Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009) was an American singer-songwriter, dancer, actor, choreographer, poet, businessman, philanthropist and record producer. Referred to as the King of Pop, he is recognized as the most successful entertainer of all time, as well as one of the most influential. His unrivaled contribution to music, dance and fashion, and a much-publicized personal life, made him a global figure in popular culture for over four decades.
Jackson is credited with elevating the music video from a mere promotional tool into an art form. He created videos for songs such as Billie Jean, Beat It and Thriller—the last of which has been judged the greatest music video yet made. The video for "Thriller" is the only music video inducted into the national film registry in the Library of Congress. He was the first African American artist to amass a strong crossover following on MTV. Jackson's music videos have been credited with turning MTV and Cable TV into successful ventures. He popularized a number of complicated dance techniques, such as the robot and the moonwalk. His distinctive musical style, vocal style, and choreography continue to transcend generational, racial and cultural boundaries.
Jackson made his debut, alongside his brothers, in 1964 as the lead singer of The Jackson 5. His solo career started in 1971, and resulted in ten studio albums. Of these, the 1982 album Thriller became the best-selling album of all time, having sold more than 110 million copies worldwide. Jackson has been inducted 12 times into various music halls of fame. Other achievements include 13 Guinness World Records—more than any other artist; 15 Grammy Awards, including the Living Legend Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award; 26 American Music Awards, including recognition as Artist of the Century; 17 number-one singles in the United States; and over 780 million record sales globally. Jackson is one of the best-selling recording artists ever.
Jackson's personal life and relationships generated controversy for years. His appearance began to change in the mid-1980s, and his varying nasal structure and skin color attracted much media speculation. In 1993 he was accused of child sexual abuse, though no formal charges were brought. In 2005 he was tried and acquitted of similar allegations. Jackson died on June 25, 2009 from a drug overdose, amidst preparations for a series of concerts entitled This Is It. Before his death, Jackson had reportedly been administered drugs such as propofol and lorazepam. The Los Angeles County Coroner concluded that his death was a homicide. His personal physician pleaded not guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter. Jackson's death triggered a global outpouring of grief, and as many as a billion people around the world may have watched his public memorial service on live television. On March 16, 2010, Sony Music Entertainment signed a record-breaking $250 million deal with Jackson's estate to retain distribution rights to his recordings until 2017 and release seven posthumous albums over the next decade.