I'm Faith Lapidus.
Michael Jackson during rehearsals for planned shows at Staples Centre in Los Angeles, 23 Jun 2009
But Jackson's huge success as a performer was not always easy. He was a complex individual with an often troubled private life.
(MUSIC - "Billie Jean")
That was a song that hardly needs an introduction. "Billie Jean" first came out on the nineteen eighty-two hit album "Thriller." The Guinness World Records lists that record as the best-selling album of all time. Other famous songs on the album include "Thriller", "Beat It" and "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'."
The album "Thriller" was as much about moves as it was about music. Michael Jackson brought attention to his body's movements by wearing a shiny white glove, shortened black pants and white socks. He created dance movements that were electrifying. He could be as hard as a robot, or as smooth as liquid. While doing his famous "Moonwalk" step, he seemed to be walking backwards on air.
(MUSIC - "I Want You Back")
The Jackson 5 became an immediate success. Their music set records. Their first four songs were "I Want You Back", "ABC", "The Love You Save" and "I'll Be There." They all reached the number one position in pop music record sales in nineteen seventy.
Michael was the star of the group. He was the lead singer and danced with great energy. His extraordinary skill and presence on stage was remarkable, especially for someone so young. The group made youthful and fun music that was very popular with both African-Americans and white listeners.
In the nineteen seventies, the group changed record companies and shortened their name to the Jacksons. They continued to perform together, although Michael Jackson started to record music on his own as well. His first album performing alone was "Off the Wall," released in nineteen seventy-nine.
(MUSIC - "Don't Stop ‘Til You Get Enough")
Michael Jackson, "Thriller "
In nineteen eighty-five, Michael Jackson helped write the song "We Are the World." He recorded it with many other famous performers. The aim of the record was to raise money for starving people in Africa. The project raised millions of dollars with this best selling song.
Michael Jackson's next album, "Bad," produced five number one hits, including "The Way You Make Me Feel."
(MUSIC - "The Way You Make Me Feel")
The train station at Neverland Ranch in Los Olivos, California.
He acted and spoke in a childlike way. Jackson bought a huge property in California which he called "Neverland" after the children's story of Peter Pan. He had amusement park rides, a zoo and a large movie theater built for his home. Michael Jackson also went into major debt.And he suffered from injuries and illness that reportedly led him to take many kinds of pain-killing medicines.
In nineteen ninety-three, a thirteen-year-old boy accused him of sexual abuse. The child molestation case was settled out of court with Jackson reportedly paying the boy millions of dollars. But ten years later, a similar accusation by another boy led to a criminal trial which began in two thousand five. A jury cleared Jackson of all charges. He called the trial the hardest thing he had ever done in his life.
During this time, Michael Jackson kept recording and performing music. His later albums include "Dangerous", "HIStory" and "Invincible."
(MUSIC - "Black and White")
Michael Jackson was briefly married to Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of musician Elvis Presley. He later married a nurse named Deborah Rowe. They had two children, Michael Joseph Jackson and Paris Michael Katherine Jackson. The couple divorced in nineteen ninety-nine. Mister Jackson later had a third child, Prince Michael Jackson.
After his two thousand five trial, the singer spent much of his time in Europe and the Middle East. He returned to the United States with the aim of planning what was to be a victorious comeback. Michael Jackson died on June twenty-fifth, two thousand nine of heart failure. He was just days away from launching a series of fifty concerts in London.
Fans of Michael Jackson bring flowers, pictures and candles at a makeshift memorial shrine in London's Trafalgar Square
(MUSIC - "Man in the Mirror")
This program was written and produced by Dana Demange. I'm Faith Lapidus
And I'm Bob Doughty. You can learn about other famous Americans on our Web site, 51voa.com. Join us again next week for People in America in VOA Special English.