As a scrawny 11-year-old from Gary, Indiana in child-sized bellbottoms and a radiant smile, Michael Jackson first stepped onto the scene at age 11 as part of the unforgettable Jackson 5. The Motown group, one of the biggest pop acts of the 1970s, was made up of Jackson and his four brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine , and Marlon The Jackson 5 were introduced to the public by Diana Ross on August 11, 1968, in a performance at a club in Beverly Hills, and made their first television appearance at the Miss Black America Pageant in New York.
Their first single, “I Want You Back,” hit number one on the Billboard charts by January 1970. Their next four singles all reached number one as well, making the Jackson 5 the first musical act in history to achieve such a feat. Michael launched his own solo career in 1971 with the hit “Got to Be There,” and while he continued to perform with his brothers it was already clear that the Jackson 5 needed the precocious teenager more than he needed them. The group’s fortunes dwindled through the early 1970s, and Michael left the group after their 1984 Victory tour.
Jackson’s 1982 album Thriller became a worldwide sensation and established the artist as a transcendent superstar. “Jackson is the biggest thing since the Beatles,” TIME declared. Thriller sold 45 million copies, the most of any album in history; at its peak, more than a million copies flew off shelves each week. When the 14-minute video which re-defined music videos as an art form aired in December 1983, MTV aired it twice an hour due to popular demand. The next year, the album won a record eight Grammy Awards.
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