When the word emerged that Michael Jackson had passed away on June 25, 2009, the music industry reached a complete standstill. As a result of the outpouring of grief from Jackson’s millions of fans worldwide, his unique position in the annals of music history was rapidly cemented.
Following the opening of the Michael Jackson: HIStyle exhibit in February of that year, the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles quickly got to work and unveiled the special exhibit Michael Jackson: A Musical Legacy. This exhibit was a follow-up to the earlier Michael Jackson: HIStyle exhibit on display.
GRAMMY winners Smokey Robinson, Celine Dion, Carrie Underwood, Usher, and Jennifer Hudson collaborated on a rendition of “Earth Song” in 3-D at the 52nd Annual GRAMMY Awards in 2010, paying tribute to Michael Jackson, who was honored posthumously that year with a Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award.
According to the RIAA’s list of the best-selling artists of all time, Michael Jackson comes in at number seven, having sold more than 75 million albums in the United States. We reflect on the 10 crowning achievements that Michael Jackson amassed on his way to becoming the King of Pop as we approach the fifth anniversary of his passing.
First Four No. 1 Hits in 1970
Jackson and his brothers were the first group in the history of pop music to have their first four singles reach No. 1. “I Want You Back,” “I’ll Be There,” “The Love You Save,” and “ABC” were the names of the songs. The Jackson 5 got their first GRAMMY nomination for Best Contemporary Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group, or Chorus for the song “Smooth Criminal.”
1982: Thriller comes out.
After his hit album Off the Wall in 1979, Thriller came out on November 30, 1982. Both albums were inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame in 2008, but Thriller is generally considered Jackson’s most successful album.
Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson made the groundbreaking album. It was the first album with seven Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100. The Eagles’ Their Greatest Hits 1971–1975 and Michael Jackson’s Thriller are tied for the best-selling album of all time, with 29 million copies sold each.
The Moonwalk came out in 1983.
Jackson first did the moonwalk when he danced to “Billie Jean” on the May 16, 1983, TV special “Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever,” which was a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the label.
Later that year, on December 2, Michael Jackson released the music video for “Thriller,” which changed the world of music videos forever. The nearly 14-minute epic showed how music videos could be used in any way and helped make the medium more popular.
1984: Eight GRAMMYs, One Night\
Jackson made history when, at the 26th Annual GRAMMY Awards on February 28, 1984, he became the first artist to win eight GRAMMYs in one night. The King of Pop won Album of the Year and Record of the Year for “Beat It” and “Thriller.” Jackson has 11 GRAMMYs, which makes him one of the artists who won the most in the 1980s.
1984: Two Walks of Fame in Hollywood
Jackson was the first famous person to have two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for the same kind of work. Before becoming a solo recording star, he made his name in 1980 as a member of the Jacksons, then called the Jackson 5.
1988: First GRAMMY for a solo performance
Jackson first performed on the GRAMMY stage by himself at the 30th Annual GRAMMY Awards in New York on March 2, 1988. Jackson’s medley of “The Way You Make Me Feel” and “Man in the Mirror” is thought to be one of the best performances in GRAMMY history.
1993: GRAMMY Legend Award\
The prestigious GRAMMY Legend Award has only been given to 15 people so far. It is a Recording Academy Special Merit Award given to people or groups for their ongoing contributions and influence in the recording industry. In 1993, Jackson was the tenth person to be given this honor.
1997: The Jackson 5 are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Jackson was first put in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with his brothers Jackie Jackson, Jermaine Jackson, Marlon Jackson, and Tito Jackson as part of the Jackson 5. In 2001, he was put in as a solo artist.
2.6 Million Downloads Sold in 2009
Jackson was the first artist to sell more than 1 million digital tracks in one week after he died. (He sold 2.6 million songs, which was a lot more than the previous record.) He was also the first person to have the three best-selling albums in the United States. Two weeks later, he was the first musician to have six of the top 10 albums.
2014: Jackson Changes History… Again
When “Love Never Felt So Good,” from his posthumous album Xscape, reached No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 on May 21, Jackson became the first artist in history to have a Top 10 hit in five different decades.