Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009) was an American recording artist, entertainer, and businessman. Often referred to as the King of Pop, or by his initials MJ, Jackson is recognized as the most successful entertainer of all time by Guinness World Records. His contribution to music, dance, and fashion, along with a much-publicized personal life, made him a global figure in popular culture for over four decades. The seventh child of theJackson family, he debuted on the professional music scene along with his brothers as a member of The Jackson 5 in 1964, and began his solo career in 1971.
In the early 1980s, Jackson became a dominant figure in popular music. The music videos for his songs, including those of "Beat It", "Billie Jean", and "Thriller", were credited with transforming the medium into an art form and a promotional tool, and the popularity of these videos helped to bring the relatively new television channel MTV to fame. With videos such as "Black or White" and "Scream" he continued to be highly visible on MTV in the 1990s, and also began to forge a reputation as a touring artist. Through stage performances and music videos, Jackson popularized a number of complicated dance techniques, such as the robot and the moonwalk, to which he gave the name. His distinctive musical sound and vocal style influenced numerous hip hop, post-disco, contemporary R&B, pop and rock artists.
Jackson's 1982 album Thriller is the best-selling album of all time. His other records, including Off the Wall (1979), Bad(1987), Dangerous (1991), and HIStory (1995), also rank among the world's best-selling. Jackson is one of the few artists to have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice. He was also inducted into the Dance Hall of Fame as the first (and currently only) dancer from the world of pop and rock 'n' roll. Some of his other achievements include multiple Guinness World Records; 13 Grammy Awards (as well as the Grammy Legend Award and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award); 26American Music Awards (more than any other artist, including the "Artist of the Century" and "Artist of the 1980s"); 13number-one singles in the United States in his solo career (more than any other male artist in the Hot 100 era); and the estimated sale of over 750 million records worldwide. Jackson won hundreds of awards, which made him the most-awarded recording artist in the history of popular music. He was also one of the world's most prominent humanitarians and philanthropists; personally, and through his Heal the World Foundation, he donated more than $300 million in charity, and holds the Guinness World Record for having supported the most charities out of any pop star.
Aspects of Jackson's personal life, including his changing appearance, personal relationships, and behavior, generated controversy. In 1993, he was accused of child sexual abuse, but the case was settled out of court and no formal charges were brought. In 2005, he was tried and acquitted of further child sexual abuse allegations and several other charges after the jury found him not guilty on all counts. While preparing for his concert series titled This Is It, Jackson died of acute propofol and benzodiazepine intoxication on June 25, 2009, after suffering from cardiac arrest. The Los Angeles County Coroner ruled his death a homicide, and his personal physician was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. Jackson's death triggered a global outpouring of grief, and as many as one billion people around the world reportedly watched hispublic memorial service on live television. In March 2010, Sony Music Entertainment signed the largest music contract to date with Jackson's estate, a $250 million deal to retain distribution rights to his recordings until 2017, and to release seven posthumous albums over the decade following his death.
Legacy and influence
Jackson's star on theHollywood Walk of Fame, set in 1984
Jackson throughout his career transformed the art of the music video and paved the way for modern pop music. Daily Telegraph writerTom Utley described Jackson in 2003 as "extremely important" and a "genius". For much of his career, he had an "unparalleled" level of worldwide influence over the younger generation through his musical and humanitarian contributions. Jackson's music and videos, such as Thriller, fostered racial diversity in MTV's roster, helped to put the relatively new channel into public awareness, and steered the channel's focus from rock to pop music and R&B, shaping the channel into a form that proved enduring. Jackson's work continues to influence numerous hip hop, rock, pop and R&B artists, including Patrick Stump, Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé,Mariah Carey, Mya, Usher, Adam Lambert, Green Day, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Madonna,Alien Ant Farm, Ludacris, Ciara, and Sean P. Diddy Combs among many others. BET described Jackson "as quite simply the greatest entertainer of all time" and someone who "revolutionized the music video and brought dances like the moonwalk to the world. Jackson’s sound, style, movement and legacy continues to inspire artists of all genres."
Allmusic's Steve Huey describes Jackson as "an unstoppable juggernaut, possessed of all the skills to dominate the charts seemingly at will: an instantly identifiable voice, eye-popping dance moves, stunning musical versatility and loads of sheer star power".In the mid-1980s, Time magazine's pop music critic, Jay Cocks, noted "Jackson is the biggest thing since The Beatles. He is the hottest single phenomenon since Elvis Presley. He just may be the most popular black singer ever". In 1990, Vanity Fair cited Jackson as the most popular artist in the history of show business. In 2007, Jackson said, "Music has been my outlet, my gift to all of the lovers in this world. Through it, my music, I know I will live forever."
Shortly after Jackson's death, on June 25, 2009, MTV briefly returned to its original music video format to celebrate and pay tribute to his work. The channel aired many hours of Jackson's music videos, accompanied by live news specials featuring reactions from MTV personalities and other celebrities. The temporary shift in MTV's programming culminated the following week in the channel's live coverage of Jackson's memorial service. At the memorial service on July 7, 2009, founder of Motown Records Berry Gordy proclaimed Jackson as "the greatest entertainer that ever lived".
In 2010, two university librarians found that Jackson's influence extended into academia, and was detectable in scholarly literature pertaining to a range of subject matter. The two researchers combed through various scholars' writings, and compiled an annotated bibliography of those writings that appeared to meet at least one of several criteria. Among these criteria were appearance in a peer-reviewed journal, and the provision of insight into the nature of "popular icons including Jackson". The bibliography located references to Jackson in research reports concerning music, popular culture, and an array of other topics. The bibliographers identified as their most peculiar finding an argument that certain aspects of chemistry can be effectively taught by altering and imitating elements of Jackson's singing. One of the research librarians later reflected that "the fact that someone would take a Michael Jackson song and co-opt it as a means to convey chemistry concepts just shows the pervasiveness of Jackson's influence".