A Look Back at Top 10 Career Moments of Michael Jackson

Michael Joseph Jackson, the “King of Pop” is the dominant entertainer of his generation, if not history, it’s no surprise that his music and legacy continue to inspire passion among fans young and old.  He is remembered for dozens of hit songs that changed music forever, inspiring countless other artists and breaking every record in the business. Here are the 10 career moments from MJ’s music career as reported by ABC news. This includes 13 Grammy Awards, two inductions into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and sales upwards of 400 million records.

(1) 1968 Motown Signs The Jackson 5: The Jackson 5’s first four singles when he was just short of 10 years old at the time. Founding group members Jackie Jackson, Tito Jackson, Jermaine Jackson, Marlon Jackson and Michael Jackson formed the group after performing in an early incarnation called The Jackson Brothers. It was formed in 1964, and it’s been estimated that they sold nearly 100 million records worldwide.

(2) 1978-1979 Musical Adventure Wiz and Off The Wall: The Wiz is a 1978 musical adventure film produced by Motown Productions and Universal Pictures, and released by Universal on October 24, 1978. In the film, MJ takes on the role of the Scarecrow as Dorothy tries to get back to her life as a Harlem schoolteacher. It was Quincy Jones’ first time working with Michael Jackson, who produces Jackson’s first adult solo album “Off The Wall.” The record won the singer his first Grammy Award and has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best selling albums of all time.

(3) 1982 Thriller: Thriller was released on November 30, 1982, by Epic Records as the follow-up to Jackson’s critically and commercially successful 1979 album Off the Wall. Of the nine tracks on the album, four of them were written by Jackson himself. Seven singles were released from the album, all of which reached the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. “Billie Jean,” “Beat It” and “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin” all help to keep the album at the top of the chart for 37 weeks. In just over a year, Thriller became—and currently remains—the best-selling album of all time, with sales estimated by various sources as being between 51 and 65 million copies worldwide. The album won a record-breaking eight Grammy Awards in 1984, including for Album of the Year.

(4) 1983 The Moonwalk: The big moment came during the end of his performance of “Billie Jean” on a TV show called “Motown 25 Anniversary special ” in March 1983. The moonwalk only lasted two seconds, Jackson spun around, posed, then all of a sudden began gliding backward. It captured the attention of the entire world, and the next day kids all over America were trying out the move on the playground.

(5) 1985 We Are The World: A charity single originally recorded by the supergroup USA for Africa in 1985. It was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, and produced by Quincy Jones and Michael Omartian for the album We Are the World. With sales in excess of 20 million copies, it is one of the fewer than 30 all-time singles to have sold 10 million (or more) copies worldwide. The last recording session for the song was held on January 28, 1985. The historic event brought together some of the most famous artists in the music industry at the time.

(6) 1987 Bad: His follow-up to “Thriller” was released on August 31, 1987 and “Bad” topped the charts for eight weeks. Bad itself has sold around 30 million copies worldwide, shipped 9 million units in the United States alone, and has been cited as one of the 20 best-selling albums of all time. The album produced a record five Billboard Hot 100 number one singles, the first and one of only 2 albums to do so.

(7) 1991 Black or White: Written, composed and produced by Michael Jackson and Bill Bottrell, within 3 weeks of being released, “Black or White” hit No. 1 in December 1991. During that time Jackson was the first artist to have top hits from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. At the end of the video, different people, including model Tyra Banks, dance as they morph into one another. It had an audience of 500 million and featured child star Macaulay Culkin.

(8) 1997-2002 Prince, Paris and Blanket: In 1997, Jackson marries Debbie Rowe, after having been previously married to Lisa Marie Presley (1994-1996). Michael Joseph Jackson Jr (commonly known as Prince) was born on February 13, 1997; his sister Paris-Michael Katherine Jackson was born a year later on April 3, 1998. Jackson would have one more child in 2002 with a surrogate, Prince Michael II, aka “Blanket.”

(9) 2001 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Jackson was a double-inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, once as a member of The Jackson 5 in 1997 and later as a solo artist in 2001. His bio on the Hall’s website says, “As a solo performer, he enjoyed a level of superstardom previously known only to Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Frank Sinatra.” In his acceptance speech, Jackson said, “For me, the gift of music has been a blessing from God,” he said. “To my mother Katherine and to my father Joseph Jackson, I love you both. To my brothers and my sisters, thank you, you’re so wonderful.”

(10) 2009 Death and Tribute: On June 25, 2009, Jackson died from cardiac arrest, while in his bed at his rented mansion at 100 North Carolwood Drive in the Holmby Hills district of Los Angeles. He was pronounced dead at 2:26 local time (21:26 UTC). Jackson’s death triggered a global outpouring of grief. A public memorial service was held on July 7, 2009, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.  The memorial service was one of the most watched events in online streaming history. His albums sold over a total of 35 million worldwide, in the 12 months that followed his death. Jackson became the first artist to sell one million downloads in a week in download history, with a record-breaking 2.6 million downloads of his songs.

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