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Michael Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009) was an American recording artist, entertainer, and philanthropist. Referred to as the King of Pop, Jackson is recognized as the most successful entertainer of all time by Guinness World Records. His contribution to music, dance and fashion, along with a much-publicized personal life, made him a global figure in popular culture for over four decades. The eighth child of the Jackson family, Jackson debuted on the professional music scene along with his brothers as a member of The Jackson 5 in the mid-1960s, and began his solo career in 1971.

In the early 1980s, Jackson became a dominant figure in popular music. The music videos for his songs including "Beat It", "Billie Jean" and "Thriller", were credited with transforming the medium into an art form and a promotional tool, and the popularity of these videos helped to bring the relatively new television channel MTV to fame. Videos such as "Black or White" and "Scream" made him a staple on MTV in the 1990s. Through stage performances and music videos, Jackson popularized a number of dance techniques, such as the robot and the moonwalk. His distinctive musical sound and vocal style have influenced numerous hip hop, pop, contemporary R&B and rock artists. Jackson's 1982 album Thriller is the best-selling album of all time. His other records, including Off the Wall (1979), Bad (1987), Dangerous (1991) and HIStory (1995), also rank among the world's best-selling. Jackson is one of the few artists to have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice. Some of his other achievements include multiple Guinness World Records; 13 Grammy Awards (as well as the Grammy Legend Award and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award); 26 American Music Awards (more than any other artist, including the "Artist of the Century"); 13 number-one singles in the United States in his solo career (more than any other male artist in the Hot 100 era); and the estimated sale of over 800 million records worldwide. Jackson won hundreds of awards, which have made him the most-awarded recording artist in the history of music. He was also a notable humanitarian and philanthropist, donating and raising hundreds of millions of dollars for beneficial causes and supporting more than 39 charities. Aspects of Jackson's personal life, including his changing appearance, personal relationships and behavior, have generated controversy. In 1993, he was accused of child sexual abuse, but the case was settled and no formal charges were brought. In 2005, he was tried and acquitted of further sexual abuse allegations and several other charges after the jury ruled him not guilty on all counts. While preparing for his concert series This Is It, Jackson died on June 25, 2009, after suffering from cardiac arrest. Before his death, Jackson had reportedly been administered drugs such as propofol and lorazepam. The Los Angeles County Coroner declared his death a homicide, and 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[weasel words] have watched his public memorial service on live television. In March 2010, Sony Music Entertainment signed a US$250 million deal with Jackson's estate to retain distribution rights to his recordings until 2017, and to release seven posthumous albums over the decade following his death.

For someone who quickly became the most famous black man on the planet, it is perhaps fitting that 'Wacko Jacko' died as the most famous white man on the planet. The oddest and most unpredictable pop star in the world, Jackson lived a life that in turn shocked, perplexed and disturbed his audiences. The King of Pop was often subject to outlandish rumours, but more often than not there was a substantial grain of truth in the crazy tales which came to characterise his life.

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But as his death raises even more questions and mysteries, will we finally be able to unpick the truth about Wacko Jacko?

Was he as mad as his critics liked to suggest, or simply a much-maligned recluse so badly scarred by child stardom that he never had a chance? WACKO JACKO: Jackson often sat in his favourite tree at Neverland to write songs. He named it the Giving Tree, for its 'inspirational qualities' Anybody who chooses as his home a 2,600-acre ranch named Neverland after the magical kingdom featured in Peter Pan could hardly be described as normal. Jackson bought the property in 1987, aged 28. He was thrilled when his dream home was completed - complete with a fully operational amusement park and a private zoo packed with exotic animals.

"Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson was the first video by a black artist to be on air on MTV (1983).

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