Originally a member of the Motown act the Jackson 5, Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 — June 25, 2009) debuted as a solo artist in 1971 — the year he turned thirteen. His full-fledged solo career took off in the late 1970s. Though songs from his first serious solo effort, Off the Wall (1979), were popular, he reached superstardom in 1982 with his album Thriller. Thriller is currently the only album in history to have sold more than one hundred million copies — beating the number two album by more than double.Known as the King of Pop, he is the most successful recording artist in history, with his music influencing much of the genre in the 1980s and early 1990s, his music videos breaking the color barrier on MTV. He also starred in a movie and had a video game based on him. All of this resulted in a total of 13 Grammy Awards. Then he released his next album, Bad, which was also a big hit.As the definitive celebrity of the '80s, he cultivated a Reclusive Artist persona and a reputation for high eccentricity. In particular, he created the Neverland Ranch, a grand estate where he could finally live the childhood he never had, since he and his siblings had spent most of their childhood and teen years performing under the heavy, often abusive hand of father Joe. It featured a zoo and an amusement park, and frequently hosted visits from ill and/or underprivileged children.In 1993, in the wake of his fourth solo album Dangerous, Jackson was accused of molesting a young boy. Because this both contradicted his image as a friend to childrenandwas not implausible in light of the various rumors of his extreme eccentricity — in particular, his alarming changes in appearance over the past fifteen years, chalked up to plastic surgery and the skin disorder vitiligo — it made international headlines. When Jackson settled a civil suit with the boy's family out-of-court over the matter (and paid out a settlement to the son of one of his maids over similar accusations), it left the case too thin to prosecute since the boy was no longer willing to testify.However, the damage was done, and in the U.S. he became less known for his artistic outputnote HIStory , Blood on the Dance Floor , and Invincible  - which still all went platinum several times, if only internationally in Blood's case than his ever-strange personal behavior. He had a brief marriage to Elvis Presley's daughter, he dangled one of his infant children over a Berlin hotel railing to show him to fans, and worst of all another round of molestation allegations in 2003. This one went to trial; he was declared not guilty in 2005.Jackson died due to an overdose of propofol, a hospital-grade anesthetic, on June 25, 2009, at the age of fifty. The date was only a few weeks before the planned start of a long-awaited series of shows in London that were to serve as a comeback. (This occurred during an almost surreal two-week period between June 21 and July 4, which was densely populated by celebrity deaths including those of Ed McMahon; Sky Saxon; Farrah Fawcett (who died on the same day as Jackson); Billy Mays; Mollie Sugden; Harve Presnell; Karl Malden; and Steve McNair. It was dubbed the "Summer of Death" or the "2009 Celebrity Death Wave". David Carradine, who died two weeks before the beginning of the period, and Patrick Swayze, who died in September of that year, are often included with that group.) Jackson reportedly could not sleep on his own, and required propofol to rest, despite that the FDA does not allow propofol to be used outside a hospital or similar treatment center. Dr. Conrad Murray, the doctor who administered the medication to Jackson, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in November 2011. His family sued tour organizer AEG for negligence to the tune of $40 billion, but lost that case in 2013.His memorial service on July 7, 2009 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles was broadcast live around the world, watched by millions; he is interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California. There is a movie featuring footage of his rehearsals for his London live shows.Not for nothing... he's the King of Pop!
Studio album discography:
Got to be There (1972)
Music & Me (1973)
Forever, Michael (1975)
These first four albums were made under the direction of the Motown record label before Jackson obtained complete creative control of his work. The following albums are after his move to Sony's Epic Records.
There's such disdain for Joe that at Michael's memorial, his parents were referred to as "Mrs. Jackson and Joe".
Accidental Pervert: According to at least an interview, when his older brothers brought girls to their hotel rooms for "private times", Michael found himself in this situation as he was the youngest of the Five-Man Band and by that hour, he usually was trying to get some sleep. Made even more awkward/squicky/hilarious/etc. when he added more than one of the girls would say "Aw, really? He's so cute" upon learning about his "presence".
