Michael Jackson: 9 Crowning Achievements
Why is Michael Jackson so important? What are some of his major contributions to the world of pop music and pop culture in general? Worldhistoryedu.com delves into 9 remarkable achievements of Michael Jackson – America’s true “King of Pop”.
Facts about Michael Jackson
Birth date and Place: August 29, 1958, Gary, Indiana
Death date and Place: June 25, 2009, Los Angeles, California
Cause of death: Drug overdose (from a prescription drug cocktail)
Burial place: Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California
Birth name: Michael Joseph Jackson
Mother: Katherine Jackson
Father: Joseph Jackson
Michael Jackson’s Siblings: Nine siblings – Rebbie (b. May 29, 1950), Jackie (b. May 3, 1951), Tito (b. October 15, 1953), Jermaine (b. December 11, 1954), La Toya (b. May 29, 1956), Marlon (b. March 12, 1957), Brandon (b. 1957; Marlon’s twin brother who died after birth); Randy (b. October 29, 1961), and Janet (b. May 16, 1966)
Marriages: Debbie Rowe (1996-1999, divorced); Lisa-Marie Presley (1994-1996, divorced)
Children: Prince Michael II (also known as Blanket), Paris, Prince Michael Joseph Jr.
Notable Albums with the Jackson 5 and the Jacksons: Diana Ross Present the Jackson 5 (1969), ABC (1970), Dancing Machine (1974), Destiny (1978), Victory (1984)
Notable Solo Albums: Ben (1972); Music and Me (1973); Off the Wall (1979); Thriller (1982); Bad (1987); Dangerous (1991)
Hit songs: “Billie Jean” (1983), “Beat It” (1983),”Thriller” (1983), “Dirty Diana” (1988), “Smooth Criminal” (1988), “Black or White” (1991), “Who Is It?” (1992),
Notable awards and honors: numerous Grammy Awards, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, American Music Awards
Most famous for: “We Are the World” (1985) single with Lionel Richie; one of the best-selling artists of all time
Influenced by: Diana Ross, James Brown, Little Richard
Influences on: Pop culture, music, fashion
Michael Jackson: Brief Biography
Michael Jackson (born: August 29, 1958, Gary, Indiana; died: June 25, 2009, Los Angeles, California) will always be known as the multi-talented musical genius whose album Thriller (1982) became the best-selling music album of all time. However, his impact reached much further than that, making him one of the greatest global superstars of the 20th century.
Jackson, an artist credited with influencing the entirety of pop music and culture, was born in Gary, Indiana on August 29, 2009. Beginning around age five, he spent his childhood performing with his brothers in a very energetic band called the Jackson 5.
Michael Jackson’s musical career as a solo artist was none like ever seen before. Many of his hits – including “Beat It” and “Billie Jean” – topped pop charts for long periods of time. Known for his trademark “moonwalk” dance, Michael Jackson’s achievement in the world of music is evident in the numerous Grammy awards that he won, as well as getting inducted twice – one as a member of the Jackson 5 and the other as a solo artist – into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Towards the tail end of his career, child molestation accusations took the shine of his illustrious career and reputation. Beleaguered by financial problems, Michael Jackson was forced to sell off most of his prized assets. Michael Jackson died suddenly in 2009 as a result of a drug overdose administered by his personal physician.
Major Achievements of Michael Jackson
Discover 9 major achievements of Michael Jackson, the famed American singer, songwriter and dancer who is generally revered as the “King of Pop”.
Lead vocalist for The Jackson 5
At just the age of 5, Michael Jackson musical career kicked off. Encouraged by his father – Joseph Jackson – Michael Jackson and his four older brothers [Jermaine, Jackie, Marlon, Tito] formed the iconic band The Jackson 5 in the early 1960s.
The Jackson 5, which was signed to Motown Records in 1969 by founder Berry Gordy, took the industry by storm with their very fashionable clothes, afros, and well-choreographed performances. At the center of it all was the captivating voice of a 5-year-old Michael Jackson, who performed as the group’s lead vocalist.
The band’s performances were full of youthful energy, soulful exuberance and emotions. They were such scintillating performers on stage that they went from playing local gigs to releasing number one pop hits like “I Want You Back”, “ABC”, “The Love You Save,” and “I’ll Be There” in 1970.
