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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Black Eyed Peas

Positive messages and breakdancing are integral parts of hip-hop culture, but by 1990 those elements had been temporarily eclipsed by the tough gangsta image and bleak but compelling lyrics of West Coast groups like N.W.A. However, despite sharing a zip code, Black Eyed Peas' vision goes beyond the cracked-sidewalk vignettes and sampled gunfire of Los Angeles' gangsta style. The socially conscious group's earliest connections go back to high school, when and were part of Tribal Nation, a breakdancing crew. Eventually the pair focused more on music -- hip-hop, specifically -- and split off into their own as Atban Klann, their esoteric name an acronym for A Tribe Beyond a Nation. Eazy-E's Ruthless Records signed the group in 1992, but many in the Ruthless camp were puzzled by the group and the enthusiasm of Eazy, who had no problem reconciling his own gangsta style with the peace-minded breakdancing of Atban. Although an album was recorded, Ruthless shelved it, unsure how to market a group whose style wasn't dependent on violent braggadocio like N.W.A.

The death of Eazy-E in 1995 signaled the end of any further deals with Ruthless. Undaunted by the experience, will and apl recruited another dancer/MC, Taboo, and reappeared as Black Eyed Peas. BEP began playing shows around L.A., impressing hip-hop fans with their mike skills and dazzling them with their footwork as well. In 1998 their debut, Behind the Front, was released to critical acclaim -- not only for the trio of MCs, but for their live band and backing vocalist Kim Hill as well. Featuring guest appearances from Jurassic 5's Chali 2na, De La Soul, and Macy Gray, BEP's sophomore effort, Bridging the Gap, was released in 2000. The group's third album, 2003's Elephunk, featured a new member (Fergie, who replaced Kim Hill) and became their biggest hit yet, storming the Top 40 with three singles ("Where Is the Love?," "Hey Mama," "Let's Get It Started"). Two years later, the quartet returned with a heavily crossover date, Monkey Business, which pushed them into the stratosphere courtesy of the hit single "My Humps."

Bob Marley

Reggae's most transcendent and iconic figure, Bob Marley was the first Jamaican artist to achieve international superstardom, in the process introducing the music of his native island nation to the far-flung corners of the globe. Marley's music gave voice to the day-to-day struggles of the Jamaican experience, vividly capturing not only the plight of the country's impoverished and oppressed but also the devout spirituality that remains their source of strength. His songs of faith, devotion, and revolution created a legacy that continues to live on not only through the music of his extended family but also through generations of artists the world over touched by his genius.

Robert Nesta Marley was born February 6, 1945, in rural St. Ann's Parish, Jamaica; the son of a middle-aged white father and teenaged black mother, he left home at 14 to pursue a music career in Kingston, becoming a pupil of local singer and devout Rastafarian Joe Higgs. He cut his first single, "Judge Not," in 1962 for Leslie Kong, severing ties with the famed producer soon after over a monetary dispute. In 1963 Marley teamed with fellow singers Peter Tosh, Bunny Livingston, Junior Braithwaite, Beverly Kelso, and Cherry Smith to form the vocal group the Teenagers; later rechristened the Wailing Rudeboys and later simply the Wailers, they signed on with producer Coxsone Dodd's legendary Studio One and recorded their debut, "I'm Still Waiting." When Braithwaite and Smith exited the Wailers, Marley assumed lead vocal duties, and in early 1964 the group's follow-up, "Simmer Down," topped the Jamaican charts. A series of singles including "Let Him Go (Rude Boy Get Gail)," "Dancing Shoes," "Jerk in Time," "Who Feels It Knows It," and "What Am I to Do" followed, and in all, the Wailers recorded some 70 tracks for Dodd before disbanding in 1966. On February 10 of that year, Marley married Rita Anderson, a singer in the group the Soulettes; she later enjoyed success as a member of the vocal trio the I-Threes. Marley then spent the better part of the year working in a factory in Newark, DE, the home of his mother since 1963.

Upon returning to Jamaica that October, Marley re-formed the Wailers with Livingston and Tosh, releasing "Bend Down Low" on their own short-lived Wail 'N' Soul 'M label; at this time all three members began devoting themselves to the teachings of the Rastafari faith, a cornerstone of Marley's life and music until his death. Beginning in 1968, the Wailers recorded a wealth of new material for producer Danny Sims before teaming the following year with producer Lee "Scratch" Perry; backed by Perry's house band, the Upsetters, the trio cut a number of classics, including "My Cup," "Duppy Conqueror," "Soul Almighty," and "Small Axe," which fused powerful vocals, ingenious rhythms, and visionary production to lay the groundwork for much of the Jamaican music in their wake. Upsetters bassist Aston "Family Man" Barrett and his drummer brother Carlton soon joined the Wailers full-time, and in 1971 the group founded another independent label, Tuff Gong, releasing a handful of singles before signing to Chris Blackwell's Island Records a year later.

