Michael Jackson’s Ups and Downs

A timeline of the most controversial and influential artist of his time.

Last Updated: June 25, 2009 @ 5:22 PM

August 29, 1958 — Michael Joseph Jackson is born to Joseph and Katharine Jackson.

1964 — Jackson and his brother Marlon join “The Jackson Brothers,” a group started by their brothers Jackie, Tito and Jermaine.

1968 — The band, now named the Jackson 5, signs with industry giant Motown Records. Their first four singles (‘I Want You Back,’ ‘ABC,’ ‘The Love You Save,’ and ‘I’ll Be There”) all reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

1972 — Motown releases the first two solo albums of Jackson’s career, “Got to Be There” and “Ben.”

1975 — The Jackson 5 leave Motown and sign with the Philadelphia International Records division of CBS Records (later renamed Epic).

1979 — Jackson breaks his nose during a dance routine, for which he has rhinoplasty surgery — the first of many.

1979 – Jackson releases “Off the Wall,” his fifth studio album, which is co-produced by Quincy Jones. Four songs on the album become US top 10 hits and the album reaches No. 3 on the Billboard 200.

1980 — “Off the Wall” earns Jackson three American Music Awards and a Grammy Award.

1982 — His sixth album, “Thriller,” becomes the best-selling album ever — a record it still holds. The album remains atop the Billboard 200 for 37 weeks and in the top 10 for 80 straight weeks en route to setting a record with top 10 singles.

1983 — At the “Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever” television special, Jackson performs what would become his signature dance — the moonwalk.

1984 — Pyrotechnics accidentally set Jackson’s hair on fire, giving him second-degree burns on his scalp. Many signal this moment as the point where Jackson begins to become obsessed with his appearance.

1984 — Jackson and Lionel Richie co-write “We Are the World,” a single released to aid the poor in Africa and combat AIDS.

1986 — Tabloids run a story asserting that Jackson sleeps in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber to slow his aging, but it turns out that Jackson leaked the false story. This was the first of many occasions in which Jackson leaked a fake story about himself.

mid-1980s — Jackson is diagnosed with both lupus and vitiligo, a skin condition. 

1987 — “Bad,” Jackson’s first album in five years, produces five singles that top the Billboard Hot 100 and sells 30 million copies worldwide.

1988 — Jackson purchases land near Santa Ynez, California, which he uses to build Neverland Ranch. The 2700-acre property, which features Ferris wheels and a movie theater, was valued at $100 million as recently as 2003.

1989 — Friend Elizabeth Taylor anoints Jackson the “King of Pop” while handing him the “Artist of the Decade” Award. Jackson also earns $125 million in just one year,

1991 — “Dangerous,” Jackson’s eighth album, becomes the most successful new jack swing album, selling 32 million copies worldwide.

1992 — Jackson is given the “Living Legend” Award at the 35th Annual Grammy Awards.

1993 — In a 90-minute interview with Oprah, Jackson discusses the abuse he suffered as a child and dispels multiple rumors circulating about him.

1993 — 13-year old Jordan Chandler and his father Evan accuse Jackson of engaging Jordan in kissing, masturbation and oral sex. Chandler’s mother insists that the accusations are unsupported as Jackson’s family members deny that he is a pedophile. However, his sister La Toya accuses him of being a pedophile only to retract her statement. Jackson agrees to a strip search and eventually settles with the Chandler family in 1994.

1993 — Amidst all the pedophilia accusations, Jackson gets addicted to painkillers such as Valium and is forced to enter drug rehabilitation instead of finishing his “Dangerous World Tour.”

1994 — Jackson marries Lisa Marie Presley.

1995 — Jackson merges his Northern Songs catalog with Sony’s publishing division and also releases the double album “HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I.” It went onto to be the best-selling multiple-disc album of all-time.

1997– While on the HIStory World Tour, Jackson marries dermatologist nurse Debbie Rowe, with whom he fathers two children.

1999 — Jackson and Rowe divorce and Jackson retains custody of the children.

2001 — Jackson releases what would be his final album, ‘Invincible," in October. To promote it, he appears on stage with his brothers for the first time since 1984 at Madison Square Garden.

2002 — Prince Michael Jackson II, Jackson’s third child, is born. Jackson states that he is the product of artificial insemination but earns more headlines when he dangles the baby off a balcony at his hotel in Berlin.

2003 — Jackson is charged with four counts of child sexual abuse and four counts of administering an intoxicating agent to commit the felony. The charges regard Gavin Arvizo, who was 13 at the time of the alleged crime. The trial, People v. Jackson, begins two years later and lasts five months. Jackson is acquitted on all counts.

2009 — Jackson announces that he is going to perform 50 concerts at London’s O2 Arena from July 13, 2009 to March 6, 2010.

June 25, 2009 — Jackson dies of cardiac arrest.

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