To mark the 5th anniversary of his death
Gaby Whitehill
10:49 25th June 2014

Today (June 25) marks the 5th anniversary of Michael Jackson's death. Arguably the most celebrated performer of our time, Jackson has left an indelible mark on modern music.

We've revisited the most iconic moments of Jackson's career to honour his memory. From his first hit alongside the Jackson 5 in 1970 to earning his famous nickname the King of Pop, here are his greatest achievements. 

  • 'I Want You Back': Michael first found fame alongside his brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon in family band The Jackson 5, who were signed to Motown. The group hit number 1 with their first single 'I Want You Back' in 1970, and quickly beat out The Supremes to become Motown's biggest-selling artist. Here, they perform on The Ed Sullivan Show.

  • 'Thriller' is released: The John Landis-directed, fourteen minute visuals for his 1983 single 'Thriller' is still considered one of the most iconic of all time. Costing half a million dollars, it was the most expensive video ever at the time. It's also the only video ever to be inducted into the Library of Congress' National Film Registry as a work of "important enduring importance to American culture".

  • The Moonwalk: Jackson's gravity-defying, signature dance move is one of his most iconic attributes. It was first premiered on TV special Motown 25 in 1983 during a solo performance of his track 'Billie Jean'. "There are times when you know you are hearing or seeing something extraordinary...that came that night," said Rolling Stone reporter Mikal Gilmore. The performance has gone down in history as one of the defining moments of Jackson's career.

  • 'We Are The World': In 1985, Jackson and Lionel Richie pen 'We Are The World', a charity track benefiting the hunger relief efforts in Africa. It became one of the best-selling singles of all time and raised $63 million for famine relief. The video saw an all-star cast that featured Jackson, Richie, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Cyndi Lauper, Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel performing the track.

  • Who's Bad?: 1987 saw Jackson release the long-awaited follow-up to Thriller, Bad. It spawned several hit singles ('Bad', 'Man in the Mirror, 'Dirty Diana', 'The Way You Make Me Feel'), and the West Side Story-themed, Martin Scorsese-directed video to its lead single of the same name became instantly iconic.

  • Neverland: In 1988, Jackson purchases 2700 acres of property in Santa Ynez, California and built the Neverland Ranch at the cost of $17 million. A theme park of sorts, it boasts a ferris wheels, a menagerie and a cinema on its grounds.

  • The King of Pop: Jackson earns his famous nickname the King of Pop when his friend Elizabeth Taylor presents him with the Soul Train Heritage Award in 1989, introducing him to the stage as "the true king of pop, rock and soul".

  • Super Bowl: In 1993, Jackson performs during the Super Bowl XXVII halftime show, where he performs 'Jam', 'Billie Jean', 'Heal the World' and 'Black or White'. His album Dangerous soars 90 places up the chart after his performance.

  • HIStory: 1995 sees the release of double album HIStory: Past, Present and Future Book I. 'Earth Song', the third single released from HIStory, sells a million copies in the UK making it Jackson's biggest hit there. To celebrate the release of HIStory, a giant, 10-meter-tall statue of MJ sails down the thames.

  • 30th anniversary: In September 2001, two concerts are held at Madison Square Garden to celebrate Jackson's 30th anniversary as a solo artist. The likes of Slash, Usher, Destiny's Child and Whitney Houston also perform at the event, which sees Michael reunite with his brothers onstage for the first time in 17 years.

  • This Is It: In March 2009 Jackson announces a series of comeback concerts at London's O2 Arena, titled This Is It - his first tour in 12 years. Three months later, Jackson dies after suffering a cardiac arrest at his Los Angeles home - three weeks before the first show. Footage of the rehearsals are eventually made into a concert film, Michael Jackson's This Is It, which is released in October 2009.


Photo: WENN