“The King of Pop,” a title only deserved to be held by one person by the name of Michael Jackson, a man who changed the music industry forever. People of all ages, races, genders enjoyed his music no matter the year or era.
He broke down barriers in the music industry, opening doors for future artists who were inspired by him. There is never a day this man’s hard work goes unnoticed. Michael Joseph Jackson was born on August 29, 1958 in Gary, Indiana to a large African American working class family. His mother, Katherine Jackson, was a homemaker and a devout Jehovah’s Witness. His father, Joseph Jackson, needing to provide for his family, ended his musical aspirations to become a crane operator. Believing his sons had talent, he molded them into a musical group in the early 1960s. The first incarnation of the family band consisted of Michael’s older brothers, Tito, Jermaine, and Jackie. Michael eventually joined his siblings at the age of 5, rising as the main vocalist.
He showed an impressive range and depth for such a young performer, impressing audiences with his mature and emotional vocal ability. Older brother Marlon eventually joined the group, evolving it into the Jackson 5. Behind the scenes, Joseph, who managed the band, pushed his sons to succeed by abusing and bullying them. He would beat Michael and his brothers with a belt if they made mistakes in their dance routines, leading them to rehearse and polish up their acts for countless hours. Michael became famous at the age of 11 when he played frontman for his family’s band in 1969, the Jackson 5, eventually leading Michael to his solo career. The Jackson 5 were one of the biggest groups in pop music during the early 1970s, being the last impactful group produced by Motown Records before Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder shifted the label’s focus to more individual visions.
The Jackson 5 developed a brand of funky pop-soul, which was different from the smooth and elegant sound Motown typically produced, matching up to par with the group’s youth. However, that youth, along with the merchandising that sprang up behind them, gave them a bubblegum group reputation. The singers were far more talented musically than their label would have suggested. While their material was sunny and upbeat, it didn’t pander to its audience. Although solo work and overexposure gradually began to weaken the Jackson 5, their music held up as well during this time and era of pop/R music. The group’s success of their 1978 album titled “Destiny”, helped encourage Michael to return to solo work.
In 1979, Michael released his album “Off the Wall,” co-produced by Quincy Jones, who stated that Jackson was a natural talent, and his songs “Rock With You” and “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough” broke the charts, showing his development as an artist, making him a star. He remained with his brothers for a little while longer until the release of Michael’s next solo album in 1982 titled “Thriller,” which broke every single music record in the book, eventually leading to Michael leaving the group in 1984. Finding the peak of Michael Jackson’s career can be difficult because he truly never fell. However, if there was one point in Jackson’s career that could be considered his biggest, it would be during the years of 1979 and 1988. The three albums he released during this time frame, ‘Off The Wall’, ‘Thriller’, and ‘Bad’ generated 17 Top 10 hits, selling millions of copies worldwide.
Thriller was the best selling album during this time and would eventually be place into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Thriller also remained No.1 on the Billboard 200 for 37 weeks, becoming the second longest run in the top spot since the chart became a weekly feature in 1956. Jackson also set several records on February 28th, 1984, where he became the first artist to win eight Grammys in one night at the 26th Grammy Awards show. These awards included: Best R&B Male Vocal for ‘Billie Jean’, Best Rock Male Vocal for ‘Beat It’, Best Pop Male Vocal for ‘Thriller’, Record of the Year for ‘Beat It’, and Album of the Year for ‘Thriller.’ That same year, he became the only artist to win Grammys in the Pop, Rock and R&B fields in one year. Jackson has been recognized for his wide range of talents in almost every field of artistry including his vocal performances, songwriting, music videos and producing, starting a trend that only a few could follow after him.
Over the years, Jackson’s appearance started to change, most notably his skin color. Jackson’s skin was once a medium-brown color however, starting in the mid 1980s, his skin gradually grew paler, which was due to vitiligo, a rare disease which causes are not known. It was also widely considered to be due to skin bleaching and changing of his features to appear white, which was later revealed by J. Randy Taraborrelli that he was using the over-the-counter skin-bleaching cream called Porcelana to achieve the lighter skin.
He was heavily criticized for this, people saying that he was a bad role model for the black community and the youth. However, in 1993, Jackson had an interview with Oprah Winfrey where he stated that he had no idea what skin bleaching even was. Jackson went on to say that he had a hereditary skin disorder, rather than something he caused, where he would use makeup to even out his skin tone.”It is something I cannot help,” said Jackson, “When people make up stories that I don’t want to be who I am, it hurts me. It’s a problem for me. I can’t control it.
But what about all the millions of people who sit in the sun to become darker, to become other than what they are. Nobody says nothing about that.” Along with his skin color changing, his facial structure began changing as well.