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Gone But Not Forgotten: Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson, 8/29/58 - 6/25/2009
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    Michael Jackson, 8/29/1958 - 6/25/2009
    "The King of Pop" was unquestionably the biggest pop star of the '80s, and certainly one of the most popular recording artists of all time. In his prime, Jackson was an unstoppable juggernaut, possessed of all the tools to dominate the charts: a distinctive voice, eye-popping dance moves, stunning musical versatility, and loads of sheer star power.
    Photo: Entertainment Weekly
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    When Joe Jackson began to organize a musical group around this sons, Michael's dead-on mastery of James Brown's dance moves and soulful, mature-beyond-his-years vocals made him a natural focal point, especially given his incredibly young age. The Jackson 5 signed to Motown in 1968 and released Diana Ross Presents The Jackson 5 in 1969 with the #1 hit "I Want You Back".
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    Pictured: the cover of the ABC songbook. The Jackson 5 followed up their debut with ABC in 1970. It spawned another two #1s - the title track and "The Love You Save". Later that year "I'll Be There" was released on their third album, another #1. It also became the best-selling single in Motown history, spending a stellar five weeks at number one. And it had still been less than a year since the group's national debut.
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    An eleven-year-old Michael Jackson, already a huge star, on the cover of the April 29, 1971 issue of Rolling Stone. By this time, the formerly impoverished Jackson clan of Gary, Indiana had moved to Los Angeles into a gated mansion.
    Photo: Rolling Stone
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    The cover of The Jackson 5's Goin' Back to Indiana (1971), the soundtrack to their first of two TV specials between 1971-1972 with "I Want You Back". Jackson 5 merchandising kicked into high gear. They were the primary focus of a new teen magazine, Right On!, and "The Jackson 5ive", a Saturday morning cartoon, aired on ABC. A variety show followed in the mid-70s.
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    In 1971, Motown began focusing on building a solo career for several of the brothers. Michael's first solo single "Got to Be There" was a Top 5 hit. In 1972 Michael's recording of the title track for the film Ben won a Golden Globe for Best Song. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song; Jackson performed the song in front of a live audience at the ceremony. The song was Jackson's first #1 solo hit.
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    The March 7, 1974 issue of Jet featuring all the Jackson brothers. In 1974, the biggest Jackson 5 hit was "Dancing Machine", which popularized Michael's "Robot" dance moves. That year, the Jackson 5 also provided background vocals on Stevie Wonder's "You Haven't Done Nothin'".
    Photo: Jet
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    The Jacksons pictured performing on "Soul Train". After scoring many more hits during the first half of the 70s but experiencing increasing frustration over creative direction, the group, with the exception of Jermaine who was married to Berry Gordy's daughter, chose to leave Motown in 1976 for Epic.
    Photo: Getty Images
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    Michael Jackson, a "young bachelor married to music" on a 1977 cover of Jet. Michael continued to have hits with The Jacksons - recording with Philadelphia International Records ("Enjoy Yourself" and "Show You the Way to Go") and then their biggest post-Motown single "Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)", written by Michael and his brother Randy.
    Photo: Jet
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    The cover to Diana Ross & Michael Jackson's "Ease on Down the Road" from the film adaptation of The Wiz (1978), with Michael starring as the Scarecrow. It was during the soundtrack's production that Michael began working with longtime producer Quincy Jones, and he took a major step away from The Jacksons into a huge solo career that would eclipse the massive heights his career had already reached.
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    Michael Jackson's fifth studio album Off the Wall (1979) was his biggest yet with the title track, "Rock with You", and "Don't Stop Til You Get Enough". The album, in addition to being a commercial success, was critically well received. It won him his first Grammy since the early 70s, and with Off the Wall, he became the first solo artist to have four singles from the same album peak within the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100.
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    Michael, on the rise towards "King of Pop" status, circa Off the Wall on the June 1980 cover of Blues & Soul. Despite its commercial success, Jackson felt <>i>Off the Wall should have made a much bigger impact, and was determined to exceed expectations with his next release. About the 1980 Grammys, Jackson stated that, "It was totally unfair that it didn't get Record of the Year and it can never happen again"
    Photo: Blues & Soul
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    Michael Jackson's many appearances on the cover of Rolling Stone. Between Off the Wall and Thriller, he also felt undervalued by the music industry; in 1980 when Jackson asked the publicist of Rolling Stone if they would be interested in doing a cover story on him, the publicist declined, to which Jackson responded, "I've been told over and over that black people on the cover of magazines doesn't sell copies ... Just wait. Someday those magazines are going to be begging me for an interview. Maybe I'll give them one, and maybe I won't." His prediction came true.
    Photo: Rolling Stone
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    Michael's huge critical and commercial success with Off The Wall in 1979 could not compare to the unimaginable, record-breaking success of Thriller in the early 80s. Presciently, Jackson had negotiated for the highest royalty rate in the music industry prior to Thriller's release. Seven of Thriller's nine tracks made it into the Billboard Top 10 - the title track, "Beat It", "Billie Jean", "PYT", "Wanna Be Startin' Something", "The Girl is Mine", and "Human Nature".
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    In addition to the staggering sales figures, the mass adoration and awards, Michael Jackson became MTV's first superstar, breaking through the channel's backward early attitudes about race. During Thriller's peak, the merchandising exceeded even the prime Jackson 5 years, when they had their own cartoon show. Pictured here is a collectible Michael Jackson doll.
