Michael Joseph Jackson was born Aug. 29, 1958, in Gary. He was 4 years old when he began singing with his brothers — Marlon, Jermaine, Jackie and Tito — in the Jackson 5. After his early success with bubblegum soul, he struck out on his own, generating innovative, explosive, unstoppable music.
The album "Thriller" mixed the dark, serpentine bass and drums and synthesizer approach of "Billie Jean," the grinding Eddie Van Halen guitar solo on "Beat It" and the hiccups and falsettos on "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'."
The peak may have come in 1983, when Motown celebrated its 25th anniversary with an all-star televised concert and Jackson moonwalked off with the show, joining his brothers for a medley of old hits and then leaving them behind with a pointing, crouching, high-kicking, splay-footed, crotch-grabbing run through "Billie Jean."
The audience stood and roared. Jackson raised his fist.
During production of a 1984 Pepsi commercial, Jackson's scalp sustained burns when an explosion set his hair on fire.
He had strong follow-up albums with 1987's "Bad" and 1991's "Dangerous," but his career began to collapse in 1993 after he was accused of molesting a boy who often stayed at his home. The singer denied any wrongdoing, reached a settlement with the boy's family, reported to be $20 million, and criminal charges were never filed.
Jackson expressed anger over the allegations on the 1995 album, "HIStory," which sold more than 2.4 million copies, but by then, the popularity of Jackson's music was clearly waning even as public fascination with his increasingly erratic behavior was growing.
Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley in 1994, and they divorced in 1996. Later that year, Jackson married Deborah Rowe, a former nurse for his dermatologist. They had two children together: Michael Joseph Jackson Jr., known as Prince Michael, now 12; and Paris Michael Katherine Jackson, 11. Rowe filed for divorce in 1999.
Jackson also had a third child, Prince Michael II, now 7. Jackson said the boy, nicknamed Blanket as a baby, was his biological child born from a surrogate mother.
Billboard magazine editorial director Bill Werde said Jackson's star power was unmatched. "The world just lost the biggest pop star in history, no matter how you cut it," Werde said. "He's literally the king of pop."
Jackson's 13 No. 1 one hits on the Billboard charts put him behind only Presley, the Beatles and Mariah Carey, Werde said.
"He was on the eve of potentially redeeming his career a little bit," he said. "People might have started to think of him again in a different light."
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