The eighth child of the Jackson family, Michael made his professional debut in 1964 with his elder brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, and Marlon as a member of the Jackson 5, and began his solo career in 1971.
In the early 1980s, Jackson became a dominant figure in popular music. His music videos, including those of “Beat It”, “Billie Jean”, and “Thriller” from his 1982 album Thriller, are credited with breaking racial barriers and transforming the medium into an art form and promotional tool. The popularity of these videos helped bring the television channel MTV to fame.
Jackson’s 1987 album Bad spawned the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”, “Bad”, “The Way You Make Me Feel”, “Man in the Mirror”, and “Dirty Diana”, becoming the first album to have five number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100.
He continued to innovate with videos such as “Black or White” and “Scream” throughout the 1990s, and forged a reputation as a touring solo artist. Through stage and video performances, Jackson popularized a number of complicated dance techniques, such as the robot and the moonwalk, to which he gave the name. His distinctive sound and style has influenced numerous artists of various music genres.
Aspects of Jackson’s personal life, including his changing appearance, personal relationships, and behavior, generated controversy. In 1993, he was accused of child sexual abuse, but the civil case was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount and no formal charges were brought.
In 2005, he was tried and acquitted of further child sexual abuse allegations and several other charges after the jury found him not guilty on all counts. While preparing for his comeback concert series, This Is It, Jackson died of acute propofol and benzodiazepine intoxication on June 25, 2009, after suffering from cardiac arrest.
The Los Angeles County Coroner ruled his death a homicide, and his personal physician, Conrad Murray, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. Jackson’s death triggered a global outpouring of grief, and a live broadcast of his public memorial service was viewed around the world. Forbes ranks Jackson as the top-earning dead celebrity, a title held for a sixth consecutive year, with $115 million in earnings.
It’s Michael Jackson’s birthday. He would have been 51 years old on Monday.
The world lost a true icon when Jackson passed away on June 25, 2009, but his legacy lives on through his music and league of diehard fans.
Celebrate the beloved King of Pop and check out a list filled with interesting facts, songs and quotes from Jackson below:
He used let his pet snake loose in the studio: In an interview with The Guardian, famous music producer Quincy Jones recalled the countless times Jackson would show up at the studio with his chimpanzees and Muscles, his pet snake. “I didn’t like that. The snake used to wrap itself around my leg. Man, I didn’t like that at all. It would call in the console. I’m not into snakes,” Jones said, detailing one day he and Jackson found Muscles stuck in a bird cage. “One day I said, ‘Where’s Muscles?’ and we went downstairs and Muscles was in the parrot cage. He had just eaten the parrot and his head got stuck in the bars of the cage.”
He’s still the number one selling artist of all time: With over a billion total sales, Jackson still reigns as the top selling artist of all time. In fact, his hit album “Thriller” became the first album to ever be certified 30-times multi-platinum for U.S. sales in 2015, Billboard reported.
He was very humble: Despite facing his fair share of fame, success, scandals and controversies, Jackson was still very humble at heart. He’s dropped inspirational gems countless times throughout his life, including the famous quote: “I’m just like anyone. I cut and I bleed and I embarrass easily.”
His music was often intertwined with his humanitarian efforts: If it’s one thing Jackson was known for other than his electrifying music, it was his generous contributions to society, which he often spread through his art. He made history in 1985 when he locked in 45 superstar artists for an overnight recording session, which led to the creation of “We Are The World.” The chart topping song grossed more than $63 million – all of which were used to provide African famine relief.
He was a vegetarian: Jackson had a rather interesting diet. Not only did his former personal chef Mani Naill revealed to People magazine that Jackson would sometimes “go for hours without eating” but he was also very picky about what he ate. According to Naill, Jackson had a “fairly limited diet” and said the pop star was “a vegetarian who didn’t like vegetables.” He was known for having a major sweet tooth, but he didn’t eat sugar and wasn’t a fan of chocolate.