Remembering a Pop Icon: Michael Jackson

“The Jackson 5, as well as Stevie Wonder put Motown on the map,” said Kedar Massenburg, former president of Motown. “The Jackson 5 was the music of young America.”

In 1979 Jackson’s solo debut, “Off the Wall,” produced four Top Ten singles, including the number one hits “Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough” and “Rock With You,” going on to sell over seven million copies.

Throughout the 1980s Jackson’s musical and fashion influences were far reaching, making him a hot commodity for advertisers. During the filming of a Pepsi commercial, Jackson was injured when his hair caught fire on a spark from pyrotechnics on the set.

In perhaps one of Jackson’s shrewdest moves, he purchased the rights to the Beatles catalog in 1985, with the acquisition of ATV publishing, a firm that controlled John Lennon and Paul McCartney copyrights, among other artists.

His popularity began to wane in the later years, even as Jackson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. The same year, Jackson made a comeback with the release of “Invincible.” The album debuted at number and sold 2 million copies. But the albums first singles, “You Rock My World,” and Butterflies,” made disappointing showings on the music charts.

Things went awry in the summer of 2002 when Jackson publicly claimed his record label, Sony, requested him to pay $200 million to cover album marketing costs. He called Sony Music chairman Tommy Mottola “devilish” and accused him of being racist. Mottola denied the accusations.

Even with Jackson’s at times tumultuous personal and public affairs, one thing is certain; his impact on the world of music is unmatched. He entered  the homes of many though his music and videos, creating everlasting memories.

“The memories are always going to be there,” said Kenneth Cannon, 43, one of the throngs of supporters holding vigil outside Harlem’s Apollo Theater Thursday. “On Friday nights our family would get together and dance and jump like we were The Jackson 5.”

To see how Michael Jackson fans payed tribute to the performer, click here.

Marcia Wade, Shahdai Richardson, and Renita Burns reported this story.