1973's Catch a Fire, the Wailers' Island debut, was the first of their albums released outside of Jamaica, and immediately earned worldwide acclaim; the follow-up, Burnin', launched the track "I Shot the Sheriff," a Top Ten hit for Eric Clapton in 1974. With the Wailers poised for stardom, however, both Livingston and Tosh quit the group to pursue solo careers; Marley then brought in the I-Threes, which in addition to Rita Marley consisted of singers Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt. The new lineup proceeded to tour the world prior to releasing their 1975 breakthrough album Natty Dread, scoring their first U.K. Top 40 hit with the classic "No Woman, No Cry." Sellout shows at the London Lyceum, where Marley played to racially mixed crowds, yielded the superb Live! later that year, and with the success of 1976's Rastaman Vibration, which hit the Top Ten in the U.S., it became increasingly clear that his music had carved its own niche within the pop mainstream.

As great as Marley's fame had grown outside of Jamaica, at home he was viewed as a figure of almost mystical proportions, a poet and prophet whose every word had the nation's collective ear. His power was perceived as a threat in some quarters, and on December 3, 1976, he was wounded in an assassination attempt; the ordeal forced Marley to leave Jamaica for over a year. 1977's Exodus was his biggest record to date, generating the hits "Jamming," "Waiting in Vain," and "One Love/People Get Ready"; Kaya was another smash, highlighted by the gorgeous "Is This Love" and "Satisfy My Soul." Another classic live date, Babylon by Bus, preceded the release of 1979's Survival. 1980 loomed as Marley's biggest year yet, kicked off by a concert in the newly liberated Zimbabwe; a tour of the U.S. was announced, but while jogging in New York's Central Park he collapsed, and it was discovered he suffered from cancer that had spread to his brain, lungs, and liver. Uprising was the final album released in Marley's lifetime -- he died May 11, 1981, at age 36.

Posthumous efforts including 1983's Confrontation and the best-selling 1984 retrospective Legend kept Marley's music alive, and his renown continued growing in the years following his death -- even decades after the fact, he remains synonymous with reggae's worldwide popularity. In the wake of her husband's passing, Rita Marley scored a solo hit with "One Draw," but despite the subsequent success of the singles "Many Are Called" and "Play Play," by the mid-'80s she largely withdrew from performing to focus on raising her children. Oldest son David, better known as Ziggy, went on to score considerable pop success as the leader of the Melody Makers, a Marley family group comprised of siblings Cedella, Stephen, and Sharon; their 1988 single "Tomorrow People" was a Top 40 U.S. hit, a feat even Bob himself never accomplished. Three other Marley children -- Damian, Julian, and Ky-Mani -- pursued careers in music as well.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Guns 'n' Roses

At a time when pop was dominated by dance music and pop-metal, Guns N' Roses brought raw, ugly rock & roll crashing back into the charts. They were not nice boys; nice boys don't play rock & roll. They were ugly, misogynist, and violent; they were also funny, vulnerable, and occasionally sensitive, as their breakthrough hit, "Sweet Child O' Mine," showed. While Slash and Izzy Stradlin ferociously spit out dueling guitar riffs worthy of Aerosmith or the Stones, Axl Rose screeched out his tales of sex, drugs, and apathy in the big city. Meanwhile, bassist Duff McKagan and drummer Steven Adler were a limber rhythm section who kept the music loose and powerful. Guns N' Roses' music was basic and gritty, with a solid hard, bluesy base; they were dark, sleazy, dirty, and honest -- everything that good hard rock and heavy metal should be. There was something refreshing about a band who could provoke everything from devotion to hatred, especially since both sides were equally right. There hadn't been a hard rock band this raw or talented in years, and they were given added weight by Axl Rose's primal rage, the sound of confused, frustrated white trash vying for his piece of the pie. As the '80s became the '90s, there simply wasn't a more interesting band around, but owing to intra-band friction and the emergence of alternative rock, Rose's supporting cast gradually disintegrated, as he spent several years in seclusion.

Guns N' Roses released their first EP in 1986, which led to a contract with Geffen; the following year, the band released their debut album, Appetite for Destruction. They started to build a following with their numerous live shows, but the album didn't start selling until almost a year later, when MTV started playing "Sweet Child o' Mine." Soon, both the album and single shot to number one, and Guns N' Roses became one of the biggest bands in the world. Their debut single, "Welcome to the Jungle," was re-released and shot into the Top Ten, and "Paradise City" followed in its footsteps. By the end of 1988, they released G N' R Lies, which paired four new, acoustic-based songs (including the Top Five hit "Patience") with their first EP. G N' R Lies' inflammatory closer, "One in a Million," sparked intense controversy, as Axl Rose slipped into misogyny, bigotry, and pure violence; essentially, he somehow managed to distill every form of prejudice and hatred into one five-minute tune.

