From An Abused Child To The King Of Pop: Here’s How Michael Jackson Turned His Life Around


Born in Gary, Indiana, Michael Jackson was the eighth child in the working-class Jackson family. As his parents had musical backgrounds and an interest in playing musical instruments, the children were inclined musically. His father, Joseph Jackson, formed the Jackson 5 with five of his children, with Michael being the youngest of them. Jackson simultaneously began releasing solo albums and achieved worldwide acclaim. By the 1980s, Michael Jackson was regarded as the King of Pop and became one of the best-selling artists of his generation. With several accolades and awards under his belt, Jackson earned a massive fan following for his music and dance moves.

While Michael Jackson was on top of the world during his time with Jackson 5 and as a solo artist, he admitted to suffering through physical and verbal abuse growing up in his home. His story of fame has had several challenges, from depression and debts to struggling to reach the top. The King of Pop whose legacy will forever live on, let’s look at how Michael Jackson turned his life around.

Jackson 5 And Overcoming Abuse

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Coming from a struggling background, Joe Jackson formed the Jackson 5 with five of his children: Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, and Michael, being the youngest. According to Britannica, the group was signed by Berry Gordy Jr. of Motown Records in 1969. Known for their youthful music, snappy choreography, and large afros, Jackson 5 became instant hits with the public. A year after being signed, they had four back-to-back No.1 hits like ABC, I Want You Back, I’ll Be There, and The Love You Save. With Motown, the band continued performing trendsetting dance routines, and their reign lasted until 1975.

While the group received continued success, the era was a struggle for Michael Jackson, who suffered abuse from his father and faced physical insecurities. Besides being a distant parent to all children, he became a disciplinarian after discovering their talents. Joe would beat the children with the cord of an electric kettle or a belt buckle and made them carry cinder blocks around their backyard, as noted by The Guardian. They were not allowed to play with other children and spent five hours practicing music after school.

While Jackson 5 in its entirety was a success, it was Michael Jackson who stood out from the crowd for his praise from the critics and the talent that outshone him. His father bullied him the most, mocking him for his self-conscious behavior. After discovering that Michael was sensitive about the size of his nose, Joe called him Big Nose, an insult that remained with him forever, causing him to have multiple plastic surgeries.

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Focusing On His Sprawling Music Career

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By 1975, Michael Jackson’s voice and tone had matured, and tensions arose between Jackson 5 and Motown Records. The family switched to Epic Records, and Jackson began focusing on his solo career. While his other siblings received favorable success for their albums, Michael Jackson’s career took a massive leap. His fifth studio album, Off The Wall, was produced by Quincy Jones and became the best-selling album of 1979. It also sold over 20 million copies and released international hit singles.

Michael Jackson was only 24 when he released Thriller, another album under Quincy Jones, which spent 37 weeks on the Billboard 200 charts, as stated by Grammy. It was then the longest-running album on the top spot. Jackson won eight Grammy Awards in one night for the album, a record that has only been equaled once in 2000. It not only sold 40 million copies but has been dubbed the best-selling album of all time. In 1984, Jackson was named the King of Pop. After a reunion tour with Jackson 5, he released the album Bad, which produced five No.1 Billboard hits.

A Legacy That Lives On

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After his world domination in the 1980s, Michael Jackson continued his reign in the coming years, releasing three albums before his death. His 1991 album Dangerous went eight times platinum and sold over 32 million copies worldwide. Jackson’s HIStory: Past, Present, and Future, Book I, was his ninth studio album and featured the greatest compilation hits. He delved into various genres and spoke about social issues, from suicide and injustice to environmental awareness. His last album under Epic Records was Invincible which was released in 2001.

During the final years of his career, Michael Jackson suffered a financial collapse, leading him to embark on the biggest tour of his life since 2001, called This Is It. The tour included a 50-show residency in London and traveling the world for shows. As mentioned by the Hollywood Reporter, the tour was expected to garner over $132 million, but Jackson’s health declined, and he passed away three weeks before This Is It could begin. Shortly after his death, he sold 1 million digital tracks of his album and had six best-selling albums out of ten.

Coming from a family of rare musical talent, Michael Jackson was destined to become a successful singer, but he morphed into a legend with his innovative music and compositions. Despite suffering from abuse as a child and feeling lonely as an adult, he broke through the barriers and left an incomparable legacy behind.

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Sources: Britannica, The Guardian, Grammy, Hollywood Reporter

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