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Remembering Michael Jackson, the King of Pop on his 13th death anniversary

Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, died at the age of 50 on June 25, 2009. Although his outlandish lifestyle and court cases eclipsed his talent towards the end of his life, Michael Jackson was indisputably the biggest star in the world at the height of his career.

The King of Pop Michael Jackson died at the age of 50 on June 25, 2009, leaving legions of fans shocked and devastated. Although his outlandish lifestyle and court cases eclipsed his talent towards the end of his life, Michael Jackson was indisputably the biggest star in the world at the height of his career.

Born on August 29, 1958, Michael was the eighth of ten children in the Jackson family. Fame came to him at the age of 11 when he became the lead singer of the boy band of child stars, the Jackson 5, which was started by his father, Joseph. Michael was the youngest member of the Jackson 5, which had his brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon.

Despite his shyness, Jackson took the front man role in the band as he was a natural singer and dancer.

Berry Gordy, Motown founder who signed Jackson 5 in 1969, told CNN once that as a boy Michael “always wanted to be the best, and he was willing to work as hard as it took to be that”.

Lost childhood

However, Michael lost his childhood to fame and success and as an adult, he tried to recreate the lost childhood with his fortune that was once estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

He converted his 2,700-acre California ranch Neverland into a Peter-Pan-inspired fantasyland with an amusement park, exotic animals and a Disney-themed train station, according to a Guardian report.

The ranch was later featured in the 2019 documentary ‘Leaving Neverland’, which levelled multiple accusations of child sexual abuse against Michael.

His father was also a strict disciplinarian, who would often beat Michael for his mistakes. Michael had once said that he was so terrified of his father that “there were times when he’d come to see me and I would start to be sick”. It is believed that Joe also taunted Michael about his adolescent skin problems, which later manifested as his cosmetic surgery fixation.

The King of Pop

Between 1969 and 1975, Jackson 5 had released 13 albums with Motown Records, including hits like ‘ABC and ‘I Want You Back.’

Soon, Michael started recording outside the band. His first solo effort for Epic, ‘Off the Wall’’ (1979), became the best-selling album of the year, selling over 20 million copies. The album featured hit singles like ‘Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough’ and ‘Rock with You’. In 1980, Michael won his first Grammy Award for the Best R&B Male Vocal Performance. Three years later, Michael released the album Thriller, which stayed on top of the charts for 37 weeks. Seven singles featured in the top 10 list, including ‘Beat It,’ ‘Billie Jean,’ and ‘Thriller’. It was in this album that Michael had unveiled his signature dance move, the moonwalk.

Thriller won eight Grammys and sold over 40 million copies.

In 1985, Michael collaborated with Lionel Richie to write the song ‘We Are The World’. The single, which featured the top artists of the time, including Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder and Cyndi Lauper, sold seven million copies. The proceeds from sales were used for hunger relief in Africa.

This was followed by the release of the album ‘Bad’ in 1987.

Controversy and financial trouble

From 1993 onwards, Michael was mired in controversies over child molestation cases, marriage and divorce. In 2003, Michael was accused by a boy Gavin Arvizo for child sexual abuse when he was under 14. The court acquitted Michael in 2005.

Faced with financial trouble, Michael had to close the main house on the Neverland Ranch in 2006. The following year, Michael and Sony acquired Famous Music LLC from Viacom, giving him the rights to songs by Shakira, Eminem and others.

Michael was planning to make a comeback to live performances in grand style when he died on June 25, 2009, following a cardiac arrest in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 50.

Source: CNBC TV

By Chala Dandessa

I am Lecturer, Researcher and Freelancer. I am the founder and Editor at ETHIOPIANS TODAY website. If you have any comment use as email contact. Additionally you can contact us through the contact page of

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