Michael Jackson will always be known as the King of Pop, but the performer's life and glorious career ended abruptly on June 25, 2009 at the age of 50. Jackson died of cardiac arrest from a lethal dose of the anesthetic propofol; his physician was later convicted of involuntary manslaughter and served time in prison.
The seventh of nine children, Jackson was born in Gary, Ind., on August 29, 1958 to Joe and Katherine Jackson. He began performing professionally with his brothers, calling themselves the Jackson 5. The group experienced instant success with classic songs like "ABC" and "I Want You Back." However, Jackson's talent was evident and he immediately distinguished himself.
In 1979, he released his breakout solo album Off the Wall with producer Quincy Jones. It sold 5 million copies in the U.S. alone. Hits like "Rock with You" and "Don't Stop ‘til You Get Enough" catapulted Jackson into the spotlight.
He followed that up with 1982's epic Thriller, which sold more than 70 million copies and continues to be the best-selling album of all time. Furthermore, timeless singles like "Billie Jean," "Beat It," "Human Nature" and "Thriller" sold over 100 million copies and transformed Jackson into a global sensation.
Jackson was the complete and total package. He was a skilled singer and dancer. In 1983, he introduced the world to the moonwalk, which became his signature dance move, during a television special celebrating Motown's 25th anniversary.
Of course, Jackson's achievements were not without controversy. Reports started surfacing that the singer was bleaching his skin in order to lighten his skin. However, Jackson vehemently denied the claims, asserting that he suffered from a skin condition called vitiligo. Over the years, his skin continued to get lighter and his facial features were altered drastically after multiple plastic surgery procedures.
After the release of his third album Bad, the superstar bought and began transforming Neverland Ranch, an extravagant estate with an amusement park. In 1993, the singer was accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy who spent the night at the ranch. Jackson maintained his innocence and settled the matter outside of court.
As the years progressed, Jackson made headlines as much for his personal behavior as his music. In 1994, he married Elvis Presley's daughter Lisa Marie, but the pair split up soon after. Two years later, he married Debbie Rowe and had two children, Prince Michael I and Paris Michael Jackson. He eventually divorced Rowe and kept custody of the children. Later, he had a third child Prince Michael II, who was nicknamed Blanket. In 2002, Jackson was harshly criticized for holding Blanket over a hotel balcony in Germany.
Jackson's troubles continued in 2003. During an interview with British journalist Martin Bashir for a television documentary, he disclosed that he had sleepovers with children in his bed. One year later, Jackson was arrested and charged with lewd conduct with a minor, attempted lewd conduct, administering alcohol to facilitate molestation, conspiracy to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion. His trial quickly became a media frenzy; however Jackson was acquitted of all charges in 2005.
After the trial, Jackson left Neverland and moved to Bahrain with his children. Jackson kept a low-profile during that time.
In early 2009, Jackson announced his return. He would be giving his fans a series of farewell concerts in the U.K. before exiting the stage permanently. The news surrounding his final rehearsals was positive, and many declared that Jackson was back in top form. Unfortunately, the performances never came to fruition before the singer's passing.
Jackson left the majority of his estate to his mother and three children. He also donated a generous amount to charity. Following his death, Jackson's estate continued to earn millions, and the documentary This is It, which chronicled his preparations for his final concerts, grossed more than $250 million globally.
The world mourned the singer who had touched so many hearts with his music, but even in death, Jackson's legacy lives on. Over the course of his extraordinary career, he sold 750 million albums worldwide, had 13 number one singles, won 13 Grammy awards and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame…twice.
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