Guns N' Roses began work on the long-awaited follow-up to Appetite for Destruction at the end of 1990. In October of that year, the band fired Adler, claiming that his drug dependency caused him to play poorly; he was replaced by Matt Sorum from the Cult. During recording, the band added Dizzy Reed on keyboards. By the time the sessions were finished, the new album had become two new albums. After being delayed for nearly a year, the albums Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II were released in September 1991. Messy but fascinating, the albums showcased a more ambitious band; while there were still a fair number of full-throttle guitar rockers, there were stabs at Elton John-style balladry, acoustic blues, horn sections, female backup singers, ten-minute art rock epics with several different sections, and a good number of introspective, soul-searching lyrics. In short, they were now making art; amazingly, they were successful at it. The albums sold very well initially, but while they had seemed destined to set the pace for the decade to come, that turned out not to be the case at all.

Nirvana's Nevermind hit number one in early 1992, suddenly making Guns N' Roses -- with all of their pretensions, impressionistic videos, models, and rock star excesses -- seem very uncool. Rose handled the change by becoming a dictator, or at least a petty tyrant; his in-concert temper tantrums became legendary, even going so far as to incite a riot in Montreal. Stradlin left by the end of 1991, and with his departure the band lost their best songwriter; he was replaced by ex-Kill for Thrills guitarist Gilby Clarke. The band didn't fully grasp the shift in hard rock until 1993, when they released an album of punk covers, The Spaghetti Incident?; it received some good reviews, but the band failed to capture the reckless spirit of not only the original versions, but their own Appetite for Destruction. By the middle of 1994, there were rumors flying that the band was about to break up, since Rose wanted to pursue a new, more industrial direction and Slash wanted to stick with their blues-inflected hard rock. The band remained in limbo for several more years, and Slash resurfaced in 1995 with the side project Slash's Snakepit and an LP, It's Five O'Clock Somewhere.

Rose remained out of the spotlight, becoming a virtual recluse and doing nothing but tinkering in the studio; he also recruited various musicians -- including Dave Navarro, Tommy Stinson, and ex-Nine Inch Nails guitarist Robin Finck -- for informal jam sessions. Remaining members were infuriated by Rose's inclusion of childhood friend Paul Huge in the new sessions when both Stradlin and Clarke were excluded from rejoining the band. And a remake of the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil" was essentially the straw that broke the camel's back, as Rose cut out some of the other member's contributions and pasted Huge over the song without consulting anyone else. By 1996 Slash was officially out of Guns N' Roses, leaving Rose the lone remaining survivor from the group's heyday; rumors continued to swirl, and still no new material was forthcoming, though Rose did re-record Appetite for Destruction with a new lineup for rehearsal purposes. The first new original G N' R song in eight years, the industrial metal sludge of "Oh My God" finally appeared on the soundtrack to the 1999 Arnold Schwarzenegger film End of Days. Soon after, Geffen issued the two-disc Live Era 1987-1993.

2000 brought the addition of guitarists Robin Finck (of Nine Inch Nails) and Buckethead. 2001 was greeted with Guns N' Roses' first live dates in nearly seven years, as the band (who consisted of Rose plus guitarists Finck, Buckethead, bassist Stinson, former Primus drummer Brian Mantia, childhood friend and guitarist Paul Huge, and longtime G N' R keyboardist Dizzy Reed) played a show on New Years Eve 2000 in Las Vegas, playing as well at the mammoth Rock in Rio festival the following month. A new album was announced for a summer release, but the date came and went without any CDs hitting the shelves. A summer tour of Europe was planned, but before tickets could go on sale Rose announced that the tour was cancelled and the band went into seclusion until New Years Eve of 2001. They played almost the exact same set as the year before, but they still managed to brew up some news by not allowing any former members to watch the show. Slash tried to get onto the guest list, and even claims to have tried to sneak in through a security guard. Manager Doug Goldstein released a statement taking full responsibility for the banning of former members, claiming that he was not sure of their intentions and he wanted to avoid making Rose nervous.

2002 started with no new Axl news, instead seeing former members Slash, Duff, and Izzy work together on new material for Stradlin's new album. Rose eventually ended up in music news as he fired producer Roy Thomas Baker from the group's newest recording sessions, adding him to the superstar list of producers that had been attached to the project at various points (including Moby, Mike Clink, Youth, Bob Ezrin, and many others.) Slash's contributions to Izzy's album didn't make the final cut, but rumors of a new band featuring former members McKagan, Sorum, and Slash began circulating by the end of the spring. A slew of Japanese and British festival dates were set in the spring, but the mysterious new album continued to elude fans as the release date was pushed into the fall of 2002. Before those concert dates rolled around, guitarist Paul Huge left the group, quickly replaced by former Love Spit Love member Richard Fortus.

An appearance at MTV's annual Video Music Awards helped garner interest in the new lineup, but a rusty performance from Rose and an interview where he said his new album wasn't coming out anytime soon didn't do much to further their cause. That summer, the band started on their first tour in almost eight years, and they managed to fulfill all of their commitments in Europe in Asia. Sadly, they caused a violent and destructive riot in Vancouver when Rose failed to show up for the first date of their North American tour. While he was up to his old shenanigans with the retooled lineup, former members Stradlin, Slash, Sorum and McKagan finally put an end to the rumors and announced that they were searching for a vocalist for a new, Axl-free band. Over time, Stradlin would reduce his role in the new project to guest songwriting and the occasional live appearance, but with former Stone Temple Pilots vocalist Scott Weiland, Slash, Sorum and McKagan formed the successful Velvet Revolver in spring of 2002.

