Michael, the eighth child of the Jackson family, Jackson made his professional debut in 1964 with his elder brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, and Marlon as a member of the Jackson 5. Jackson began his solo career in 1971 while at Motown Records and rose to solo stardom with his fifth studio album Off the Wall (1979) during the peak of disco. By the early 1980s, Jackson became a dominant figure in popular music. His music videos, including those for “Beat It”, “Billie Jean”, and “Thriller” from his sixth studio album Thriller (1982), are credited with breaking racial barriers and transforming the medium into an art form and promotional tool. Their popularity helped propel Jackson and the television channel MTV into prominent highlights of the 1980s pop culture. At the 26th Grammy Awards, Thriller won a record-breaking eight Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year. Jackson continued to innovate with videos including “Leave Me Alone” and “Smooth Criminal” from Bad (1987), “Black or White” and “Remember the Time” from Dangerous (1991), “Scream” from HIStory: Past, Present, and Future, Book I (1995) and “Ghosts” from the remix album Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix (1997). With songs such as “Man in the Mirror”, “Black or White”, “Heal the World”, “Earth Song” and “They Don’t Care About Us”, Jackson’s music emphasized racial integration, environmentalism and fighting against prejudice and injustice. Through stage and video performances, he popularized complicated dance techniques such as the moonwalk, to which he gave the name. His sound and style have influenced artists of various genres.
Starting in the late 1980s, Jackson became a figure of controversy and speculation due to his changing appearance, relationships, behavior, and lifestyle. In 1993, he was accused of sexually abusing the child of a family friend. The lawsuit was settled out of court, and Jackson was not indicted. In 2005, he was tried and acquitted of further child sexual abuse allegations and several other charges. In 2009, while preparing for a series of comeback concerts, This Is It, Jackson died from an overdose of sedatives administered by his personal physician, Conrad Murray. Fans around the world expressed their grief, and Jackson’s public memorial service was broadcast live. In August 2009, the Los Angeles County Coroner ruled that Jackson’s death was a homicide, and Murray was charged with involuntary manslaughter in February 2010. Nine years later, the documentary Leaving Neverland, which detailed posthumous allegations of child sexual abuse, led to a media backlash against Jackson.
Jackson is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, with estimated sales of over 350 million records worldwide. His albums Off the Wall (1979), Thriller (1982), Bad (1987), Dangerous (1991), and HIStory: Past, Present, and Future, Book I (1995), rank among the best-selling of all time. Thriller is the best-selling album of all time, with estimated sales of 66 million copies worldwide. Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix (1997) is the best-selling remix album of all time. Bad was the first album to produce five Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles. Jackson had 13 Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles, more than any other male artist in the Hot 100 era, and was also the first artist to have a top ten single in the Billboard Hot 100 in five different decades. He won more awards than any other artist in the history of popular music, has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice and is the only recording artist to have been inducted into the National Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame. His other achievements include 39 Guinness World Records, including the Most Successful Entertainer of All Time, 26 American Music Awards, 16 World Music Awards, 13 Grammy Awards, as well as the Grammy Legend and Lifetime Achievement awards, 11 MTV Video Music Awards, 6 Brit Awards, and a Golden Globe Award. In 2016, his estate earned $825 million, the highest yearly amount for a celebrity ever recorded by Forbes.