6 Times Michael Jackson Literally Made History

In honor of the sixth anniversary of his death.

Much like any important event on record, many of us remember where we were or what we were doing when news of Michael Jackson's sudden death reached us. What is it about the King of Pop that, six years on, we continue to remember his life and mourn his death? Countless books and articles have been written of his legacy, but there are at least six times Michael Jackson actually made history.

Shaped for a life in the harsh glare of the limelight, Jackson first turned heads as the lead vocalist of The Jackson 5, the music family group that consisted of him and his four older brothers. At 11, Jackson had his first taste of national fame with a string of No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100. From then on, his star only kept rising and Jackson evolved from a child star to a teen idol. Eventually, he left the group to focus on a solo career that would later prove him to be one of the most important American artists that the world has ever seen.

His music became a force of its own and six years after his death, Michael Jackson the complex, troubled man remains the most enduring and fascinating icon in pop culture today.


1. 'Thriller' Broke Down Racial Barriers And Helped Make MTV Become What It Is Today

It's hard to picture it now, but in the racial climate of the '80s, MTV was a music channel that was loathe to play music videos by Black artists. It stubbornly stuck to its "rock" format, and R&B, hip-hop and funk music had no presence on the network. 

But when Jackson's creative, high-quality music videos were released, MTV caved, partly from his record label threatening to pull other artists' videos from the network. MTV broadcasted the epic 14-minute video to "Thriller," opening the floodgates to artists from other genres and completely overhauling the concept of music videos.

2. He Is The Most Awarded Recording Artist In History

Michael Jackson has won hundreds of awards — Grammys, Guinness World Records, American Music Awards, Critics Choice Awards, you name it, and this Wikipedia page of all the awards and nominations he's ever won will probably have it. He's won more awards in his lifetime than any other recording artist, ever.

3. The Moonwalk

Michael Jackson may not have invented the Moonwalk, but his perfect execution made it his signature move. Today, the light-footed dance move is unquestionably associated with him.

4. He's The Only Artist To Have A Top 10 Single On The Billboard Hot 100 In 5 Different Decades

When "Love Never Felt So Good" reached No. 9 on the charts in 2014, Michael Jackson posthumously claimed a title that no other recording artist even knew existed.

5. He Won A Guinness World Record For Supporting 39 Charities, The Most Number Of Charities By Any Pop Star

Supporting 39 charities must have been no easy feat, but the King of Pop managed to do it.

6. He Changed The Way College Professors Taught Their Students

Two librarians compiled a guide of Michael Jackson references in academic literature. His life and work was referenced in psychology, medical, chemistry, mass communications and even engineering journals.

[Cover image via Mike Powell/Getty Images Sport]


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