The years between Guns N' Roses albums have grown into a running joke in the music industry, Interscope's frustration with the millions dumped into the recording has become secondary to Rose's reclusive insistence to perfect his material. By leaving the industry on such a strong note, Rose's image has been frozen in time as the frustrating, angry, yet sensitive genius behind the microphone, an image he might not be ready to live up to as the years go by. Despite what happens to most groups that have stayed out of the limelight for ten years, the legend of Guns N' Roses continues to grow with each year. Whatever may happen with the new lineup, the five original members continue to enjoy celebrity status despite having their post-GN'R material show less than enthusiastic sales. By writing one of the most critical hard rock albums of all time, they have secured their status as the most vital force to hit the mainstream rock scene in the 80's. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine & Greg Prato, All Music Guide

The Cromok

Cromok is the famous band in late 80's which at that time, they were known as one of the
pioneer of underground bands in Malaysia. Cromok was formed in Australia by 4 students
who studied in Australia. At that time the line up was :
Din, Karl, Miji and Sam.
But nowadays, there are only left Karl, Miji and Sam. After Din left the group, he formed his
own band which known as D'Cromok. But, Din was died after he released his own album
D'Cromok around 1997...May God Bless him....
Their music concept is more to speed thrash with Malays elements for example Siblings,
Metallurgical...And the most popular song is 'Another You'...

Karl - Gitar
Sam - Bass
Miji - Drum
Din - Rhythm (ex-Cromok)


Metallica was easily the best, most influential heavy metal band of the '80s, responsible for bringing the music back to Earth. Instead of playing the usual rock star games of metal stars of the early '80s, the band looked and talked like they were from the street. Metallica expanded the limits of thrash, using speed and volume not for their own sake, but to enhance their intricately structured compositions. The release of 1983's Kill 'Em All marked the beginning of the legitimization of heavy metal's underground, bringing new complexity and depth to thrash metal. With each album, the band's playing and writing improved; James Hetfield developed a signature rhythm playing that matched his growl, while lead guitarist Kirk Hammett became one of the most copied guitarists in metal. Lars Ulrich's thunderous, yet complex, drumming clicked in perfectly with Cliff Burton's innovative bass playing. After releasing their masterpiece Master of Puppets in 1986, tragedy struck the band when their tour bus crashed while traveling in Sweden, killing Burton. When the band decided to continue, Jason Newsted was chosen to replace Burton; two years later, the band released the conceptually ambitious ...And Justice for All, which hit the Top Ten without any radio play and very little support from MTV. But Metallica completely crossed over into the mainstream with 1991's Metallica, which found the band trading in their long compositions for more concise song structures; it resulted in a number one album that sold over seven million copies in the U.S. alone. The band launched a long, long tour which kept them on the road for nearly two years. By the '90s, Metallica had changed the rules for all heavy metal bands; they were the leaders of the genre, respected not only by headbangers, but by mainstream record buyers and critics. No other heavy metal band has ever been able to pull off such a trick. However, the group lost some members of their core audience with their long-awaited follow-up to Metallica, 1996's Load. For Load, the band decided to move toward alternative rock in terms of image -- they cut their hair and had their picture taken by Anton Corbijn. Although the album was a hit upon its summer release -- entering the charts at number one and selling three million copies within two months -- certain members of their audience complained about the shift in image, as well as the group's decision to headline the sixth Lollapalooza. Re-Load, which combined new material with songs left off of the Load record, appeared in 1997; despite poor reviews, it sold at a typically brisk pace through the next year. Garage Inc., a double-disc collection of B-sides, rarities, and newly recorded covers, followed in 1998. In 1999, Metallica continued their flood of product with S&M, documenting a live concert with the San Francisco Symphony; it debuted at number two, reconfirming their immense popularity.

The band spent most of 2000 embroiled in controversy by spearheading a legal assault on Napster, a file-sharing service that allowed users to download music files from each other's computers. Aggressively targeting copyright infringement of their own material, the band notoriously had over 300,000 users kicked off the service, creating a widespread debate over the availability of digital music that raged for most of the year. In January 2001, bassist Jason Newsted announced his amicable departure from the band. Shortly after the band appeared at the ESPN awards in April of the same year, Hetfield, Hammett, and Ulrich entered the recording studio to begin work on their next album, with producer Bob Rock lined up to handle bass duties for the sessions (with rumors of former Ozzy Osbourne/Alice in Chains bassist Mike Inez being considered for the vacated position). In July, Metallica surprisingly dropped their lawsuit against Napster, perhaps sensing that their controversial stance did more bad than good to their "band of the people" image. In late summer 2001, the band's recording sessions (and all other band-related matters) were put on hold as Hetfield entered an undisclosed rehab facility for alcoholism and other addictions. He completed treatment and rejoined the band and they headed back into the studio in 2002 to record St. Anger, released in mid-2003. The recording of St. Anger was capped with the search for a permanent replacement for Newstead. After a long audition process, former Ozzy Osbourne/Suicidal Tendencies bass player Robert Trujillo was selected and joined Metallica for their 2003/2004 world tour. The growing pains the band experienced during the recording process of St. Anger were captured in the celebrated documentary Some Kind of Monster which saw theatrical release in 2004. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine & Greg Prato


