When Michael was only five years old his father Joseph Jackson, a steel mill worker, founded the "Jackson Five" with Michael as lead singer and his four older brothers Jackie, Jermaine, Marlon, and Tito. Despite his young age, little Michael showed incredible talent, charisma and a great voice. At first the group sang at small talent contests and bars but after being signed to the famous "Motown" label in 1969, the Jackson 5 had 4 consecutive #1 hits in the US: 'I Want You Back', 'ABC', 'The Love You Save,' and 'I'll Be There'. They became one of the most popular singing stars of the 70s. While at Motown, Michael also recorded several solo albums with solo singles that topped the charts ('Got To Be There', 'Ben').
The Jackson 5 left Motown in 1976 and signed with Epic Records. Since Motown owned the rights to their group name, they renamed themselves "The Jacksons" and focused on writing and producing their own material. They subsequently released several albums, such as 'Destiny' (1978) and 'Triumph' (1980).
In 1978, Michael Jackson starred as the Scarecrow in his first feature film 'The Wiz', with Diana Ross as Dorothy. It was here that he met producer Quincy Jones.
Michael Jackson collaborated with Quincy Jones on his next solo album 'Off The Wall' (1979). The album received very positive critical reviews and sold more than 15 million copies worldwide. Jackson was the first artist to have four Top 10 hits from one album, including two #1 hits: 'Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough' and 'Rock With You'.
The two teamed up again for the 'Thriller' album in 1982. It became the best-selling album of all time (with over 50 million copies sold worldwide), and remained at # 1 on Billboard pop ablum chart for a record of 37 weeks. The singles off the 'Thriller' album were accompanied by innovative short films that made Jackson a pioneer in the production of the new genre of music videos, popularized by the newly launched MTV Channel. In fact, Michael Jackson broke a barrier when 'Billie Jean' became the first video by a black artist to be shown on MTV. Both music and videos were praised by critics, and the album produced a record 7 Top 10 singles, including three #1 hits ('Thriller', 'Billie Jean', and 'Beat It'). During this time, he also narrated the Story Book record to the Steven Spielberg movie 'E.T. - the Extra-Terrestrial'. Jackson won 8 Grammy awards in one year (7 for Thriller and 1 for his E.T. narration) - a record that hasn't been broken since. Unforgettable is also Michael Jackson's unique 'Billie Jean' live performance at the "Motown 25" show, where he presented his famous Moonwalk for the first time and showed his incredible talent as a dancer and choreographer.
In 1985, Michael Jackson, along with Lionel Richie, composed the song 'We Are The World' for the charitable organization 'USA For Africa'. The song was recorded and produced with numerous artists lending their voices. The song eventually raised millions of dollars used to fight famine in Africa, and has won numerous awards, including Grammys.
The 'Bad' album followed in 1987, producing another record of 5 consecutive #1 singles. The album was accompanied by Michael Jackson's first major solo world tour, which included the most successful concert series ever by selling out the Wembley Stadium (London) for seven nights (504,000 people), and played to sellout crowds around at each stop. During this time, Jackson published a long awaited autobiography ("Moonwalk", 1988) and made a full length film titled "Moonwalker" starring him in the title role and co-starring Joe Pesci and Sean Lennon (son of John Lennon). He also became the highest paid commercial spokesperson ever, after signing a contract with Pepsi Cola that reportedly paid him US$12 million for 4 TV commercials.
In 1988, Michael Jackson purchased the Neverland Valley Ranch in California. Eventually, he transformed Neverland according to his dream, and it now houses an amusement park, a full size movie theatre, and a zoo. Michael opens the doors to Neverland, as he often invites terminally ill children to come and enjoy themselves.
In the early 90s, Jackson signed the largest recording contract ever with Sony Music. He also established his own music label MJJ Music in the following years.
His next album was entitled 'Dangerous' (1991, 'Remember The Time', 'Heal The World') and the release started with the very much talked about premiere of the 'Black Or White' video. The album also contained the song 'Will You Be There', which became the theme song of the blockbuster movie 'Free Willy'.
The "Heal The World Foundation" (HTW) was founded by Michael Jackson in 1992 as a charitable organization to aid children and the environment. He later donated all his proceeds from the Dangerous world tour to HTW. That same year Jackson published yet another book entitled 'Dancing The Dream', containing poems and writings about topics that were most important to him - music, dance, animals, and children.
In January 1993, his spectacular performance during the half-time show at the US Super Bowl XXVII received the highest ever television audience with 133.4 million viewers. In February 1993, Jackson did his first TV interview in years, talking very openly to Oprah Winfrey about his lost childhood, his music, the rumors surrounding him, and also his serious skin disorder vitiligo, which had previously caused numerous media speculations about him bleaching his skin. The 90 minute interview was broadcast live around the world and became the 4th most watched TV event in history.
'HIStory : Past, Present and Future Book I', a double album with re-mastered old songs and new hits ('They Don't Care About Us'), was released in June 1995. The first single 'Scream' was a duet with his sister Janet and both stared in an award winning innovative and futuristic space ship video which is the most expensive video of all time with a $7 million price tag. The song 'Scream' debuted at #5 on the US Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart, breaking a 25-year old record set by the Beatles, whose single 'Let It Be' debuted at #6 in 1970. Only a few weeks later Jackson broke his own record when 'You Are Not Alone' became the first song ever to debut at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. The 2-CD set 'HIStory' sold more than 15 million copies worldwide and was accompanied by Jackson's third world tour which was attended by more than 4.5 million people.
In 1995, Michael Jackson merged his ATV Catalog with Sony Music, creating the world's third largest music publishing company.
On November 14, 1996 Michael Jackson married Deborah Rowe, whom he had known for 15 years as the assistant to his dermatologist, and the two have two children: Prince Michael Junior (*February 13, 1997), named after Michael's grandfather, and Paris Michael Katherine (*April 3, 1998). After nearly 3 years of marriage they filed for divorce in October 1999 but released a statement saying that they will remain friends.
The most recent album released by Jackson is 'Blood On The Dance Floor' (1997), an album with several hit remixes and five new songs ('Blood On The Dance Floor', 'Ghosts', 'Morphine').
In June 1999 Michael Jackson organized two charity concerts called "Michael Jackson & Friends" in Seoul (South Korea) and Munich (Germany) to help children in need worldwide. More than 40 renowned pop and classic artists supported the event, which raised US$3.3 million for UNESCO, The Red Cross and the Nelson Mandela's Children's Fund. The Internet broadcast of the event on MCY.COM recorded over 10 million hits, breaking the world record for a single online broadcast.
During his career, spanning over 30 years, Michael Jackson has always striven for excellence. He has won virtually every award by the music and music video industry, and has enjoyed numerous #1 singles and albums.
He has sold over 200 million records worldwide. He has collaborated with many musical legends over the years, including Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Slash, Diana Ross, Quincy Jones, and more. He is considered a pioneer in the form of music videos and worked with such film directors as Martin Scorcese ('Bad'), John Singleton ('Remember The Time'), and John Landis ('Thriller', 'Black or White'). He has employed cutting edge technologies in the creation of both his music and videos, such as Digital Morphing ('Black or White'), Quantum Range Recording Process ('Dangerous'), and Spatializer Technology ('HIStory').