Michael Jackson, the world undisputed king of pop music was born to Joseph and Katherine Jackson on 29th August,1958 in Gary, Indiana,USA. He was a child prodigy who was recruited into the Jackson family band at the age of 5 by his father as a singer and a dancer. He became a millionaire at age 12 and at 17 he was a leader of the most popular black pop group in history, the Jackson 5,which was made up of himself and his four senior brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon. The Jackson 5 as a professional musical group was nurtured and brought to limelight by Detroit based Motown Records led by Bery Gordy.
Michael Jackson endowed with a soprano voice started his solo career at the age of 13 with the release of his first solo album 'Got To Be There' by Motown Records in 1971. This solo effort won him a Grammy for the vocalist of the year. Five other solo albums (Ben; Music And Me; Forever; Michael; and The Best Of Michael Jackson) followed in quick succession until 1975, when he quit the Motown Records. By this time he had already reached his first peak in his music career, becoming a super star performer, but the world was yet to see his best.
Michael took a solo break for four years during which he continued to work and record with his brothers now called The Jacksons under a new label Epic, which was a division of CBS Records. The group got two hit albums 'The Jacksons' in 1976 and 'Destiny' in 1978, which sold more than 2 million copies in the United States.
Michael Jackson re-launched his solo career in 1979 with the release of his first solo album'Off The Wall' for Epic label. This album produced by Quincy Jones sold more than 8 million copies and set a new record in the music industry by yeilding Four Top 10 singles(Don't Stop'Til You Get Enough; Rock With You; Off The Wall; and She's Out Of My Life).
Michael again collaborated with his brothers and they released another group album 'Triumph' for Epic label in 1980, the first to be produced by the brothers themselves, and it sold more than 2 million copies. The hit singles in the album included 'Can You Feel It'; 'Lovely One'; and 'Heartbreak Hotel'.
Then came the monster hit album 'Thriller' which thrilled the world! This album released in 1982 was also produced by Quicy Jones, and virtually all the nine cuts of the album were hits that stood on their own(Wanna Be Startin' Something; Baby Be Mine; The Girl Is Mine; Thriller; Beat It; Billie Jean; Human Nature;Pretty Young Thing P.Y.T; and The Lady In My Life). Today 'Thriller' is still the best selling album in the world, having sold more than 50 million copies and is likely to remain the best for many decades to come since people now get their music from the internet!
The 'Thriller' album also yielded three highly successful and commercial videos, which set a new pace in the music industry. 'Beat It' and 'Billie Jean' both directed by Bob Giraldi, and 'Thriller' which was a 14-minute mini-movie was directed by Jon Landis and was choreographed by Broadway dance star Michael Peters. The 'Thriller' mini-movie had a budget of more than $1million. By this time Michael Jackson had reached his second and highest musical peak and had become the undisputable 'King of Pop' by all standards. He had become a superstar par excellence, beaten all known records in pop music history and set new ones.
To be continued!
Emeka E. Okeke