Artist and Musician Biographies


Here is a YouTube Mix of the music of Michael Jackson.

It seems that there are few performers whose careers are as torn by controversy and applause from the media as Michael Jackson's. Like Madonna, Jackson's lifestyle and image sometimes outshine his musical accomplishments. Still, Jackson is credited with having the most sales of a single album of all time, Thriller (1982).

Born in 1958, Jackson has led a life filled with music beginning when he was a small child. He began his life in Gary, Indiana, one of a large brood of children belonging to a working class family. Michael, along with the rest of siblings, often sang along to his father's guitar. The senior Joseph Jackson, although accused of being abusive and domineering, was the catalyst for the forming of the singing group the Jackson Five in 1966.

This group included Michael and four of his older brothers, Jermaine, Marlon, Jackie and Tito. Moving straight from rinky-dink talent shows to a record contract with Motown Records, the Jackson Five rose quickly to fame. They are still considered one of the most well-known groups of the 1970's and released a total of 13 albums in only 7 years. Though the child-group had spawned several number one hits with Motown, like "ABC" and "I'll Be There" (1970), by 1976, Joseph Jackson became disgruntled with the label because it was focusing more attention on Diana Ross (of the Supremes). The Jackson family moved on to sign with Epic Records later in the same year, though one brother, Jermaine, continued on with Motown. At this point, the Jackson Five ceased to exist and became known as the Jacksons, with Jermaine being replaced by Randy.

Despite the fact that Michael was the youngest brother, it did not stop him from being the lead singer of both the Jackson Five and the Jacksons and generally rising above the others in fame. By 1979, Michael was receiving theatrical attention for his role as the Scarecrow in The Wiz, a Broadway musical, which prompted his move to New York City. Once in the city, Michael's friend Quincy Jones produced Jackson's first solo album, Off The Wall, in 1979. While the Jacksons were struggling musically, Off the Wall reached number 3 status in the charts and also gave birth to four top ten songs. Michael returned to his brothers and produced another album with them before releasing his phenomenal success, Thriller, in 1982.

Thriller spent an astounding 37 weeks at number one and sold over 24 million copies. Most of us can say that we know many of the songs that came from this record, such as "Beat It," "Billy Jean," and of course the title track, "Thriller." The title track was joined by an innovative video that filled an entire half an hour and was even shown in movie theaters. Jackson's videos, which were very carefully made and in fact were produced much like short movies, became enormous hits on the then fledgling MTV. Many attribute his super-star status, along with Madonna's, to their ability to produce extremely appealing videos in addition to their music.

The Michael Jackson image was the rage of the early and mid 1980's with teens sprouting up everywhere trying to imitate his trademark dance, the "Moonwalk", and his signature look with a single, white sequined glove and a red leather jacket covered with zippers. Jackson also became the spokesperson for Pepsi during this time and suffered severe burns during the filming of a commercial.

In 1984, Jackson returned for one final time to his brothers and recorded one more album. Michael's sisters, Janet and LaToya, also began performing, with Janet becoming a big star herself.

Michael, who was very media-shy, bought the infamous Neverland, a ranch in California and virtually built an amusement park in it and welcomed children to come and visit him. With his hermit-like lifestyle, constant plastic surgeries and ever-lightening skin, Michael was at the top of the tabloid list of victims. His public appearances donning a surgical mask and his refusal to be interviewed only fueled rumors that he had attempted to buy the Elephant man's skeleton and that he slept in an oxygen-filled chamber.

Michael continued on with his musical and business pursuits, though, for better or for worse. In 1985 he purchased ATV Publishing, the company that owned the rights to many Elvis, Beatles and Little Richard songs, and simultaneously flubbed-up his friendship with Paul McCartney. But Jackson also recorded "We Are the World" in 1985, a song that promoted African famine relief and featured a number of famous voices.

In 1987, a long-awaited follow-up album to Thriller finally released, Bad. Although it was another number one album, featuring five number one singles, Bad failed to meet the standards of Thriller, selling only eight million copies. Another world tour was underway for Jackson, although his success outside of the United States was much more fruitful than in the U.S., where he was being accused of lip-synching his songs.

By 1991, Nirvana and grunge music had surfaced to give Jackson a run for his money. And it did just that, although Jackson had released another number one album, Dangerous, in 1991. Its success was far surpassed by Nirvana's Nevermind album, that dethroned Dangerous as the number one album at that time.

Jackson's career began to falter when accusations flew that Jackson was molesting the children who visited Neverland. In 1993, one of Michael's child guests confessed to his father that he had been touched inappropriately by Jackson. The case was settled out of court and Jackson refused to testify. Rumors were flying around Jackson that said he was gay and a child molester, and perhaps to combat them, he married Elvis Presley's daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, in 1994.

The couple divorced in 1996 and Jackson went on to marry his friend Debbie Rowe, with whom he had a child (another jackpot of rumors) in 1997.

In 1995, Jackson released another album called HIStory that caused the citizens of Eastern Europe to parade through the cities with hundred-foot tall statues of Jackson. HIStory was a two-disc album with one disc of greatest hits and another of new material like Scream, a duet with Janet Jackson. Many of the 15 songs on this disc are collaborations with other artists such as R. Kelly, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. The other disc of HIStory features releases and remixes of his past hits like "Black or White" originally from the Dangerous album.

Despite all the trouble and controversy that has clouded Michael Jackson's life, he still continues to be popular worldwide. The accusations surrounding the singer have never been proven or disproven, and one cannot discount the fact that Jackson tried to promote a world without prejudices and violence, as can be heard in many of his songs. Since his death in 2009, Jackson's life is a continual topic of discussion.

Page author: N.G. & C.F.