Album Filler: Or more specifically, a noted lack thereof early on. In later interviews towards the end of his life, he specifically noted this trope as the impetus to his work on his three biggest albums Off the Wall, Thriller, and Bad. He stated he asked himself, "Why can't there be an album where every song could be released as a single?" He seems to have done well with his goal there: Off the Wall was the first album ever with four Top Ten singles, Thriller had seven Top Ten singles (of nine total songs on the album), and Bad was the first album to have five Number Ones in America.
Ancient Egypt: The setting of the "Remember the Time" music video.
Angry Black Man: Rarely ever acts like this but he does it one time in his song They Don't Care About Us
Awesome yet Practical: His single white glove on his right hand; it was actually a way to hide his vitiligonote If you're wondering why he did not simply use make up, try to imagine what would happen if you had to shake hands with someone while wearing make up on your hand..
The Baby Trap: "Billie Jean." Inspired by all the times he saw girls try this on his older brothers during the "Jackson 5" years.
Badass Baritone: Particularly at James Brown's funeral and some close friends have implied this to be true in private. An unfortunate example is the tapes from his death trial involving Murray where he is obviously inebriated due to drug usage.
Being Watched: Rockwell's "Somebody's Watching Me" as well as his own "Who Is It" video has a face in the wall of the main character's apartment. The face seems to imply he knows what his lover has been doing to him. The lover in the short film is a high profile prostitute.
He also had a role in Miss Cast Away, made in 2004. He was prominently featured on the cover as a selling point (but then, according to reviews, it had nothing else to offer).
Celebrity Star: The Simpsons episode "Stark Raving Dad" has Homer meeting a man named "Leon Kompowsky" who thinks he's Michael Jackson. The voice actor credited with the role was "John Jay Smith," but aside (ironically) from his singing it is Jackson's actual voice — he was a huge fan of the show who also co-wrote "Do the Bartman" under a pseudonym.
And even though he didn't sing it, the episode also gave us one of the show's Crowning Moments of Everything in "Lisa, It's Your Birthday". He apparently didn't do the singing parts because Sony would not allow him to, though another story floating around is that Michael wanted to prank his family with the sound-alike singer (Kipp Lennon).
Clothes Make the Legend: White socks; short trousers; red jacket; black trilby; single white glove; and several others.
Concept Album: Off the Wall is about the ups and downs of partying while Blood on the Dance Floor as an EP (without the remixes) could very well be a concept album on inner demons such as lust, addiction, jealousy, and masochism.
Concept Video: There's the obvious and then there's Speed Demon, Remember the Time, Who Is It, and Ghosts.
Cool Shades: He wore them from time to time, of the oversized kind.
Cult Of Personality: After the huge success of Thriller, much of Jackson's subsequent career was spent building up one, portraying himself as an eccentric yet pure-hearted humanitarian and the greatest entertainer in the world. This worked on a lot of people, as seen in the Vocal Minority of his fans, whom along with his estate, family, and certain collaborators continue to encourage and maintain it.
Cute Kitten: On the extended Thriller CD cover, Jackson is holding a tiger cub.
HIStory definitely accomplished this and to some extent Dangerous with darker songs like "Who Is It" and "Give In to Me". The New Jack Swing added a Hip-Hop edge to Jackson's music than had been nonexistent before.
Dead Artists Are Better: Following his death, many people considered him to be a genius who was unfairly ridiculed and persecuted. Never mind that right up until his death was announced, they were likely happily mocking him along with everyone else.
Dolled-Up Installment: The "This Is It" song that was released at the same time as the This Is It movie. It was originally recorded in 1983 under the title "I Never Heard" and it was chosen because it happened to have the phrase "This is it" opening each verse.
Dreaming of Things to Come: May actually have happened. After his death, Lisa Marie Presley claimed that he told her of a nightmare where he dreamed of himself dying the same way her father had. As we know, that is exactly what happened.
