Michael Joseph Jackson was an American singer, dancer, and entertainer. Referred to as the King of Pop, he is the most commercially successful and one of the most influential entertainers of all time. His unique contributions to music, dance, and fashion, along with a highly publicized personal life, made him a prominent global figure in popular culture for over four decades.
Michael Jackson was born on August 29, 1958, as the eighth of ten children in Gary, Indiana, an industrial suburb of Chicago, to an African American working-class family. His mother, Katherine Esther Scruse, was a devout Jehovah's Witness, and his father, Joseph Walter "Joe" Jackson, a steel mill worker who performed with an R&B band called The Falcons. Jackson had three sisters: Rebbie, La Toya, and Janet, and six brothers: Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, Brandon and Randy.
Alongside his brothers, he made his debut in 1964 as lead singer and youngest member of The Jackson 5, and later 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) also among the world's best selling albums. He is widely credited with having transformed the music video from a promotional tool into an art form with videos for his songs such as "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, is credited with stretching across and breaking down cultural, racial, economic, generational, and global barriers that has inspired countless pop, rock, R&B and hip hop artists.