He shot to stardom when he was just 4 years old, singing with his older brothers in the Jackson Five. He released his first solo album in 1972, but he really began to define himself as a solo artist with the 1979 release of Off the Wall. He became an international phenomenon when Thriller — propelled by songs such as "Beat It" and "Billie Jean," as well as his unique "moonwalking" dance in music videos — sold 16 million copies worldwide in 1983. It is the second-greatest selling album of all time.
However, after Thriller, Jackson's physical appearance began to change drastically. The headlines didn't focus too much on it at the time, but when Jackson released Bad in 1987, he appeared to have much more feminine facial features. His complexion, once brown, was lightened. His once-flat nose was reshaped, his cheekbones were more defined and his hair — once a Jeri Curled Afro — was straightened.
Then his behavior appeared to become increasingly odd, with reports that he slept in a hyperbaric chamber and tried to buy the Elephant Man's bones. However, he was still recognized primarily for his talent and perhaps perceived as benevolently eccentric.
Jackson's career took a darker turn in 1993, when a 13-year-old boy accused him of sexual molestation. Jackson denied any wrongdoing, and he was never charged. He reportedly paid $20 million to settle a civil suit filed by the boy's family.
However, Jackson has never really been able to escape the 1993 scandal. His record sales on subsequent albums have dwindled. His last studio album, 2001's Invincible, sold approximately 2 million copies — successful to most artists but a disappointment for the "King of Pop."