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Michael Jackson is known as the King of Pop whose career spanned decades as he grew from a child star to an international sensation. He was born August 29, 1958 in Gary, Indiana. In the early 1960s, when Jackson was just 5 years old, his father formed a musical group with Jackson and his older brother’s Jermaine, Jackie, and Marlon. The group became known as the Jackson 5.
After performing and making a name for themselves locally, the group moved on to opening for artists such as Gladys Knight and James Brown. The group signed with Motown in 1968 and relocated to Los Angeles.
By age 13, Jackson began his solo career while still working with the Jackson 5. His first solo No. 1 single came in 1972. Known to be overbearing, tension developed between father Joseph Jackson and producer Berry Gordy with most of the Jacksons leaving the label in 1975.
In 1979, Jackson produced his second solo album with the Grammy Award-winning “Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough,” “Rock With You,” and the title track “Off the Wall.” Jackson’s next album Thriller in 1982 became the best-selling album in history producing seven Top 10 hits. The album’s title track spent 80 weeks on the charts, holding the No. 1 spot for 37 weeks and winning eight Grammy Awards out of 12 nominations.
Jackson’s next album, Bad, was released in 1987 and produced five No. 1 hits, including “Man in the Mirror.” He soon opened up the infamous Neverland ranch and by 1993, allegations of child molestation had begun to emerge. After two failed marriages and three children, Jackson’s career began to decline with his 1995 release of HIStory:Past, Present, and Future, Book I.
Jackson continued to be the source of controversy and speculation for his eccentric behavior and private life. In 2005, he was put on trial for 10 counts related to inappropriate interactions with minors. He was eventually acquitted of all charges.
In what was billed as Jackson’s “final curtain call,” he announced a series of 50 concerts for the “This Is It” tour. Tickets sold out in only four hours, but tragically, less than two weeks before the tour was scheduled to start, Jackson died of cardiac arrest on June 25, 2009.
The following video is an interview with Jackson conducted by Sylvia Chase in 1980, just before the peak of Jackson’s career. Check it out to hear Jackson discuss what it was like being a child star and how the racial makeup of his audiences impacted him.