1 of 22 Anwar Hussein/WireImage.com
From humble backgrounds in Gary, Ind., Jackson and his brothers in The Jackson 5 — Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, and Marlon — quickly rose to fame with such flawless pop-soul singles as "ABC" and "Got to Be There."
2 of 22 Greg Cobarr/WireImage.com
Jackson quickly emerged as the dominant member of the group with his ability to sing and dance like someone twice his age.
3 of 22 courtesy Everett Collection
Jackson portrayed the Scarecrow in The Wiz, an urban retelling of The Wizard of Oz. The film was produced by Motown Productions and also starred Diana Ross.
4 of 22 Sony
Released in 1979, "Rock with You" was the second single off Jackson's breakthrough Off the Wall album.
5 of 22 Ron Galella/WireImage.com
Fellow Motown Records artist Diana Ross was an early friend and influence on The Jackson 5, and remained a major inspiration to Jackson throughout his life.
6 of 22 MCA/Universal/Everett Collection
Jackson's "Thriller" video was the most audacious of its time and reinvented the music video genre. It routinely tops lists of the best videos ever made.
7 of 22 Epic
Jackson collaborated with Paul McCartney on "Say Say Say" and "The Girl is Mine." The ex-Beatle suggested Jackson get into music publishing, and Jackson took his advice — by buying part of the Beatles' catalogue.
8 of 22 Eugene Adebari/Rex USA/Everett Collection
"Billie Jean" was the second single from Jackson's Thriller. The video brought mainstream attention to MTV and is best known for the sidewalk that lights up as Jackson dances.
9 of 22 courtesy Everett Collection
Jackson rocked the dance world when he unveiled the moonwalk at Motown's 25th anniversary celebration in 1983. He later credited it to children he had seen performing the dance.
10 of 22 Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com
The career of Michael Jackson's sister, Janet, thrived alongside his. For his album HIStory they collaborated on "Scream," a song about their frustration with tabloid gossip.
11 of 22 Chris Walter/WireImage.com
Quincy Jones, who befriended Jackson during the filming of The Wiz, produced his biggest albums.
12 of 22 Ron Galella/WireImage.com
Jackson attended the 26th Annual Grammys with Brooke Shields and Emmanuel Lewis.
13 of 22 GAB Archive/Redferns/Getty Images
Jackson loved animals and made Neverland Ranch a menagerie of exotic creatures from llamas to Jackson's chimpanzee Bubbles.
14 of 22 Ron Galella/WireImage.com
Jackson attended the 63rd Academy Awards with Madonna.
15 of 22 AFP/Getty Images
To show his marriage to Lisa Maria Presley was more than a publicity stunt, he shared a surprise kiss with her at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1994.
16 of 22 courtesy Reuters/Landov
Jackson's ex-wife, former dermatology nurse Debbie Rowe, was the mother of his first two children, Michael Joseph Jackson Jr., 12, and Paris Michael Katherine, 11.
17 of 22 Kevin Kane/WireImage.com
Jackson made a surprise appearance at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards, as he joined N*SYNC on stage at the end of their performance and performed some of his trademark dance moves. Jackson was a major influence on at least two generations of performers.
18 of 22 Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com
Elizabeth Taylor said she met Jackson when she went to one of his concerts and left because the crowd was so excited she couldn't see or hear him. He called her in tears, and they talked for hours, beginning a friendship that would last more than two decades.
19 of 22 Tobias Schwarz/Reuters
Jackson raised eyebrows and outraged many by hanging his baby, Prince Michael, from a hotel balcony in November 2002, but it was just one of many shocking moments in the life of the pop icon.
20 of 22 Pool Photographer/WireImage.com
Jackson and his mother arrived at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse in 2005. Jackson was tried for child molestation and was acquitted.
21 of 22 Amy Graves/WireImage.com
The Rev. Jesse Jackson was among those who rallied at MJ's side during the child molestation trial.
22 of 22 courtesy Splash News
Jackson settled happily into the role of father in his later years, and he struggled to keep his children — sons Prince Michael and Michael Joseph Jackson Jr. and daughter Paris Michael Katherine — out of the media, even at times dressing them in masks.