Michael Joseph Jackson was born in Gary, Indiana on August 29, 1958. He made his first stage
performance in front of his kindergarten class in 1963 singing Climb Ev'ry Mountain, and moving his teacher to tears.
Michael and his brothers formed the Jackson 5, and played local clubs and talent shows in the area. Their first real success came when they won the talent search at Roosevelt High School in Gary performing a medley of Shake It, Baby and My Girl. They released two singles that became local hits on a small record label called Steeltown records. In 1968, they won the amateur night at the Apollo in New York and got to open for Gladys Knight and the Pips, who recognized their talent. They also caught the eyes of Bobby Taylor (of the Vancouvers) and after a while, they got to audition for Motown Records, home of Diana Ross and The Supremes. They were signed and released their first album in 1969.
Michael's released his first solo album, Got To Be There in 1972, and quickly followed up with Ben. The title song earned Michael an Academy Award nomination for Best Song from a movie (for a movie also called Ben).
In between Jackson 5 albums, Michael also released Music And Me in 1973, and Forever Michael in 1975, but they did not do as well.
The brothers had incredible success on the Motown Label, but due to disputes of creative freedom the boys made a decision to leave the label in favor of Epic in 1975. An exception was Jermaine, who decided to stay with Motown and therby leave the group. He was quickly replaced by Randy and the group's name changed to the Jacksons.
Michael went to New York in the late 70s to work on his first film, The Wiz, starring among others Diana Ross, Lena Horne and Richard Pryor.
He then made the aquaintance of producer Quincy Jones, and the two struck up a friendship. Michael realized he had just found the perfect producer for his next album. Off The Wall, released in 1979 was an instant success, featuring hits such as Rock With You, Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough and She's Out Of My Life. Although the album won Michael a grammy and sold very well, he was disappointed at the album's performance. He felt his album had been ignored and swore it would never happen again.
In 1980, Michael joined his brothers again for the album Triumph, named in honor of brother Randy who had survived a terrible car accident and was walking again after a year. Michael also collaborated with various artists, including sister Latoya, who were working on her debut album.
Michael then went to work on the follow up album to Off The Wall. After a lot of recording and re-recording the album Thriller was finally released in December 1982. The album quickly became the biggest album ever, thanks to hits such as Beat It, Billie Jean, Thriller and The Girl Is Mine, the latter a duet with Paul McCartney.
The album had begun to drop on the charts when Michael agreed to perform Motown 25, at the request of Berry Gordy, his former boss and founder of Motown Records. Initially Michael was hesitant to participate in the special, simple because he was tired of doing TV. However, he was convinced and it proved to be a smart move. By performing his hit Billie Jean, in addition to old classics with his brothers (including Jermaine), he reached those who might not have heard him otherwise. The album soared once again and record sales doubled in no time. Still today, Thriller remains the world's biggest selling album in history with approximately 50 million sold.
At this time, Michael had also used another medium to boost sales; Music Videos. MTV had launched in 1981 and Michael was quick to realize that it was a good way to reach a large audience. He created stunning Music Videos for his singles off the album with the concept of making mini-movies that had a storyline. The video for Beat It was based on the classic West Side Story, directed by Bob Giraldi. The song which used guittarist Eddie Van Halen for a great solo won over the rock audience, even though he was not featured in the video. Billie Jean used a new and revolutionizing technique and was the first video by a black artist ever to be played on MTV. Now Michael's preference for extravagant videos is well-known, but then the budgets were somewhat smaller. The record company did not want to spend any more money on supporting videos, so Michael was forced to pay for it himself. He spent nearly $1 million of his own money to make the video for Thriller, which turned out to be money well spent. The amazing 14-minute short movie was directed by John Landis, known for movies, such as An American Werewolf In London and the Blues Brothers.
The video has several times been named the greatest video of all time.
In 1984, Michael once again teamed up with his brothers. The Jacksons went on tour and recorded an album called Victory to support it. The tour went well, but none of the songs from the album were performed. The notion was that the album was below-standard because it had been recorded in such a hurry. Nevertheless, the album did quite well. The tour was a farewell tour and Michael left the Jacksons after it was done.
In 1985, Michael teamed up with Lionel Ritchie to write a song that would be released to benefit the starving Africa. Quincy Jones had gathered all of America's musical elite to sing for charity, but they had no song. The song was written in practically no time and recorded the following day, after the American Music Awards.
The song We Are The World became the biggest selling single off all time and went multi-platinum in record time. It featured stars such as Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Ray Charles, Bruce Springsteen and Dionne Warwick, in addition to Michael and Lionel themselves. Randy, Tito, Jackie, Marlon and Latoya also participated.
Michael had also found time to star in a short movie called Captain Eo. The adventure was directed by George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola and also starred Anjelica Houston. The movie was shown for over a decade at Disneyland movie theatres around the world as a feature film. In the movie, Michael performed two songs; We Are Here to Change The World and Another Part Of Me from his forthcoming
In 1987, Michael's Bad were doing well on the charts. A record seven of the songs on the album went top 10; five of them went to #1. They were Bad, The Way You Make Me Feel, Dirty Diana, Smooth Criminal, I Just Can't Stop Loving You (a duet with Siedah Garrett), Man In The Mirror and Leave Me Alone.