Known best for their 1984 anthem "Rock You Like a Hurricane" and the 1990 ballad "Wind of Change," the German rockers the Scorpions have sold over 22-million records, making them one of the most successful rock bands to ever come out of Continental Europe.

Originally formed in 1969 by Rudolf Schenker, the original lineup consisted of rhythm guitarist/vocalist Schenker, lead guitarist Karl-Heinz Follmer, bassist Lothar Heimberg, and drummer Wolfgang Dziony. In 1971, Schenker's younger brother Michael joined the band to play lead guitar and good friend Klaus Meine became the new vocalist. The group recorded Lonesome Crow in 1972, which was used as the soundtrack to the German movie Das Kalte Paradies. Although they failed to get into the public's eye, the early formation of '70s rock band UFO noticed Michael Schenker's guitar playing and hired him as their lead guitarist; Michael, therefore, would leave the band in 1973. Guitarist Uli Jon Roth replaced him, and under his guidance the group released four consecutive albums under the RCA record label: Fly to the Rainbow (1974), In Trance (1975), Virgin Killer (1976), and Taken by Force (1977). Although these albums failed to attain any serious attention in the United States, they were all quite popular in Japan. By the time Taken by Force was released, Roth made the decision to leave the band and form Electric Sun after feeling that his musical ideas would take the group in an entirely different direction. Tokyo Tapes, a double live album that the group recorded in Tokyo with Roth, was released in 1978. Shortly after Roth's departure, Michael Schenker was kicked out of UFO for his constant alcohol abuse and came back to play with the Scorpions in 1979, who had recently signed with Mercury Records. The group released Lovedrive that same year and played their first American tour, but Lovedrive failed to attract attention, being banned in the United States because of its sexually explicit cover. Still coping with his drugs and alcohol addiction, Michael missed tour dates repeatedly and guitarist Matthias Jabs was hired to fill in for him on nights when he was absent. Michael eventually would leave the band a second time after realizing that he was failing to meet their expectations.

Now with a lineup of Klaus Meine on vocals, Rudolf Schenker on rhythm guitar, Matthias Jabs on lead, Francis Buchholz on bass, and Herman Rarebell on drums, the band released Animal Magnetism in 1980 and embarked on another world tour. Surprisingly, Animal Magnetism went gold in the United States, and the Scorpions immediately went back into the studio to record their next release. Problems arose, however, and the project was postponed because Meine had lost his voice and would have to have surgery on his vocal chords. Many thought Meine had been fired from the band, and rumors spread that metal singer Don Dokken had already replaced him. The Scorpions proved these rumors untrue when Meine returned for the 1982 release Blackout, which contained the cult hit "No One Like You." A major success worldwide, Blackout sold over one-million copies in the U.S. alone. But as popular as Blackout was, it was the band's powerful follow-up, Love at First Sting, that succeeded in making them superstars. Released in 1984, the album boasted the MTV single "Rock You Like a Hurricane" and would eventually achieve double-platinum status. The group undertook one of their most successful world tours yet, boasting an outstanding stage show with high-energy performances.

After releasing World Wide Live in 1985, the band took a long hiatus and remained uninvolved from the music industry for two years. Their tenth studio album, Savage Amusement, was finally released in 1988, and the hit ballad "Rhythm of Love" brought on another major success. In 1990, the album Crazy World was released and would eventually become the Scorpions' biggest-selling record to date, drawing on the strength of the hit ballad "Wind of Change."

Not too surprisingly, Crazy World was the last successful Scorpions release in the U.S. By the time their Face the Heat album hit the shelves in 1993, many longtime fans had already lost interest in the band, due to the alternative explosion of the early '90s. Face the Heat did eventually reach gold, and in 1995 the band released another live album, Live Bites. Now with bassist Ralph Rieckermann and drummer James Kottak, they released Pure Instinct in 1996. Mercury Records assembled a double album of the band's greatest hits, Deadly Sting: The Mercury Years, and released it in 1997. Eye II Eye, an album in which the band experimented with pop-techno melodies, was released in the summer of 1999. Moment of Glory, featuring the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and several revamped versions of Scorpions cult classics, was released in fall 2000. ~ Barry Weber, All Music Guide

