Thursday, October 23, 2014

Michael Jackson, The #78 Artist of the Seventies*

In 1965, Michael Jackson joined the Jackson Brothers, a group formed by their father which included brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, and Marlon.  Originally, Michael was a backing musician, but soon, he was sharing lead vocals with Jermaine.

The following year, the group changed its name to the Jackson 5.  They won a major local talent show and toured the Midwest.  In 1970, the group took off, setting a Rock Era record at the time when their first five releases went to #1.

Michael began recording solo material, and released the album Got to Be There, while still in the Jackson 5. The album went Gold, and the title song went #4 in the U.S., #5 in the U.K. and #3 in Canada.


Jackson collected another hit from the album, a remake of "Rockin' Robin", which went to #2.

Later in the year, Jackson released the album Ben.  The title song hit #1 in both the United States and Australia, and reached #2 in the Netherlands.

The following year, Michael released his third album, Music and Me.  This time, MJ struck out with three single releases.

Jackson continued to record and tour with his brothers, and released the solo album Forever, Michael in 1975.  Michael did not post any big hits from that album, leaving him with an 0-7 skid.  He would have to do better with his next release.

Jermaine left the Jackson 5 to pursue a solo career, and younger brother Randy joined, as they changed their name to the Jacksons.  Michael was the chief songwriter during this time. 

In 1978, Michael starred as the Scarecrow in the musical The Wiz.  While working on the movie, Jackson met Quincy Jones, who arranged the film's musical score, and Jones agreed to produce Michael's next album.

That association led to the album Off the Wall in 1979, which established Michael as a legitimate solo superstar in his own right.  "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" got things started, topping charts in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, and reaching the Top 5 in nearly every major country. 

Jackson captured the Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough".  He won American Music Awards for Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist, Favorite Soul/R&B Album, and Favorite Soul/R&B Single (for "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough").  Michael also won a Billboard Award for Top Black Artist and Top Black Album.  Off the Wall has now sold over 20 million copies worldwide. 

Rock With You by Micheal Jackson on Grooveshark
"Rock With You" was an even bigger hit, going to #1 in the U.S. and Spain, and again reaching the Top 5 nearly everywhere.


Off the Wall by Michael Jackson on Grooveshark
The title song from the album hit #7 in the U.K. and #10 in the United States.

"She's Out Of My Life" also hit the Top 10, but stretched into 1980, past the cutoff for our Seventies* special.

Off the Wall was the first solo album in history to contain four Top 10 songs.  It cemented Jackson's status, enabling him to secure a 37% royalty rate for his next contract, the highest in the industry.

Jackson would of course make the record company a tidy sum of money in the 80's.

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