His solo album Off the Wall (1979) was the best-selling album of 1979
While still being member of the Jackson 5, Michael Jackson was making tentative moves into becoming the remarkable solo artists that the whole world fell in love with. He was undoubtedly the most talented of his siblings. As such it was not surprising that his solo album Off the Wall in 1979 received tremendous praise from fans and critics alike.
Not only was Jackson’s Off the Wall the best-selling album of 1979, it has also gone on to sell over 20 million copies and counting worldwide. The Quincy Jones-produced album can boast of hit and full-of-energy tracks such as “She’s Out of My Life”, “Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough” and “Rock with You”. The former bagged a Grammy Award that year.
Did you know: Michael Jackson and Mick Jagger collaborated to record the song “State of Shock” on the album Victory (1984)?
Michael Jackson’s Thriller (1982) is one of the best-selling albums in history
Thriller (1982) was Michael Jackson’s sixth solo album, coming in behind Got to Be There (1971), Ben (1972), Music and Me (1973), Forever, Michael (1975), and Off the Wall (1979).
Thriller, which was produced by the legendary music producer and talent manager Quincy Jones, was a masterpiece. It catapulted the already popular Michael Jackson to superstardom. The album was such a remarkable accomplishment of Jackson that it stayed on top of the charts for a couple of years. And even to this day, the record-breaking, eight Grammy award-wining Thriller continues to receive enormous airplay and acclaim.
Thriller truly deserves the honor of being the best-selling album in music history, selling more than 60 million copies worldwide. Back when Thriller was released, the album, which has been nominated 12 times at the Grammy Award, amassed seven top 10 hits.
Did you know: Michael Jackson’s Thriller (1982) was number one on the charts for a whopping 37 weeks?
Co-wrote the iconic “We Are the World” single
Following his meteoric rise to fame and numerous No. 1 hits, Michael Jackson put his songwriting prowess to good use by collaborating with famed singer Lionel Richie. The two went on to write the classic 1985 single “We Are the World” for the USA for Africa charity initiative. Another factor that made the single so memorable was the fact that it was an all-star initiative that saw celebrated artistes come on board, including Ray Charles, Tina Turner and Bruce Springsteen.
The song did a lot in terms of raising funds for famine relief programs in many African countries, especially those in the horn of Africa. Some portion of the $63 million earnings was spent in the US.
Did you know: Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie’s “We Are the World”, which won four Grammys in 1985, is considered one of the best-selling singles in music history?
His songs and works helped break racial barriers
Take the example of the music video of “Beat It”, with its dazzling performance from guitarist Eddie Van Halen, Michael Jackson injected themes in the video that allowed for the improvement of racial issues in America. Jackson’s works had the power to unite people from all races and economic classes. It is for this reason why many consider him one of the most influential pop culture figures of all time.
Made the “moonwalk” dance extremely popular
Unbeknownst to many people, Jackson debuted his moonwalk dance on March 25, 1983 at a live performance at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.
However, it was during his performance of his hit song “Billie Jean” on May 16, 1983 that the “moonwalk” dance became legendary. The multiple-award winning music genius was performing his hit song at a TV special to celebrate the record label Motown. Jackson wowed the audience with his impeccable dance move by gliding backward. The “moonwalk” dance move went on to become Jackson’s most preferred signature move. Jackson’s absolutely electrifying performance that day went on to earn him his first Emmy Award nomination.
It should be noted that Michael Jackson was not the artist to invent the moonwalk dance; the move traces its origins to the early 1930s and the 1940s, when it was used by the likes of jazz singer dancer Cab Calloway and Bill Bailey. It was called “backslide” by then. Notwithstanding this, Michael is credited for rebranding and popularizing the move and then coining the name “moonwalk”.
Did you know: American singer-songwriter and dancer Jeffrey Daniel was one who taught Michael Jackson how to properly “moonwalk”?
Most awarded pop musician of all time
Over the course of his illustrious career, Michael Jackson was the recipient of hundreds of awards . His reputation as the “King of Pop” is certainly deserved, considering the fact that his career could boast of 13 Grammy Awards, 6 Brit Awards, 26 American Music Awards, and 5 Billboard Music Awards, to name a few.
At the 35th Annual Grammy Awards held on February 23, 1993, he was honored with the Grammy Legend Award. Eleven years prior that, at the 1984 Grammy Awards, for example, Michael Jackson bagged a whopping eight Grammy Awards out of 13 nominations on the night. As of 2021, that feat of his holds a Guinness World Record.