Michael Jackson Biography

Michael Jackson was unquestionably the biggest pop star of the '80s, and certainly one of the most popular recording artists of all time. In his prime, Jackson was an unstoppable juggernaut, possessed of all the tools to dominate the charts seemingly at will: an instantly identifiable voice, eye-popping dance moves, stunning musical versatility, and loads of sheer star power. His 1982 blockbuster Thriller became the biggest-selling album of all time (probably his best-known accomplishment), and he was the first black artist to find stardom on MTV, breaking down innumerable boundaries both for his race and for music video as an art form. Yet as Jackson's career began, very gradually, to descend from the dizzying heights of his peak years, most of the media's attention focused on his increasingly bizarre eccentricities; he was often depicted as an arrested man-child, completely sheltered from adult reality by a life spent in show business. The snickering turned to scandal in 1993, when Jackson was accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy; although he categorically denied the charges, his out-of-court settlement failed to restore his tarnished image. He never quite escaped the stigma of those allegations, and while he continued to sell records at superstar-like levels, he didn't release them with enough frequency (or, many critics thought, inspiration) to once again become better known for his music than his private life. Whether as a pop icon or a tabloid caricature, Jackson always remained bigger than life.

Michael Joseph Jackson was born August 29, 1958, in Gary, IN. The fifth son of steelworker Joe Jackson, Michael displayed a talent for music and dance from an extremely young age. His childhood was strictly regimented; from the start, he was to an extent sheltered from the outside world by his mother's Jehovah's Witness faith, and his father was by all accounts an often ill-tempered disciplinarian. Joe began to organize a family musical group around his three eldest sons in 1962, and Michael joined them the following year, quickly establishing himself as a dynamic stage performer. His dead-on mastery of James Brown's dance moves and soulful, mature-beyond-his-years vocals made him a natural focal point, especially given his incredibly young age. Dubbed the Jackson 5, the group signed to Motown in 1968 and issued their debut single in October 1969, when Michael was just 11 years old. "I Want You Back," "ABC," "The Love You Save," and "I'll Be There" all hit number one in 1970, making the Jackson 5 the first group in pop history to have their first four singles top the charts. Motown began priming Michael for a solo career in 1971, and his first single, "Got to Be There," was issued toward the end of the year; it hit the Top Five, as did the follow-up, a cover of Bobby Day's "Rockin' Robin." Later in 1972, Jackson had his first number one solo single, "Ben," the title song from a children's thriller about a young boy who befriends Ben, the highly intelligent leader of a gang of homicidal rats. Given the subject matter, the song was surprisingly sincere and sentimental, and even earned an Oscar nomination. However, the momentum of Jackson's solo career (much like that of the Jackson 5) soon stalled. He released his fourth and final album on Motown in 1975, and the following year, he and his brothers (save Jermaine) signed to Epic and became the Jacksons.

In 1977, Jackson landed a starring role alongside Diana Ross in the all-black film musical The Wiz, a retelling of The Wizard of Oz; here he met producer/composer Quincy Jones for the first time. Encouraged by the success of the Jacksons' self-produced, mostly self-written 1978 album Destiny, Jackson elected to resume his solo career when his management contract with his father expired shortly thereafter. With Jones producing, Jackson recorded his first solo album as an adult, Off the Wall. An immaculately crafted set of funky disco-pop, smooth soul, and lush, sentimental pop ballads, Off the Wall made Jackson a star all over again. It produced four Top Ten singles, including the number one hits "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough" and "Rock With You," and went platinum (it went on to sell over seven million copies); even so, Jackson remained loyal to his brothers and stayed with the group.

No group could have contained Jackson's rapidly rising star for long; however, there was still no sign (if there ever could be) that his next album would become the biggest in history. Released in 1982, the Quincy Jones-produced Thriller refined the strengths of Off the Wall; the dance and rock tracks were more driving, the pop tunes and ballads softer and more soulful, and all of it was recognizably Michael. Jackson brought in Paul McCartney for a duet, guitarist Eddie Van Halen for a jaw-dropping solo, and Vincent Price for a creepy recitation. It was no surprise that Thriller was a hit; what was a surprise was its staying power. Jackson's duet with McCartney, "The Girl Is Mine," was a natural single choice, and it peaked at number two; then "Billie Jean" and the Van Halen track "Beat It" both hit number one, for seven and three weeks respectively. Those latter two songs, as well as the future Top Five title track, had one important feature in common: Jackson supported them with elaborately conceived video clips that revolutionized the way music videos were made. Jackson treated them as song-length movies with structured narratives: "Billie Jean" set the song's tale of a paternity suit in a nightmarish dream world where Jackson was a solitary, sometimes invisible presence; the anti-gang-violence "Beat It" became an homage to West Side Story; and the ten-minute-plus clip for "Thriller" (routinely selected as the best video of all time) featured Jackson leading a dance troupe of rotting zombies, with loads of horror-film makeup and effects. Having never really accepted black artists in the past, MTV played the clips to death, garnering massive publicity for Jackson and droves of viewers for the fledgling cable network. Jackson sealed his own phenomenon by debuting his signature "moonwalk" dance step on May 16, 1983, on Motown's televised 25th anniversary special; though he didn't invent the moonwalk (as he himself was quick to point out), it became as much of a Jackson signature as his vocal hiccups or single white-sequined glove.

