Michael Joseph Jackson was born on August 29, 1958 in the city of Gary, Indiana. He was the seventh of nine children born to Joseph Walter and Katherine Esther. His brothers were Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Randy, with sisters Rebbie, Janet and La-Toya. His father was a steel mill employee who enjoyed performing in an R&B band with his brother Luther. Jackson's mother, a devout Jehovah's Witness, raised him as a Jehovah's Witness as well.
The Jackson 5:
Michael began his musical career at the early age of 5. He and his brother Marlon joined the Jackson Brothers as backup musicians, joining brothers Jackie, Jermaine, Tito, Randy. At age 8, Michael and Jermaine began singing lead vocals, and the group changed their name to the Jackson 5.
The Jackson 5 recored several songs and eventually signed with Motown Records in 1968. Michael quickly emerged as the main attraction and lead singer of the group. The group scored several top 40 hits, including the top 5 disco single "Dancing Machine" and the top 20 hit "I Am Love." However, the Jackson 5 left Motown in 1975.
With a solo contract with Epic Records, Michael began pursuing ventures on his own. In 1977, he starred in the film version of "Wizard of Oz", the hit musical "The Wiz." In 1979, Michael released his unusually successful album, "Off the Wall." The popular album included the hit singles "Rock With You" and "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough." It eventually sold 10 million copies.
Jackson's next album, Thriller, was also a huge success, shooting seven Top 10 singles up the charts. The videos that accompanied these songs helped establish Michael's dominance of MTV, and his reputation as an incredible dancer.
In 1984, at the last concert of the Jackson's Victory Tour, Michael announced that he was leaving the group and going solo. In 1987, he released his third solo album, "Bad." Michael wrote an autobiography in 1988, revealing details of his childhood and his career. He was named "Artist Of The Decade" for the success of his previous albums.
In 1991, Michael signed with Sony Music and released his fourth album, "Dangerous." He also formed the "Heal the World Foundation" to aid in the lives of unfortunate children around the world.
Marriage and Fatherhood:
In 1994, Michael married Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of Elvis Presley. The marriage was short-lived, as the couple divorced in 1996. Michael then married his second wife, Debbie Rowe, who was a nurse that Michael met while treating his skin pigment disorder. Their first child, Prince Michael Joseph Jackson, Jr., was born in 1997. Their daughter, Paris Michael Katherine Jackson, was born in 1998. The couple divorced in 1999.
Jackson's third child, Prince Michael Jackson II, was born in 2002. The mother's identity was not released by Jackson.
Many people contribute much of Michael's ultimate success to his amazing ability to dance. In 1983, Jackson performed live on a Motown television special, debuting his signature dance move, the moonwalk. When he did the moonwalk, it looked like he was doing something humans should not be able to do. The Motown special will always be remembered as a magic moment in the history of music entertainment, as the Moonwalk set Michael apart in the realm of superstardom.
Death of an Icon:
Michael's thrilling career ended tragically before the start of a much-anticipated comeback tour. The King of Pop and former Jackson 5 singer died on June 25, 2009, after suffering cardiac arrest.