Everything's Better with Sparkles: He wore silver sequins on his glove and socks for this reason... and because with sparkly white socks, viewers could pay attention to his amazing dance moves more easily.
Giant Spider: This Is It features a giant black widow spider in the Thriller segment. Not only is one on screen (this would have been in 3D, no less), but one scurries on stage that opens up to reveal Jackson.
List Song: "Why You Wanna Trip On Me" is a list of things Michael thinks people should worry about more than his personal life.
Loud of War: The video for "Black or White" opens with a father insisting his son turns his music off, only for the son to set up a ridiculously large guitar amp and crank it all the way to "Are You Nuts??!?!!?", with rather destructive effects.
Lyrical Dissonance: "The Girl Is Mine" (light light light 80s pop about two guys fighting over a girl who is probably playing them both for someone less obsessive than either of them), "Billie Jean" (generally an upbeat dance number about an obsessive fan), "Bad" (generally another upbeat dance number about racism if the short film is anything to go by), and "Black or White" (happy-go-lucky Pop-Rock song about racism and hypocritical racists who turn wit society).
Momma's Boy: Michael adored his mother Katherine, and if the memorial is any indication everyone else did too ("Mrs. Jackson... and Joe"). One of the first things Michael did after becoming a successful solo artist was to throw a huge birthday party for her to show how much he loved her, but it almost backfired due to them being Jehovah's Witnesses (they managed a compromise by having the gifts "wrapped" in plain brown bags).
MTV: Contrary to popular belief, "Billie Jean" was not the first video by an African American artist shown on MTV, but its success helped bring down the channel's color barrier, and from there, Jackson became one of the biggest video stars in the early '80s. The "Thriller" clip, in particular, was the most elaborate music video made up to that point (1983) and was regarded as a genuine event.
New Sound Album: Off the Wall to his previous career; Thriller for trading in Disco for pop sounds; Bad for precise digital production; Dangerous for adding New Jack Swing; and Invincible for getting closer to late '90s pop.
Nice Hat: His black Trilby. In several concerts, he threw it at the audience.
No Animals Were Harmed: A disclaimer at the end of the music video for "Earth Song" says that no animals were harmed during the making of the video, though an unnamed poacher had killed an elephant within a mile of the shot.
Obsession Song: "Baby Be Mine", "Billie Jean", "The Girl Is Mine", "I Just Can't Stop Loving You", "Dirty Diana", "Streetwalker", "Can't Let Her Get Away", "Remember the Time", "Who Is It", "Give In to Me", and "Dangerous".
One of the Kids: He identified very strongly with Peter Pan. Neverland Ranch was designed to give other kids the dream childhood Joe Jackson denied him. It was, many argue, this childlike behavior and thought patterns which led to the molestation charges due to it not being what it looked like.
The other thing is that Jackson preferred being around children because they liked having fun, didn't talk to him about adult things that made him feel uncomfortable, and were less likely to judge him for what the media said about him.
Only Known by Their Nickname: His two sons. The eldest, Michael Joseph Jackson II, is known as "Prince". The youngest, Prince Michael Jackson II (i.e. his first name actually is "Prince" — yes, it's confusing), is known as "Blanket".
Our Founder: The trailer for his HIStory album shows him heading an army and erecting a giant statue of himself. That statue trick (it served as the cover of the album, and actual replicas of it were circulated on his tour) was criticized even by his fans as being too Small Name, Big Ego.
Pass the Popcorn: Sorta does this in the "Thriller" video. An animated gif featuring this scene has become a massive meme.
Pep Talk Song: "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'", "Keep the Faith", and "On the Line".
The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: One reason his Small Name, Big Ego reputation worsened in his final decade (1999-2009) was that he didn't tour, performed live very rarely, and only produced one full album in 2001; all his other releases were compilations of older material with a few new songs thrown in (one on Number Ones, more in the box set). This is another reason the term "self-proclaimed King of Pop" was thrown around a lot when he was mentioned in the media; he wasn't doing much to maintain his throne.
