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Michael Joseph Jackson (1958 – 2009) was an American recording artist, entertainer, and philanthropist. Referred to as the King of Pop, Jackson is recognized as the most successful entertainer of all time, as well as one of the most influential. His contribution to music, dance and fashion, along with a much-publicized personal life, made him a global figure in popular culture for over four decades. The seventh child of the Jackson family, he debuted on the professional music scene alongside his brothers as a member of The Jackson 5 in the mid-1960s, and began his solo career in 1971. Jackson was also a humanitarian, donating and raising hundreds of millions of dollars for beneficial causes and supporting over 39 charities.
In the early 1980s, Jackson became a dominant figure in popular music and the first African-American entertainer to amass a strong crossover following on MTV. The music videos for his songs, such as "Beat It", "Billie Jean" and "Thriller", were credited with transforming the medium into an art form and a promotional tool, and the popularity of these videos helped to bring the relatively new television channel to fame. Videos such as "Black or White" and "Scream" made him a staple on MTV in the 1990s. Through stage performances and music videos, Jackson popularized a number of dance techniques, such as the robot and the moonwalk. His distinctive musical sound and vocal style have influenced hip hop, pop, contemporary R&B and rock artists.
Jackson's album Thriller is the best-selling album of all time.
Aspects of Jackson's personal life, including his changing appearance, personal relationships and behavior, generated controversy. In 1993, he was accused of child sexual abuse, but the case was settled and no formal charges were brought. In 2005, he was tried and acquitted of further sexual abuse allegations and several other charges after the jury ruled him not guilty on all counts. Admist the preperations for the concert series This Is It, Jackson died on June 25, 2009, after suffering from cardiac arrest. Before his death, Jackson had reportedly been administered drugs such as propofol and lorazepam. The Los Angeles County Coroner declared his death a homicide, and his personal physician pleaded not guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter. Jackson's death triggered a global outpouring of grief, and as many as a billion people around the world may have watched his public memorial service on live television. In March 2010, Sony Music Entertainment signed a US$250 million deal with Jackson's estate to retain distribution rights to his recordings until 2017, and to release seven posthumous albums over the decade following his death.