Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009), known as the "King of Pop", was an American musician and one of the most commercially successful and influential entertainers of all time. His unique contributions to music and dance, along with a highly publicized personal life, made him a prominent figure in popular culture for four decades.
Alongside his brothers, he made his debut in 1964 as lead singer and youngest member of The Jackson 5, and began a successful solo career in 1971. His 1982 album Thriller remains the best-selling album of all time, with Off the Wall (1979), Bad (1987), Dangerous (1991), and HIStory (1995) among the best selling. He is widely credited with having transformed the music video from a promotional tool into an art form, with videos for his songs "Billie Jean", "Beat It" and "Thriller" making him the first African American artist to amass a strong crossover following on MTV. With stage performances and music videos, Jackson popularized a number of physically complicated dance techniques, such as the robot and the moonwalk. His distinctive musical sound, vocal style and choreography inspired numerous pop, rock, R&B and hip hop artists, while also breaking down cultural, racial and generational barriers.
One of the few artists to have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, his other achievements feature multiple Guinness World Records—including the "Most Successful Entertainer of All Time"—13 Grammy Awards, 22 American Music Awards (20 only as a solo artist, including one for "artist of the century"), 17 number one singles (including the four as a member of the Jackson 5), and estimated sales between 350 million and 750 million records worldwide. He was also a notable philanthropist and humanitarian who donated and raised millions of dollars through support of 39 charities and his own Heal the World Foundation.
Jackson's personal life generated controversy for years. His changing appearance was noticed from the late 1970s onwards, with changes to his nose and to the color of his skin drawing media publicity. He was accused of child sexual abuse in 1993 though no charges were brought, and in 2005 he was tried and acquitted of further allegations. He married twice, first in 1994 and again in 1996, and brought up three children, one born to a surrogate mother. While preparing for the This Is It concert tour in 2009, Jackson died at the age of 50 after suffering from cardiac arrest. He reportedly had been administered drugs such as propofol and lorazepam, and his death was ruled a homicide by the Los Angeles County coroner. His death triggered an outpouring of grief from around the world with his globally live broadcast memorial service attracting an audience of up to one billion people.