Pop Star Composer: In the mid 2000s, it was discovered that Jackson had a hand in composing some of the soundtrack of Sonic the Hedgehog 3, with most evidence pointing to the fact that most of the songs are either uptempo or Suspiciously Similar Songs of tracks from his Dangerous album. He is not credited in the game itself, with the official reasons being that he disliked the low-grade sound equipment used to make Sega Genesis music, but given that he had somewhat bigger things to worry about in early 1993, it's easier to see the true reasons behind his abandoning the project. He later lent his voice and likeness to another Creator/Sega project, Space Channel 5, but it's not known if he provided any music.
Despite evidence of his involvement, there has been no actual confirmation of what songs, if any, that he composed made it into the game. That said, technically it was his personal songwriter at the time, Brad Buxor who composed the songs during his involvement.
Primal Scene: One of the many things that scarred Jackson's childhood. Whenever the Jackson 5 went on tour, Michael's older brothers would make him pretend to be asleep while they brought groupies to the hotel room, and he would hear them having sex.
Promoted Fanboy: Michael loved video games, and after a SEGA exec showed him a build of their upcoming rhythm game Space Channel 5, he was so enthusiastic about the project, he wanted to be a part of it. Although the game's near-finished state limited him to just a couple of lines, he had a much larger participation in its sequel. Of course, he already his own SEGA game years ago with Moonwalker and had briefly worked on the soundtrack for Sonic the Hedgehog 3 before his personal issues removed him from the project.
Reclusive Artist: Which is apparently why he has created several songs that ask the media to leave him alone, such as "Leave Me Alone" (only the video version, although it's the most famous one), "Why You Wanna Trip on Me", "Scream", "Tabloid Junkie", and "Privacy".
Retirony: He died only 18 days before the first of the This is It series of concerts, which he had implied would be the last of his career.
The Rival: Prince was presented as this. They even were going to have Prince be the opponent in the "Bad" video, but Prince refused.
MC Hammer thought himself this during the early and mid '90s, and repeatedly tried to call Jackson out. This seems to have mostly been a one-way rivalry though. This was stymied as Jackson was a fan of Hammer's and reportedly enjoyed the MJ call-out at the end of 2 Legit to Quit (when a Jackson stand-in makes the titular hand gesture).
Sanity Slippage Song: "Someone Put Your Hand Out" (desperation to the max), "Smile" (the lyrics paired with his voice don't seem to be the picture of sanity, although this is subverted at the end when he genuinely laughs), "Morphine" (the song is all about the highs and lows of drug addiction), "Escape" (the song is about how everyone is out to get him and he NEEDS to get away), and "Blue Gangsta" ("I've been abused/Watch me light the fuse... I can never fall in love again").
Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: A problem with his choice to settle the first child molestation allegations, specifically the civil lawsuit for claims of nonsexual negligence, out of court instead of going through with a trial was that to many people he appeared to be invoking this trope. (The first child molestation allegations were dropped when two grand juries refused to indict Jackson several months after the civil settlement. During the civil trial, the criminal trial had been postponed by the accusing father.)
Self-Backing Vocalist: You can pick up his own distinctive voice in the backing vocals to a majority of his songs, starting as early as "Got to be There" and "Rockin Robin". He also commonly provided his own backing "vocal instrumentation" with beatboxing and the like (as in Tabloid Junkie).
And when he walks, it looks like he's moonwalking forwards.
Pokémon Colosseum and Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness both feature Miror B., an antagonist who has excellent dancing skills, a glove on his left hand, and an afro in the shape of a Poké Ball (also the same colors as a standard Poké Ball - red and white), who loves using Ludicolo. Ludicolo ITSELF is a reference to Michael, but Miror B. takes this to 649.
Also, most of his music videos are shout outs. "Bad" is a shout out to Cool from West Side Story, "Smooth Criminal" is a shout out to Fred Astaire.
Even "Beat It" is reminiscent of West Side Story: What if Tony had stopped the fight?
La-Mulana: The "Dancer" you have to scan in the Temple of Moonlight uses one of Jackson's poses.
