Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009) was an American recording artist and entertainer. The seventh child of the Jackson family, he debuted on the professional music scene at the age of 11 as a member of The Jackson 5 and began a solo career in 1971 while still a member of the group. Referred to as the "King of Pop" in subsequent years, his 1982 Thriller is the world's best-selling record of all time and four other solo studio albums are also among the world's best-selling records: Off the Wall (1979), Bad (1987), Dangerous (1991) and HIStory (1995).
In the early 1980s, he became a dominant figure in popular music and the first African-American entertainer to amass a strong crossover following on MTV. The popularity of his music videos airing on MTV, such as "Beat It", "Billie Jean" and Thriller—credited for transforming the music video into an art form and a promotional tool—helped bring the relatively new channel to fame. Videos such as "Black or White" and "Scream" made Jackson an enduring staple on MTV in the 1990s and the channel was changed to MJTV for a month in honor of Jackson being named MTV's Artist Of The Month several years ago, MTV became MJTV again for a few days after Jackson's passing. With stage performances and music videos, Jackson popularized a number of physically complicated dance techniques, such as the robot and the moonwalk. His distinctive musical sound and vocal style influenced many hip hop, pop and contemporary R&B artists.
One of the few artists to have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, his other achievements include multiple Guinness World Records—including one for "Most Successful Entertainer of All Time"—13 Grammy Awards, 13 number one singles in his solo career—more than any other male artist in the Hot 100 era.
Jackson also had a highly publicized personal life that included charity work, his marriage, questions regarding his skin color change and plastic surgery along numerous scandals like the child molestation charges and his label disputes. In 1994, Jackson married Elvis Presley’s only child, Lisa Marie, but the marriage ended in divorce in 1996. Jackson married Debbie Rowe the same year and had two children, before splitting in 1999. The couple never lived together. Jackson has three children named Prince Michael I, Paris Michael and Prince Michael II, known for his brief public appearance when his father held him over the railing of a hotel balcony, causing widespread criticism. All that along with his successful career, made him a part of popular culture for almost four decades.
He died unexpectedly on June 25, 2009, aged 50, of a suspected heart attack or cardiac arrest. The specific cause of death is yet to be determined.
He was a mysterious and tragic individual, whether the stories about him were true or not, the fact remains he was a man of extraordinary talent who left a huge mark on the entire music industry.