The National Portrait Gallery in London describes him as one of the most influential cultural figures to come out of the 20th century, with a legacy that continues into the 21st century.
The Recording Industry Association of America describes him as “the most selling artist of all time with over 100 million sales for Thriller worldwide and 1 billion total sales to his credit.”
The National Portrait Gallery describes his impact on art as an “untold story,” and opened an exhibition in June titled Michael Jackson: On the Wall. After closing in London it heads to France, Germany and Finland. Since Andy Warhol first used his image in 1982, Jackson has become the most depicted cultural figure in visual art by an extraordinary array of leading contemporary artists, according to the gallery.
Jackson began performing with his four brothers in the pop group, the Jackson 5, when he was a child. The group scored its first No. 1 single in 1969, with I Want You Back. Jackson released his first solo album at 14, and scored many Top 20 hits with his piping vocals. Off the Wall, 1979, and Thriller, 1983, gave him superstar status.
In 1993, scandal broke when Jackson, who had developed a reputation as an eccentric recluse, was publicly accused of child molestation and underwent investigation. The alleged acts left fans aghast, and his later acquittal did not erase the taint of the charges.
The Last Days of Michael Jackson, aired in the United States by ABC in May, traces Jackson’s rise through his childhood and superstar years to his comeback concerns and death at 50. Prior to his death, Jackson announced his final tour, but 18 days before the first date, on Jun 25, 2009, Jackson died unexpectedly of drug-induced cardiac arrest. The documentary explores the scandal, but it is set in the context of Jackson’s musical legacy.
#22632 Updated: 07/17/2018 UPDATED JUL 15 TO CORRECT SOURCE IN PARAGRAPH 2 AND REMOVE STREET-RENAMING CEREMONY, WHICH DIDN'T HAPPEN