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Timeline : Michael Jackson

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August 29, 1958

Michael Jackson is born in Gary, Indiana.

October 14, 1972

Michael Jackson's "Ben," a song about a boy and his love for a pet rat, hits #1 in the US.More

February 27, 1980

Michael Jackson wins his first Grammy: Best R&B Performance for "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough." Other winners include Donna Summer (Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for "Hot Stuff"), Earth, Wind & Fire (Best R&B Group Vocal Performance for "After the Love Has Gone"), and The Doobie Brothers (Record of the Year and Song of the Year for "What A Fool Believes").

November 30, 1982

Michael Jackson releases Thriller, which becomes, by far, the best selling album worldwide.More

November 6, 1982

The first single from Michael Jackson's Thriller album, the Paul McCartney duet "The Girl Is Mine," enters the Hot 100 at #45. With the exception of a two-week stretch between "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)" and "Thriller," at least one song from the album is on the chart every week until May 19, 1984.

April 30, 1983

Michael Jackson's fight is funky and strong, as "Beat It" hits #1 in America for the first of three weeks.More

December 2, 1983

Michael Jackson's 14-minute "Thriller" video debuts on MTV. Directed by John Landis, the short film shows Michael Jackson turning into a werewolf and leading a dance routine with various undead creatures.More

January 27, 1984

At the peak of his popularity, Michael Jackson films an ad for Pepsi that goes horribly wrong when some stray pyro sets his hair on fire.More

February 28, 1984

Michael Jackson is the big winner at the Grammy Awards, winning eight trophies, including Album of the Year for Thriller and Record of the Year for "Beat It." He makes the ceremony despite being injured the previous day when his hair caught fire shooting a Pepsi commercial.More

May 19, 1984

The song "Thriller" falls off the Hot 100, ending a run of hits from the Thriller album that started on November 6, 1982, when "The Girl Is Mine" entered the tally. In that stretch, only two weeks went by without a Thriller song on the chart.

October 30, 1984

Less than two years after its release, the RIAA certifies Michael Jackson's Thriller album with sales of 20 million copies in America, introducing a new designation, "Double Diamond." The stratospheric sales of Thriller are unprecedented, and keep climbing to well over 30 million. It isn't until 1994 when another album gets the Double Diamond designation, and that's a greatest hits package: Eagles - Their Greatest Hits 1971 - 1975.

November 20, 1984

Michael Jackson is awarded a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame directly in front of Mann's famous Chinese Theatre, creating the largest-ever crowd for such an unveiling.

August 14, 1985

Three years after their duet "The Girl Is Mine," Paul McCartney advises Michael Jackson to invest in publishing. Jackson makes a winning bid of $47.5 million for the rights to over 250 Lennon-McCartney Beatles songs owned by ATV publishing, which turns out to be a great investment, but kills their friendship.More

March 19, 1988

Michael Jackson begins construction on his 2,800-acre ranch and private amusement park in Santa Barbara, California, which he names "Neverland" after a fantasy location in his favorite book, Peter Pan, a place where children never grow up.

July 2, 1988

Michael Jackson's "Dirty Diana" hits #1 on the Hot 100, making him the first artist to score five #1 singles from the same album (Bad).

March 20, 1991

Michael Jackson signs the largest contract renewal in history to the time, inking a $65 million deal with Sony.

November 14, 1991

Michael Jackson's "Black Or White" music video, directed by John Landis, debuts simultaneously on MTV, BET and Fox - a strategic move that marks his ascension to the pop throne. The 11-minute clip, however, lands Jackson in hot water with viewers who complain about his excessive crotch-grabbing and gratuitous displays of violence.More

November 11, 1991

Per Michael Jackson's wishes, one week before his controversial "Black Or White" music video airs, a memo circulates at MTV instructing the network's on-air personnel to refer to Jackson as the King of Pop at least twice a week during the next two weeks.More

August 21, 1993

Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch is raided by police after a child who stayed there comes forward with allegations of molestation. Jackson lets police strip search him, which he finds very humiliating. No charges are filed, but Jackson will later deal with more allegations.

May 26, 1994

Michael Jackson marries Lisa Marie Presley, the child of Elvis, in a secret ceremony held in the Dominican Republic. The couple divorce 20 months later, citing irreconcilable differences.More

September 8, 1994

Nearly four months after tying the knot in a secret ceremony in the Dominican Republic, Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley make their first public appearance as a married couple at the MTV Video Music Awards, where Jackson infamously plants a sloppy smooch on his bride.More

September 2, 1995

Michael Jackson's "You Are Not Alone" becomes the first song to debut at #1 on the Hot 100. In the video, Jackson and his wife, Lisa Marie Presley, appear topless.More

January 18, 1996

Lisa Marie Presley files for divorce from Michael Jackson.

February 19, 1996

During Michael Jackson's performance of "Earth Song" at the 1996 BRIT Awards, Jarvis Cocker of the band Pulp jumps on stage and makes demeaning gestures toward Jackson. Cocker says he did it because Jackson was "pretending to be Jesus."More

February 13, 1997

Michael Jackson's first child, a son named Prince, is born. The mother is his second wife, Debbie Rowe, who later relinquishes custody.

November 4, 1998

Michael Jackson announces that wife Debbie Rowe is pregnant with his first child, denying tabloid reports that Rowe was paid to be artificially impregnated and carry the child to term.

November 20, 2003

After returning to his Neverland home following a raid on it a few days before, and in response to an arrest warrant, Michael Jackson is charged with child molestation in Santa Barbara, California. The singer is immediately released after posting three million dollars' bail.

April 21, 2004

Michael Jackson is officially charged with child molestation after a California grand jury determines there is enough evidence to proceed with allegations made against him for time spent at his Neverland Ranch.

June 13, 2005

After a five-month trial, Michael Jackson is cleared of all charges of child molestation.

October 31, 2008

In Notttingham, England, 1,227 people in zombie garb perform the dance from Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video, setting a new Guinness World Record for largest gathering of zombies. The stunt pushes the song back into the UK chart, where it lands at #35.

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