Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson (Aug. 29, 1958 — June 25, 2009) was an American soul-pop singer and songwriter from Gary, Ind., who rose to fame as the lead vocalist of the Jackson 5. As a solo artist, he released four albums on Motown between 1971 and 1975, followed by a mega-selling run of albums on Epic between 1979 and 2001.

Jackson was born Michael Joseph Jackson on August 29, 1958, in Gary, Ind. He was the eighth of ten children born to Katherine Esther Jackson (née Scruse) and Joseph Walter “Joe” Jackson. Katherine played clarinet and piano; Joe, a former boxer, played guitar in the R&B act The Falcons. Michael had five brothers (Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, and Randy) and three sisters (Rebbie, La Toya, and Janet). He was eight years younger than the eldest child, Rebbie (b. 1950), and eight years older than lastborn Janet (b. 1966).

In 1964, Michael and Marlon (b. 1957) joined the Jackson Brothers, assembled by Joe and featuring the five older brothers: Jackie (b. 1951), Tito (b. 1953), and Jermaine (b. 1954). Later that year, six-year old Michael became their co-lead vocalist alongside Jermaine. In 1966, the renamed Jackson 5 won a talent contest at Theodore Roosevelt High School, where Michael sang Robert Parker’s “Barefootin’.”

The brothers played the Midwest circuit of black clubs, colloquially known as the Chitlin’ Circuit. Under the strict discipline of their father, they became an accomplished song and dance act opening for name artists on the Stax and Motown labels. After issuing their first single, “Big Boy,” in 1968 on Gary small-press Steeltown Records, the Jackson 5 signed to Motown and moved to Los Angeles. Michael sang on all their big hits, including “I Want You Back” (#1, 1969), “ABC,” “The Love You Save,” and “I’ll Be There” (all #1, 1970), and “Never Can Say Goodbye” (#2, 1971).

In October 1971, Micheal Jackson debuted as a solo singer with the single “Got to Be There” (#4), written by Elliot Willensky and produced by Hal Davis. It became the title-track of Jackson’s debut solo album, released on January 24, 1972.


  • Got to Be There (1971)
  • Ben (1972)
  • Music & Me (1973)
  • Forever, Michael (1975)
  • Off the Wall (1979)
  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (OST, 1982 • Michael Jackson & John Williams)
  • Thriller (1982)
  • Farewell My Summer Love [archival] (1984)
  • Looking Back to Yesterday [archival] (1986)
  • Bad (1987)
  • Dangerous (1991)
  • HIStory: Past, Present and Future – Book I (1995)
  • Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix (1997)
  • Invincible (2001)


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