Today is the 55th birthday of one of the singular greatest entertainers and musicians this nation has ever produced. Michael Jackson forever changed the way we look at music, how albums and videos are created, produced and marketed and his distinctive voice and songwriting created timeless classics that we still dance to some 30 to 40 years later.
I’ll never forget the day that two country women from Texas stopped me as I carried my camera as I left my Los Angeles hotel en route to a gala that Michael Jackson would attend down the street in Beverly Hills. When they learned whom I was going to photograph, they asked to take a photo of me, just so they could show their grandchildren the man who was taking Michael Jackson’s photo. Their grandchildren, under 25 at the time, weren’t even born when the King of Pop hijacked popular culture in the 1980s yet they knew all of his music. I was dumbfounded by that episode.
Michael Joe Jackson was born into abject poverty with few opportunities and little hope in a crowded home in Gary, Ind. on this day (Aug. 29) in 1958, the seventh of nine children to Joseph and Katherine Jackson. Many now know that Mike wasn’t even the first choice to be the leader of a family musical group (The Jackson Five) that would soon set records at Motown, laying the springboard to propel its lead singer into intergalactic realms that only a few artists ever dare to aspire to, much less accomplish.
As we celebrate the Thriller and Off the Wall genius, take a look at MJ’s top 10 moments: