Today would have been [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Michael Jackson[/lastfm]’s 53rd birthday.
And to honor the King of Pop, Jack FM is digging out our VHS copy of The Wiz.
Now, if we can just find a VCR that works…
The New York Times once wrote, “in the world of pop music, there is Michael Jackson, and there is everybody else.”
With a career that spanned four decades, Michael achieved what many can only dream of. He scored 13 #1 singles as a solo artist and sold an estimated 750 million albums worldwide. He won 26 American Music Awards, 13 Grammys and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice. He played to millions around the world and created some of history’s most iconic music videos. So it came as no surprise when Guinness World Records declared Michael the most successful entertainer of all time.
Michael Jackson got his start at an early age when he joined his brothers’ group as a backup musician. By the time he was eight, he was sharing vocal duties with his older brother, Jermaine. Renaming themselves [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]The Jackson 5[/lastfm], the group extensively toured the Midwest for two years before signing with Motown Records in 1968.
The Jackson 5 made history when their first four singles (“I Want You Back,” “ABC,” “The Love You Save” and “I’ll Be There“) all peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. But it was clear to everyone that Michael was the true star of the group, with Rolling Stone describing him as “a prodigy with overwhelming musical gifts.”
Capitalizing on his growing fame, Michael Jackson released four solo albums between 1972 and 1975 and scored success with the singles “Got to Be There,” “Ben” and “Rockin’ Robin.” In 1978, he starred alongside [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Diana Ross[/lastfm] in The Wiz. Despite being a box-office bomb, one good thing did come out of the film: Michael met producer/composer [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Quincy Jones[/lastfm], who agreed to work on his next album.
In 1979, Michael released Off the Wall, an album infused with R&B, disco, funk and dance pop. Off the Wall was an instant smash, landing at #3 on the Billboard 200 chart and selling 20 million copies worldwide. Four of the album’s singles became Top 10 hits, including “Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough” and “Rock with You.” Ever the perfectionist, Michael felt the album should have made a bigger impact and vowed to exceed all expectations with his next one.
And Michael did just that with 1982’s Thriller. The Grammy-winning album went to #1 and stayed in the top spot for an astonishing 37 weeks. Thriller sold 29 million copies in the U.S. alone and has since gone on to become the best-selling album of all time. Seven songs were released as singles. All seven charted in the Top 10, with “Billie Jean” and “Beat It” going to #1. The accolades continued when the highly-successful and critically-acclaimed “Thriller” video won 3 MTV VMAs in 1984.
In 1987, Michael proved he was indeed the King of Pop with his seventh album, Bad. It debuted at #1 and became the first album to have five singles peak at #1 on Billboard‘s Hot 100: “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You,” “The Way You Make Me Feel,” “Man in the Mirror,” “Dirty Diana” and “Bad,” which is Jack’s Song of the Day.
After wrapping the highly-successful Bad World Tour, Michael Jackson returned to the studio and released Dangerous in 1991. Again, the album debuted at the top of the charts and was an international sensation, selling 32 million across the globe. Dangerous also became Michael’s fastest-selling album ever in the States, moving 7 million units in the first two months. The album spawned the Top 5 hits, “Black or White” and “Remember the Time.”
It was during this time that Michael’s personal life came under major scrutiny. In the summer of 1993, the pop superstar was accused of sexual abuse by a 13-year old boy; the case was ultimately settled out of court. A year later, he married [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Lisa Marie Presley[/lastfm]. Many believed the marriage to be a farce, saying it was a publicity stunt to repair Michael’s damaged reputation. The marriage lasted less than two years.
Michael returned to the music scene with 1995’s HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book 1. The double-album featured old and new material, including “Scream,” a duet with sister Janet. HIStory sold 20 million copies worldwide and peaked at #1 in the U.S., Canada, Australia, France and the U.K.
In October 2001, Michael Jackson released his tenth and final album, Invincible. Although the album went to #1 in several countries, sales were markedly lower than previous Michael albums. This was due in part to a lack of promotion, no supporting worldwide tour and a dispute with the record label.
Following a bizarre and controversial TV interview with British journalist Martin Bashir in 2003, Michael’s star was further tarnished when he was arrested and charged with seven counts of child molestation. He vehemently denied these allegations and, two years later, was acquitted on all counts.
In March 2009, the King of Pop announced a series of comeback concerts. The This Is It Tour was scheduled to begin July 13 at London’s Oz Arena. Sadly, just three weeks before its start, Michael Jackson died of cardiac arrest after being administered a high dosage of propofol, lorazepam and midazolam. The Los Angeles coroner decided to treat Michael’s death as a homicide, and his personal physician, Conrad Murray, was charged with involuntary manslaughter. Dr. Murray’s trial is said to begin sometime in September.
A worldwide outpouring of grief followed Michael’s death, along with a historic surge in album sales. More than 31.1 million Americans watched his memorial service on television, and the documentary Michael Jackson’s This Is It raked in more than $260 million, proving just how beloved Michael was, and still is, around the globe.
Michael Jackson: A Tribute Concert is currently planned for October 8 in Wales. The concert will feature performances from [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Christina Aguilera[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Cee-Lo Green[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Ne-Yo[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Smokey Robinson[/lastfm] and others.
Here’s the moment where Michael Jackson introduced the world to the moonwalk. It’s from the 1983 TV special, Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever. And after all these years, Jack FM STILL can’t figure out how to do it.
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