Showing no signs of slowing down, Thriller just kept spinning off singles, including "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'," the airy ballad "Human Nature," and "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)"; in all, seven of its nine tracks wound up in the Top Ten, obliterating conventional ideas of how many singles could be released from an album before it ran its course. Thriller stayed on the charts for over two years, spent 37 nonconsecutive weeks at number one, and became the best-selling album of all time; it went on to sell 25 million copies in the U.S. alone, and around another 20 million overseas. Naturally, Jackson won a slew of awards, including a record eight Grammys in one night, and snagged the largest endorsement deal ever when he became a spokesman for Pepsi (he would later be burned in an accident while filming a commercial). At the end of 1983, Jackson was again on top of the singles charts, this time as part of a second duet with McCartney, "Say Say Say." In 1984, Jackson rejoined his brothers one last time for the album Victory, whose supporting tour was one of the biggest (and priciest) of the year. The following year, he and Lionel Richie co-wrote the anthemic "We Are the World" for the all-star famine-relief effort USA for Africa; it became one of the fastest-selling singles ever.

Even at this early stage, wild rumors about Jackson's private life were swirling. His shyness and reluctance to grant interviews (ironically, due in part to his concerns about being misrepresented) only encouraged more speculation. Some pointed to his soft-spoken, still girlish voice as evidence that he'd undergone hormone treatments to preserve the high, flexible range of his youth; stories were told about Jackson sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber to slow the aging process, and purchasing the skeleton of John Merrick, the Elephant Man (Jackson did view the bones in the London Hospital, but did not buy them). Jackson bought a large ranch in California which he dubbed Neverland, and filled it with amusement park rides and animals (including the notorious pet chimpanzee Bubbles), which only fueled the public's perception of him as a somewhat bizarre eccentric obsessed with recapturing his childhood. He also underwent cosmetic surgery several times, which led to accusations from the black community that his gradually lightening skin tone was the result of an intentional effort to become whiter; a few years later, Jackson revealed that he had a disorder called vitiligo, in which pigment disappears from the skin, leaving large white blotches and making direct sunlight dangerous. One of the rumors that was definitely true was that Jackson owned the rights to the Beatles' catalog; in 1985, he acquired ATV Publishing, the firm that controlled all the Lennon-McCartney copyrights (among others), which wound up costing him his friendship with McCartney.

During his long layoff between records, Jackson indulged his interest in film and video by working with George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola on the 3-D short film Captain Eo. The special-effects extravaganza was shown at the enormous widescreen IMAX theaters in Disney's amusement parks for 12 years, beginning in 1986. Finally, Jackson re-entered the studio with Quincy Jones to begin the near-impossible task of crafting a follow-up to Thriller. Bad was released to enormous public anticipation in 1987, and was accompanied by equally enormous publicity. It debuted at number one, and the first single, "I Just Can't Stop Loving You," with vocal accompaniment by Siedah Garrett, also shot up the charts to number one. Like Thriller, Bad continued to spin off singles for well over a year after its release, and became the first album ever to produce five number one hits; the others were "Bad," "The Way You Make Me Feel," "Man in the Mirror," and "Dirty Diana." Jackson supported the album with a lengthy world tour that featured a typically spectacular, elaborate stage show; it became the highest-grossing tour of all time. Although Jackson's success was still staggering, there were faint undercurrents of disappointment, partly because of the unparalleled phenomenon of Thriller (Bad "only" sold eight million copies), and partly because the album itself didn't seem quite as exuberant or uniformly consistent when compared to its predecessors.

Jackson took another long hiatus between albums, giving the media little to focus on besides his numerous eccentricities; by this time, the British tabloids delighted in calling him "Wacko Jacko," a name he detested. When Jackson returned in with a new album in late 1991, he'd come up with a different moniker: "the King of Pop." Dangerous found Jackson ending his collaboration with Quincy Jones in an effort to update his sound; accordingly, many of the tracks were helmed by the groundbreaking new jack swing producer Teddy Riley. As expected, the album debuted at number one, and its lead single, "Black or White," shot to the top as well. Jackson courted controversy with the song's video, however; after the song itself ended, there was a long dance sequence in which Jackson shouted, grabbed his crotch, and smashed car windows in a bizarre display that seemed at odds with the song's harmonious message. With the video given a high-profile, prime-time network premiere, Jackson was criticized for the inappropriate violence and the message it might send to his younger fans. However, Jackson would not be the biggest story in popular music for long. In early 1992, Nirvana's Nevermind symbolically knocked Dangerous out of the number one spot; after the alternative rock revolution, the pop charts would never be quite the same. Jackson scored several more hits off the album, including the Top Tens "Remember the Time" and "In the Closet," but the aggressive "Jam" and the saccharine "Heal the World" both performed disappointingly.

