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Michael Jackson: Timeline

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Michael Jackson

A look at the highs and lows in the life of the "King of Pop"

Aug. 29, 1958

Michael Joseph Jackson is born in Gary, Ind., the seventh of nine children.


After several years of training, The Jackson 5 begin to perform in public.


The Jackson 5, with 10-year-old Michael as lead singer, signs with Motown Records. In 1970, their first album is released, "Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5." It includes the hit singles "I Want You Back" and "I'll Be There," which go to No. 1.


While still singing with the Jackson 5, Michael Jackson puts out his first solo album, "Got to Be There." It spawns his first No. 1 hit, "Ben."


Jackson's first solo album as an adult, "Off the Wall," is released. It is his first collaboration with producer Quincy Jones.


Jackson releases "Thriller," which becomes the world's best-selling album of all time and earns the singer eight Grammy awards. Seven of the album's nine songs hit No. 1. The music videos for "Billie Jean," "Beat It" and "Thriller" are elaborate productions that revolutionize the genre, and their popularity paves the way for other black artists, who had largely been shunned by the fledgling MTV.


Jackson electrifies the 50 million viewers of the "Motown 25" television special by singing and dancing to "Billie Jean" while wearing a black fedora, one white glove, and pants that end above his ankles.


During production of a Pepsi-Cola commercial, Jackson's scalp sustains burns when an explosion sets his hair on fire.


Jackson and Lionel Richie write what becomes one of the fastest-selling singles ever with "We Are the World." The song was produced to raise money for victims of the Ethiopian famine. Jackson also pays $47.5 million for the rights to more than 250 songs written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.


His album "Bad" produces five No. 1 singles and sells at least 22 million copies worldwide.


Jackson reveals in a TV interview that he had an inherited disorder that caused his skin pigmentation to fade. He was also accused of molesting a boy who often stayed at his home. The singer denied any wrongdoing, reached a settlement with the boy's family, reported to be $20 million, and criminal charges were never filed.


Jackson marries Lisa Marie Presley in the Dominican Republic. They divorce two years later.

Feb. 13, 1997

Jackson's second wife, Debbie Rowe, gives birth to his first child, a son named Prince Michael Jackson Jr.

April 3, 1998

A daughter named Paris Michael Katherine Jackson is born to Jackson and Rowe. The two divorce the following year.


Jackson's third child, a son named Prince Michael Jackson II, nicknamed "Blanket," is born to a surrogate mother on Feb. 21, 2002. Later that year, Jackson playfully dangled the infant over a hotel balcony in Berlin while a throng of fans watched from below. He later called the incident a "terrible mistake."


ABC airs the British documentary, "Living With Michael Jackson." Jackson's comments about allowing kids spend the night in his bedroom prompted authorities to look into his relationships with children. Later that year, law enforcement agents raid his Neverland Ranch, and on Nov. 20, 2003, Jackson is booked on suspicion of child molestation.


A judge clears Jackson of charges he molested a 13-year-old cancer survivor at Neverland in 2003. He had been accused of plying the boy with alcohol and groping him, and of engaging in strange and inappropriate behavior with other children.

September 2005

Jackson moves with his children to Bahrain.


Plagued by financial problems since his trial, Jackson closes the house on his 2,600-acre Neverland Ranch estate in California, laying off most of the staff after agreeing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in back wages to avoid a lawsuit by state labor officials. In March, a deal is reached to keep Neverland off the auction block. Financial Title Co. of San Francisco said he owed $24.5 million on the property.

March 2009

Jackson announces he will perform 50 shows at London's 02 Arena in July. Tickets sell out within hours.

Jan. 25, 2009

Michael Jackson dies after being taken to UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 50 years old.

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