By the age of 11, Jackson was the lead singer of the world's first boy band, "The Jackson 5," and an international sensation.
But the success didn't bring happiness; instead, loneliness and fear seemed to consume him.
Jackson told Oprah Winfrey in a 1993 interview his childhood years were "very, very sad" for him.
And in the same interview, Jackson said his father beat him.
CBS News consultant and Jackson biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli said the psychological impact of being raised by a father like Joseph Jackson lasted his entire life.
Taraborrelli said, "I'm not sure he ever got over the effect of Joseph's hand on him."
But despite his seemingly agonizing childhood, "Early Show" co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez said on "The Early Show" Tuesday, Jackson spent most of his time, energy and money trying to be young again.
Jackson went through countless cosmetic surgeries to regain his boyish looks, Rodriguez said, and created his own fantasy version of what he thought the ideal childhood looked like, in Neverland -- the fictional land of a character who refused to grow up.
He once said, "I am Peter Pan in my heart."
Jackson surrounded himself with those he wanted to be like, saying his best friends in the world were children.
Dr. David Swanson, a psychologist, said Jackson perceived children as the face of God -- the one people in the world you can truly trust and enjoy.
And Jackson wanted to be like them.
Swanson said Jackson regressed. Swanson explained Jackson didn't want to cope with problems, so he reverted back to the easier time of childhood.
But in the end, Rodriguez said, instead of becoming Peter Pan -- the child who never got old -- Jackson resembled more closely a lost boy.