Michael Jackson, King of Pop Dies at 50

A light goes out in the music world.
At age 50, Michael Jackson -- known by all as the king of pop -- has died
With the bizarre stories of plastic surgery, child molestation and outlandish personal habits, it was sometimes hard to remember that Michael Jackson was once the biggest name in the music industry. In fact, he still holds claim to one of the top-selling records in history, his multi-Grammy winning masterpiece "Thriller."

While his fame grew to stratospheric levels in the mid-1980's, Jackson's career started off at age 4, when, at the urging of his domineering father, he and his brothers formed the "Jackson Five." responsible for such hits as "i'll be there" and "abc," the group recorded 13 albums in 7 years, all with young Michael in the lead, displaying a depth of passion and soul uncharacteristic for a child his age.

While his first solo release was in 1972, Jackson came into his own with his 1979 album "Off The Wall" which spawned four top 10 hits and marked the beginning of his long professional relationship with producer Quincy Jones. Jones was also the force behind 1982's "Thriller," which, besides spending 37 weeks at number one and selling 46 million copies, helped revolutionize a whole new medium -- the music video.

Jackson followed this up with well-received albums such as "Bad" and "Dangerous," but his eccentricities soon outshone his professional fame. Stories abounded of numerous facial surgeries, his fascination with exotic animals, and his attempts to buy the remains of the grotesquely deformed elephant man. In 1984 his hair caught fire while filming a Pepsi commercial but that was nothing compared to the turmoil yet to come.

In 1993, a 13-year old California boy filed a lawsuit accusing jackson of sexual battery. After repeated denials and an undisclosed financial settlement, the suit was dropped, but Jackson's reputation was seriously damaged.

In the midst of his legal battle, Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley. The marriage dissolved after 16 months, prompting some to suggest it was staged in order to create a family image for the pop star. Nine months after the divorce, Jackson tied the knot again, this time with dermatologist assistant Debbie Rowe. Marriage number two lasted three years and produced two children, son Prince Michael and daugther Paris Michael Katherine.

In 2002, Jackson repeatedly made headlines -- first while accusing his label sony music of racism and, a few months later, when he testified in a California trial accusing him of backing out of a series of concerts. Then, just days later, the pop star shocked the world once again.

Greeting fans from the fourth floor of his hotel in Berlin, Jackson dangled a nine month old baby, later confirmed to be his previously unknown third child, off a balcony while waving to on-lookers.

While observers will argue over Jackson's behavior, music historians will site his indelible imprint on the recording industry, and his fans will always remember him with the title he gave himself, the king of pop. His unique vocal and dance styles and his keen sense of showmanship gave the world a sensational performance it won't soon forget.