The following year, Michael filmed Moonwalker, a movie starring himself, Sean Lennon and Joe Pesci among others. The movie was released on home video, and did quite well.
Michael went on tour and sold out nearly every venue he played to record audiences. The Bad tour grossed over $125 million.
Dangerous. The highly-anticipated album also did very well. The premiere of the first video (for Black Or White was shown simoultaneously on all major networks, and was the largest premiere ever watched by millions. The video was directed by John Landis, who had directed Thriller and starred Home Alone star MacCaulay Culkin, Cheers star George Wendt, supermodel Tyra Banks and Michael's niece Brandi. A large part of the expenses for the video was due to the exclusive morphing effects at the end of the video. Michael followed up with videos for the hit singles Remember The Time, In The Closet, Jam, Heal The World, Give In To Me, Will You Be There, Gone To Soon and Who Is It. The Remember The Time Video starred Michael's friend comedian Eddie Murphy, model Iman and basketball player Magic Johnson. In return, Michael appeared in Eddie Murphy's video for Whatzupwitu, a song which also featured him. The rest of the videos also featured well-known faces, for example basketball player Shaquille O'Neal in Jam and supermodel Naomi Campbell in In The Closet, in addition to many more.
To further support the album, Michael went on a massive world tour. In August of 1993; however, allegations of child abuse surfaced and michael cancelled the remainder of his tour. The case was later settled out of court and Michael was cleared of all charges.
On May 26 1994, Michael married his girlfriend Lisa-Marie Presley in the Dominican Republic. Michael had met Lisa-Marie (daughter of Elvis Presley and Priscilla Beaulieu) when he was still with the Jacksons. Apparently she was a frequent visitor to his shows and they used to talk backstage. However, Lisa-Marie had married and had children and they lost touch. It was not until a while after her divorce they renewed their friendship. Lisa-Marie and Michael divorced in January of 1996, but remains friends.
In the summer of 1995, Michael's released his comeback album HIStory - Past, Present & Future - Book 1; a double album featuring 15 of his greatest hits, plus 15 new songs. The first single off the album was a duet with his superstar sister Janet called Scream. The accompanying video had an astronomical price tag of $7 million, which makes it the most expensive video ever made. The video was nominated for 11 video music awards, including Best Dance, which it naturally won. The following videos off the album weren't quite so extravagant, but still cost quite a bit to make. There were two versions made for They Don't Care About Us (one in Brazil and one in a prison), as well as for You Are Not Alone. One featured Michael's wife Lisa-Marie, and the other one portrayed Michael as an angel in beatiful surroundings.
HIStory, which featured artists such as Janet, Boyz II Men and the Notorious B.I.G. sold around 15 millions copies, which is a considerable amount for a double album.
Michael's HIStory world tour kicked off in Prague on September 7 1996 with over 120 000 people in the audience. It continued for over a year selling out in record time all over the world.
Michael had married again in December of 1996. This time to a woman named Deborah Rowe, who he had met at his doctor's office, where she worked as a nurse. When they married she was pregnant with Michael's child and she gave birth on February 13 1997 to a baby boy they named Prince Michael Jackson Jr., after Michael's grandfather.
In May, Michael released Blood On The Dancefloor, a remix album to boost sales of HIStory, and to support his new movie Ghosts. The story of the movie was written by Michael and horror author Stephen King, and the special effects and costumes were made by one of Hollywood's best; Stan Winston. The movie premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, and were only screened at selected locations. It was then released on home video.
Michael's wife Debbie gave birth again on April 3 1998 to a little girl they named Paris Michael Katherine Jackson, after the place she was conceived.
In 1999, Michael held two benefit concerts; one in Munich, Germany and the other one in Seoul, South Korea. Featuring among others, Mariah Carey, Vanessa-Mae and Ringo Starr and of course Michael himself, both were successes and brought in millions for the Red-Cross and other organizations.
Michael and Debbie divorced in 2000, and in the spring of 2001, Michael was inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame, and since the Jackson 5 was inducted in 1998, Michael is so far the only artist to be inducted twice. This was nothing new for Michael of course, who set a similar record in 1984 by getting a second star on Hollywood's Walk Of Fame.
On September 7 and 10 2001, Michael celebrated his 30th anniversary as a solo artist with two special concerts at Madison Square Garden in New York City. A long line-up of guest artists, including Whitney Houston, newphews 3T and his brothers performed.
Yet another concert took place on October 21, where Michael premiered the benefit single What More Can I Give with the likes of Mariah Carey and Destiny's Child.
The video for the new single You Rock My World premiered on September 26; the album will be released on October 30 2001.
Among Michael's upcoming projects are three movies, due for release in the spring and summer of 2003; The Nightmares of Edgar Allen Poe in which he has the starring role, the animated The Way Of The Unicorn: The Endangered One, in which he will voice a character called Sailor, and Men In Black 2, in which he has a small role.