Battle Arena Toshinden 3: Kayin Amoh and his foil Ten Count. One is a weathered young man whose life as a bounty hunter has given him nothing but grief and knowing the bitter and sick aftertaste of violence, while the other is a fairly insane sharp dressed hitman who delights in his career like a superstar and uses an undercover name based off of one of his methods to delightfully kill people. Both of them are respectively based off of Beat It and Smooth Criminal, even right down to the wardrobe and their clashing character themes.
Except one of the Jackson siblings, apparently. Jermaine Jackson, the fourth Jackson child born to the family (Michael was the seventh), has recently released a biography called "You Are Not Alone: Through a Brother's Eyes". The biography is extremely sympathetic to Joe, portraying him as someone who learned tough lessons by working in sweltering-hot steel mills in the town of Gary, Indiana, was robbed of his childhood dream of becoming a musician in California, and ultimately was someone who commanded discipline and respect because he felt he had earned it. Needless to say, the fans' reaction to Jermaine's depiction of Joe Jackson has been... mixed.
Some of My Best Friends Are X: After he included anti-Semitic slurs in his 1995 Protest Song "They Don't Care About Us", he was questioned about them by Diane Sawyer. He denied any prejudice and pointed out that "...my accountants and lawyers are Jewish. My three best friends are Jewish — David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg. Mike Milken — these are friends of mine. They're all Jewish. How does that make sense? I was raised in a Jewish community." Jackson re-recorded the song minus the slurs for the single release and the later pressings of HIStory.
On later copies there's seem to be faulty censoring as there is a little *bleep* for the word Jewish K-word and one can still hear the original intended wording.
Something Completely Different: In his last years, he was experimenting with very different styles of music and art. He considered film acting and directing but he was too much in debt to open a film company.
Stalking Is Love: The music video for "The Way You Make Me Feel" gives off this vibe.
Staying with Friends: Michael lived with Diana Ross during the period between The Jackson 5's signing with Motown Records and their purchase of and move into Havenhurst.
Take That: The song "D.S.", from the HIStory album. The lyrics say that someone named "Dom Sheldon" is a cold man, but if you listen to the song, he's clearly saying "Tom Sneddon", the Santa Barbara DA who went after him for child molestation back in the '90s and again in 2005 — in fact, some people believed that Sneddon had a vendetta against Jackson because of this song, and it was at least part of the reason he took him to trial.
Theme Naming: Jackson's children are named Michael Joseph Jackson Jr. (a.k.a. Prince), Paris-Michael Katherine (after his beloved mother) Jackson, and Prince Michael Jackson II (a.k.a. Blanket). Paris might have been named "Princess" had Debbie Rowe not objected to it.
Training from Hell: And how. Joe Jackson made his children rehearse a lot, until very late at night, and if they ever made a slight mistake, he would beat them with a belt. He even threw Michael against the wall several times, and Katherine told Joe he'd kill him.
Trope Codifier: For the modern, plot-driven type of music video (ones previous to him were mostly just shots of the band playing), for the modern style of pop performances (one of the first to have synchronized choreographed dance while singing), and for the modern pop artist image and persona.
Uncanny Family Resemblance: Many of the Jackson brothers looked strikingly alike when they were children. Also, back in the '90s, the running gag was that Michael's public appearances were actually his sister LaToya.
Blanket is basically a light-skinned version of Michael as a child.
Worst News Judgment Ever: An extreme Real Life example, in that his death overshadowed everything from voter protests in Iran to the beginning of U.S. troop withdrawals in Iraq, as well as the above mentioned other celebrity deaths (with the exception of Billy Mays, whose death caused a second crash of several news sites within a week). He was a big star, but given what became of him in his final years...
You Don't Look Like You: He may be the most famous real life example, as well as perhaps the most extreme example not involving cross-dressing. (Though to shield himself from the public and press, he dabbled in crossdressing. In the Middle East, he was spotted wearing a burqa and entering a ladies' room).