Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009) was an American recording artist, entertainer and businessman. The seventh child of the Jackson family, he made his debut as an entertainer in 1968 as a member of The Jackson 5. He then began a solo career in 1971 while still a member of the group, and that successful career led to him being dubbed the "King of Pop" in subsequent years. Jackson's 1982 album Thriller remains the world's best-selling album of all time, and four of his other solo studio albums are among the world's best-selling records: Off the Wall (1979), Bad (1987), Dangerous (1991) and HIStory (1995).
In the early 1980s, he became a dominant figure in American popular music and culture. He was the first African American entertainer to amass a strong crossover following on MTV, with videos such as "Beat It", "Billie Jean" and "Thriller"—widely credited with transforming the music video from a promotional tool into an art form—bringing fame to the relatively new channel. Videos such as "Black or White" and "Scream" made Jackson an enduring staple on MTV well into the 1990s. Beyond his success on television, Jackson popularized a number of physically complicated dance techniques, such as the robot and the moonwalk, with his elaborate stage performances. His distinctive musical sound and vocal style influenced many hip hop, pop music and contemporary R&B artists across several generations.
Jackson donated and raised millions of dollars for beneficial causes through his Heal the World Foundation, charity singles, and support of 39 charities. Other aspects of his personal life, including his often changing appearances and eccentric behavior, generated significant controversy that damaged his public image. Though he was accused of child sexual abuse in 1993, the criminal investigation was closed due to lack of evidence and Jackson was not charged. The singer had experienced health concerns since the early 1990s along with conflicting reports regarding the state of his finances since the late 1990s. Jackson married twice and fathered three children, actions which caused further controversy. In 2005, Jackson was tried and acquitted of different sexual abuse allegations and several other charges. The singer died on June 25, 2009, aged 50, after suffering cardiac arrest.
One of the few artists to have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, his other achievements include multiple Guinness World Records—including one for "Most Successful Entertainer of All Time"—thirteen Grammy Awards, thirteen number one singles in his solo career, and the sale of 750 million records worldwide.
Michael Jackson passed away, apparently from cardiac arrest, at his home in Los Angeles, Califoria on Thursday, June 26, 2009 at the age of 50. Paramedics were called and he was taken to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center where attempts to revive him failed.
What may get lost in the hyperbole-fueled media circus that started immediately once the news broke is Jackson's ability to perform a good song. Starting his career with his brothers in the Jackson 5 when he was barely old enough to hold a microphone, he charmed audiences and delivered vocals that are still entertaining today. This ability continued well into his career, peaking (but not ending) with his album Thriller.
No matter the madness that seemed to surrounded his personal behavior, his impact on music, music video and popular culture will remain difficult to fully measure.