Jackson had long preferred the company of children over other adults, and befriended quite a few, inviting them to stay at his Neverland Ranch and enjoy the massive playground he'd assembled over the years. In 1993, Jackson was accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy who'd become a frequent guest at Neverland. Predictably, there was a tabloid feeding frenzy, and a mainstream media circus as well. In the court of public opinion, the charges seemed all too plausible: Jackson was near-universally perceived as a weirdo, and here was a handy explanation for his heretofore asexual persona and distaste for adult companions. Additionally, Jackson entered rehab for a short time, seeking treatment for an addiction to pain killers. Investigations were unsuccessful in turning up any other boys who echoed the allegations, and Jackson countersued his accusers for attempting extortion; however, in spite of the fact that no criminal charges were ever filed against Jackson, he settled the boy's family's suit out of court in early 1995, paying an estimated 18 to 20 million dollars. Many felt the settlement was tantamount to an admission of guilt, and when Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley in 1994, the move was perceived as a desperate ploy to rehabilitate his image; the marriage broke up just 19 months later, seemingly lending credence to the charge.

In 1995, Jackson attempted to put the focus back on his music by preparing HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book 1, a two-CD set featuring one disc of new material and one of his greatest hits. The album debuted at number one, but the format backfired on Jackson: his fans already owned the hits, and the new album simply wasn't strong enough to offset the added cost of the extra disc for many more casual listeners. There were some encouraging signs -- the lead single "Scream," a duet with sister Janet, debuted at number five, setting a new American chart record that was broken when the follow-up, "You Are Not Alone," became the first single ever to enter the Billboard Hot 100 at number one. But on the whole, HIStory was something of a disappointment. Additionally, Jackson collapsed during rehearsals for an awards show later that year, and had to be rushed to the hospital; what was more, the Eagles' Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) was threatening to catch Thriller's American sales record (it eventually did, and the two continued to run neck and neck). There were signs that Jackson was grasping at his self-proclaimed King of Pop status; the cover of HIStory depicted an enormous statue of Jackson, and he performed at the 1996 BRIT Awards dressed as a Messiah, with children and a rabbi surrounding him worshipfully (Pulp lead singer Jarvis Cocker stormed the stage to protest Jackson's hubris during the middle of the song). The 1997 remix album Blood on the Dance Floor failed to even go platinum, although remix albums historically don't perform nearly as well as new material.

In late 1996, Jackson remarried, to nurse Debbie Rowe; over the next two years, the couple had two children, son Prince Michael Jackson, Jr. and daughter Paris Michael Katherine Jackson. However, Jackson and Rowe divorced in late 1999. In 2001, Jackson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and later held a massive concert at Madison Square Garden celebrating the 30th anniversary of his first solo record. Among many other celebrity guests, the show featured the first on-stage reunion of the Jacksons since the Victory tour. In the wake of September 11, Jackson put together an all-star charity benefit single, "What More Can I Give." His new album, Invincible, was released late in the year, marking the first time he'd issued a collection of entirely new material since Dangerous; it found him working heavily with urban soul production wizard Rodney Jerkins. Invincible debuted at number one and quickly went double platinum; however, its initial singles, "You Rock My World" and "Butterflies," had rather disappointing showings on the charts, with the latter not even reaching the Top Ten. To compound matters, the expensive "What More Can I Give" single and video were canceled by Sony when executive producer Marc Schaffel was revealed to work in pornography. Jackson's camp tried to distance the singer from Schaffel, and the various corporations that were attached to it (McDonalds, Sony) claimed they had minimal involvement if any with the song. Sony and Jackson began a press war in the summer of 2002, starting with Jackson's claims that the label asked for 200 million dollars to pay them back for marketing costs. Although they had spent 55 million on his disappointing comeback, Sony released a statement saying that no such request had ever been made. Jackson stewed for a few weeks before launching a press attack on Sony Music chairman Tommy Mottola, calling him "devilish" and making claims that he used racist language and held down black artists. Many Sony artists, including Mariah Carey and Ricky Martin, defended Mottola, but Jackson and his family maintained that racism ended their professional relationship.

From that point, Jackson's career took an extreme turn toward the bizarre, starting with MTV's annual Video Awards. When Britney Spears presented him with a birthday cake, an offhand remark about being the artist of the millennium inspired a rambling Jackson to accept a meaningless trophy (which everyone presenting on-stage received) as an actual Artist of the Millennium award. Next came accusations from a promotional company over his promises of a tour and several appearances that he then canceled. Jackson arrived in court late, gave a drowsy testimony, and inspired gasps when he removed a surgical mask to reveal his nose had caved in from a botched cosmetic surgery. Only days later, German fans were horrified when Jackson came to the balcony of his hotel suite and briefly dangled his 11-month old baby Prince Michael II (nicknamed "Blanket" by Jackson) over the edge with one arm. Although he apologized the next day, claiming he had gotten caught up in the moment, this only did more to cement the King of Pop's public image as an out-of-control millionaire. 2003 turned out to not be Jackson's year as in November his Neverland Ranch was extensively searched by police, whereby he was subsequently arrested on charges of child molestation. ~ Steve Huey, All Music Guide.