Michael Jackson

A timeline of his life, success and struggles

30 August 1958

The Birth of Michael Jackson

Michael Joseph Jackson was born the seventh of nine children on August 29, 1958. He was born to Joseph “Joe” Walter and Katherine Ester. His father was a steel mill worker who also performed in an R&B band called The Falcons.

8 October 1969

The Rise of the Jackson 5

On October 7, 1969, the Jackson 5 released their first single, “I Want You Back,” from their debut album, Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5. The group had opened for Diana Ross at the L.A. Forum in August of the same year. This was the beginning of an incredible run for the group.

13 July 1972

Michael Jackson’s First Solo Hit

Michael Jackson released “Ben” on July 12, 1972. The song became his first solo hit. The song was released for the Motown label. “Ben” was a theme song for a 1972 film that had the same name. The song spent 7 days at number one on the US pop chart. It also spent 8 weeks on the Australian pop chart. 

2 January 1974

Michael Jackson Premieres “The Robot”

“The Robot” was a dance introduced by Michael Jackson. It was also called the mannequin. It is an illusionary dance style that was similar to popping. The dance imitates the movements of a dancing robot. The dance was created by Charles “Charles Robot” Washington in the late 1960s.

25 October 1978

Michael Jackson plays “The Scarecrow” in The Wiz

Michael Jackson played the role of “The Scarecrow” in The Wiz. This was an American musical film by Motown Productions and Universal Pictures. Michael acted alongside Diana Ross, Richard Pryor and Nipsey Russell. The move was an urbanized version of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. 

2 August 1979

Michael Jackson Cements Himself as Superstar with “Off the Wall”

Michael Jackson’s fifth studio album, “Off the Wall” catapulted the pop musician to superstar status. The album was released on August 10, 1979, on Epic Records. The success of this album was aided by the incredible reception that Jackson’s performance in The Wiz received. The recording sessions of this project ran from December 1978 to June 1979.

1 December 1982

“Thriller” Shakes the World

The sixth studio album by pop sensation Michael Jackson was “Thriller”. This project showed a much different side to the musician. His fifth studio album, “Off the Wall” was filled with funk, disco, soul, soft rock, R&B, and pop; however, “Thriller” featured much darker themes. 

3 January 1983

“Billie Jean” is released by Michael Jackson

“Billie Jean” was written by Quincy Jones for Michael’s Jackson’s sixth solo album, Thriller. The song was almost left off the album due to a disagreement between Michael and Quincy. The song is actually about a real-life experience that Michael had with a fan who claimed that Michael Jackson was the father of her twins.

15 February 1983

Michael Jackson Rocks the World with “Beat It”

This track was written by Michael Jackson. It was co-produced by Quincy Jones for “Thriller”. The song was born out of Jones’ desire to deliver a black rock ‘n’ roll song. Eddie Van Halen is the guitarists behind the overdriven guitar solo in the song. When he was called by Jones, he thought it was a prank.

26 March 1983

Jackson Makes the Moonwalk Popular

The moonwalk is a dance technique that makes it appear as though the dancer is stepping forward while he or she is going backwards. Michael Jackson executed the dance during his performance of “Billie Jean” on Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever. This dance became his signature dance move. 

28 January 1984

Michael Jackson Hair gets Burned During Pepsi Commercial

Pyrotechnics accidentally set Michael Jackson’s hair on fire at the filming of a Pepsi Cola commercial. The incident happened before a large gathering of fans during a simulated concert. The accident received much scrutiny from the media. PepsiCo gave Michael Jackson a $1.5 million settlement out of court. The pop star donated the money to the Brotman Medical Center in Culver City, California.

1 September 1987

Michael Jackson Releases “Bad”

“Bad”, Michael Jackson’s seventh studio album, was released on August 31, 1987. This came after the five-year break that followed the release of “Thriller”. The album went on to sell more than 30 million copies across the world. 8 million units of the album were shipped in the United States.

2 February 1988

The Release of Jackson’s Autobiography, “Moonwalk”

Jackson released his autobiography, “Moonwalk” on February 1, 1988. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was the editor of the book. The book went on the become number one on the New York Times Best Seller list.

11 February 1993

Michael Jackson is Interviewed by Oprah Winfrey

Michael Jackson gave his first interview since 1979 on February 10, 1993. It was a 90-minute interview with Oprah Winfrey. In this interview, Michael Jackson shared about the abuse he experienced as a child at the hands of his father. In this interview, the singer dismissed several allegations and rumors. For the first time, Michael dealt directly with the allegations of him bleaching his skin and shared that he suffered from vitiligo. 

18 August 1993

Jackson Accused of Sexual Abuse

Michael Jackson faced an accusation in 1993 of having sexually abused a 13-year-old child, Jordan Chandler. The accusation was made by Evan Chandler. Jordan Chandler shared that Michael Jackson had touched him inappropriately while under a controversial sedative that he was given by Evan Chandler.

13 November 1993

The “Dangerous” Tour Gets Cancelled by Michael Jackson

The allegations had caused so much distress to Michael Jackson that he started to take painkillers, Valium, Xanax, and Ativan. These were all taken to numb the stress of the situation. By Fall of 1993, the pop star was addicted to the drugs that he was taking to deal with stress. The impact that this had on his health resulted in him having to cancel the Dangerous World Tour.

8 December 1993

Michael Jackson Releases “Dangerous – The Short Films”

On December 7, 1993, Michael Jackson released Dangerous – The Short Films. This project was originally released on VHS. In 2001, it became available on DVD.

27 May 1994

Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley Gets Married

On May 26, 1994, Michael Jackson married the daughter of Elvis Presley. The two met at one of Jackson’s family engagements at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in 1975. They later met again in 1993 with the help of a mutual friend.

19 January 1996

Lisa Marie Presley and Michael Jackson get Divorced

The couple got married during Michael Jackson’s child sexual abuse scandal. Many speculated that this was really a cover-up and a strategy to boost Michael Jackson’s image. Lisa Marie Presley and Michael Jackson got divorced on January 18, 1996.

16 November 1996

Michael Jackson and Debbie Row Gets Married

Michael Jackson got married to Debbie Jeanne Rowe, a dermatologist nurse, during the Australian leg of the HIStory World Tour. Deborah bore two children for the pop singer. 

26 June 2009

Michael Jackson Dies

Michael Jackson arrived at the U.C.L.A Medical Center in a coma. The singer was later pronounced dead. Michael Jackson died at 50 years old. Four of his five decades were spent in the public’s eye. The impact that he had on music and the world cannot be quantified. 

28 September 2020

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