summer. What was originally announced as 10 shows was later extended to 50 that will be performed into the year 2010.
Michael Jackson died unexpectedly June 25, 2009 at the age of 50. A public memorial service included performances of his songs by a wide range of top recording artists. A feature film built around rehearsal footage from the planned concert tour titled Michael Jackson's This Is It was released in October 2009. A posthumous studio album titled Michael was released in December 2010.