Michael Jackson, the show-stopping singer whose best-selling albums -- including "Off the Wall," "Thriller" and "Bad" -- and electrifying stage presence made him one of the most popular artists of all time, died Thursday.
He was 50.
He collapsed at his residence in the Holmby Hills section of Los Angeles, California, about noon Pacific time, suffering cardiac arrest, according to brother Randy Jackson. He died at UCLA Medical Center.Lt. Fred Corral of the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office said an autopsy would probably be done on the singer Friday, with results expected that afternoon.
"Michael Jackson made culture accept a person of color," the Rev. Al Sharpton said. "To say an 'icon' would only give these young people in Harlem a fraction of what he was. He was a historic figure that people will measure music and the industry by."Jackson's blazing rise to stardom -- and later fall from grace -- is among the most startling of show business tales. The son of a steelworker, he rose to fame as the lead singer of the Jackson 5, a band he formed with his brothers in the late 1960s. By the late '70s, as a solo artist, he was topping the charts with cuts from "Off the Wall," including "Rock With You" and "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough."
In 1982, he released "Thriller," an album that eventually produced seven hit singles. An appearance the next year on a Motown Records 25th-anniversary special cemented his status as the biggest star in the country.
For the rest of the 1980s, they came no bigger. "Thriller's" follow-up, 1987's "Bad," sold almost as many copies. A new Jackson album -- a new Jackson appearance -- was a pop culture event.
The pop music landscape was changing, however, opening up for rap, hip-hop and what came to be called "alternative" -- and Jackson was seen as out of step.
His next release, 1991's "Dangerous," debuted at No. 1 but "only" produced one top-ranking single -- "Black or White" -- and that song earned criticism for its inexplicably violent ending, in which Jackson was seen smashing car windows and clutching his crotch.
And then "Dangerous" was knocked out of its No. 1 spot on the album charts by Nirvana's "Nevermind," an occurrence noted for its symbolism by rock critics.
After that, more attention was paid to Jackson's private life than his music career, which faltered. A 1995 two-CD greatest hits, "HIStory," sold relatively poorly, given the huge expense of Jackson's recording contract: about 7 million copies, according to Recording Industry of America certifications.
A 2001 album of new material, "Invincible," did even worse.
In 2005, he went to trial on child-molestation charges. He was acquitted.
In July 2008, after three years away from the spotlight, Jackson announced a series of concerts at London's O2 Arena as his "curtain call." Some of the shows, initially scheduled to begin in July, were eventually postponed until 2010.
Jackson held open auditions for dancers in April in Los Angeles.He is survived by his three children, Prince Michael I, Paris and Prince Michael II.