On Thursday, June 25, 2009, the death of Michael Jackson brought an end to a musical career marked with monster rock hits, huge concert performances, and fans that could be found in every corner of the world. When he was at his peak, he was pop music’s number one all-around performer and his music could be heard everywhere. 1982’s monster success, “Thriller,” Jackson’s second solo album, is the all time best selling album in any category.
Jackson made uncounted millions of dollars from his album sales and concert tours, and yet died leaving behind an estimated $400 million in debt. His most recent plan to was have one final comeback – after well over a decade marked with scandal, and some of the most bizarre behavior ever seen in a major celebrity.
First introduced to the public when just a very young boy in the late 1960s, Jackson became the lead singer of the Jackson 5, the singing group that he fronted with his four older brothers. After the Jacksons came on the national scene, they had major hits with “I Want You Back,” “ABC,” and “I’ll Be There,” all with Michael singing lead – even though he was the youngest of the group. The Jackson 5 are sometimes credited as being the first and most talented of the “boy bands” that later included the Osmonds, New Kids on the Block, and Boyz 2 Men.
Michael Joseph Jackson was the seventh of nine children. His father, Joseph, was a struggling steel worker with some experience in music and performing. Joe Jackson was determined to get his family out of the shadow of poverty and into the limelight. His boys, and especially Michael, would become the family’s meal ticket.
Michael’s mother, Katherine, was a Jehovah’s Witness and raised her children to be Witnesses. Michael grew up with two main influences: music and the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ religious culture. His father was an abusive parent who was focused only on making sure that the boys became good musicians and successful entertainers. According to most of the Jackson children, their father physically and verbally abused them – and never “spared the rod” even after they became successful. The damage to young Michael, the family’s leading man, was particularly severe and likely scarred him psychologically for the rest of his life.