Michael Jackson: the 100 most inspiring musicians of all time

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    Michael Jackson: the 100 most inspiring musicians of all time

    American singer, songwriter, and dancer Michael Joseph Jackson (b. Aug. 29, 1958, Gary, Ind., U.S.—d. June 25, 2009, Los Angeles, Calif., U.S.) was the most popular entertainer in the world in the early and mid-1980s. Reared in Gary, Ind., in one of the most acclaimed musical families of the rock era, Michael Jackson was the youngest and most talented of five brothers whom his father, Joseph, shaped into a dazzling group of child stars known as the Jackson 5.

    In addition to Michael, the members of the Jackson 5 (all also born in Gary) were Jackie Jackson (b. May 4, 1951), Tito Jackson (b. Oct. 15, 1953), Jermaine Jackson (b. Dec. 11, 1954), and Marlon Jackson (b. March 12, 1957).

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    Motown Records president Berry Gordy, Jr., was impressed with the group and signed them in 1969. Sporting the loudest fashions, the largest Afros, the snappiest choreography, and a youthful, soulful exuberance, the Jackson 5 became an immediate success. They scored four consecutive
    number one pop hits with “I Want You Back,” “ABC,” “The Love You Save,” and “I’ll Be There” in 1970.

    With Michael Jackson topping the pop charts as a solo performer with “Ben” and reaching number two with “Rockin’ Robin,” and with the Jackson 5 producing trendsetting dance tracks such as Dancing Machine, the family’s string of hits for Motown lasted through 1975. As Michael matured, his voice changed, family tensions arose, and a contract standoff ensued.

    The group finally broke with Motown, moving to Epic Records as the Jacksons. Jermaine remained at Motown as a solo performer and was replaced by his youngest brother, Randy Jackson (b. Oct. 29, 1961). As a recording act, the Jacksons enjoyed consistent success through 1984, and their sister Janet Jackson embarked on her own singing career in the early 1980s; however, Michael’s solo albums took on an entirely different status.

    Michael Jackson’s first solo effort for Epic, Off the Wall (1979), exceeded all expectations and was the best-selling album of the year. Produced by industry veteran Quincy Jones, Off the Wall yielded the massive international hit singles “Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough” and“ Rock with You,” both of which showcased Michael’s energetic style and capitalized on the contemporary disco dance fad.

    Three years later he returned with another collaboration with Jones, Thriller, a tour de force that featured an array of guest stars and elevated him to a worldwide superstar.

    Thriller sold more than 40 million copies, captured a slew of awards, including a record-setting eight Grammys, and became the best-selling album in history. The first single on the album, “The Girl Is Mine,” an easygoing duet with Paul McCartney, went to number one on the rhythm and blues charts and number two on the pop charts in the fall of 1982. The follow-up single, “Billie Jean,” an electrifying dance track and the vehicle for Jackson’s trademark “moonwalk” dance, topped the pop charts, as did “Beat It,” which featured a raucous solo from famed guitarist Eddie Van Halen.

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    Moreover, “Beat It” helped break down the artificial barriers between black and white artists on the radio and in the emerging format of music videos on television. By 1984 Jackson was renowned worldwide as the “King of Pop.” His much anticipated Victory reunion tour with his brothers was one of the most popular concert events of 1984.

    Further, solo albums—Bad (1987) and Dangerous (1991)—solidified Jackson’s dominance of pop music, and in 2001 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; the Jackson 5 were inducted in 1997.

    Michael Jackson’s eccentric, secluded lifestyle grew increasingly controversial in the early 1990s. His reputation was seriously damaged in 1993 when he was accused of child molestation by a 13-year-old boy he had befriended; a civil suit was settled out of court. In 1994 Jackson secretly married Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of Elvis Presley, but their marriage lasted less than two years. Shortly thereafter Jackson married again, this marriage producing children, though it, too, ended in divorce. While he remained an international celebrity, his image in the United States was slow to recover, and it suffered even more in November 2003 when he was arrested and charged with child molestation.

    After a 14-week trial that became something of a media circus, Jackson was acquitted in 2005.

    The singer was preparing a comeback tour in 2009 when he died suddenly of cardiac arrest. A widespread outpouring of grief culminated in a memorial celebration of his life on July 7, 2009 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

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    The Best Of Michael Jackson – Michael Jackson Greatest Hits

    Michael Jackson – Thriller (Official Video)

    Michael Jackson – Remember The Time (Official Video)

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