The “King of Pop” Michael Jackson has died today after suffering a major heart attack at the age of 50.
Born in 1958, Jackson debuted on the music scene at the age of 11 as a member of The Jackson 5, and later went on to launch a solo career that would break records world wide.
After reasonable success with the album Off the Wall in 1979, Jackson changed the world of music with the album Thriller in 1982. As well as being credited as the first African-American musician to gain a crossover following on MTV, Jackson also helped define modern music video, turning the medium into both an art form and massive promotional tool.
His follow-up to Thriller, the 1987 album Bad sold over 30 million copies worldwide, and shipped 8 million units in the United States. Bad is the first, and currently only album ever to feature five Billboard Hot 100 #1 singles.
It was around the time that Jackson news started to take a turn towards the strange, and in later years he became better known for his eccentric ways and predilection for children. 1991’s Dangerous sold well, but didn’t copy the single success of the albums before it. 1995’s best of, Jackson’s 9th and final album HIStory is credited as having the largest number of sales on record for a multi-disk album.
Despite the negatives surrounding Jackson’s personal behavior, Jackson was an enormous supporter of charities, having donated and raised millions of dollars for beneficial causes through his foundation, charity singles and support of 39 charities.
Jackson’s health took a serious turn for the worse in late 2008 when it was reported he was suffering from a severe lung condition called Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, a genetic disorder so rare it is difficult to treat.
Jackson has survived by his three children.