    Photo: Getty Images
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    Between Thriller in 1982 and Bad's release in 1987, Jackson kept busy. Just two of many notable events... He wowed audiences with the debut of the Moonwalk on "Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever" and the landmark premiere of the long form "Thriller" video. Michael shown here on the cover of Jet with young friend Emmanuel Lewis, aka TV's "Webster", when he swept the 1984 American Music Awards.
    Photo: Jet
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    Michael Jackson with his alien friend E.T. on the December 1982 issue of Ebony. In 1982, Michael narrated a children's storybook version of the movie E.T. and recorded "Someone in the Dark", an E.T.-themed track for the record.
    Photo: Ebony
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    Michael hot off Thriller collaborating with older sister LaToya in 1983 and posing on the cover of Jet.
    Photo: Jet
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    Michael Jackson collaborated with Paul McCartney in the early 80s on songs "Say Say Say" and "The Girl Is Mine". McCartney had been associated with Michael as far as back as Off the Wall, as the writer of "Girlfriend". Their friendship ended acrimoniously in 1985 when Jackson purchased the publishing rights to The Beatles' catalog.
    Photo: Getty Images
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    A People magazine cover story in the wake of Michael's terrifying freak accident on the set of his 1984 Pepsi commercial - an accident that left him severely burned, allegedly kickstarted his eventually fatal issues with painkillers, and further triggered an ongoing body dysmorphia that drove him to excessive plastic surgery.
    Photo: People
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    The February 27, 1984 issue of Jet with Michael and close friend Brooke Shields on the cover. She later gave a moving eulogy at his funeral.
    Photo: Jet
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    Esteemed R&B critic and historian Nelson George profiling Michael Jackson and those associated with the recording of Thriller (Thriller Quincy Jones and Eddie Van Halen, guitar soloist on "Beat It") for the July 1984 issue of Musician magazine. In the wake of the disco backlash prevalent in the very late 70s heading into the early 80s, Jackson had wisely lined up Van Halen to give some rock cred to the album.
    Photo: Musician
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    Newsweek covering the Jacksons' huge 1984 Victory Tour. That year saw the release of the brothers' first studio album together since 1980 with modest hits "State of Shock" featuring Mick Jagger and "Torture". However, the subsequent series of concerts proved to be one of the biggest concert tours of the entire decade.
    Photo: Newsweek
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    Michael Jackson with fellow USA for Africa participants - Willie Nelson, Lionel Richie, Tina Turner, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and Cyndi Lauper - on a 1985 cover of Life magazine. Jackson co-wrote "We are the World" with Lionel Richie.
    Photo: Life
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    Michael Jackson poses with one of his many exotic pets, his boa constrictor, Muscles. He also at various points kept llamas, tigers, a ram, an elephant, dogs, and, of course, his famous chimp Bubbles.
    Photo: Getty Images
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    Michael Jackson's Bad was released in August of 1987 and included the title track, "Smooth Criminal", "Dirty Diana", "Man In The Mirror", and "The Way You Make Me Feel". Once again, Bad was produced by Quincy Jones - their final collaboration - and even with the unenviable, nearly impossible task of following Thriller it became the first album to produce 5 #1 hits.
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    Michael back on the cover of People promoting his new release Bad in 1987. He reportedly wrote 60 songs for the album, recorded 30 and wanted to release the album as a three disc set. Quincy Jones convinced him to cut the track list down to 10. The title track was intended to be a collaboration between Jackson and Prince.
    Photo: People
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    Other rumored guest artists that didn't pan out for Bad: Diana Ross, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, and Barbra Streisand. It did include a duet with Stevie Wonder, "Just Good Friends" as well as the ballad "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" with Siedah Garrett. Jackson is pictured here with friends Elizabeth Taylor, Liza Minnelli, and Whitney Houston in 1988.
    Photo: Getty Images
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    Unfortunately, as the hits continued, the speculation over Jackson's eccentric behavior increased. As he had more significant plastic surgery, his face started to noticeably change. Dubbed "Wacko Jacko" by the tabloids, he was rumored to have offered to purchase the Elephant Man's bones and also sleep in an oxygen chamber. Later, in 1994, followed his short, bizarre marriage to Lisa Marie Presley.
    Photo: Getty Images
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    Michael Jackson became known as much for his music and eccentricities as he was for his charity work. Here, Michael Jackson sits with orphaned and abandoned Ivory Coast children in 1992.
    Photo: Getty Images
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    Michael Jackson kisses his sister Janet after she presented him with the Grammy Legend Award at the 35th Annual Grammy Awards in 1993. The two would duet on "Scream" in 1995. At a cost of $ 7 million, its video was listed in the Guinness World Records as the most expensive music video ever made.
    Photo: Getty Images
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    A black mark on his legacy - the mugshot for Michael Jackson's arrest for alleged child molestation. His later years were unfortunately marred by scandal and hard financial times. In 2006, he began to close portions of his home, Neverland Ranch, and then sold it in late 2008.
    Photo: Getty Images
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    Pictured: a Michael Jackson tribute during the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. Jackson's drug-related death at age 50 on June 25, 2009 triggered a global outpouring of grief as well as a record surge in internet traffic - taking down the websites of TMZ and the Los Angeles Times as well as AOL Instant Messenger.
    Photo: Getty Images
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    The Los Angeles Theater Marquee honoring Michael Jackson on June 27, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.
    Photo: Getty Images