Michael Jackson’s first album as an adult solo artist was 1979’s Off the Wall which was released when MJ was only 19 years old. Up to that point Jackson was more well known as the lead singer of the Jackson Five than as a solo artist although he did have a solo #1 single in 1972 with “Ben.”
Off the Wall established Jackson as a star in his own right (apart from the Jackson Five.) It included two #1 singles “Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough” & “Rock with You” and has sold over 7 million copies to date in the United States alone.
His next album, 1982’s Thriller, established Jackson as a true superstar. In fact Jackson was so “big” during this time that probably the only valid comparisons as far as level of fame can be made with Elvis Presley in the 1950s and The Beatles in the 1960s.
Thriller went on to be the biggest selling studio album in world history and it still holds that title today. Thriller was more than just an album, it was a phenomenon and it was known for more than it’s music. The music videos made for the album changed the medium forever. In particular the groundbreaking “Thriller” video is likely the most famous video ever made and many still consider it to be the greatest achievement in music video history.
At this point Michael Jackson was the biggest pop star in the world. But over the next 27 years (until his untimely tragic death on June 25, 2009) he released only four studio albums: 1987’s Bad, 1991’s Dangerous, 1995’s HIStory, and 2001’s Invincible.
So was Michael really so “unproductive” during these 27 years or was he holding back a lot of recorded material? There are rumors that the latter is true. In fact, earlier this year it was reported that Jackson has over 100 songs recorded that have yet to be released and that he purposely set aside to only be released following his death.
Is that true? I don’t know. But if it is it gives MJ fans something to look forward to. Even though the “King of Pop” is gone, he may still have more music to share with us after all.