Once the reigning "King of Pop," Jackson started his career in 1966 as part of the Jackson 5 (along with his older brothers Jackie, Jermaine, Marlon and Tito) recording #1 R&B hits including "ABC" and "I'll Be There."
Jackson transitioned from the Jackson 5 into a wildly successful solo career. His distinctive dance moves such as the "Moonwalk" and his visually arresting music videos made him a perfect fit for the newly created MTV generation. He became a iconic music superstar in the 1980s, with his album Thriller spawning seven Hot 100 singles on the Billboard charts including hits like "Beat It," "Billie Jean," "Thriller," "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)" and "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'." Thriller has a 28 times platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and is considered one of the all-time best-selling albums in the world.
[bxA]Jackson co-wrote and performed on the 1985 charity single "We Are the World," which brought together celebrities and musical performers including co-songwriter Lionel Richie, Quincy Jones, Paul Simon, Kenny Rogers, Bruce Springsteen, Cyndi Lauper, Dan Aykroyd, Bob Geldof and Bette Midler under the U.S.A. for Africa banner to raise funds for famine relief in Africa -- particularly Ethiopia which was suffering from an extreme drought.
In 1987, Jackson released his third solo effort, Bad. The album was another huge hit for the singer with five #1 singles -- "I Just Can't Stop Loving You," "The Way You Make Me Feel," "Man in the Mirror," "Dirty Diana" and the title track. Bad is currently certified 8 times platinum by the RIAA.
Despite his undeniable worldwide success and work on behalf of many charitable organizations, rumors and stories about the singer's many eccentricities, his rapidly changing facial structure and skin color, and his Neverland compound chipped away at his reputation until the British tabloids' nickname for him -- "Wacko Jacko" -- was in the headlines often than his "King of Pop" appellation.
Jackson twice faced charges of sexual abuse of a child. The first case, which took place in the early '90s, was settled out of court and charges were dropped when the teenage boy stopped cooperating with police. Roughly a decade later, a new set of allegations were made centering around a young boy who appeared with Jackson in the documentary Living with Michael Jackson. The singer was acquitted on all counts in May 2005.
Earlier this year, it was announced that Jackson would be returning to the stage in 50 live concerts at London's O2 arena. The This Is It shows were set to begin July 13, 2009 and continue through 2010 and were seen as the start of a potential comeback for the the music icon.
Jackson is survived by his father, mother, siblings including sister Janet, and three children -- Michael Joseph Jackson Jr., age 12; Paris Michael Katherine Jackson, age 11; and Prince Michael Jackson II, age 7.