In October 1969, Michael Joseph Jackson, 11, and his four older brothers--Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon--released their debut album on Motown Records. Within one year, the group landed nearly a half a dozen No. 1 singles.
Michael, who was the lead singer, immediately showed promise as a likely solo artist and was quickly groomed to record apart from his brothers. Before reaching the age of 15, Michael scored his first No. 1 solo record with "Ben," the title track from a movie about the leader of a group of rodents. The song earned Michael an Oscar nomination.
Michael's solo career continued to flourish with the massive, Quincy Jones produced albums, Off The Wall and Thriller. The later sold 100 million copies worldwide, making it the best selling album of all time.
However, the pressure from fame that Michael experienced at such a young age was believed to make him a recluse who struggled to hold on to his childhood. His close company with children, especially young boys, later haunted him as he found himself on multiple occasions fighting allegations of child molestation for which he vehemently denied and battled with success in and out of court.
Michael is considered to be one of the most influential recording artists. Hip-hop and R&B acts Akon, Lloyd and B5 list Michael songs as their all-time favorite picks in Black Music History.
"I love the way he blended a gansta topic into a smooth R&B feel. Mike was the king of doing that. He also did it with 'Beat It' and 'Bad'."
"His melodies are flawless. The delivery seems effortless. And the track is unprecedented by any. Go Mike."
"Will You Be There"
"The song has a real melodic flavor to it and really is a soothing song to relax to! Micheal has real passion and captures the real essence of friendship."
Photo Gallery - View more than 100 images of pioneers in Black Music.
Black Music Month Radio - Listen to hundreds of classics from legendary artists.