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A timeline of Michael Jackson's life and work

Early years

1958: Born Aug. 29 in Gary, Ind. He is the seventh child of Joseph and Katherine Esther Jackson.

1969: In Los Angeles, the Jackson 5 debut as Motown's newest act.

In December, the group's single I Want You Back hits No. 1 on the Billboard Top 40 Chart. That hit is followed by three other No. 1 songs in a row.

1972: First No. 1 solo hit Ben, a song about a movie rat.

1974: Introduces a dance step called the robot on Soul Train. The dance sweeps the country.

1978: Played the Scarecrow in the movie musical The Wiz. It is this year that Jackson is believed to have had the first plastic surgery on his nose after a dancing accident in which he broke it.

1979: Jackson's Off the Wall solo album catapults him to superstar status.

King of Pop

1982: Thriller is released, eventually selling more than 100 million copies. It makes Jackson the biggest pop music star of the decade.

1983: Beat It reaches No. 1 on the charts.

Billie Jean also becomes a gigantic hit, and the influential video, featuring more of Jackson's electric dancing, remains a landmark.

Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever, airs on NBC. After a memorable performance by the Jacksons, Michael wows the crowd with a rendition of Billie Jean, which included the jaw-dropping moonwalk.

The high-concept, 13-minute Thriller video, directed by John Landis, becomes a sensation.

1984: Jackson's hair catches on fire during filming of a Pepsi commercial.

1985: Jackson pays $47.5 million for ATV, which included rights to 259 songs by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, considered some of the most valuable properties in music. The move estranges him from McCartney, who had advised him to invest in music rights — and 10 years later Jackson sold 50 percent of his interest to Sony for $90 million.

1987: Jackson pays about $17 million for a 2,600-acre ranch in Los Olivos, Calif., 125 miles northwest of Los Angeles. Calling it Neverland after the mythical island of Peter Pan, he outfitted the property with amusement-park rides, a zoo and a 50-seat theater, at a cost of $35 million, according to reports.

The album Bad is released and sells more than 8 million copies.

Releases Moonwalk, an autobiography.

1988: Has surgery to add cleft to chin.

1991: Releases Dangerous, certified for 7 million in sales.

Personal trials

1993: In his first TV interview in 14 years, Jackson tells Oprah Winfrey that the change in his skin complexion is from a disorder called vitiligo.

Lawsuit claims Jackson seduced and abused a 13-year-old boy.

1994: Settles the lawsuit with substantial payment, between $15 million and $24 million, to the plaintiff. Los Angeles and Santa Barbara district attorneys don't file child molestation charges against him.

Marries Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of Elvis Presley, right.

1996: Presley files for divorce.

Jackson marries nurse Debbie Rowe, above.

1997: Rowe gives birth to son Prince Michael.

The Jackson 5 are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

1998: Rowe gives birth to daughter Paris Michael Katherine.

1999: Rowe and Jackson divorce.

Drama reigns

2001 : The Invincible album is released with a respectable 2.1 million copies sold, but only two minor hits.

2002: Accusing Sony Chairman Tommy Mottola of racism, Jackson tries to leave his label. His third child, Prince Michael II, aka "Blanket," is born by a surrogate mother and later dangled from a fourth-floor Berlin hotel balcony.

2003: Jackson admits having sleepovers with young boys on the television documentary, Living With Michael Jackson.

He is arrested on child molestation charges. Posts $3 million in bail and throws up the "V" sign, while standing on a black Suburban, before leaving the courthouse in Santa Maria, Calif. The alleged victim, a 15-year-old cancer survivor said Jackson had gotten him drunk and molested him several times. The boy's younger brother testified that he had seen Jackson fondling his brother on two other occasions.

2004: Jackson pleads not guilty to child molestation charges in January.

2005: In June, Jackson is acquitted of child molestation charges. By the time of his 2005 criminal trial, he was nearly $300 million in debt and, according to testimony, spending $30 million more annually than he was taking in. By the time he died, his debt was estimated at $400 million.

2008: Neverland narrowly escapes foreclosure after Jackson defaults on $24.5 million he owed on the property. A Los Angeles real estate investment company, Colony Capital LLC, bought the note, and put the title for the property into a joint venture with Jackson.

Promoters announce plans for 50 Jackson concerts at London's O2 Arena, which sell out immediately.

A timeline of Michael Jackson's life and work 06/25/09 [Last modified: Thursday, June 25, 2009 11:17pm]
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