He has held quite a number of Guinness World Records as well. Even though deceased, his smashing hit album Thriller is recognized by Guinness World Records as the world’s best-selling album of all time. He also holds a Guinness World Record for the longest span of US top 40 singles. His first entry came with “Got To Be There” on November 6, 1971.
In April 1990, then-U.S. President George H.W. Bush proclaimed him “Artist of the Decade”. He was also honored at the White House during the Reagan administration.
Posthumously, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys in January 2010. In 2018, he was posthumously awarded the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation Legacy Award for Humanitarian Service. The American Music Awards have bestowed upon Michael Jackson four posthumous awards in 2009, making his total AMAs amount to 26.
Did you know: The Guinness World Records revere Michael Jackson as the most successful entertainer of all time?
Inducted twice into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Michael Jackson has been inducted into a number of prestigious halls of fame, including The Vocal Group Hall of fame (1999), the Songwriters Hall of Fame (in 2002), the Dance Hall of Fame (in posthumously in 2010), the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame (posthumously in 2014), and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (twice – in 1997 and 2001). He was the first recording artist to be inducted into the Dance Hall of Fame.
A number of Michael Jackson’s hit songs and albums have also been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. The songs (all of which were with the Jackson 5) are – “ABC” (1971), “I’ll Be There” (1999), and “I Want You Back” (1999). The albums inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame are Thriller (1982) and Off the Wall (1979).
Other notable halls of fame that Michael Jackson is an inductee are: the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame (in 2010), ECHO Hall of Fame (in 2010).
The Hollywood Walk of Fame has inducted him twice – once as a member of the Jacksons in 1984, and the second time as a solo artist in 1984.
Michael Jackson’s music continue to have enormous influence on artists all around the world
Considering the fact that he is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, it comes as no surprise that Michael Jackson, even in death, continues to have a big influence on the music industry. Musicians from all kinds of music genres have drawn inspiration from Michael Jackson. Some notable modern artists that credit Michael Jackson with influencing their musical aspirations include The Weeknd, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Bruno Mars, Beyoncé, and Usher.
Also, his influence was not limited to just music; Michael Jackson had immense influence in many places around the world, making him the true “King of Pop”. Many a time, he used his music and reputation to advocate for many social causes, from social injustices to eradicating poverty and diseases in some of the poorest countries on earth.
Other interesting facts and notable accomplishments
“The King of Pop” was his most famous nickname. To this day, he remains one of the highest-earning dead celebrities of all time.
It is a known fact that Michael Jackson received no formal music training. He even could not write or read music notation. Neither was he proficient in playing any musical instrument. For someone who gave the world hit song after song, these facts are testament to his amazing innate abilities.
At age 5, Michael Jackson started performing with four of his brothers – Marlon (born – March 12, 1957), Jermaine (b. December 11, 1954), Tito (b. October 15, 1953) and Jackie (b. May 3, 1951). Together the group made up The Jackson 5.
His father, Joseph Jackson, was a crane operator before becoming the manager of The Jackson 5
Michael Jackson had eight siblings [nine actually, if you count Marlon’s twin, Brandon, who died shortly after birth]. He was the seventh and the most talented of all his siblings. His most famous sibling has got to be his younger sister Janet Jackson, the Grammy award-winning singer and actress.
In August, 1985, Jackson purchased ATV Music.
Michael Jackson won 13 Grammy awards and has been nominated for 38 Grammy awards. In 2010, he was posthumously awarded the Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Seventeen years prior, in 1993, he received the Grammy Legend Award.
In addition to popularizing the “moonwalk” dance, Michael Jackson also made the “robot” (or “mannequin”) very famous. He used the “robot” dance a number times; for example during his performance of hit songs “Dancing Machine” and “Smooth Criminal”.
Some proceeds from his Dangerous World Tour in 1992 went to numerous charity organizations. The donations amounted to more than $100 million.
His January 1993 Superbowl XXVII halftime show in Pasadena, California was a huge hit, as more people watched the performance than the game. Michael Jackson performed some of his hit tracks, including “Billie Jean” and “Heal the World”.
He has been nominated twice – in 1983 and 1990 – for Primetime Emmy Award.
Michael Jackson’s memorial celebration of his life and accomplishments was held on July 7, 2009 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The event was attended by influential figures such as Stevie Wonder, Berry Gordy, Jr, Al Sharpton, and Brooke Shields.