Michael Jackson: A photo timeline -- From The Jackson 5 to ''Thriller'' and beyond, a look at some of his memorable moments

By Clark Collis
Updated July 03, 2009 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Early Years
Michael Jackson broke big fronting the Jackson 5 and found solo success with ”Ben” and ‘Off the Wall’

The birth of a megastar
Born Aug. 29, 1958, in Gary, Ind., to Joe and Katherine Jackson, the precociously smooth-voiced Michael took over the lead vocal duties of his brothers’ singing group by the time he was 5.

The Jackson 5’s Ed Sullivan appearance
1969 was a busy year: The Jackson 5 signed to Motown; released their first hit, ”I Want You Back”; and played The Ed Sullivan Show.

Solo star
In 1971 he proved he could go it alone, scoring his first top five hit with ”Got to Be There.”

The Jackson 5…and then some
Eight of Joe and Katherine’s children (from left): Jackie, Michael, Janet, Tito, La Toya, Marlon, Randy, and Jermaine.

Easing on down the road
Jackson as the Scarecrow in 1978’s The Wiz. The film bombed, but it did introduce the young star to his future producer Quincy Jones.

Recording Off the Wall with Quincy Jones
This smash 1979 album yielded four top 10 hits, including dance-floor classics ”Rock With You” and ”Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough.”

The 80s
Jackson moonwalked into the record books with his breakthrough album, ‘Thriller’

The Triumph tour
Michael wowed the crowd during a 1981 date with the Jacksons.

With a Beatle
Jackson’s record-shattering 1982 album Thriller featured a raft of hit singles, including ”Billie Jean,” ”Beat It,” and the Paul McCartney collaboration ”The Girl Is Mine.” The next year, the duo recorded their hit ”Say Say Say.”

The Motown 25 TV special
During this spectacular 1983 performance of ”Billie Jean,” he introduced his signature dance move: the moonwalk.

A commercial shoot gone wrong
While filming a 1984 Pepsi ad, he suffered second-degree burns on his head after a flash bomb set his hair on fire.

MTV debuts the ”Thriller” video
Sales of the Thriller album tripled after the network started airing the innovative John Landis-directed clip in 1983.

Making a difference
With Kim Carnes and Diana Ross during the 1985 recording of ”We Are the World” in Los Angeles. The charity song — which went on to become one of the fastest-selling singles in history — was written by Jackson and Lionel Richie.

Meet the monkey
With new friend Bubbles, a chimp that he rescued from a cancer-research laboratory in 1985.

Thriller Grammys
At the 1984 ceremony, with Brooke Shields and Emmanuel Lewis. Jackson won eight awards that night.

Finding Neverland
Jackson’s estate in the Santa Ynez Valley, which he bought in 1988 and named Neverland. The singer transformed his 2,700-acre home into a fantastical fiefdom complete with a zoo, a Ferris wheel, and bumper cars.

Michael and Liz
At the 1986 American Music Awards with one of his closest friends, Elizabeth Taylor.

The 90s
Jackson scored at the Super Bowl, got married twice, and took on fatherhood

Super Bowl superstar
Jackson performed at halftime in 1993.

Hitting the Oscars
Jackson’s date for the 1991 Academy Awards was none other than Madonna.

Small Mac
With pal Macaulay Culkin, who appeared in the video for ”Black or White.”

The prez meets the King
At a 1993 inaugural gala with Bill Clinton and Stevie Nicks.

A surprise wedding
Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley in the spring of 1994 — and famously kissed her at the MTV Video Music Awards later that year. But in January 1996, Presley’s publicist announced she was filing for divorce.

Oprah gets some face time
With the talk-show host in 1993. In a much-watched prime-time special, she quizzed Jackson about his changing looks.

Making HIStory
On stage at London’s massive Wembley Stadium in 1997, where he promoted his double album HIStory with a multidate stint.

Another marriage
Second wife Debbie Rowe with Jackson in 1996. Rowe gave birth to a boy, named Prince Michael, the following year, and later a daughter named Paris, but the couple split up in 1999.

The Final Years
The King of Pop became the king of controversy

Courting disaster
The singer greeted fans outside a Santa Maria, Calif., courthouse in 2004. Jackson stood trial for child molestation the next year. He was acquitted, but his reputation would never recover.

Garden party
Singing with Britney Spears at Madison Square Garden to mark his 30th anniversary as a solo performer in 2001.

Balcony scene
Jackson dangled his third child, Prince Michael II, over a fourth-floor balcony in Berlin, in 2002. Captured by TV cameras, the incident provoked widespread outrage.