Michael Jackson, 50, one of pop music's biggest stars, was rushed to a Los Angeles-area hospital by paramedics who found him not breathing when they arrived at his home. Later that afternoon Jackson was pronounced dead, the cause of death is believed to be a cardiac arrest. Below are key facts about Michael Jackson's life:
Born Aug. 29 to Katherine Esther Scruse and Joseph Walter Jackson, in Gary, Indiana as the seventh of nine children.
Michael and his brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon first perform together at a talent show when Michael is 6. They walk off with first prize. They form the Jackson 5. Their father is instrumental in shaping the group and promoting their talents in New York and Philadelphia.
The Jackson 5 signs a recording contract with Motown Records. A year later, the band records some of its top hits including "I'll Be There," "I Want You Back" and "ABC."
Michael Jackson records his first solo album. The first hit, "Ben," is a love song to a pet rat.
Mr. Jackson's album, Off the Wall, is produced by Quincy Jones and sells 11 million copies.
Michael Jackson releases Thriller, also produced by Quincy Jones. The album yields seven top-ten singles including "Billie Jean" and "Beat it." It sells 21 million copies in the United States and at least 27 million more worldwide.
Mr. Jackson unveils his trademark "moonwalk" dance move while performing "Billie Jean" during an NBC special.
Mr. Jackson's head is burned while filming an ad for Pepsi. He begins to remodel his facial features, starting with the reduction of his nostrils. His skin colour also begins to lighten.
Mr. Jackson writes the charity hit, "We Are The World," to benefit the fight against hunger in Africa.
Mr. Jackson's album Bad is released, selling 26 million copies and marking the end of his collaboration with Quincy Jones.
Mr. Jackson moves into the $17-million U.S., 2,700-acre Neverland ranch outside Santa Barbara, Calif. He turns it into a real-life Neverland, including a zoo, a video arcade and an amusement park with a merry-go-round and a ferris wheel.
Mr. Jackson begins wearing surgical masks in public. Thriller reaches 21 times platinum, making it the highest-selling album of all time.
The video for "Black or White" is released, prompting discussion over Mr. Jackson's strikingly different skin tone.
Mr. Jackson's album Dangerous is released, selling 22 million copies.
Enters the Guinness Book of World Records as the highest-paid entertainer in the music industry.
Mr. Jackson reveals to Oprah Winfrey in a rare interview on her show that he has a skin condition called vitiligo, which causes the skin to lose its pigmentation.
The same year, Mr. Jackson is accused of sexually abusing a 13-year-old boy and police raided his ranch.
He also announced in 1993 he was addicted to painkillers and cancelled a world tour.
Mr. Jackson reaches an out-of-court settlement in the sexual molestation lawsuit arising from his friendship with a 13-year-old boy, Jordan Chandler. The settlement was later reported to be $23-million. Mr. Jackson denied the allegations. No criminal charges were ever filed.
The same year, Mr. Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley, the only child of Elvis Presley, in a secret ceremony on May 26. The marriage lasts 18 months.
Mr. Jackson releases HIStory - Past, Present and Future, Book I.
Mr. Jackson divorces Ms. Presley and marries Australian dermatology nurse Debbie Rowe the same year. He and Ms. Rowe have two children, a son, Prince Michael Joseph, and a daughter, Paris Michael Katherine. The couple divorced in 1999. They never lived together.
Ms. Rowe granted Mr. Jackson sole custody of the children, whose faces he often kept covered in public.
Mr. Jackson releases his sixth solo album, Invincible, which reportedly cost $30-million U.S. to make. It flops. Mr. Jackson was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In July, Mr. Jackson accuses record executive Tommy Mottola of exploiting African-American artists. Mr. Jackson fathers another son, Prince Michael II and nicknamed "Blanket" from a surrogate mother he reportedly never met. On Nov. 19, 2002, Mr. Jackson dangles the nine-month-old baby over a fourth-floor balcony at a hotel in Berlin, Germany, eliciting panic from fans and media gathered below and garnering widespread criticism. He said later he regretted the incident.
In an interview with Martin Bashir, Mr. Jackson is pictured holding hands with an adolescent boy. In the interview, the singer said sharing a bed with a young boy was a "beautiful thing."
"It's very right, it's very loving. Because what's wrong with sharing a love?" he said in the interview. He also said he never abused a child.
Later that year, Mr. Jackson was accused of multiple counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14, 12-year-old Gavin Arvizo. He posts $3-million bail.
On November 18, police raid Mr. Jackson's Neverland ranch. The same day, his Number Ones album is released.
On April 30, Mr. Jackson is charged with 10 counts, including child molestation, extortion, child abduction, false imprisonment and giving a minor an intoxicating agent. He pleads not guilty.
The prosecution accuses him of being a closet pervert who used wine and pornography to lower the inhibitions of a 13-year-old boy. The defence counters that authorities investigating the allegations of child molestation found no DNA from his accuser when they searched the pop star's bedroom.
June 13, 2005
A jury finds Mr. Jackson not guilty on all the counts against him. A member of the jury later says in an interview that he believes Mr. Jackson "probably has molested boys," but there wasn't enough evidence to convict him. Mr. Jackson subsequently spends time in Bahrain, Ireland and France with his children.
March 5, 2009
Mr. Jackson announces a comeback tour in London. He was set to start his slate of 50 concerts at London's O2 Arena on July 13. The shows sell out within hours of going on sale in March.
Sources: Reuters, AFP, National Post