Legendary entertainer Michael Jackson is dead at 50 following a heart attack, according to numerous reports. Born in Gary, Indiana to Joe and Katherine Jackson, Michael first rose to prominence as the explosively talented frontman for the pioneering boy band Jackson 5. Jackson's heartbreaking falsetto, dynamic dance moves and showmanship made him one of Motown's biggest stars.
The Jackson 5 scored a series of classic hits like "ABC", "I Want You Back" and "Dancing Machine" under the tutelage of label head Berry Gordy and Michael's domineering, controlling father. Jackson was the ultimate man-child. During his days as a preeminent child star he was a child who entertained like a man. Following the historic success of 1982's Thriller he became a man who behaved like a child.
With 1979's Off The Wall Jackson made an effortless transition from child star to adult superstar with the help of producer Quincy Jones, who later produced 1982's Thriller, a landmark album that ranks as one of the best-selling albums of all time. Thriller made Jackson arguably the most famous man in the world throughout the eighties.
Jackson had the fame, money and resources to live out his fantasies. He built an elaborate theme park of a home named Neverland and stocked it with rides and animals, most famously a chimp named Bubbles. During this period Jackson generated controversy over his extremely close relationship with children, including child stars Emmanuel Lewis and Corey Feldman.
With 1987's Bad the hits kept coming but after parting ways with longtime producer Jones, Jackson's eccentricities and allegations of child molestation overshadowed his sinking career. The self-styled "King of Pop" was one of the richest entertainers in the world, thanks in no small part to his very savvy purchase of the Beatles' catalog, a cash cow that helped sustain him through notorious spending sprees.
Jackson's sales and popularity began to wane following the release of 1991's Dangerous. In 1994 Jackson shocked the world by marrying Lisa Marie Presley after paying a reported $22 million to the family of a 13-year-old boy Jackson was accused of molesting in an out-of-court settlement. Jackson's marriage to Presley ended in divorce, as did a second marriage to dermatologist Debbie Rowe. Controversy continued to follow Jackson wherever he went.
After leaving longtime label Sony in a famously acrimonious fashion, Jackson entered a steep personal and professional decline. At the time of his passing, Jackson was working on a long-in-the-works comeback album produced in part by Will.I.Am. He is surived by three children—Michael Jackson Jr., Paris Michael Katherine Jackson and Prince Michael Jackson II—his parents and his siblings.
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